On the Uganda Saints and Uganda’s leadership crisis
What you need to know:
- Until Mabaati thieves are relieved of their portfolios, a case of leadership subsists and obtains
Next Saturday (June 3), the world will celebrate Uganda Saints (formerly Uganda Martyrs). And less than seven days later (June 9), Ugandans will commemorate or remember their national heroes. Both June 3 and June 9 will be public holidays. One may be tempted to compare religious saints to national heroes (like those Ugandans will commemorate on June 9). But no; please don’t. Canonical saints offer believers the platform of intercession with God while national heroes offer inspiration to leaders. The institution of canonical sainthood is a creation of Christian scholarship. It is the result of Christian-Roman interaction. Otherwise, the Abrahamic faiths of Islam and Judaism don’t have institutionalised sainthood and the concept of intercession.
Nelson Mandela was no saint and to that effect he declined saintly deference. “I am no saint; even by the earthly definition of a saint as a sinner who keeps repenting,” Mandela once said. Ditto for Julius Nyerere. For Ugandans, it is moot whether the current political leadership is inspired by Uganda’s national heroes to be remembered on June 9.
Christianity’s canonised saints lived normal lives and made what they personally deemed as normal and humanly responses to circumstances that obtained in their environment. What differentiates these Christian saints from us is the impersonal way in which they made very personal responses to the circumstances they lived in.
There is this epidemic of national medals visited unto unsuspecting Ugandans. One would even ask: as Ugandans commemorate their national heroes, who are those heroes? Are they classified and archived somewhere with citations? Are all those ‘victims of the medal epidemic’ part of Uganda’s “college of national heroes?” Is there a specific qualifying group that has been designated as national heroes?
Most of Uganda’s medal holders are persons who participated in (or associated themselves with) the Luweero War of 1981-1986. This group is sprinkled with anti-colonial activists here and there. Even then, how do Ugandans want to remember their national heroes? Omukama Chwa II Kabalega of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and Kabaka Mutesa I of Buganda Kingdom are the two people on whom Ugandans could secure a near-national consensus for qualification as national heroes. How do we want to remember them? How come there is no road in the national capital named after Omukama Chwa II Kabalega? Is there a road in any urban centre or an institution outside Buganda Kingdom named after Kabaka Mutesa I of Buganda?
Ugandans are soon to have the second international airport located in Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom. We hear it will be named after Omukama Chwa Kabalega. But most Ugandans know that if such a facility was in Buganda Kingdom, it would unlikely be named Omukama Chwa II Kabalega International Airport. And I can bet all my royal inheritance an airport in Bunyooro Kitara Kingdom would not be named after Kabaka Mutesa I of Buganda Kingdom.
UPDF authorities at last released the body of an army man who committed suicide after killing a Cabinet minister he was detailed to guard. Whether holding the body was right or wrong, it would attract some bad publicity.
And bad publicity indeed it was when the body was released for burial. A speech at Pte Sabiiti’s burial captured in an audiovisual clip is doing the rounds on social media. The speaker just falls short of denouncing the government and the UPDF. The speaker refers to the State House budget allocations and other scandals. Truth to tell, the sentiments the speaker expresses in the clip captures the current popular mood in Uganda. May be I should add my voice too: until Mabaati thieves are relieved of their portfolios, a case of leadership subsists and obtains.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]