A memorial site – Bishop James Hannington Memorial Site – has been constructed at Kyando in Mayuge District. October 29,
annually is a pilgrim day when Christians in Busoga Diocese make pilgrimage to Kyando village to commemorate the day when Bishop Hannington was murdered while preaching the gospel of salvation.
Located in Eastern Uganda some 20kms from Mayuge District main town and 30km from Jinja Town, Bishop James Hannington Memorial Site, is the spot of the first and largest Christian martyrdom in Uganda. This is because it is the place where one of the first missionaries to have visited Uganda from Britain was killed, in cold blood.
Your ride will be a bumpy one due to the nature of the road – bumpy and dusty. Along the way, you can be intercepted by trucks loading sugarcane parked in the middle of the road but all this is worth it when you get to the memorial site.
The story is told in bits and pieces by the locals some of whom visited the site after it took shape in 2012. Though fast-growing into a big tourism site, there are no tour guides and all one can depend on are the passers-by and locals who have acquired the story from elders.
But this is no problem at all as the site has signposts most of which explain the significance of the spots on which they are erected.
Most of the locals recall the story behind the Bishop’s death with empathy. “He was killed with so much brutality yet he was innocent, poor man,” Musa, a boda boda rider in Mayuge Town recounts
Just like the biblical Herod and Jesus’ birth story, Bishop Hannington’s death, it is said, was prompted by longtime suspicion and prophesies that KabakaMwanga’s rule would be overthrown by people coming from the east.
So, when the Bishop together with his group of 48 helpers, entered Busoga in current Mayuge, a territory that was under Chief Lube, one of KabakaMwanga’s collaborators, a message was sent to Mwanga who out of panic immediately ordered for the elimination of the invading strangers.KabakaMwanga’s fear was that Christianity was growing fast among his subjects and this, to him, became an increasingly great threat to his rule.
Today, a stone to mark and commemorate the point at which bishop Hannington was murdered still stands. It is sheltered in an iron-sheet hut-shaped shelter which is located downhill, at the end of the road that leads to the rocky Kyando hill where the bishop did most of his activities in the rocks before his death.
The memorial site
At this place, you will be able to relive the life that Bishop Hannington and his men lived many years ago through the various marked spots and rocks that are said to have been very significant to the bishop.
The centerpiece, which is an enclosed stone – found downhill – marks the spot or shrine where the bishop was tortured and killed, the site is composed of other spots that mark the different activities the bishop was involved in. On the rocks on Kyando hill is a cave that is believed to have been the bishop’s bedroom. The path that leads to that cave has been marked with a tree fence making it easy for tourists to find it.
Across from the bedroom is a painted rock which is believed to have been the spot where the bishop used to preach from. Another important cave is under a rock that stands opposite the ‘pulpit’ and that is the library. It is believed that is where the bishop during his time-off pastoral work, did some reading.
“Away from here is another cave where the bishop waited eight days in custody before he was killed by spearing him in both sides,” Musa narrates.
Just close to the shrine, is a well now modified into a spring, from which Bishop Hannington used to drink. It has been reconstructed to preserve it for generations to come. As a visitor to the site, you will probably be intrigued to drink from the same well that Bishop Hannington drunk from more than 130 years ago
For those driven by the love to discover the beauty of nature, the rocky Kyandohill is the place for you. The magnificent view that you get of Busoga’s green belt while at the hill is proof that your visit despite the hurdles was not in vain. It is not only a leisure place but also one where people get spiritual renewal thanks to Bishop Hannington memorial site.
And judging from the way Christianity has taken root in Busoga, Uganda over the years, the bishop indeed purchased its road to Uganda with his blood.
The rock under which Bishop Hannington spent his free time reading thus named his library
Bishop Hannington’s well now modified into a spring