Hypocrisy and greed are killing us!

Hypocrisy and greed are killing us!

1. “Don’t you see my friend, its hypocrisy and greed which are killing Africans?” Thus I countered, rather impatiently, in response to my Taiwanese friend’s searching question. Professor Chang and I were enjoying the marvels of Chinese antiquities in the National Palace Museum, the official home to some of the rarest Chinese ancient relics, dating some thousands of years – 3000 BC; when he took me to task about the advice I gave to the Ugandan pop music star turned politician in my October blogpost. He questioned: “The wisdom, namely, that a suffering people should be exhorted to endure their oppressor, as too difficult for any right thinking person to accept.” “I must confess,” he said, “I am extremely troubled by your recommendation.” Professor Chang was part of a group of local Taiwanese friends whom I had asked to join my wife and me, to welcome and entertain my honorary parents; they were visiting Taiwan for the first time. It had been over 5 years since I last saw them, and their visit was something of a consolation to my darling wife in particular; she tragically lost her mother in a hit and run traffic accident on the eve of Chinese New Year in 2018.

Hypocrisy and greed – combustible material

2. “But how can you be so sure that it is hypocrisy and greed killing Africans…Ugandans to be exact!” Professor Chang demanded an explanation. We had by now repaired to Cha-for-Tea, a local Taiwanese restaurant in ShiLin, Zhongshan District of Taipei City, for a much needed evening meal, after spending several hours at the National Palace Museum. All I was able to say to Professor Chang, rather unhelpfully, was that: “Alas, all Ugandans stand guilty of straining at a gnat in their political discourse(s) for the last 56 years, and have instead swallowed a camel, hump and all!” I continued: “You see my dear professor, my recommendation was premised on the understanding that combustible material(s) which are presently lying about on the floor of the Ugandan political stage, cannot be expected to lie for too long without attracting sparks.” I added further: “It would be an act of calculated malice on my part, were I to be the one to apply the match, knowing full well the likely outcome; I would, in other words, be condemning many poor Ugandans to a fate not too dissimilar to what has been visited upon the people(s) of Syria, Iraq or Libya. As someone, whose stock-in-trade is wordsmithing, I must more than anyone else, be especially careful in how I conduct my trade. For words are powerful; they can be a means of building up and encouragement, but they can also be destructive, destroy both life and property!” “Oh my,” replied Professor Chang, “Does that mean that the sky above Uganda is now darkening somewhat…?”

Hypocrisy and greed – chickens coming home to roost

3. If indeed the skies above Uganda are darkening, it is with wings of chickens coming home to roost. I meant every word of it when I wrote in the October blogpost that: “Uganda is a very different country today than it ever was; for the country is now a byword for moral decay, in which notions of love, friendship, compassion, humility and forgiveness have since lost their meaning, depth and dimension.” The truth of the matter is that a grey film of cultural stupor has surreptitiously crept into the way many Ugandans today perceive reality; they seem to have lost the power of sympathetic imagination, that is, their senses have become deadened to the degree that they are thus indifferent to the desperate suffering of their fellow countrymen. The 33 years in which Museveni and his NRM system of government have held sway in Uganda; have given rise to a systematic destruction of public institutions, undermining all other centres of power except his own; letting corruption run riot with much abandon, and the worst of it, the calamity that was visited upon the people of Northern Uganda.

4. The majority of people in Uganda today are desperate; so desperate are they that only the other day I read in the local paper about a case in which a woman murdered her own child, in order to harvest the child’s body parts to sale for a few American dollars. The chaotic by-election in the Arua municipality in August 2018, was probably the moment when the chickens begun to hatch, and are now gathering, albeit ever so slowly, and will eventually come home to roost. I am not a prophet by any means, and I will therefore not attempt the feat of predicting the future of Uganda. The one thing I will say, however, is this: unless the melancholy cry for justice in the land we call Uganda is properly answered, it is inconceivable that there will ever be true lasting peace in the East African country. The current peace in Uganda is nothing more than a mere sham. It is a sham because the continuing injustice is a shameful blot; a blot to the country, and a blot to the peoples of Uganda, cleaving on all our hands. I am afraid to say that ‘Tekel’ is written on all our walls, possessions and all; we are weighed in the balance, and are all of us found wanting. The documentary, ‘A Brilliant Genocide,’ whose official trailer I republish here on this blog, is in honour of two of my childhood friends; the one, an Acholi, whose whereabouts are presently unknown to me, and the other, a Langi, deceased as of 1984, they were like blood brothers to me during my school days. The short video is so powerful a documentary that it requires no further explanation. Their suffering is my suffering also! My bowels boil with grief, and cannot rest in the face of this continuing injustice.

Each generation has a special fret – ours is ‘A Brilliant Genocide’

5. Moreover, in republishing the video trailer, I am commending it to all Ugandans including the country’s well-wishers, Western donors. It gives me no joy to say that Western donors in particular, appear to support a thesis that a Ugandan African life is expendable; that it is perfectly acceptable to destroy a Ugandan African life in exchange for gain and expedient foreign policy. Western donors are, as everyone knows too well, the mainstay of the Uganda government exchequer; they are therefore the biggest obstacle to ‘representative democracy’ in the country. For the leadership in Uganda knows that it owes its power to Western donors, and therefore, feels no obligation whatsoever to the local people of Uganda; they do not need the electorate’s approval, thus reducing representative democracy in Uganda to be nothing but a mere charade. And in so commending the video to Ugandans, I wish, if I may, to borrow a paraphrase I recently came across in a blogpost by a Ugandan Dr. Bbuye Kya Mukanga, entitled, ‘Memories of an eyewitness at Kololo on Uganda’s Independence Day 1962.’ The blogpost was published to celebrate 56 years of Uganda’s freedom from the British; the author’s father, speaking words of wisdom to a son, said the following words: “The future is about you! It is you who has gained freedom. I want you to be a witness to his historic occasion.” I would add that, ‘A Brilliant Genocide’ film which documents events that took place in Northern Uganda is about us, all of us Ugandans. It is therefore our special fret; it is a stain on our collective conscience, and will remain so until the cry for justice is answered resoundingly. The issue of the continuing injustice is much bigger than, say, Museveni, Milton Obote or even Idi Amin; it is about all of us; their Faustian bargain with the devil is our bargain also. This is our story. We cannot wish it away willy-nilly!

Uganda is a predominantly a Christian country – let us prove our Christian credentials

6. Furthermore, I republish the video trailer cognizant of the fact that many Ugandans define themselves as religious, that is, Christians. The primary duty of every Christian is to make the excellences of God known to the darken culture in which he or she resides; in other words, we are all of us under a duty to engage the world for the better, our religion does not call us to be a passive and apathetic people.  This exercise is accordingly a matter of natural justice and humanity, designed to compel right thinking Ugandans to engage in some form of a moral reckoning; an acknowledgement of our collective part, that is, our complicity in creating a land of corruption and injustice in the last 56 after gaining our independence. I believe that all of us Ugandans and I here include myself, have fallen short of the glory of God. It is in the spirit of our collective failure as Christians that I call to attention the following scriptures:

a) James 4:2 “You desire and do not have; so you kill;”

b) 1 Timothy 6:9-10 “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptations, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evil…;”

c) Job 31:13 – 15, “If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant, when they brought a complaint against me; what then shall I do when God rises up? When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him? Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?;” and, finally,

d) James 4: 13 -14 “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get again’; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

Hypocrisy and greed – avarice – a warning to all Ugandans!

7. George Herbert (1593-1633), that great Welsh poet, orator and Anglican priest, penned a simple, but profound poem: Avarice. I believe it is a fitting description of the continuing tragedy and absurdity that modern Uganda has become; for Uganda is fearfully endowed with many natural riches, yet she continually gets poorer by the day. Truly, never was a statement so accurate – hypocrisy and greed are killing us! I recommend the poem for your consideration.

Avarice

Money, thou bane of bliss, and source of woe,

Whence com’st thou, that at so fresh and fine?

I know thy parentage is based and low:

Man found thee poor and dirty in a mine.

Surely thou didst so little contribute

To this great kingdome, which thou now hast got,

That he was fain, when thou wert destitute,

To digge thee out of thy dark cave and grot:

Then forcing thee by fire he made thee bright:

Nay, thou hast got the face of man; for we

Have with our stamp and seal trasnferr’d our right:

Thou art the man, and man but dross to thee.

Man calleth thee wealth, who made thee rich;

And while he digs out thee, falls in ditch.

But it need not be like this: we can, each one of us, make a difference!

8. Sydney Smith reminds us that “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do only a little. Do what you can.” Let us therefore do what we can, however small! We could, for instance, make a small start by supporting a young South Sudanese refugee called Hope Deng. The civil war in South Sudan displaced Hope, her mother and five siblings, following the death of her father. She is just one of more than a million South Sudanese refugees who have fled to Uganda in the past three years. Hope is a serious and able student and she walks 20 kilometres each day to attend Rhino Camp Refugee High School in Northern Uganda which is under the care of Windle Uganda. Each day Hope is at risk of harassment and spends hours in simply getting to and from school. She dreams of becoming a doctor. Please kindly help Hope to realise that dream. You may do so by supporting Windle International build a girls dormitory for 100 refugee girls, at a cost of 40,000 US dollars. Every 10 US dollars you give will be doubled by Windle International sponsor, the Waterloo Foundation, and by Windle alumni who understand like nobody else the importance of investing in the education of refugees. Please contact Mr. Robin Shawyer personally for more details about this particular endeavour. You may e-mail him: [email protected]

 

Editor’s Note: Windle International played a decisive role in Stephen Kamugasa’s story as a refugee; for the charity independently verified his identity to authorities at the University of Buckingham when no one else could.

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