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Janani Luwum

Luwum, Janani
1924 to 1977
Anglican (Balokole Mvt)

Archbishop Janani Luwum, an Anglican archbishop and martyr, was an implacable foe of Idi AMIN, who had him murdered.

From 1956 Luwum worked as a parish priest. He was elected bishop of northern Uganda in 1969, and in 1974 he was chosen archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaïre. He confronted the injustices and atrocities of the Amin regime almost immediately, at first with private remonstrances and finally in a radio address at Christmas in 1976. The sermon was censored before he completed it. Luwum threatened a public demonstration, and for a time he united Catholics and Protestants behind him - a major feat in religiously diverse Uganda.

Amin reacted swiftly and without mercy, sacking Luwum's home. The Anglican bishops responded with a stinging denunciation of Amin's abuses. Luwum was detained and questioned by Amin personally. Two days later Luwum was publicly accused of sedition and arms smuggling while participating in a large public rally in Kampala. This event provided an excuse for a second arrest, and by the end of the day Luwum was dead. The cause of death was listed as a car crash, but it was later revealed that Luwum, along with two government ministers, had been shot on orders from Amin. Luwum was accepted immediately as a hero of resistance to tyranny, and there have been efforts by the Anglican Church to recognize him as a saint.

Norman C. Brockman


Ewechue, Ralph (ed.). Makers of Modern Africa. 2nd edition. London: Africa Books, 1991.

Additional reading: Ford, Margaret. Janani: The Making of a Martyr (1978).

This article is reproduced, with permission, from An African Biographical Dictionary, copyright © 1994, edited by Norbert C. Brockman, Santa Barbara, California. All rights reserved.