Coming out of morning Mass on the feast of St. Francis Xavier (Patron Saint for Missionaries) celebrated amidst Advent season (the joyful hope for the coming of the Prince of Peace par excellence), I couldn’t resist it any longer. I felt an inner urge to come out of my silence regarding the ongoing violence during the current electoral process in my motherland, Uganda.
One of the most revered leaders of our time, Martin Luther King Junior once said, “I was not afraid of the words of the violent but of the silence of the honest”. Propelled by his deep and inspiring message, I decided to pen down this message of peace, love and hope, calling upon every good hearted and honest soul out there to abhor and condemn violence in all its forms.
As a missionary living in a place of martyrs murdered by the gun, 19 of whom were christian religious, 114 were Muslim imams, notwithstanding about 250,000 unarmed civilians, who were simply killed here in the 90’s, I know pretty well the price of violence. Perhaps, you even know more other terrible examples than me. Violence has no friend whatsoever.
That is how respected senior citizens such as John Kitobe could easily find themselves victims of blind violence. This can be the fate of anyone of us any time. The Bible reminds us that “from the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things but the unfaithful have appetite for violence” Proverbs 13 :2.
I am deeply convinced that many of us love peace and so we are happier whenever peace prevails.
As a Ugandan missionary who has been outside Uganda for a good number of years, I have not ceased to sing for people who usually ask me about the Pearl of Africa these lyrics:
Oh Uganda the land of freedom,
our love and labour we give;
and with neighbours all at our country’s call
in peace and friendship we’ll live.
In these words of the second stanza of our national anthem, there is no such a word like violence but instead, peace, love, freedom…..I am pretty sure that the composer George Wilberforce Kakoma knew very well what he meant. Right now as I write ,he might be turning in his grave if he sees the vicious circle of violence the wonderful Pearl of Africa is slowly but steadily descending into these days.
I have been one of the incessant promoters of Uganda’s beauty ever since I stepped outside the lovely motherland. Looking at many other different countries I have been to, I have learnt to know and appreciate Uganda better. I cannot tell how many people I have recommended to visit our ever amazing natural beauty and highly welcoming people. I can’t count how many presentations I have made about our beautiful nation. Whenever and wherever an opportunity avails itself, my lips are often fond of spreading the good news about the lovely Pearl of Africa.
However, I must confess that of late, I don’t feel proud of what is going on in my dear motherland. I sometimes feel ashamed talking about Uganda in public (because with this internet era before you speak the entire world is already watching). I was particularly astounded by horrifying images of 18th-19th November which happened to be my birthday. As usual I spent my day very well planting trees and happy with the people around me, little did I know that my motherland was bleeding while I was here enjoying the day. When I checked on the internet to respond to some people who had sent me messages, I was welcomed by such a number of violent scenes and images that I couldn’t take it in.
My day ended up spoiled like that as I wondered how far and low, we had descended as a nation. From then on, I started serious prayers hoping that such violence would cease. To my appalling surprise, these days more especially since December started, it’s like the more I pray, the more the violence I see…. Sometimes I feel so torn apart and would not like to associate with such violent scenes in our motherland. I am sure that many of you good people out there share the same idea with me.
Nowadays, before opening my mouth to speak about Uganda, I pay attention and first check on internet to see if there are no contradictory live images of violence from the message of love, peace and hope I am about to spread as a man of faith. I would not want to find myself in such a situation all the time.
I therefore appeal to all the faithful, honest, peace loving people of all walks of life to condemn such ongoing violence in our lovely pearl of Africa just because of elections. Violence is really abhorable and ought to be condemned by all of us. Remember the silence of good people amidst violence (even if it hasn’t reached you today….tomorrow it could be you or me), is even more dangerous. A better Uganda is better for all of us and the reverse is true. May the ever Loving and Peaceful Lord bless you all and give you the courage to condemn violence in all its forms.
Fr. Kyererezi Vincent (M.Afr) is a Ugandan Missionary of Africa Catholic Priest based in Algeria.
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