By John Wynand Katende
DURING a prayer breakfast to mark Uganda’s 50th independence anniversary, President Museveni called upon fellow citizens to emulate the biblical Good Samaritan for a better Uganda.
This call ought to go beyond dealing with symptoms and individual cases, and tackle the root causes of human suffering.
The Jericho Road must be made safe for everyone. In his famous song: “Abantu Bakooye” (people are tired), Mathias Walukagga decries the disintegration of Ugandan society to the levels of hopelessness.
He cites the high prevalence of selfishness and hatred, broken families, poor leadership, and poor service delivery in all sectors.
Walukagga’s concern somehow amplifies that of Jesus when he encountered people that were distressed and dispirited, like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus offered to be the Good Samaritan to them (Matthew 9:36, 11:28). Uganda came to be known to the outside world as the Pearl of Africa, the paradise of Eden.
But somewhere along the way, the tragedy of tiredness of all sorts befell us. People became individualistic, sectarian, greedy and selfish.
Instead of being one’s brother’s keeper, survival of the fittest became a way of life. Instead of being servants, leaders became grabbers.
Today we are nursing the wounds of the abrogation of the constitution and civil wars. Uganda’s human development index calls for the overhauling of economic system and policies that are money-driven.
These have institutionalized the marginalisation of the majority population; denying them access to safe habitat, safe water, quality education and quality health care and employment.
It is worth celebrating our achievements during the last 50 years. It also gives us opportunity to make concrete plans towards the realization of a prosperous society, where everyone enjoys the nation’s giftedness.
Banking of the strength of our experience, technocrats, and recommendations by different commissions of enquiries, capacity building seminars and workshops, it is high time we applied the necessary political goodwill.
We must stop the politics of the personality cult, self-indulgence, intrigue, “winner-takes all”, “no-change” and “no-term limits” and replace it with consensus politics, subsidiarity, tolerance, shared vision and pluralism.
Let us practise the kind of democracy that offers alternative leadership at any time. The question of federal system of governance calls for a national conference.
A healthy partnership between political, cultural and religious leadership and civil society organisations will be helpful.
Our youth must be safeguarded from the harmful lifestyle of the global ethics, by mentoring them with human, moral and cultural values and role models.
Environmentally, we need to redeem our wetlands and forests, while seriously protecting what is still intact.
We should re-educate ourselves on sanitation. God, the Lord of history, has, fortunately, already intervened to redeem us with the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Jesus has institutionalised the Good Samaritan and made it a way of life. He calls upon us to emulate him by living simply and rendering service in love to every human being.
The kingdom of God promotes peace based on trust in God and respect for human dignity. It makes our common humanity the basis for what constitutes a neighbour.
The neighbour, then, becomes a subject and not an object of our love.
Putting it in the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, “An individual has not started living until he or she can rise above the narrow confines of his or her individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity”.
Writer is a priest