Martyrs day: Bushenyi grandpa, 97, walks 300km to Namugongo

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Mass to celebrate Martyrs Day at Namugongo Catholic Shrine has started with Gulu Diocese leading the celebrations.

By Sunday, more pilgrims were still arriving at Namugongo amid tight security which left all roads leading to Namugongo Catholic and Protestant Martyrs shrines only accessible on foot.

Security teams have mounted a number of check points and all pilgrims accessing the shrines are taken through security checks.

Transport fares to Namugongo in public commuter taxis which are normally Shs2,500,  have been hiked to Shs6,000.

Legendary pilgrim from Bushenyi

While others have been spending money to make it to Namugongo, Bernardo Tibyangye, a retired teacher, from Bushenyi district could not waste his money like that.

He trekked all the way from St Jude Sub-parish in Kikuba Village, Bushenyi District, successfully completing a 12-day journey.

Tibyangye told Daily Monitor he has made this pilgrimage nine times on foot, and 50 times by bus.

“My grandchildren David and Bridget showed interest from the time I confirmed to be part of the group that intended to walk to Namugongo. They persisted promising not to disturb,” the grey haired parishioner in a cream kaftan shirt told the newspaper.

Tibyangye saved Shs400,000 for this journey. He asked each of the grandchildren to prepare a few clothes, sandals and a water bottle.

Spiritually, they recited the rosary two weeks before they set off. He cautioned them to focus on their destination and the reason they were walking.

As a leader of the group, he called for a preparatory meeting at St Kaggwa Catholic Parish to discuss their requirements and how they would move.

“We held a nine-day Novena for our journey that ended on the day we set off. We had Holy mass before we set off at 5pm,” he told Monitor.

Making stopovers at different parishes to refresh and eat, the group comprised the young and old.

They walked more than 300km from Bushenyi District in Mbarara Ecclesiastical Province to Namugongo.

He says this year is historic because it is the 50th time he is attending the celebration at Uganda Martyrs in Namugongo, and the ninth time he is walking from Bushenyi.

His first time to visit Namugongo shrine was in 1969 when Pope John Paul came to Uganda but he started walking in 2011 at 83 years.

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