Ugandans celebrate the queen’s life in church service

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Hundreds of Ugandans attended a memorial service Thursday in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, a somber ceremony that underscored affection for the departed British monarch in this East African country.

Speakers in the Anglican cathedral in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, included Foreign Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo, who paid tribute to the queen as an “endearing” leader.

“She wasn’t the queen of England alone,” she said. “She was the queen of all of us in the Commonwealth.”

The Rev. Jonathan Kisawuzi, the cathedral’s dean, spoke of the queen’s “faith, courage and direction” in her 70-year reign. “We will remember her always,” he said.

Uganda is one of the 56 member states of the Commonwealth, a group of mostly former British colonies that now includes others, such as Rwanda, that were not part of the British Empire.

Elizabeth is fondly remembered among Ugandans, who recall her attendance in Kampala of the 2007 Commonwealth summit.

“It was a great occasion for Uganda,” Eunice Okullo, a political activist who was among those attending Thursday’s memorial service, said of the queen’s visit 15 years ago. “She ate Ugandan foods — that’s what they told us.”

Others spoke of the queen’s ability to connect with the people she had met.

“”Much as we are mourning, we are also celebrating the queen’s achievements,” said retired prisons commissioner Mary Kaddu. “We are celebrating her life.”

The queen, who died Sept. 8, will get a state funeral Monday at Westminster Abbey in London.

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