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Mama Maria Nyerere Arrives in Uganda for Martyrs Day Pilgrimage

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Ayize claire

Jun 4, 2024

The Uganda Martyrs, consisting of 22 Catholics and 23 Anglicans

Maria Gabriel Magige Waningu, affectionately known as "Mama Maria Nyerere for pilgrimage in Uganda

Maria Gabriel Magige Waningu, affectionately known as "Mama Maria Nyerere," has touched down in Uganda ahead of the Uganda Martyrs Day 2024 pilgrimage. The 94-year-old widow of former Tanzanian President Julius Kambarage Nyerere arrived at Entebbe International Airport accompanied by her granddaughter, Hok Wankyo, on Monday night, marking her 12th pilgrimage to Namugongo.


The devout Catholic and former first lady has been a regular attendee of the Martyrs Day celebrations since her inaugural visit in 2007. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was unable to participate in 2020 and 2021. Last year, she returned to join fellow Christians in commemorating the brave Ugandan Martyrs, who were executed between 1885 and 1887 on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II.


The Uganda Martyrs, consisting of 22 Catholics and 23 Anglicans, were canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964 after being beatified in 1920. Their sacrifice is honored annually on June 3 at Namugongo, attracting pilgrims from around the globe.


For Mama Maria, Martyrs Day holds personal significance beyond religious observance. The Nyerere family traditionally uses the occasion to petition for the beatification of Julius Nyerere. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI declared him the Servant of God, marking the initial step towards canonization. Efforts for his beatification and eventual sainthood are ongoing, with the last two steps pending.


As Mama Maria joins the faithful in prayer and reflection, her presence serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of faith and sacrifice embodied by the Uganda Martyrs and her late husband, Julius Nyerere.

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