Picture Misungwi Parish in Mwanza Archdiocese near
Lake Victoria in Western Tanzania. It is a hot and dry Sunday morning in June.
After the outdoor celebration of the Eucharist, the large enthusiastic
congregation of perhaps 5,000 people crowds around the African-designed stage.
Now it is towards the end of the Swahili religious pageant play on the Ugandan
Martyrs. The stern executioners shove their bound captives – all Ugandan
Christians dressed in traditional bark cloth clothing – along the road to
Namugongo where they will be burned to death. The Christians’ leader, Charles
Lwanga, is set aside to suffer a slower, more painful death after more torture.
In a moving scene, Charles tells the other martyrs,
including the brave boy, Kizito: ‘My friends, until we meet again in heaven.’
The other martyrs sing: ‘Yes, good-bye until we meet in heaven.’ Then they
steadfastly walk off to their deaths. Their faith in Christ means more than
anything else. With shining eyes they await the burning funeral pyre. They sing
with joy that they can die for Christ and their Christian faith. They await the
glory of the resurrection and their eternal home in heaven.