THE STORY OF ANGELENA LYAKA

BEATEN, CUT AND KILLED BECAUSE OF HER DEVOTIONS TO THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GOD

Hundreds of Pilgrims from far and near on the 6th of May every year converge in prayers to celebrate Angelena Lyaka Day at her tombs near St. Bruno Serunkuma Catholic Church in Tororo Town, Eastern Uganda. Angelena Lyaka’s tomb is visited throughout the year by many individuals for prayers seeking favours through her intercessions.

Angelena Lyaka was born on 20th June, 1912, near Dabani Catholic Mission of current Busia District of the Republic of Uganda in East Africa. She was from a simple family of the Samia tribal community and her mother's name was Veronicca Natungucha. She took to devotions to the Ten Commandments of God in the Catholic faith at a very young age having received catechumen instructions from a trained catechist Mr. Paulo Magara. She was baptized on the 19th of August, 1925 by Father Greif  when she was about eleven years old. Magdalena Angwena, the Catechist's wife stood for Angelena as God-mother.
Angelena, living next to the Mission was always one of the first to come for Confession in order to be able to receive Holy Communion for the rest of the week. Her devotions caught the attention of the Catechists and Parish Priests.

Father Willemen who was the Parish Priest of Nagongera Parish and Caretaker of Dabani Mission of Tororo Diocese at that time, wrote that in about February 1927, young Angelena whose devotions had caught his attention, came up to him one morning to report a  sad story; that a married man called Ndobira wanted to take her as his wife too and that if she refused, he would kill her. Given her devotions to the Ten Commandments of God which she had internalized during her catechumen training, she refused there and then.

While reporting, Angelena was very sad and she wanted the Father Willemen to help her.  Father Willemen praised Angelena’s courage and told her to rather die than commit such a sin.  Angelena promised to rather die than offend her Lord.  
The Parish Priest, Father Willemen had the married man, Ndobira brought up to him and as every native would then do, he pleaded not guilty.  Father Willemen was not convinced but because he (White Missionary) could not follow the Lusamia dialect too well; he called a couple of Catechists and Christians and let them hear the sad story.  The verdict of the Catechists and Christians was that there were no proofs of the death threats, so Angelena’s case was dismissed.
Believing however the story of the simple and good girl, and noticing the wild character of the accused, Father Willemen asked the opinion of the Catechists privately, and they all agreed that the death threats on Angelena by Ndobira was very likely true, but they had no proof.   The Parish Priest together with the Catechists decided then that Angelena should leave her Mother (home) and go and live with her brother a few miles away, which she did on the same day.

Time passed by and eventually Ndobira was put into prison for another offense of theft.   As Angelena loved her mother, she saw a chance to return to her mother to help her in her daily work as well as live again near the mission. Angelena returned to her home.
One day towards evening on 23rd March 1927, Ndobira returned up at Angelena’s Mother’s house. Ndobira’s  release from Prison had not come to the attention of Angelena and her Mother.  Angelena was with her mother in the kitchen.  He greeted them and said, he was going to find some beer to drink. He went away.  In the Course of time, Angelena’s mother went to look for some mushrooms, not knowing Ndobira was hiding nearby in a banana plantation with a big knife. 
Noticing, the Mother was away, Ndobira went to the kitchen and put Angelena to the test; to choose either to go with him for marriage or he kills her.  Angelena took up courage and absolutely refused, choosing to rather die than offend her Lord.
Ndobira using the big knife cut young Angelena four times on her head before her Mother arrived in response to the daughters cries.  She found her daughter dying.  Other people came and apprehended Ndobira. The area chief was called in and his men carried Angelena on foot to the only Hospital at that time far away (40 kilometres) Tororo Town, she was admitted on the 24th March 1927. Ndobira was later prosecuted and put in prison.

On the day Angelena took the courage and faced death, Father Willemen who record events around Agelena’s devotions leading to her death happened to be on safari in Pokor Village, a Central Catechumenate about 20 kilometres out of Tororo town. He was called to go and give last sacraments to a young Samia girl who was on her death bed at the hospital. In Father Willemen’s writing, he states, ‘…..going there I began to think it might be Angelena.  When I arrived there, I could not help shedding a tear of pity and also of joy knowing the courage of this young girl.  She was in pain but did not show it.  ‘Baba, she said. I am so glad you have come.  He has now murdered me.’  Father Willemen administered the last Sacraments to her and encouraged her to die well.  In the Couse of the prayers, Angelena said, ‘…but I have no rosary. Father, give me yours’.  In his writing, Father Willemen, said, ‘…I gladly gave her my rosary.’   Father Willemen further wrote, ‘…The mother who was sitting by her side rather annoyed me.’  ‘Sebo, she said, you know all about this, you must help to get the murderer punished’.  The Priest further wrote, ‘I tried to calm down the mother, but Angelena never uttered a word of revenge.’
Angelena kept alive and received Holy Communion a couple of times upto the 6th of May 1927 when shortly after Fr. Moran Confirmed her and given her his blessings, she died a holy death. Angelena was about 13 years old.

Angelena was buried on a Saturday at a Catholic Church graveyard near the present day St. Bruno Agururu Catholic Parish Church in Tororo Town.  Todate the 6th of May every year is celebrated as Angelena Lyaka Day at her tombs. Hundreds of Pilgrims from far and near on this day converge at St. Bruno Serunkuma Catholic Church near Angelena Lyaka’s tomb for Prayers.
Angelena Lyaka’s tombs is visited throughout the year by many individuals and pray seeking favours through her intercessions.