Monday, July 9, 2012

Of Days Gone By

You have heard the bazeyi talk about the good old times, right? How people were more responsible and immorality was something that was never an issue. Ever noticed how every parent was the first in school and very active in the choir? Yeah, they keep reminding you after every term how the only time they came second in class was when grandfather fell ill and they had to walk twenty miles to and from school, uphill, both ways!!

Well, we generally tend to buy these lines until we grow old enough to realize that it is impossible for Daddy, Uncle Sam and Aunty Dora, having attended the same school and class, to have all consistently been the first in class! That is when they need to come up with some more convincing stuff! So dad (it's always dads that think up these things) pulls out his one and only surviving primary school term report that says he was the first and shoves it into your face, "See that? I have kept this report for 45 years (never mind that he is 49) and there you are losing your mathematics book! Children of these days!!"

After a few more years of having been convinced that dad was a superhero when he was your age, you begin to remember a few details that bring this status into question again. First, that report he showed you was got from grandma's not his bedroom (which explains why mum always asked me for my reports!). So he isn't as responsible as he wants you to think. Secondly, how come there is only one surviving report? If dad is the brainee he wants us to think he is...shouldn't there be like 5 reports of him having been the first?
Anyhow, no need to belabor the point. As I was saying, we have all heard the old people claim their days were heavenly and incomparable to the hell we the young people have created. I always hated hearing that phrase, especially because it always had a patronizing tinge to it. "Children of these our days, blah blah, blah....". One favorite of mine is how they claim in their days, children were very decent and respectably dressed. To this day, I am yet to find a photoshot of my mum, aunties or family friends that does not have them spotting ultra mini dresses with some bu hunks (now known as dads and uncles) posing in there sagglicious bell bottoms and afros. Mbu children of these days... I always hated that line.
You will notice I use the past tense about my feelings on this subject. Not so long ago, my nephew ran up to his dad and asked, "Daddy, what is a video tape?" After his dad narrated to me the story, I was dumbfounded!

"How can anyone not know what a video tape is? In our days...."
It was at this point ladies and gentlemen, that I declared my war against our bazeyis Good-old-days phrases over.

What is it about us and growing up that makes us so patronizing? What is it about life, that makes us so eager to adopt our past as the yardstick against which to measure today? Maybe it is because over time, we tend to pick and choose what we will remember about our childhood, selecting the best of it and forgeting the worst. Maybe it is because we as human beings are generally risk-averse and prefer to chart known waters, thereby labelling new trends and generational traits nothing compared to our younger days.
Or maybe, just MAYBE, this talk of the good old days is an outward manifestation of our lack of faith. We have given up hope for a better tomorrow and have turned to yesterday for inspiration. Our dreams, once vibrant and full of potential have been reduced to historical rubble...rantings of an ignorant boy or girl. And so, unable to muster the courage to confront the challenges of the day, we turn to those younger than us and belittle their world, in the vain hope that this will somehow glorify ours!

Whatever the reason for people longing for the good old days, I am learning that God takes no part in these rantings. He who is omnipresent commands in Isaiah 43:18 "Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; do ye not see it?"
I'm learning that dwelling on the past is a thing losers do. The kind of thing that keeps us in our safe zone, hoping that someday, someone will notice us and go "Weren't you the guy who was so fast in school, you always outran the teacher?" or "Why, aren't you Ganzi the great?" We keep hoping that someone will realize the gold that we once had and if they don't, we keep reminding them about how back in the day, we had some.

Well, memories might be treasures that no one can steal, but they are on a fixed deposit account whose maturity date is the day after your funeral. So instead of sitting and waiting for that day (because it WILL come whether we wait on it or not), we could as well leave our comfort zones and confront today.
There are so many things going wrong in the world today. But let us not make the mistake of assuming that they begun going wrong today. There may be so many new and sophisiticated modes and ways of sin, the truth may be a hard commodity to come by and this generation's children may be experiencing more risks and hazards than we did. But God is still good, and so are the days that He brings our way. Instead of bickering about our past, we could choose to get inspired by todays challenges to realize our childhood dreams. Instead of patronizing those younger than us, we could choose to learn from them. And maybe-just MAYBE- we will find that the good old days are not quite gone yet.
In short, quit that  old days talk people. Just stop it!

In our days, people actually listened to this sort of advice! But blogers of these days....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Let’s Use Kony2012 To Do What We Ought

I was one of the tens of millions of people that made Kony2012 famous. I watched it over and over again, captivated in part by the filmmaker’s storyline, but also by the simplicity of the concept with which Jason has successfully got over 80million people across the globe talking. And after all the stories and op-eds that have been written about this short film, only two questions linger in my mind.
The first is this; what is so wrong about the film as to elicit so much outrage in Uganda? Most people seem to be arguing that the film misrepresents the situation in Northern Uganda, over simplifies the narrative and gets a lot of facts wrong. I agree for the most part (like my brother pointed out, Uganda is NOT in Central Africa). But then again, the film was never about the facts. To claim that Kony 2012 misrepresents the facts is as off the mark as insisting that because Rwenzori is not the highest mountain in the world, it therefore follows that its peak has no glaciers. Part of the statement quotes an irrefutable fact, the other a disconnected and erroneous conclusion.  Kony2012 is about causing awareness about Kony and pressurizing the international community to help arrest him by end of year. Now if the film is to be judged against these two goals, I’d say Invisible Children has exceeded its first goal and is well on its way to achieving the second. But perhaps the greatest success that this film has had over the past two weeks, is in getting people to ask with me the second question: who is Kony and by extension, LRA?
Professor Mahmood Mamdani, an expert on regional political affairs and a person I would think twice contradicting wrote a few days ago that “the LRA is a raggedy bunch of a few hundred at most, poorly equipped, poorly armed, and poorly trained people.” He concludes that this means the LRA does not require military intervention and peace can only be achieved through a political approach. Well, I thought twice.
Until 2005 when Kony last attacked parts of Acholi sub-region, no adult or child below the age of 20 in the region had known what it means to live in relative peace. To date, the majority of people living in the area are either first hand victims, or have had a relative massacred or mutilated by Kony’s army. Now, the debate about whether or not the UPDF participated in these killings may –and should- go on, but it does not somehow make vindicate Kony. To argue against arresting and charging Kony simply because no UPDF soldier has been indicted is to be both irrational and insensitive towards the victims of the war; for while UPDF’s misdeeds are a subject of current debate, Kony’s are not. Both tactical and strategic commonsense would suggest that in the fight against evil, we begin action on the things we agree about and move towards those we don’t. Let’s arrest and try Kony and hopefully, more truth will come out during his trial that will build a clearer picture on UPDF’ s alleged misdeeds.
So maybe instead of engaging in intellectual debate about the fairness and accuracy of Kony2012, we should be asking ourselves how long we will let the man who is responsible for a generational civil unrest continue to roam this continent unchallenged, while his victims suffer the consequences of our inaction. We owe it to the next generation to sort out the mess that was caused during ours. A lawyer friend once told me that in the course of seeking redress, one of the fundamental principles of the law is that justice must not only be served, but it must also be seen to be served. It is not enough to say Kony will never attack the Acholi sub-region again. Wheter he attacks or not, real peace will only be achieved either upon his arrest and trial in the courts of law, or if his victims categorically declare their forgiveness towards him. And whichever way you look at it, this film; Kony2012 has forced the international community and even some among us to ask ourselves the hard question; what can I do?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Christians and Politics: Should We Get Involved?

Every now and then, Christian leaders across the country have come out to speak either for or against national political issues. Almost invariably, government has responded to their comments with the classic assertion that religious leaders must avoid engaging in politics and should only stick to issues directly related to faith. While some argue that religious leaders have the moral and spiritual obligation to speak out against political evils and in support of sound political issues, others maintain that the doctrine of separation of powers implies by extension, that Church leaders refrain from mixing up religion with politics.
The proponents of religion not mixing with politics have some valid arguments. Right from the days of the Roman Empire, when emperors used Christianity as an excuse to pursue their political agenda, the mixing of politics and religion has been a hot issue. One of the risks faced when the two are combined, is that faith, which is a highly personal and internal decision, is then measured by external factors. So for instance, to be regarded a Christian, one would be required to support the Anti-homosexuality bill or support the president in lifting term limits (because the President would be the spiritual head of the nation). This of course would water down the Christian faith to be nothing more than a political party.

The second danger of mixing politics with faith is that one runs the risk of branding believers the good people and the non-believers the evil people. It is such situations that led to the Christian crusades in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. On July 11th last year, we all felt the ultimate price innocent ‘kafirs’ paid in the name of the Al Shabab jihadists. It is therefore plausible for one to advocate for a clear distinction between the state and the Church.

Yet this distinction never be interpreted to mean that the two are unrelated. Christianity, as many other faiths has a direct implication to one’s social, physical and political view of life. For instance, when Christians are asked if women should be paid as much as men at the workplace, they are bound to ask themselves, “What does the bible say about this?” Of course the bible clearly states that men and women are equal in the eyes of God. Now if it so happens that government policies favor men over women, the Christian finds himself in a position where he must speak out against this policy because it is in direct violation of what he knows to be true.

The obligation to speak out against such injustices is even greater for Church leaders. While their followers can live out their faith at work and home, these leaders are expressly commanded by the bible to do the same in the pulpit. Hear what God commands them in Proverbs 31:8-9

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Failure to do so in fear of political retribution would amount to failure to be the pastor, bishop or Archbishop they are meant to be. For us Christians, the world is our practicing ground. Our faith is not to be hidden and acted out in the privacy of our homes alone but also in the full view of all that we come across.

Yet even as I write this, I am not unaware of those amongst the Christians who would use the pulpit for political interests. I have interacted with Christian leaders whose real heart is after political leadership and so, whose actions in Church will only be targeting to boost their chances at the polls. These are neither the people I seek to address nor the ones that really matter to the Church. Rather, I am talking about the Christian out there, who in one way or another has their sphere of leadership and is earnestly wondering whether he or she should speak out about a political injustice in their workplace, community or home.

As Christians, we are stripped of all our moral authority the moment we begin preaching against an injustice and then keep silent after receiving the benediction. Am I saying, for instance, that we should all oppose government over its arrest of Dr. Kiiza Besigye and Nobert Mao? Well, if we are all convinced that this was an act that deprived the two of their God-given and constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech and expression so be it. If anyone amongst the brethren feels otherwise, then again, it is incumbent upon him or her to express their views on the matter. In other words, regardless of your political inclinations and biases, speak out clearly in defense of those things that God has said in His word.

We cannot continue to claim we are a Christian nation and yet we top the world rankings in alcohol consumption, are perpetually among the top ten most corrupt countries and slay our children in the name of sacrifices for riches. If 86% of Ugandans are Christians, why are over 53% of our children facing domestic violence? Why do our parliamentarians receive 20m bribes? More importantly, why do we vote them back into parliament? Why, despite having attained recognition as a republic over four decades ago, do we have Christians from certain ethnic groups still call brethren from other ethnic groups derogatory names? If our words do not ring true-at least in part- in your life, we would do well reciting a disclaimer before preaching the gospel! But until such a time, let every Christian in Uganda call their leaders to accountability. Let us demand that the roads to our churches and workplace be as beautifully done as those that lead to our leaders’ mansions. And as we make these demands, let us be sure to have our driving permits and refuse to bribe our brethren in the police!

Monday, October 4, 2010

What About Me: Focusing on the Boy-Child As An Integral Part of the Search for Gender Equality

I live in a country with one of the youngest populations in the world. Over 56% of our population consists of children and teenagers. It may be said that this is a direct result of a very high fertility rate as well as early pregnancies. Indeed it is not uncommon to see a fifteen year old girl walking around with one hand in her mother’s hand and another on her swelling belly; her mother’s grandchild therein. Yet true as these statements may be, they do not account for the absence of the older generation. That many are born, in fact, should ordinarily be a projection that many will live. This is not so. Uganda’s life expectancy currently stands at 53. Our fight against HIV, hitherto raised as the beacon of hope for Sub-Saharan Africa, is now on the decline with married and sexually active couples most at risk. In 2009, Unicef reported that 51% of infant deaths occurred in Africa, the percentage rising slightly in Uganda’s case. In other words, so many are born, yet few live out their full potential.

In the midst of these tragic statistics lay a minority group of vulnerable (and often unattended) human beings. They continue to be ignored, their rights violated, their sense of identity scarred and their very existence in peril. They are the unmentioned children, noticed only through omission in the phrase “the girl child”. They are the boy-child.

The twentieth century was marked, among other things, by the rise and prominence of the feminist movement and advocacy for the girl-child rights. In my country, phrases like “affirmative-action” were used to refer to the act of granting the girl child extra marks at school, preferential treatment as a minority group and an effective tool for politicians to garner support. We were told that the girl child lacks many things; equal access to education, job opportunities based on merit, equal status in marriage, career and almost any other sector of life. The girl-child was pronounced an apparent second-class citizen in need of much support, encouragement and favor, if she was ever going to realize her full potential.  While this sounds extremely noble in theory and could be backed up by statistics of child abuse, neglect and societal norms, its implementation down the years has been far removed from the theory and in many ways counter-productive. The push for girl-child rights, in Uganda, as in most areas in the world, has come almost always at the expense of the boy-child’s rights. While the girl child’s self esteem has been boosted and her dreams encouraged, the boy child has faded off to oblivion, only surfacing when being told not to be like his father, who beats up his mother, steals public funds or commits some crime of sorts.

In Uganda, more than half the children live in households with absentee-fathers. Of those whose fathers are present, only a handful gets to experience the love, guidance and mentorship that fathers are ideally meant to provide. For the most part, children are raised by single-mothers, grandmothers or mother-figures. I seek neither to belittle these women’s efforts no scoff at their ability to raise children in the best way they know how. Yet it still must be said that there is an almost indelible scar left on children who grow up without ever knowing what it means to have a father.

This mark is more pronounced in the boy-child.  The odds against a boy-child in Uganda today are almost insurmountable. With absolutely no yardstick given to him for responsibility by his father, a society that assumes he is more privileged than his sister and a world with so many trappings and impediments to his dreams, the boy-child begins his journey through life with bitterness and unanswered questions as his only sure companions. As a child, he sees his sister being taught to kneel when greeting her elders and wonders what he should do to show his respect; silence. When he comes home from the playground, he finds his sister helping mother prepare the evening meal and wonders exactly how the matooke and fish he so loves to eat are prepared; silence. When he grows older he begins to notice hair growing on the private parts of his body. His sister has a similar puzzle, but it is explained to her when she comes home one day screaming in dismay at the blood on her dress that appeared from nowhere as she drew water from the well. For the boy-child, it’s silence as usual. When in their teens, the girl-child is told never to come home beyond six O’clock. She is chastised and sometimes beaten when seen with the neighbor’s son at the village market. When the boy all of a sudden starts having an indescribable attraction to the neighbor’s daughter, all he gets is a wry smile from the village drunkard, a thumbs up from his childhood friend and a tantalizing giggle from the girl. And all the while, society looks on, totally oblivious to the questions that go unanswered in the boy-child’s mind and the growing sense of reckless freedom he is developing. After all, he is a boy and highly ‘favored’ by society.

Fast forward such patterns to twenty years ahead and what do you have? On one hand, an uneducated yet responsible woman tending her home with maturity and responsibility, as she was taught. She most likely will have three or so children and a small garden that she daily tills to produce her family’s food. She will, on the other hand, be married to an absentee husband, whose only role in the family is to come home drunk from a day of inactivity (or indecent activity if any), physically abuse the sex-object he calls his wife, demand for food he has never known how to cook, go to a bed he has no idea how to make and forcibly make another baby he has no idea how to raise. It this boy-child, assumedly favored with freedom, education and status, that grows up into an idler. And whether we like it or not, he takes his family with him into the vicious cycle of poverty. After all, the boy is now a man; the head of the family.

How is it that in so short a time, the world has become so sensitive to the issues facing the girl child, and forgotten all about her brother? How can we claim to be building a better world when on one hand, we claim to recognize the man as the head of the family and on the other, castrate him at birth and crush any possibility of him ever being the man we hope he’ll become? With all the non-government organizations and government policies in Uganda calling upon men to stop violence against women, one would think that men, despite the care, mentorship, love and education handed down to them since childhood, have insisted on abusing women. But today’s abusive husband was yesterday’s abandoned boy-child. And so I ask, who watches out for the rights of the boy-child to grow up in the knowledge and practice of his rights and responsibilities? Certainly not his absentee father. When he grows up and becomes a teenager, who protects him from the tyranny of skimply-dressed girls that he sees on the streets or the uncanny “sugar-mummy” that promises him twenty thousand shillings for a piece of his virgin flesh? Certainly not the anti cross-generational sex billboards that warn older men not to take advantage of young girls. When it comes to policy and political activism, who pressures the government into coming up with programs that enable boys to grow up into responsible, fulfilled and mature citizens? Most definitely not the feminists and girl-rights groups that are spending billions in female-supremacy campaigns. We too often are too busy or too proud to admit that sometimes, the men who make it to the front page of the newspaper for gang raping a woman are in fact yesterday’s boys who learnt (through absence of counsel in the presence of temptation) that they can get away with anything and their sisters will do nothing to him because he is a boy. 

Am I justifying crime and domestic violence? Most definitely not. All I am saying is that perhaps we have our priorities wrong. Maybe, in our haste to rescue the girl-child from the unquestionable distress she goes through, we have been too subjective to recognize the true source of gender imbalance. If we were to trace the lines of prejudice and male chauvinism present in today’s Ugandan (and indeed African) man, we would find that its source (at the very least, in part) lies in his neglect as a boy. If boys had a father to guide them, a mother to love them and a society that recognizes them as much at risk as their female companions, maybe they would grow up feeling less vulnerable, defensive and pressured to prove themselves men. The society that points a finger at men and their chauvinism must also be ready to admit its role in failing them as boys.

I fear that by focusing all our energies on the fulfillment and self-actualization of the girl-child, we have-by commission or omission-neglected an equally pressing duty of educating, equipping and mentoring boys to become men. By putting women first and treating as sacred, their will to power, we are creating in today’s society, a dormant, apathetic and frustrated breed of males. We have to realize that the journey toward gender equality is a double-lane. We cannot use the term to mean the act of empowering girls, without simultaneously implying the need to equip boys. The boy-child in Uganda has dreams and aspirations too; visions of the future that can only be birthed in a society that recognizes and supports them. If this does not happen, we will continue birthing men whose neglect and irrelevance during their childhood’s social agenda make it impossible for them to actively participate in today’s gender equality crusade.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Anti-Gay Bill and Christianity: Does God Want The Bill Passed?

Given the international uproar the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has raised, one would be forgiven to imagine Ugandans have no opinion on the issue. In fact, I read an article in an online magazine, Christianity Today, which credited the anti-homosexuality debate in Uganda to Evangelical American Christians who visited the country earlier last year and applauded Uganda for its resistance to homosexuality. Like Bishop Zac Niringiye aptly put it, such implications are extremely disrespectful (and I would add) racially charged. To suggest that our sentiments and opinions on issues are shaped entirely by what the West preaches to us is just another example of how patronising developed countries can be.

Even more patronising are the various Western governments’ comments on the issue. Instead of trying to engage Uganda in a civil, respectful discussion on the merits and demerits of the Bill, they have proceeded in the best way they know how; threats of cutting aid and diplomatic squabbles. Barack Obama, who has continuously dodged the issue of gays (trying as usual to please both conservatives and liberals) had the audacity to pronounce the Bill inconsistent with “the tide of history”, whatever that meant. Sometimes I feel that this Bill should pass, if only to shut down such arrogant utterances.

But that’s just a feeling and he that allows passion to override reason achieves nothing but isolation and irrelevance. My more important concern is this; what should be a lay Christian’s reaction to the Bill? Or rather, what does this Bill require of me as a professing Christian?

Personally, I find that it puts me in a very difficult position of opposing its passing while having to defend my faith against the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights movement. The Bill as it is contains more hatred for homosexuals than respect for the Ugandan culture and traditional family it seeks to protect. Furthermore, it includes the death penalty, an act I am compelled, both as Christian and human being, to object to. Life, regardless of how criminal and wretched, is divinely given and therefore should only be divinely taken.

My greatest opposition to the Bill however, lies in its infringement upon free will. As a journalist and Christian, I am convinced that God’s creation of and respect for human free will is one of the most distinguishing aspects of human beings. Throughout the Bible, God is faced with the dilemma of loving a people who not only defy Him, but reject the very things that would grant them life. And so Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, the Israelites turn away from God to worship a golden idol, the Pharisees call Christ an abomination and for good measure, God Himself is crucified by His creation! We humans have the uncanny tendency of rejecting life-giving paths in favour of destructive ones. Yet it is amazing that regardless of how pathetically profane humanity became, God never once revoked our ability to choose to do evil, even when it cost Him His Son. Homosexuality is by all measures abominable to God. No bible-reading, spirit-led Christian denies that. But then, as abominable to God are other acts. Revelations 21:8 stipulates that the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and liars are condemned to hell. The God who demands sexual purity from us also demands honesty and unwavering faith.

So why will we let our politicians get away with lying to us about valley dams and kill the homosexual? Why will we let our pastors get away with adultery and turn our wrath on two unbelieving males who happen to knowingly choose to do the abominable?

Let me be clear here, I do not rather that everyone be granted the freedom to do evil in the name of free will. All I am saying is that the way of Christ has never been legalism and now is not the time to start. Christians now, as always should strive to uphold morality in society through prayer and persuasion, not compulsion and the fear of a death penalty.

Whatever legal backing we would need in the fight against homosexuality is already provided in the Constitution and Penal Code that outlaw and penalise same-sex marriage. I reject as false the idea that homosexuality has become such a national pandemic that it demands further parliamentary legislation on the issue. I further reject as untrue the notion that as a Christian, I must support the Bill. While I continue to speak unequivocally against homosexuality and other moral evils plaguing this nation, I believe that Christ and not a flimsy law is the answer to homosexuality. And before I am branded a liberal Christian, one would do well to remember that it was Christ, not the Pharisees that pardoned the adulterous woman. It is Christ, not the law that invites all who will dare to believe, murderer and saint alike, into everlasting life. If we are to be called a Christian, may it be said that at such a defining moment in our nation’s history, when faced with the choice between supporting or opposing legislation against homosexuals, we rejected both and instead chose the higher way of Christ crucified; love.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Tale of A Bomb, A Tear and the Redness Of Blood

Dying is an eventuality all of us must face, regardless of what view we hold on it. But truth be told, there is death and there is death. The agony of losing a loved one so suddenly and hopelessly, to a cause as evil and cruel as the July 11 bombings in Kampala is perhaps the latter kind of death. Our mourning as a country may be done, but for the families and friends of the deceased, I doubt that it will end soon.

Our nation is in theory, a Christian one. Yet in practice, our deeds seem very far from our lips. Child sacrifice, kidnapping, alcoholism, witchcraft, corruption…the list is endless. However, the July 11 tragedy brought to the forefront an uncommon phenomenon among Ugandans. And if we are to be any wiser, we will do well to learn the important and positive lessons that dark night taught us..

The first and perhaps most important lesson we could learn from the bombings, is that our perceived ethnic differences are only noted and respected by us. When Al-Shabab terrorists, and indeed the rest of the world think of Uganda, it is in the context of 32,369,558 people spread over an area of 91127 square miles. To them, we are Ugandans; period. And so when bombs or global fund resources are sent to us, they are targeting Baganda and Banyankole alike. When the bombs go off and the money is swindled, Bagisu, Acholi and Japadhola are affected in equal measure. Regardless of what we may want to believe about our cultures and origins, we can no longer afford to let our ethnicity come before our nationality. To paraphrase Peter Abraham’s Xuma; I am first a Ugandan, then a Muyankole.

But perhaps the most important lesson we could pick from last month’s tragedy is not a lesson at all; rather a realization that what we seem to be is not who we actually are. I have lived just over two score years in this world. Short as this may seem, I had never before seen Ugandans as united in affliction and resolve as on that dark July night. A friend’s Facebook status captured it best.

“Oh Uganda, may God uphold thee….” he wrote.

For a country with a past and future seem more unpredictable than Russian roulette, these words should come as an affirmation that if we look deep enough into our hearts, we’d be pleasantly surprised to find not only the ability to be a tolerant nation, but a patriotic one. Before us are two paths to trade as our post-bombings options.

The first is one we’ve trodden and know only too well; pessimism at our best and indifference the rest of the time. We Ugandans seem to have developed the curiously unnatural capacity to stare without blinking as our children are kidnapped and murdered, our heritage sites destroyed and our oil stolen. We seem to have become so used to corruption that among our intellectuals, the debate has shifted from whether what happens is actually corruption, or simply taking care of our families and relatives as culture demands!

The second path has been trodden by a mighty few of our brethren and more often than not, they’ve been either killed along the way or buried beyond memory. It is the path of patriotism. The aftermath of the July 11 bombings gave us a glimpse, however short, of the potential we have as a republic to rise above our differences for the common good of all. In them, we have the opportunity to renew the spirit of our nation. To recognize that our destiny is unalterably the same and that the stroke of history’s pen will judge us as a people; not based on our ethnicity, but on the content of this nation’s character. If we were able to rise in one accord against a foe so vile and distant as Al-Shabab, then surely we can find common ground as citizens of this hallowed nation. If we can raise enough faith in ourselves and each other, trust in our neighbors and goodwill amongst our leaders, then maybe we can make the blood of our fallen brethren count for something.