Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy Independence Day, Uganda!

On October 9 Uganda celebrates Independence Day. Prior to its independence in 1962, Uganda was ruled as a British colony. Uganda's early leadership history is marked by first having joint leadership between an elected president and a kabaka (king). The pair was overthrown, the kingdoms abolished, and a new president was appointed without elections. In 1971 Idi Amin successfully overthrew the current leadership in a military coup, where more than 300,000 Ugandans lost their lives and where he forcibly removed the Indian minority (the entrepreneurs of the country). The Uganda-Tanzania war removed Amin and restored the former president. Then the Bush War, led my yet-to-be president Museveni, deposed the former president and carried out mass killings of non-combatants. During Museveni's reign since 1986, the Lord's Resistance Army (led by Joseph Kony) was responsible for child slavery, mass murders and more.

In the 52 years of its independence, Uganda has struggled much and the potential for history to repeat itself increases as Museveni refuses to relinquish the presidency and as those who seek to replace him are somehow forcibly "discouraged." Citizens express a great deal of frustration over this problem and feel helpless to do anything about it.

Despite these exceedingly difficult events in their short history, there are a few bright spots. For example, as a foreigner I am allowed access to the country without a long and questionable visa application process. I am permitted to form a business and a ministry here without disturbance. I am able to obtain a work permit by following the proper procedure and paying the posted fees. I can walk the streets in safety. I can travel alone pretty much anywhere in the country and not be bothered by armies, gangs of thieves, cattle raiders, or other mass problem-makers. I can buy my food in the fresh food market or the supermarket…or I can grow it on my own land. Most importantly, I can exercise my religious freedom by attending whatever church I wish whenever I wish to attend. I can play worship music in my home and spilling out my windows. I can pray with someone on the street. I can love and serve the Lord openly and without fear.

Yes, there are LOTS (and I'm not kidding when I say LOTS) of things that are broken in Uganda. Oh so broken! But instead I chose to focus on seeking first his Kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33) because I can. I can love Jesus freely and openly in Uganda, when there are so many others who can't.