As part of the Uganda 50 celebration, we who are members of the Mothers’ Union in the Diocese of Bristol were delighted to have the opportunity to meet up with fellow members from Uganda – they were all wives of the visiting Bishops and five of them accepted our invitation to visit the headquarters of the Mothers’ Union, Mary Sumner House in Westminster, London. Jane Nsubuga (Luwero / Swindon), Ketty Kitara (Kitgum / Bristol West)’ Christine Gakumba (Northern Uganda / Bristol West), Janepher Lubowa (Central Buganda / City) and Elizabeth Katumba-Tamale (West Buganda / City).
The date was fixed for 7th October, a date which coincided with the beginning of the Extinction Rebellion mass protest in London. This posed some challenges but I felt that our Ugandan visitors might actually appreciate seeing how important Climate Change is for many people in this country.
When we emerged from the Underground at Westminster Bridge we found a very different London. Westminster Bridge itself was closed off and there was no traffic at all in Parliament Square so it was an easy walk to the West End of Westminster Abbey where we pointed out to our visitors the statue of Archbishop Janini Luwum, among the modern martyrs on the West Front. He was appointed Archbishop of Uganda in 1974 and martyred by Idi Amin in February 1977. Our main destination was Mary Sumner House, which is a place of pilgrimage for all Mothers’ Union members. We were there in time for Midday Prayers when all members, wherever they are in the world, pray for fellow members in Dioceses in 84 countries around the world.
We visited the Extinction Rebellion site at Lambeth Bridge. The huge police presence made our visitors nervous because of their experience of police brutality in Uganda during protests. However they soon realised that the police were not using any aggression and were happy to talk to a couple of the protestors before we moved on. We then visited Trafalgar Square where there were more protestors singing and waving flags. While we were there Mama Jane and Mama Janepher took Jacky to visit the Ugandan High Commission. Unfortunately the High Commissioner was not present, but I do believe he would have given them a personal welcome if he could!
Our final visit was to St Martin’s in the Field where we were fortunate enough to catch the end of Choral Evensong – a very fitting end to our visit.
Outside Westminster Abbey. Mama Ketty, Mama Christine, Mama Janepher, Mama Jane, Mama Elizabeth in their Mothers’ Union uniform dresses, in the Chapel at Mary Sumner House.