Uganda Martyrs: The Story of enduring Patronage

No one can claim to understand the measure of a person’s life. Some say it’s measured by those left behind; others say it’s by fate, some believe it’s by love while other folks say life has no meaning at all but I’m inclined to agree with one’s life ought to be measured by those left behind & the influence, inspiration and template they lead.

A cross section of some Martyrs with Mukajjanga; the Chief torturer of Kabaka Mwanga

Across the world, several infrastructural developments be it schools, hospitals, children monuments have been erected in the memory of Kizito; the youngest of all the Martyrs who died at the age of 14.

On June 3, 1886, at Namugongo, the thirty-one young men and boys, Kizito among them, were tied with fibre thongs and then wrapped in matting. These human faggots were then placed on the pyre. As the flames rose, their voices could be heard praying and encouraging one another. Kizito’s last words were “Goodbye friends, we are on our way.” Kizito was among the twenty-two Catholic martyrs of Uganda, beatified by Pope Benedict XV in 1920. They were canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964.

St. Kizito High School records a movie in remembrance of their Patron:

Kabaka Mwanga and some of his subjects

St. Kizito High School, Namugongo is one of the schools founded in memory of the slain Martyr. The school which lies in the vicinity of the torch ground where these lives were taken is built in memory of the slain teenager specifically for his love and determination to follow Christ.

This year, this school produced a Teleplay featuring it’s very students imitating the lives and character of the Uganda Martyrs until they were ordered dead by the then Kabaka of Buganda Mwanga II.

The Documentary drama titled “From Martyrdom to Glory: The Story of the Uganda Martyrs” is a 55 minute long production written and directed by Mr. Geoffrey Ssenoga; a Mass Communication lecturer at Uganda Christian University (UCU) performed the students themselves in their Music, Drama and Film Club.

According to Mr. Ssenoga, the essence of producing this teleplay was to have history archived in digital and more aesthetic methods for future use.

“Our main intention was to promote young talent, emphasize the relevance of the Uganda Martyrs and to inspire the rest of the young people to always participate in activities that signify believe and faith,” he stressed.

The information used in this film is based on written accounts from eye witnesses and historical books notably Sir Apollo Kaggwa’s “Ba Ssekabaka ba Buganda, ” Hamu Mukasa’s book Ssimudanyima literary meaning; Don’t retreat are some of the sources of information from which this film taps.

The film, whose major theme was to trace the footwork behind the incidence of the martyrdom focuses on the rendition of St. Kizito and how he continues to inspire the young and resilient across the globe. Shot on different locations, From Martyrdom to Glory also looks to render history a new form other than just the written accounts.

“The Western countries have always documented their histories both the American War of Independence. We also decided to shoot a film in Video (DV) so we can have archive of history in rather digital formats,” Mr. Ssenoga added.

Lwanga the harassing chief

Besides storage, the documentary film also will help in assisting the learning exercise especially on the history of the Uganda Martyrs. From Uganda, Most of the pilgrims to Namugongo on 3rd June are illiterate and largely uneducated. It was for this reason that the film was recorded in both English and Luganda languages.

Role of young generation.

All through the movie, acting was done entirely by students from the Music, Dance, Film and Drama club at St. Kizito High School.

The School’s Director Dr. Fred Kakembo while talking to Daily Monitor stressed the role that such initiatives play in helping students nurture their extracurricular talents other than the usual academic fields.

His voice was reechoed by Geoffrey Ssenoga who conceded that even the technical personnel that engineered the filming, production and scripting were recent graduates of Mass communication at Uganda Christian University.

“We needed the young to expand on their creative arts talents and also to create venues for employment in this growing and expanding industry of entertainment,” Ssenoga asserted.

Christian Missionaries baptising some of the Martyrs in the Christian faith

About the Film:

Title: From Martyrdom to Glory

Duration: 57 Minutes

Director: Geoffrey Ssenoga

Genre: Docudrama


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