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OPINION: Covid-19 devil has trapped all politicians and religious leaders

By Rogers Birungi Barigayomwe

Truth be told, I never expected the education sector to be opened before the year was out. I had even wondered how the Ministry of Education ( MoE) and the first lady Janet Kataaha Museveni had come up with a June resumption when Uganda was yet to hit its #Covid19 peak . 

By all indication, Uganda will face its alarming peak later this year. This is why I had  thought it madness when back in April, the Ministry gave a road map to restart schools around May. 

The reopening of candidate classes this October is still insanity to me. We’ve been made to think that it’s essential for students to get back to school. What these students really are is test subjects and sacrificial lambs for schools to test with small numbers,  what the January situation will look like! The government cannot  experiment with all of the 1.2 million students , so they will do it with the 200,000 candidates. Insisting that these children go back to studying in an environment as tense as this is far from forward thinking. 

However , we all know that once the government was provoked into open campaigns especially with NRM primaries, Ugandans saw that there was no more need to stay locked down. In a way, this reopening is because of the selfish need for politicians to justify their actions. Left without any reason to continue with the politics while education and religious facilities stayed locked down, the solution was to open up. A selfish act by both the people who are in leadership and those who are claiming they want to come and replace them. Political activity should have been the last thing happening in this period. All of these professional politicians are serving self interests and Ugandans ought to remember this. 

A just person shouldn’t be politicking at all in this season. We should all withdraw and actually ask for God’s grace in an uncertain time. In my view and to note very carefully, religious facilities too should have stayed locked down. Religious activities (not all), because most of our institutions are about performing religious duties and not necessarily seeking God. People who seek God know that private time is for seeking God and that indeed if people knew the reason COVID -19 is with us, that it is partly to separate us from ourselves that we may genuinely seek God. The contention isn’t  therefore about opening religious facilities but as you can see, about selfish religious leaders. One of them was quoted saying that they couldn’t  be limited to 70 people. Why not? You can’t even ask to have more than 50 people even if you are a person of faith in this season.  

I remember an instance when we went to preach in Rwanda after the genocide. We went as a team of 10 students from Makerere University as  part of  the main Christian Union who had  been invited by the Archbishop of Kigali at the time. Naturally, I was one of the youngest and expected that I was basically escorting my older counterparts. We had expected to all be going to one crusade but because of the need, they decided that we would have 5 crusades. This meant that we had to split into 5 groups. Having gone as a worshipper,  I hadn’t  anticipated that I might have to preach, but I did. Now is clearly a time of need, it is time that people came out to preach the gospel. It was Jesus Christ’s purpose to make disciples not just followers. Every church that has been doing great discipleship and not simply siphoning money out of the flock  will have mentored people who can go out and form different congregations of people below 70. For example , Church of Uganda( CoU) has about 300 people, they should have mentored at least 10 people  and each of those can have at least a congregation of 30 that’s able to be controlled. Christ himself discipled just 12 people. That is the true Christianity, not numbers.

Religious facilities should prepare disciples. The bible says that the labourers were few, this is time for all of us to come up and engage in the noble cause of serving God’s people. Homes should open up, different facilities should be opened up to have smaller congregations. For this cause I am going to go on record to say that I will be one of the people to take on opening up churches in the vicinity. I have to personally open up facilities and step up into a pastoral calling which was not a calling I had before. I call upon other people to emulate and follow me, let us disciple and tell people about God’s goodness because the churches are no longer safe.

The writer, Rogers Birungi Barigayomwe PHD is Chairman of Labor Party & Senior  Lecturer at Kampala International University ( KIU)



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