By our reporter

Former Archbishop of Uganda Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo who passed on last Friday has today been laid to rest at Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine in Namugongo.

He succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 80. In early 2017 he underwent successful treatment for cancer in the UK.

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, presided over the service, and reminded the crowd that, as Christians, they gather in the hope of the resurrection, which was Archbishop Nkoyoyo’s hope.

A special platform was erected in the valley to accommodate the body and to seat the family. Media houses were present and live-streamed the service. The police band played familiar hymns. They followed the choirs, clergy, and Bishops in procession, and escorted the body and the family from the museum to the valley.

Mama Beatrice Ntagali, wife of the current Archbishop, and Mama Phoebe, wife of retired Archbishop Henry Orombi, dressed in the blue colour of Mother’s Union, were present on the platform to receive Mama Ruth and her family, and to stand with them.

When the Jomberere chorus began, the congregation erupted in singing. It was one of Archbishop Nkoyoyo’s favourite choruses.

Many wreaths were laid from the family, church institutions, and government leaders.

The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, welcomed retired Archbishop Henry Orombi and the many active and retired Bishops, who came in big numbers.

He also welcomed His Excellency, the Vice President, Edward Ssekandi, as the Chief Mourner. The Nabagereka and Katikiiro of the Buganda Kingdom were present and represented the Kabaka. The Mufti and Chairman of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) was also present, along with Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, who represented the Roman Catholic Church.

There were many speeches from family members, religious leaders, cultural leaders, and government leaders.

Mama Ruth remained strong and opened her remarks by singing Tukutendereza. She said, “My friend has gone for his last wedding,” referring to the Biblical image of heaven as a wedding banquet. Nkoyoyo’s grandfather was narrowly spared execution during the slaughter of the Uganda martyrs. For that reason, the Namugongo site has always remained special to him, grounded his commitment to developing the site and the museum, and led him to want to be buried there. She concluded by leading the congregation in singing the Luganda chorus, “We are on the journey walking to our destination of heaven.”

The Papal Nuncio hailed Archbishop Nkoyoyo as a “great Ecumenist,” especially in hosting Pope Francis I during his 2015 visit to the Anglican Shrine of the Uganda Martyrs at Namugongo.

The Katikiiro of Buganda said Archbishop Nkoyoyo had been given “five talents,” and he multiplied them and leaves many more behind.

The Vice-President of Uganda, His Excellency Edward Ssekandi, praised Archbishop Nkoyoyo as a “great Ugandan” and “our Star.”

The President of Uganda’s message called Archbishop Nkoyoyo a “powerful preacher,” remembering especially his message at his mother’s funeral. He described him as a “strong mulokole,” who combined evangelism and development, and will continue as an example to us all.

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali preached from John 14.1-6, calling the congregation to “let not your hearts be troubled,” but to put their trust in Jesus, as Archbishop Nkoyoyo had done since he was 29 years old. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.” Archbishop Stanley asked, “Is Jesus your way? Is he your truth? Is he your life?”

“People today,” the Archbishop declared, “trust money, social status, and property. But, none of those things can save you. None of those things can resolve the anxiety so many people experience today.” He appealed to the congregation to trust in Jesus because there is a great crown of life awaiting them when they do.

The offering was designated to support the ongoing work of developing the Namugongo Martyrs Museum.

The congregation then moved to the burial site where the Archbishop prayed and committed the body of Archbishop Livingstone Nkoyoyo to the ground, “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The family and friends then followed the Baganda tradition of selecting the heir, who was announced as Isaac Mwesigwa Nkoyoyo, the first-born son of Archbishop Nkoyoyo.