The president asked African religious leaders to guide their followers to create wealth and transform their lives.
By Taddeo Bwambale
ENTEBBE - The turn up for the national thanksgiving service at State House in Entebbe drew all shades of Ugandans to dedicate their country and the forthcoming year – 2015 – to God.
Marked with prayer and praise from choirs from various religious denominations, believers and dignitaries shared a platform to reflect on the year 2014 on Friday.
President Yoweri Museveni asked religious leaders from the African continent to guide their followers to create wealth and transform their lives by taming nature.
In his characteristic humourous candour, the President reminded religious leaders that it was not all about celebration, until their followers have wealth to spare.
Museveni noted that Africans, unlike people from other continents, were not prudent enough to use their abundant land resources to produce wealth.
“Almost every family in Uganda has land but they lack food. In the West, fewer people have no land but they have everything. Christian leaders need to address this in Africa,” he said.
He recalled his recent encounter with two youth from the UK [United Kingdom], who told him that only about 5% of people in their country own at least five acres, compared to Uganda’s 95%.
“When we were growing up, we were often told that we are visitors on earth; that we are just passing through…that things of the world are like sand [since sand is plenty],” he observed.
“My father left us last year; he died at the age of 97. How can we say someone is a visitor when he was here for 97 years?” Museveni quipped, drawing guests into hearty laughter.
Alluding to the creation story in the Biblical Book of Genesis and the Lord’s Prayer, the President appealed to believers to use their dominion over nature to create wealth.
LET'S BOW DOWN: From left, Prisons chief Johnson Byabashaija, police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura, CDF Katumba Wamala and public service minister Henry Kajura. (photo credit: Abu Mwesigwa)
“The Bible tells us to be fruitful -- Africans at least do that; the census has proved that…but Africans are not interested in subduing the earth,” he said.
“Let God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and for me, God’s will includes improving people’s welfare."
The Vice President, Edward Sekandi; Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga; Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda; the deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah; acting Chief Justice, Stephen Kavuma, diplomats and religious leaders were among the guests at the thanksgiving service.
Jay Dangers, a preacher and philanthropist who led the sermon, warned Ugandans to guard against foreign culture, education and lifestyle that are contrary to God’s teachings.
“Be careful of foreign interests that people seek to impose on your country. They are doing it through the curriculum,” he warned.
“They come as experts and want to dictate what our children learn. Once they own children’s hearts and minds, it will only be a matter of time before they take over the country.”
He further cautioned that such foreign interests were keen to sway Uganda from God by influencing values.
Dangers described Uganda as ‘the heart of Africa’ because of its beauty, but alluded to Proverbs 14:34 to warn that: ‘Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people.’
President Museveni chats with his former deputy Specioza Kazibwe after the service. (photo credit: Abu Mwesigwa)
Here, the president mingles with Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga. (photo credit: Abu Mwesigwa)
In her prayer, the First Lady, Janet Museveni acknowledged God’s protection for Uganda from diseases and enemies of peace, and interceded for West African nations battling Ebola, a disease that has killed more than 6,000 people so far in the worst epidemic ever since the discovery of the disease in 1976.
Maria Prean, an Austrian missionary who runs a charity organisation, prayed to God to forgive the white race for exploiting and abusing Africans.
“Forgive us, the white race, for the sins we have committed in Africa…for stealing and belittling Africans,” she said in her prayer.
Meanwhile, an entertainer from Matali Group that plays Islamic music charmed the gathering as he sang dirges exalting the President and his leadership style.
“In politics, no one can challenge you; even whites respect you. Nobody should dare challenge you in 2016 because we will bring you back,” he sang.
Former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, whose candidacy for the presidency has been a subject of speculation, was in attendance as well.
President Museveni and his wife Janet. (photo credit: Abu Mwesigwa)
Former PM Apolo Nsibambi sat next to ex-VP Kazibwe (photo credit: Abu Mwesigwa)
There was a cocktail of entertainment by various groups. (photo credit: Abu Mwesigwa)
Former URA boss Allen Kagina was around as well. (photo credit: Abu Mwesigwa)
Pastor Samson Kasumba, who works at Urban TV as well, led the choir. (photo credit: Abu Mwesigwa)
Charm, praise at national thanksgiving service