Monday, November 30, 2015


The more things change the more it seems they stay the same.

The last time a Pope visited Uganda a genocide was bubbling under the surface in Rwanda, an intractable war continued in South Sudan, and in Somalia Mohammad Farrah Aidid was trying to strengthen his grip on a country which was in the throes of implosion after the overthrow of Siad Barre two years previously.

Fast forward to today and Pope Francis is visiting a troubled region grappling with civil war, disease and poverty.

The Somalia peace process flatters to deceive, South Sudan is squandering its promise, Burundi is on the edge of the kind of wanton violence, a throw back to Rwanda two decades ago and in the Central African Republic --- Pope Francis’ final stop on this tour, the center is failing to hold as marauding gangs make the country ungovernable.

In the interim Uganda has fashioned itself into a regional enforcer with campaigns in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, South Sudan and Somalia. It has participated in peace missions further afield in Liberia.

Uganda sees itself as a peace enforcer than peace keeper, holding the ultimate sanction over warring parties a mission that evolved out of the disgust at the sterility of UN peace keepers during the Rwanda genocide.

"Pope Francis, which name he chose in honour of Saint Francis of Asisi, who famously yearned to be an instrument of God’s peace, may agree on the general principle of seeking regional peace but may disagree with Kampala’s methods...

He will complete the second year of his papacy in March next year, a papacy which has done more to change the perception of his office through his message of compassion and his humble demeanour, than any other Pope since Pope Paul  VI.

Pope Paul VI whose 15-year papacy came to an end on his death in 1978, created more dialogue with other religions and opened the mass to a personal appreciation by millions by allowing the use of local languages. Previously the high mass was said in Latin.

He comes at a time of charged emotions as Ugandans rev up for a crucial presidential election next year, yet another cross roads in this country’s political journey.

A campaign loaded with vitriolic, coloured by past slights and painted with character smears which while we giggle at the name calling we know we are fast reaching a place of no return where resolution will be a zero sum game. And we are only two weeks in to the campaigns.

The main antagonists President Yoweri Museveni, KIzza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi have suspended their campaigns for the duration of the successor of St Peter’s trip, before they go after each other with hammer and tongs again.

"It would be an important interlude during which we as a country can reflect and even take St Francis of Assisi famous prayer to heart, if only to banish our turbulent past and the foreboding signals ahead....

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

It is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

No comments:

Post a Comment