Newly Inaugurated Memorial Museum in Uganda Sheds Light into the Life of Retired Cardinal

Former Kampala Archbishop Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala (L) with long time friend, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni (r) during the February 29 launch of the memorial museum.
Credit: Smart24TV

A newly-launched memorial museum in Uganda’s Masaka Diocese will chronicle the life and times of the Archbishop Emeritus of Kampala, Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala, and offer the faithful an opportunity for reflection, a Prelate in the East African nation has said.

“The museum is a collection of significant items and moments in the life of Cardinal Wamala, which will help priests and ordinary Christians to reflect on how to live purposeful lives filled with great contributions to the society,” Bishop Serverus Jjumba of Uganda’s Masaka Diocese where the museum is located, has been quoted as saying during the launch.

Established in central Uganda’s Kyotera district, the birthplace of the 93-year-old Prelate, Cardinal Wamala Museum will serve as a facility “for education, leisure, entertainment and inspiration to people from all walks of life,” Bishop Jjumba said during the Saturday, February 29 event.

Speaking at the same event, the Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC), Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa challenged Christians to preserve the monument saying, “museums are not only meant to preserve music instruments, stools, and chairs, but also educational material and writings that may benefit researchers.”

Commissioning the museum, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni applauded the retired Catholic Prelate, his longtime friend, for “lifetime contributions that went beyond evangelization in Church to providing guidance towards the political transformation and leadership of the country.”

According to President Museveni, Cardinal Wamala “was among the first opinion leaders who embraced the National Resistance Rebels-NRA guerilla movement” that waged the Ugandan Bush War against Uganda’s first President Milton Obote.

“When we got the light on how we should liberate our country, elders whom I am proud to call parents, like Cardinal Wamala, did not despise our efforts but instead they paved the way for us to continue with our movement,” Uganda’s head of state recalled.

He added, “I am reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan where most people saw a beaten man and bypassed him until a Good Samaritan saw him and helped him. When people like Cardinal Wamala saw that we could help our nation that had been badly beaten, they urged us to go on.” 

The President expressed his respect and “honor” to the Church leader saying, “I am seventy-five years old now and perhaps eighteen years younger than the cardinal. But I remember and honour him as one of our Good Samaritans during the liberation struggle.”

President Museveni donated USh 20 million (US$ 5,398.00) towards the local church of Kamaggwa and promised to send an official of his government to assess what is required to complete the construction of Cardinal Wamala Museum, the media in Uganda have reported.

On his part, Cardinal Wamala shared about his family during the Saturday event saying, "We were born eight of us by our parents, Cosma Kyamera and Theresa Namayanja, who are both buried here. However, as I speak to you now only two of us; my beloved young brother Msgr Henry Kyabukasa and I, are alive and you can see the condition in which we are.”

The Cardinal added, “We are grateful to God for the long life which has enabled us to see so much including this museum.”

Some of the items in the museum include photos, pastoral letters, religious souvenirs, books as well as the Cardinal’s biography, which traces his lineage back to his great grandparents.

The museum is expected to house a library that will showcase quality educational materials intended to help the underprivileged, as a continuation of the Cardinal’s legacy of education as a trained teacher and as the first full time Chaplain at Makerere University, media reports indicate.

The Saturday event brought together the clergy, men and women religious as well as hundreds of the laity including the Cardinal’s only surviving sibling, Monsignor Henry Kyabukasa.

At the thanksgiving Mass the preceded the event, the Main Celebrant, Bishop Jjumba described Cardinal Wamala as “an extraordinary humble servant of rare character and integrity.”

A cleric of Masaka Diocese, Cardinal Wamala was ordained a priest in December 1957.

In July 1981, Pope St. John Paul II appointed him as the first Bishop of Uganda’s  Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese. Seven years later, the same Holy Father appointed him as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese. 

Two years later, he succeeded Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga as Kampala Archbishop.

In 1994, Pope St. John Paul II elevated him to the rank of a Cardinal and appointed him as the Cardinal-priest of Sant’Ugo, Malta. He retired as Archbishop of Kampala in August 2006.

At 93, Cardinal Wamala has served as a priest for 62 years, as a Bishop for 38 years, and as a Cardinal for 25 years.

On his 93rd birthday celebration on December 27, 2019 in Kampala, Pope Francis described the Cardinal as “a blessing to the Catholic Church in Uganda.”

The Holy Father also recognized the Prelate's 25 years of service as Cardinal.

“On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of your elevation to the college of Cardinals, I send you warmest congratulations and the assurance of my spiritual closeness. I join you in thanksgiving to God the Father, source of all good, for the abundant blessings bestowed upon your life,” the Pope said in a message read by the Apostolic Nuncio in Uganda, Archbishop Luigi Bianco.


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