Ugandan Orthodox Greek Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga buried

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Hundreds of people gathered for the state funeral of Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga. A Greek flag draped over his coffin as he was led to his final resting place. Credit: Facebook / Ugandan Orthodox Church

Hundreds of worshipers, members of the Greek Orthodox hierarchy and Ugandan officials gathered on Monday for the funeral of Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga who died earlier in September.

A Greek flag was draped over the coffin of the spiritual leader of over 500,000 Ugandans who are Greek Orthodox Christians.

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Jonah Lwanga was granted an official state funeral, reflecting the immense service offered by the Metropolitan to this nation, including his endless fight for human rights and his general advice on national matters as as a former and senior leader of the Orthodox Church.

Dr Chris Baryomunsi, a cabinet minister who represented the government at the funeral, said that “His Eminence has ceased to be only Church property but a national icon who undeniably deserves a burial worthy of a national hero.” .

Lwanga was buried in Saint Nicholas Cathedral in the city of Namungoona. The ceremony took place in the presence of dignitaries from the government, religious institutions, the police and the army. Three rounds of arms were fired against the fallen Metropolitan.

The funeral service was chaired by Archbishop Makarios of Nairobi alongside Archbishop Ieronymos of Mwanza, Tanzania and Bishop Silvester of Gulu and eastern Uganda.

Lwanga was born on July 18, 1945 in the village of Ddegeya, just a year before the sect was recognized by the government, although it was established in the early 1900s.

Its headquarters were in Kampala, with jurisdiction over all of Uganda. Its bishopric, of around 60,000 people, was founded in the 1930s.

Lwanga’s grandfather, Obadiah Basajjakitalo, was one of the first two leaders of the Orthodox Church in Uganda, along with Ruben Spartas Mukasa.

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“We are Greek because we were educated in Greece,” said Lwanga, as Metropolitan of Kampala and all of Uganda, in 2019, addressing the Greek journalistscored by Anastasios Papapostolou.

He proudly mentioned that his Church in Central Africa, under the aegis of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Alexandria, celebrated a century of important work in the country.

“We are celebrating the centenary of Greek Orthodoxy in Uganda. From 1919, and with God’s help, we managed to convince many indigenous Ugandans that there is a different faith called Orthodoxy, ”the Metropolitan recounted in a 2019 documentary produced by Greek journalist.

The Church has grown exponentially over the past century in this leafy sub-Saharan country. Today, “the clergy consists of around 80 priests, 105 Orthodox communities, schools and a hospital,” he said proudly.

Church schools are administered by the Church leadership, but they all follow the Ugandan education system. Many Orthodox students who have been sponsored by the Orthodox Church generally return to teach in Church schools.

“Schoolchildren know Orthodoxy, which is why they come to be taught in our schools, where they also have the opportunity to learn Greek,” Jonas told the Greek journalist.

Uganda is one of the first countries south of the Sahara where Eastern Orthodox Christian communities began to form.

Unlike most African Christian communities, Orthodoxy did not take root there through proselytism or the missionary propagation of the faith from outside. Rather, it started with the indigenous Ugandans themselves, including Jonah’s grandfather, Obadia Basajjakitalo, who was a founding member of the Orthodox Church in Uganda.

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