Allow me welcome you all back from the 3rd June Martyrs Day celebrations in Namugongo. For those who actually went there, I hope it was worth it. For those who trekked (not on your smartphones), I hope you felt that necessary pain…only that you didn’t trek back! Anyways, please allow me define the word “MARTYR” before I introduce this blog to you.
A person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs.
“Saints, martyrs, and witnesses to the faith”
Kill (someone) because of their beliefs.
“She was martyred for her faith”
Here is the big question; would we still call them martyrs, celebrate them, trek for them if those 22 men and woman, were killed in these times for “their religious beliefs”? If there was a modern day Mwanga (and I am not saying he is not there though), and he decided to burn down Twenty-two young men and a woman for disobeying him because of their religious beliefs, would we run to Pope Francis and ask for their beautification so that we can kneel down and pray through their names? Or is it that we are caught in another contradiction?
Looking back at that definition, you will notice (if you are still with me) that it’s not just about religion but also other beliefs like; football, atheism, sexuality, politics…! If we are to go by that definition, I am happy to announce that the Ugandans who died defending Buganda, Bunyoro, Busoga, against white imperialism are dear martyrs too; the natives who fought and died bravely in that Maji-maji rebellion ( and other African rebellions) are great African martyrs…who do not matter because we are a very choosy and corrupted lot.
According to a few people I talked to, one is said to be a martyr if they are killed under duress! In other words; they are told to choose between this and that or face death. Yes, that is exactly what happened before Mwanga torched those Ugandans; choose religion and die! That already qualifies the Christians who were forced to denounce their religions and recite a few Islamic statements during the 2013 Westgate Al Shabaab attack in Kenya as Martyrs…and certainly takes me to the other point of view.
We all know how dirty politics can be, we do not need a debate nor dictionary for that. Despite the dirt, there are very many followers, world wide, who participate strongly in this muddy game. These ardent believers will choose one side and swear allegiance “for life”! They believe in their “way of political leadership and strategy” and would never see themselves on the other side of the coin. Their political affiliation is like or even deeper than a religion (maybe because they earn or will earn from it).
Many of such ambitious believers, like many whose names we shall not say, have been politically (politics, the word, in this sense being equivalent to dirty) persuaded into changing sides by those whose names are many but we are not allowed to say. Well, of course some switch allegiance, just as easily as many have switched religions, whilst others would rather die – both literally and figuratively!
But in many cases it has gone to the point of dying (literally) for choosing not to change sides, raise the thumb over the peace sign or the other way round.
Are these too, our modern day unsung martyrs? The ones who do not matter?
But this goes wider and wider in terms of beliefs…other beliefs. It makes me feel like there are so many other people who have died because of their beliefs but have been ignored for the reasons that are beyond my understanding. There are so many people who have refused to give up their sexualities, work ethics, nationalities, and perceptions about life and so many other things that they believe and in the end lost their lives. Are these our modern day martyrs who actually do not matter?
Yes they are. But because of selective martyrdom, we choose to ignore the suffering and death of people whose cause is non-religious! And even when the cause is religious, the choice of who becomes a martyr and who will not seems to be beyond us.
So, on behalf of all those who have been thinking like me, I celebrate the unsung martyrs; the ones of old and those of the modern days. We may never get the chance to kneel down and pray through you, or trek for you but we recognize your fight.
Once again, I am entitled to my opinions just as you are. Feel free to comment and share your views!