What you need to know:
- Twenty or 30 years ago, Uganda’s Pentecostals took a dim view of Valentine’s Day, 14 February, regarding it a worldly celebration of erotic love, with Catholic (St Valentine) and pagan (Mediterranean cultural) hints.
In their games of power and control, there is something the religious brainwasher and political brainwasher greatly value: repetition.
For instance, by having it repeated again and again, that your pastor hears directly from God and performs miracles, many people begin to believe it. They will flock to hear the pastor, and struggle to interpret everything he says as reflecting great and unique wisdom.
Similarly, President Museveni’s repeated claim that he had a great unique vision got many people to absorb this myth as a proven truth. Even with the growing authoritarianism, the primitive brutality and relentless corruption under his rule, there are people – albeit certainly now a minority – who still believe in that vision, and who believe that he can fix anything in our social fabric.
And not all these are the President’s kinsfolk; or RDCs of Kyeyune Ssenyonjo’s UPC/NRM blend; or a figure of fun like Ssekabanja, who talks like he is shifting three hot tongues at the speed of an electric sewing-machine in his mouth; or the other paid propagandists, who are now tasked to think like cold-blooded fascists and spread their grotesque thoughts. Some are ‘men of God’, who in their turn have repeatedly spread the myth that their integrity is higher than that of the average beast on the street.
Ironies and paradoxes intrigue me. Today, when the men and women who died on Museveni’s side in the 1981-86 struggle must be turning in their graves, there are ‘men of God’ expecting the former guerrilla leader to fix the minds of their fellow pastors; something the Holy Spirit has failed to do.
Twenty or 30 years ago, Uganda’s Pentecostals took a dim view of Valentine’s Day, 14 February, regarding it a worldly celebration of erotic love, with Catholic (St Valentine) and pagan (Mediterranean cultural) hints.
Today, Joseph Sserwadda, who introduces himself as Presiding Apostle of the Born Again Faith, has declared February a month for celebrating (agape) love.
Early Christians used to celebrate their fellowship, agape, different from erotic love, at a feast marking the Last Supper.
This year, the Last Supper falls on April 14, not in February.
In the fierce competition for post-lockdown money, our pastors are comically racing in different directions. All the big stars and every upstart are running. So, Sserwadda’s agape ‘innovation’ has been fast-tracked to February.
Absolutely nowhere in Sserwadda’s many radio/TV adverts are the words ‘the Last Supper’ or the name ‘Valentine’ mentioned. How ungrateful! But, in the mother of ‘coincidences’, the jewel in the month-long programme – looking like exclusive shark theory than subsidised five-star-agape fellowship – a Shs200,000 dinner at Ndeeba’s Victory Church fell exactly on February 14!
Organised Christian denominations have calendars. So, by what principle should the other Pentecostal pastors follow or reject Sserwadda’s Victory Church February innovation in future?
Moreover, generally given to building their private empires and glamourous lifestyles, how many of them, or their inheritors-in-waiting, can surrender their church-cum-family assets, or even just 30 percent of their tithes and offertories to the cause and cost of creating and developing an overarching Born Again/Pentecostal administration?
Sserwadda’s problem is that he wants to be in two places at once; enjoying the fruits and freedom in the field of independent operators, and basking in the sun at the top of denominational religion that his ilk historically always rejected.
In his dilemma, I guess he thinks Museveni, whose own vision has evaporated, can use presidential clout and taxpayers’ money to fix his corporate Pentecostal vision. It is an illusion.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.