The retired Bishop of North Kigezi, Dr. Edward Muhima (pictured), has visited Israel a number of times.
He was there twice, in 1976/77, when he was doing some academic research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also went back in 2008 for the week-long conference of the evangelical bishops of Africa. Muhima’s respective visits opened his eyes to the creativity of the Jewish people as he explained.
“Israel is not a fertile country. It is certainly not anywhere near Uganda. But it is evidently a very developed country. They grow things that you wouldn’t expect in a desert place.
They grow food crops like bananas, tomatoes, mangoes, oranges.’
Muhima witnessed Israel’s creative agriculture as he toured places like Jerusalem, Galilee, Bethel, Ephraim, Bethlehem and Capernaum.
“Capernaum is an amazing place. On the left as you face Galilee, there is a huge hill with stones sticking out of it. Below you have a flat desert-like place ending up at the palace where the sea begins. I was stunned to see a beautiful plantation of Bogoya bananas in that place. To be honest I had never seen a Bogoya banana as big as the ones I saw at Capernaum. The bananas also had the sweetest taste I have ever tasted.”
Muhima became very curious. So, he requested to know how the Jewish people had managed to grow very huge and sweet bananas in a desert-like place.
Muhima’s guide, Vogel responded with a question. “But where do you come from?” He asked the Bishop. When the Bishop told him he was coming from Uganda, Vogel further asked: “From which part of Uganda?”
Muhima told him he comes from western Uganda. He then asked further: “Is that where there is the road from Kabale to Mbarara? Do you know Kampala, Bombo Army Barracks, Bugolobi Flats and Entebbe Airport?”
Muhima gazed at the Israel guide who was surprising him with his knowledge of Uganda. But the guide amazed him even more as he told him the secret of his country’s agricultural prosperity.
“We Israelites are the people who constructed roads and places like Bombo Barrackss, Bugolobi flats and Entebbe Airport. As we did our work, we realised that your soil was very fertile. So, we packed the soils that we were excavating, into sisal-sacks, loaded it on the planes and brought it to Israel. We then mixed it with our infertile soil. After some years, we planted tomatoes. We then had rich harvests.”
“We also admired your bananas. So, we up-rooted suckers put them on the plane and planted them here. Currently, we are the biggest banana producing country in the Middle East and the leading exporters to Europe.”
During his stay in Israel, Muhima was fascinated by the hardworking attitude of the Jewish people, whose shrewdness and creativity he also acknowledged.
“The Israelites are very creative thinkers. They will do all sorts of experiments to discover something. They are so hard working that they cannot find time to sit and relax; they are on the move all the time. They are very daring. In fact one of them said to me: “We Israelites do agree with the ancient Greek philosophy that a fool is someone who never tries any experiment in his life.” Muhima further acknowledged the hospitality of the Israelites, who he said are easy to talk with.
Muhima advises Ugandans
Bishop Muhima wants Ugandans to emulate the hard-working attitude of the Israelites, so that the country can develop. “Many of our young people are unproductive. They spend their time in passive entertainment. Uganda is a beautiful country. We have fertile soils and a very good climate. We cannot justify our poverty when other countries are using our natural resources to develop!’ Muhima further asked Ugandans to be creative and innovative.
“Diplomatic relations with Israel will definitely boost socio-economic development in our country. But this will depend on our involvement in productive work.”
Muhima’s further observations
Muhima was also keen to know the attitude of the Israelites towards Jesus.
“The Israelites don’t get enthralled when you talk to them about Jesus. They expected a Messiah who would not die. So, when Jesus died on the Cross, they thought he was not the promised one and until now, many of them are still waiting.”
Muhima also observed that the Israelites were not very comfortable with the Palestinians.
Visiting Israel also enhanced Muhima’s faith. “We were taken to the very spot at the sea of Galilee where Jesus sat on a boat, addressed crowds and healed many people. Visiting the Biblical sights made me feel I was really back in that history.”