INSIDE THE BEEHIVE
God so loved the Ugandan civil servants that he gave them another public holiday. 16TH February is a public holy day; its Archbishop Janani Luwum day. Actually, it’s the second day just after Valentine’s Day. Implying that after sinning on 14th February we go for redemption on 16th February. What a good time positioning!
It may sound strange for those who don’t know Janani Jakaliya Luwum. But he was the archbishop of the Church of Uganda from 1974 to 1977 and one of the most influential leaders of the modern church in Africa. He was arrested in February 1977, during General Idi Amin Dada’s regime and died shortly after in what the authorities claimed to be a car accident.
Bishop Luwum made it his business to confront the injustices and atrocities of Amin. He took his criticism public in a radio address in 1976 at Christmas. His sermon felt the power of censorship before he even finished. In such volatile political climate one had to pay for being verbal even if it was in a good cause.
Archbishop Janani Luwum was the first sitting Archbishop in the entire Anglican Communion to be martyred in office, since Archbishops of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer and William Laud were martyred in office in 1556 AD and 1645 AD, respectively. This also prompted the move to set 16th February aside as a public holiday in Uganda starting 2017.
Uganda has a very diverse culture and many different national holidays. Since its establishment as an independent country in 1962, Uganda has created many national holidays. Holidays are established by the president and the president reserves the right to add or change any of these dates. It’s true that President Museveni has a hand in the reservation of Arch. Janani Luwum day.
Many of the holidays celebrated in Uganda are based on religious holidays. These holidays are often base on the lunar cycle or the calendar observed by the specific religion of a particular holiday. The government requires that all employers acknowledge these holidays each year because they are official holidays, regardless of the days that they fall on.
All employers are required to give employees a full day off with pay on any nationally declared holiday. If the employee is required to work due to the nature of their job, the employer must pay them for work that day and an equal amount for holiday pay or provide the employee with a different paid day off in lieu of the holiday.
All election days are considered national holidays in Uganda and occur on different days and in different years. Election day holidays are announced in the beginning of the year. If a special election must be held, an announcement will be made at least a week in advance. Other public holidays include, among others, the Heroes days, Independence Day, Liberation day, Labour Day and many others.
There is a need to recognize the importance of celebrations and national holidays as a way of remembering and honoring people, events, and our nation’s ethnic heritage. For instance, Heroes Day celebrates men and women in Ugandan history whose acts of courage enabled the country to grow as a nation.
South Africa has 12 public holidays as determined by the Public Holidays Act (1994). The Act determines whenever any public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following it shall be a public holiday. The Reconciliation Day on 16th December is one of the country’s public holidays.
In apartheid South Africa 16 December was known as Day of the Vow, as the Voortrekkers in preparation for the battle on 16 December against the Zulus took a Vow before God that they would build a church and that they and their descendants would observe the day as a day of thanksgiving should they be granted victory. With the advent of democracy in South Africa 16 December retained its status as a public holiday, however, this time with the purpose of fostering reconciliation and national unity.
Public holidays can be observed by attending local commemorations and spending the rest of the day with family and friends at parks, shopping malls and other public areas. You are blessed to know real joy during the holidays. First of all you are surrounded by the love of family and friends, an abundance of food, and a bounty of presents like on Christmas. It is always more important to understand the significance of a public holiday than just being relieved of work to go feasting.