African Martyrs as devotional magnets for Diasporas
African-led Animated Mass in AmericaClick thumbnail to view full-size
African Martyrs as a cultural fabric in USA
Pan de Vida
Pan de vida cuerpo del Senor (Cup of blessing, Blood of Christ Lord)
Poder es servir (at this table)
Porque Dios es amor (the last shall be the first).
Martyrs of Africa
Africa as a continent features in Biblical and Koranic stories. The religions that share the Patriarchs (Abraham and Isaac) have had Africa as the center stage on a long reel of conversation and dialogue. From 5000 BCE to present day, Africa has been crucial in the organization, pilgrimage and experiences of inspired holiness. Cities cited in Holy Books such as Ophir and Faiyum are in Africa. Whole chapters in the Holy Books are dedicated to scenes depicting experiences of relations between humans and the Divine. But these stories have tended to depict events that are distant. Africa seemed to have played its roles in the far past periods. But, that is not the case. The 1800s saw a frenzied hunger for a Divine being. Converts were eager to die confessing the Word.
Many converts were existing in all of Africa, Uganda Martyrs are some of those converts. Where are the Uganda Martyrs found?
There along the River Nile in a land with many beautiful lakes was a great kingdom. The king in this kingdom was an accomplished leader whose kingdom had experienced a long period of tranquility. The kingdom was organized along social, cultural, economical, traditional and leadership structures. The king and subjects had roles to play to ensure this kingdom was stable and the pride of Africa. Little wonder that all who visited gave this kingdom the name "Pearl Of Africa."
The subjects were driven and served their king whole-heartedly. So, when the king ordered the converts to go against the dictates of Christianity they refused. A repeat of what transpired in the times of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel ( see Daniel 1 & 2) happened in Uganda too. But, in Uganda's case the Christian converts were not spared. They were killed for disobeying a very powerful king. Their punishment was death by burning.
By 1960s witnesses had come forward claiming miracles after praying to the burnt converts in Uganda. Witnesses were from Africa and other parts of the world. Vatican officials went through all the necessary requisites of beatification and canonization. Thus, the Uganda Martyrs and therefore the 1st African Martyrs were presented to the entire world.
African Martyrs are modern day saints
The African Martyrs are saints in the same league as all the other saints in the world. They have interceded on behalf of many who have seek succor. Like all other saints they did something great in their life that was Godly. They devoted their lives to God and were recognized for that..
Praying to Saints
It is a Christian practice to ask our departed brothers and sisters in Christ—the saints—for their intercession. The practice dates to the earliest days of Christianity and is shared by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, the other Eastern Christians, and even some Anglicans. It is shared by more than three quarters of the Christians on earth.
June 3rd is the day of African Martyrs. Uganda has the main Shrine with one of the oldest Basilicas in Africa. The pilgrimage is made to a venue called Namugongo. The Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church share this same venue. People travel from USA, South America, Australia, Japan, China, Canada, Europe and from within Africa.
Diaspora Devotions to African Martyrs
USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, Philippines, Caribbean and South America has seen a rise in popularity of African Martyrs. The African Diaspora have increased the devotions and taken more leading roles in conducting the liturgical accompaniments.
California is a state known to lead in many things. The Ecumenical, cultural diversity and coming together of many people to observe the day of the African Martyrs has made an indelible mark in contemporary American lifestyles.
America and Africa meet in Spiritual Traditions
Rarely do we experience a relation where America is getting from Africa. There is a long tradition in which America has drawn Africa to it. But, when it came to modern day Christian liturgy, Africa is contributing to the new and diversified message. It is helping to make the fire of longing for a Divine burn brighter. It is no longer like the fire that burnt the martyrs for their belief. It is different fire. It is a fire that does not scorch the skin nor cause bodily disfigurement. It is a fire that cleans, brings laughter, promotes cohesion, empowers many diverse cultures to come together, contributes to the strands that make America a very diverse and allows peaceful co-existence. It is a fire that allows for freedom of worship. This is seen nowhere better than in the diverse Californian valleys, gorges, high hills, plains and mountains. This fire that burnt in Africa is now burning in America.
Has Africa influenced Christianity and Islam?
1. African led liturgies in USA are an opportunity to contribute to outcomes of the dreams and aspirations of the Declaration of Independence.
2. African led liturgies in USA and other parts of Americas and Canada are an opportunity to bring together different people in observing a day or time of devotion.
3. African led liturgies in USA and other parts of Americas and Canada are a contribution to the cornucopia of activities and cultures in the world.
4. African led liturgies in USA and other parts of Americas and Canada are a show case for music, dance, drama and dressing for GOD.
5. African led liturgies in USA and other parts of Americas and Canada is an opportunity to bring what is good, beneficial, enduring and durable from Africa.