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Monday, 12 October 2009

Is Pastor Sempa too Simplistic?Tribal Politics: Role of the church in peace building

My analysis

My bother in Christ Dr. Martin Sempa gives good insights however, his analysis is quite simplistic. He does not define what he means by church. He seems to be in favour of ecumenism(unity of all faiths ie catholic, SDA, Anglican etc). The so called church or churches are as rotten as the political status quo. Many Ugandans have for example lost trust in the evangelical (balokole) church. They know that the church is in full support of the current oppressing regime. Some people think that the balokole are cronies of President Museveni. Remember, recently a pastor was burnt to death by locals in Mubende over a land row. Many pulpits of the balokole churches have been used as political platforms for President Museveni’s government. This is very sad. Virtually all balokole pastors are silent about the injustice in Uganda such as; land injustice, corruption, nepotism, cronyism, election rigging etc.

In the year 2000 about 2000 people in Madudu, Mubende district were evicted by the Uganda army(UPDF)and their land was given to German investor. In the process of evicting these people; churches, schools etc were destroyed. Up to today the poor people of Madudu have not received justice. The church is virtually silent about this injustice. The lord Jesus Christ stood for social justice for the poor. The current church has only demonstrated double standards and hypocrisy as far as good governance is concerned. The balokole church has participated in the exploitation of the poor. Be warned that Uganda is a genocide prone nation. If tribal violence erupts(God forbid) in Uganda the balokole and balokole churches are likely to be a target.The envengelical church in Uganda needs to re-position it self now.It should become pro-poor and pro-justice now or else the consequences will be fatal

Buganda Crisis, Ugandan Evangelicals, Ssabalokole, and the Future

“Family Rule In Uganda: How The Museveni ‘Clan’ Runs Government”


Tribal Politics: Role of the church in peace building
Monday, 12th, October, 2009

Dr. Martin Ssempa

If Agnes, a Muganda university student did not beg for mercy of the rioters, she would be dead by now and Adwin Karuhanga, a Munyankole student from Bushenyi was going to have his nose cut off with a machete.

This scene took place in Nakulabye on September 11, 2009. Adwin and Agnes are members of our college church who ran into a group of rioters who were outraged that the Kabaka of Buganda had been refused passage to his sovereign province of Bugerere, Kayunga.

This largely cultural-political issue was initially a violent demonstration of Kabaka loyalists squaring off with the police, military and the army. Human right groups have accused the state of excessive force and violence evidenced by televised pictures.

Paradoxically, as the armed forces took control of the cities, the demonstration morphed into a covert tribal clash where individuals and groups were profiled into tribes and sometimes attacked with violence.

Adwin is a lucky survivor but I have since heard other harrowing accounts which have forced me to urgently inquire the holy book on the role of the church in averting tribal conflicts from escalating into widespread genocide.

The recent history of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and the 2008 Kenyan post-election violence bloodbath shows that our tribal tensions lay underground like volcanoes which can erupt anytime cracks appear in our society.

What is the role of the church in ensuring that these tensions do not disintegrate into tribal violence?

The church must urgently declare God’s command of “love your neighbour as you love your self” (Matt 19:19). The military may be able to restrain the mob from burning tyres in the streets, but they cannot teach us to love one another. This is the role of the church, which must urgently urge the Banyoro to love the Bafuruki, the Baganda to love Banyankore, and the Banyara to love the Baganda.

We must not deny the existence of complicated issues that may cause enmity or disagreement. We must preach and demonstrate a love of all Ugandans regardless of tribe and opinion. Let the church thunder with “love your neighbour” regardless the shape of their nose or their tribal accents.

In Judges 12:6 we are told of an inter-tribal conflict pitting Jews against Gileadites and the Ephramites which descended into ethnic cleansing. The Ephramites could not properly pronounce the “she” in the Shiboleth. Like some Nilotic tribes, they could only say “siboleth”. Riotous riverside roadblocks were set up and travellers were subjected to oral tests where your accent would lead to your death. More than 42,000 were killed.

We must rebuke those who will use the Shiboleths as a reason to wreak death and violence on one another. We all live together in Uganda, and many Ugandans have set up farms and homes away from their tribal home villages. My village in Bombo has a majority of Baganda, but we also have Banyarwanda, Bahima, and Nubians. If tribal Shiboleths remain, there are not enough soldiers, teargas or Mambas to secure every goat, cow, sheep or garden in Uganda’s countryside.

On the contrary we have a lot of able bodied, unemployed youth who can be misguided into marauding and plundering their neighbours’ property. This must not be allowed. The traditional African spirit of communal culture must be strengthened and complemented by the teaching of the church. Love your neighbour (regardless of his nose or the number of cows he may have) as you love yourself.

The church must pray for the leaders to have infinite wisdom to handle complicated issues with justice and equity. Solomon in 1 Kings 3:16-28 needed to figure a complicated case of two new mothers who both claimed one baby. He had no access to modern DNA maternal test yet he had to solve this dispute. The complex issue of tribes, kingdoms and their relationship to a national government requires divine wisdom for our leaders. In the spate between Buganda and Central government, MPs who are from Buganda yet belong to the ruling political party may find themselves with torn loyalties as children are when Daddy and Mummy conflict. We must pray for wisdom and render to each what is due to them. Jesus says “render to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar, to God what belongs to God”. We must render to the executive government (president) and the traditional cultural leaders (Kabaka) whatever loyalties belong to each of them. A way has to be figured out where we all win, and in the end Uganda wins.

At this critical time the church must urgently preach the aspirations of our founding fathers at the formation of our nation. “Oh Uganda may God uphold you”, it is our duty to pray for our motherland. “We lay our future in your hands” our collective destiny is in the wellbeing of Uganda. “United free for liberty” our freedom and liberty is only possible when we are cohesive. “Together we will always stand.” We can only stand when none of us is left behind. If we are to avert the trajectory of history, the prophets must preach a message of love regardless of the size and shape of my nose.

For God and our Country.

Dr. Ssempa is nationally syndicated writer, broadcaster and AIDS activist. He is the pastor of Makerere Community Church at Makerere University; ssempam@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it 0772-641028