Mwesigwa’s take on religious, educational issues in Uganda

One of the book covers. Photo / Promise  Twinamukye

What you need to know:

  • As the title suggests, Mwesigwa’s book is indeed a tapestry of so many ideas.  As a teacher and school administrator,  Mwesigwa’s gives ideas on how teacher-student relationships should be balanced progressively. He advocates for dialogue and bottom-up approach. Always seek to understand before you seek to be understood as St Francis would say. 

Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa needs no introduction in literary circles. He has distinguished himself for having an opinion on every subject in Uganda. Unlike many men of the cloth who tend to keep to their side of the fence, the Bishop is not afraid to be part of the general narrative to which he brings a theological point of view tempered by wisdom. I commend him for his courage because as Martin Luther King Jr once said, many things go wrong when the good men choose to keep quiet. We also applaud him for the discipline and consistency to keep writing because with his kind work of which involves office and field work and sometimes foreign travels it is a wonder that he gets that time to write.  

Also, for in writing these articles for close to 20 years he displays his love for his country and his deep desire to see it is people become better and better. This is because often times many knowledgeable or educated or those privileged enough to access information keep it themselves selfishly or believing there is no audience for their needed counsel and guidance. Bishop Mwesigwa follows in the footsteps of others such as Ezekiel the sentinel and John the Baptist the voice in the desert.

As the title suggests, Mwesigwa’s book is indeed a tapestry of so many ideas.  As a teacher and school administrator,  Mwesigwa’s gives ideas on how teacher-student relationships should be balanced progressively. He advocates for dialogue and bottom-up approach. Always seek to understand before you seek to be understood as St Francis would say.  On this subject, I find Mwesigwa’s assertion that religious leaders should be the moral compass of the nation valid. Christian leaders and institutions every now and again are called upon to be light of the world and the change that they wish to see. Ref:Pg 46. Daily Monitor Nov 15, 2010.

Mwesigwa’s interest in Uganda’s education sector is also admirable. He constantly comments about enrollment, standards, performance, discipline and world trends in education vis a vis Uganda’s education more than any other subject except may be for the church. This is encouraging because the future of any country lies in the young generation and the kind of education that generation gets is the fire that lights it’s future.

As expected Mwesigwa often writes about the church and it’ i relevance and challenges in the modern age. He talks about the decline in church attendance, the assault of modern religious on the traditional church in Uganda and the inter-religious conflicts, among others. For someone with a vested interest in the church, I find his views balanced and reasonable. It shows a deep understanding of world trends and sense of maturity that is expected of a leader of his calibre. A man who believes that even if his ideas may be good and noble yet other people are entitled to their ideas too. 

Mwesigwa’s commitment to his beloved Ankole Diocese also shines through all his writings. Perhaps there is no diocese in Uganda that receives such attention in the media as Ankole Diocese. In the spirit of the prophet not being recognised in his village. Mwesigwa may not know his impact on the developments going on in the surrounding dioceses in great Ankole. He is indeed a trendsetter and has helped in setting up saving schemes such as Jubilee Sacco and putting up income generating projects, and bursary schemes.

Many ideas

I find it quite interesting that Mwesigwa talks about other issues in society not just moral issues. He comments about pertinent health issues such as the the coronavirus pandemic, exercising and diet and HIV. He also gives his two cents on football, tourism, food security and the refugee situation in the region. It is indeed encouraging to see that with this Man of God no subject is off limits and we pray it remains so.  His desire to be the instrument of knowledge, information, advice counsel and wisdom like St Augustine is inspirational. I hope other men of the cloth take a leaf from his efforts and start shining light where there is darkness, hope where there is despair and wisdom where there is misinformation. Ever since the philosophers and sages of old realised that man is made of three parts; body, spirit and soul, it is generally agreed that every part of the human being should be nourished and nurtured or else it would die. It is against this background that religious education was introduced in our school curriculum right from colonial times. Since after all most schools were set up by missionaries. In fact in some schools it was the most important subject after writing and reading. Most school activities would begin with prayers or mass. And the trend has been maintained in most schools up to date. But with the onslaught of modern ideas and growth secularism, it is no wonder that Religious Education has been relegated to the lower rungs of the educational shelf in favour of promotion of science and commercial practices which are said to be the cure for all man’s problems. But as we know man does not live on bread alone.

There is more that makes life than just food, clothes and shelter. Because we have seen many who have all these in abundance but are still unsatisfied because their souls have been denied the water and food that comes from spiritual values that one receives through Religious Education.

Hence there is need to bring back to the table the question of Religious Education in our schools. Mwesigwa as a scholar, tries to find out the limitations of our Religious Education in our curriculum. So that these holes can be plugged for better results. His book is well researched and put together; a culmination of perhaps five years of intensive study and a worthy addition to Uganda’s body of knowledge. Religious leaders, teachers, scholars, parents and Ugandans interested in a better Uganda will find his ideas quite interesting, riveting and refreshing. He opens doors and lines of thought to unexplored on subject that is rarely  taken seriously because everybody thinks they know who Adam and Eve are and can navigate their way around each religious story.

Teaching Religious Education

In this book, he shows that there is more to religious education than meets the eye. Bishop Mwesigwa observes that since change and progress cannot be stopped it is often wise to take advantage of the positive attributes of every change for the betterment of human development. He asserts that the days of cocooning are over and now we need diversity or we perish.

He encourages the teaching of R.E in such a way that makes the learner not only open to other religious experiences but also respects other beliefs which he may not understand or agree with. He encourages educationists to think of such a way of teaching Religious Education in order for it to be relevant and impactful in our modern times; otherwise we will have cults galore.

That thousands of people perished in a Rwanda  Catholic  church in Gitaranch under the watchful eyes of nuns and priests is an indication that the lessons taught do not go deep enough. The head knows but the heart remains unconverted, vengeful, malicious, capacious and pagan.

Quick bio

Born on September 29 1962, in Ruhoko, Ibanda District to Steven and Julia, Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa wanted to be a lawyer. His early days were typical of any teenager.

Brought up by a single mother who was a nurse in Buddu, Masaka District, before moving back to Ibanda in 1979, the Bishop of Ankole Diocese failed to make it to university. After his A-levels, he went to Kakoba Teachers Training College in 1983, which he believes was part of God’s plan in directing his path.

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