The North Kigezi Diocesan contest has finally been decided. Former Archbishop Luke Orombi’s blue eyed boy; Rev. Onesmus Asiimwe was on Wednesday, 18th January was elected by the House of Bishops meeting at Lwezza Conference Center as the 6th Bishop of North Kigezi.
But what are some of the take-aways from this hotly contested race and how can these lessons inform the next two elections pending for Luwero and Namirembe Diocese this year?
One lesson is clear, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi over two decades on; remains as the single, most dominant force in church politics and people. Therefore, we should never under estimate the ability of people that were once associated with him like Onesmus, to keep shining on the ecclesiastical scene in a decisive and dominant fashion.
Secondly, flawed candidates cannot always rely on home loyalties to lift them up. During his work as Chaplain of Archbishop Orombi for over 10 years, Onesmus was seemingly scandal free unlike some of his challengers who suffered severe administrative short falls and challenges while on their tour of duty.
Onesmus also leveraged on his work at Chaplain, St. Francis Chapel, Makerere University. With his budget of over 3 billion Uganda Shillings annually, he was able to invite several key Bishops in the House to his Chapel and ensured that they left Kampala with fat envelopes as travel refund. This help familiarize himself with the King makers in the region and to make clear his intentions right from the start.
Since he is not originally from Rukungiri, Onesmus was well aware of the incessant doubts about his fitness for the job. The Onesmus campaign therefore pulled a self-abasement card in the race.
While his challengers put lots of resources and time to frequent visits to Rukungiri to revive local loyalties and leverage on their familiarity with home terrain; Onesmus cast himself as a victim on every turn. He therefore managed to lower expectations ahead of his lone contest and eventually crystallize his candidature among key senior Bishops.
Having accompanied Archbishop Orombi on most engagements with the Bishops and later having interacted with them as Provincial Youth Secretary, the Onesmus team perfected skills like presentation, negotiation, persuasion, problem solving and group processing on their campaign. This helped endear his candidature even with junior Bishops in the house. His challengers, limited in this knowledge, therefore moved forward at their peril.
Having presided over the consecration and election of most senior Bishops, Bishop Elect Asiimwe leveraged on his years as former Chaplain of Archbishop Orombi to rally a strong base among seniors. Drawing much clout in the House, he came up as most favored candidate to ensure continuity and availability of Orombi’s exemplary legacy in the Church.
As our apostolic fathers hold their purple cinctures in a firm knot, to preside over the consecration and enthronement of the ‘son’ of Archbishop Orombi, at Emmanuel Cathedral, Kinyansano, Rukungiri on 12th March 2023; it remains to be seen whether Onesmus’ game plan will inform successful election strategies. And whether his campaign provides a workable framework upon which other future candidates can stand — to enhance or weaken their chances to succeed.
Rev. Canon Erich Kasirye
CHAPLAIN, KAMPALA CAPITAL CITY AUTHORITY
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