Today, we celebrate Archbishop Janani Luwum’s Day. It is a day when we remember that the archbishop stood up and spoke up against the excesses of Idi Amin’s regime. We particularly remember that Archbishop Luwum protested the unexplained killings and disappearances of citizens.
We recognise Luwum’s courage and his calling as a man of God. Indeed, we recognise the sacrifice and the ultimate price he paid. It is in that spirit that today, we call upon religious leaders in the country to stand up and speak for democracy and the right of their flock in accordance to what their faith demands of them.
It is in this regard that the advice by Kampala Archbishop Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga is a breath of fresh air at a time when many have accused religious leaders of being quiet against the government’s wrongdoing.
During celebrations to mark the 24th anniversary of the Catholic Church Day of the Religious, Archbishop Lwanga reportedly said:
“I remember when NRM came to power, the President said they came to resist the politics and leadership of Idi Amin and Milton Obote regimes… If this is still the same National Resistance Movement, I call upon your government to continue resisting the evil abductions, torture and killings of people.” See story, ‘Stop behaving like Amin regime – Lwanga tells NRM’ (Daily Monitor, February 15).
Many citizens have called upon the government, especially its security agencies, to provide information on, and to stop the abductions, kidnaps and torture of citizens.
However, when men of the cloth speak out and in no faltering terms ask the government to act like it upholds the rights of its citizens, there is hope that they will be listened to.
The heads of different religious institutions in the country are respected and followed by members of their congregations. Many members of the flock include political leaders, businesspeople, academicians, and the ordinary.
There is no doubt that religious leaders have a big following both in terms of numbers and influence. Regimes recognise this fact and that is why many governments are keen to either have them on their side or silence them. This should indicate to the heads of religious institutions that their voices matter a lot.
What is happening in Uganda today has left many families and communities devastated. Loved ones have been abducted, kidnapped while others have been tortured. The livelihoods of citizens have been interrupted, leaving families in misery. This should stop.
This is why we call upon all religious leaders to follow Archbishop Luwum’s example and urge the government to do better in regard to securing citizen’s lives and property.