29 July 2011
As a lifelong resident of Uganda and Africa as well as president of the Atheist Association of Uganda, I have a good idea of the conditions and challenges that Africans face to live.
Africa is perhaps the most miserable place the world has ever known. This fact is all but ignored by the media in western countries. Most of the governments here, although calling themselves promoters of democracy, are ruthless dictatorships, ruled by greed and callous disregard for human life and dignity. They are supported by religious institutions that desire a share in the power, and they are supported by the "Western World" because they can still exploit them for profit.The misery of Africa and poor Africans should make the rest of the world hang their heads in shame. In my country Uganda and Africa in general, we are in the same social position that Europe was for two thousand years until the early nineteen hundreds. But this has given groups like AAU reason to stand up and challenge these mercenaries.
In Europe, the poor were slaves, exploited on farms and in factories. There was no care for their health or well-being, children were sent to the mines or to slave for 14 hours a day in terrible factories. That was the system the colonizers brought to our lovely Africa when they colonized us.
In Europe they got rid of tribal differences, got rid of religion in government through instituting separation of religion from government and only then could they move on and create a decent society. Until we do this, change and civilization is still decades away from us here in Africa. Tribalism and nepotism are far worse than racism. With your support, we can play our role.
Uganda is a country that is effectively a criminal theocracy. Our president for life, President Museveni, his wife, and their daughters, are pastors and run a church alongside the State. Their church is called the Covenant Nations Church and it is headed by Museveni’s daughter Patience Rwaboogo Museveni. Her church services are aired on the national television channel, LTV, here in Kampala. Museveni’s supporters have now created a cult that you might call “Musevenism”, where Museveni is elevated to the status of a god.
Uganda is a very hard place to live in. There are very few jobs, and they are given to friends of the current regime. Western missionaries are rampant and are given privileged access to state leaders and institutions. And western donations pour into our local churches, creating powerful fiefdoms among the religious caste. These clergy demand that our state parliament pass laws that support their worldview, for instance, making homosexuality a capital criminal offense; while at the same time, children are regularly abused by religious leaders without consequence.
We have heard President Museveni himself telling Ugandans to trust and respect God by not challenging him on many issues failing our country. His wife Janet Museveni is the patron of all Pentecostal churches of Uganda as well as a Member of the Ugandan Parliament. When she was running for Parliament, she told the masses that God sent her to run for a political office and that she has God’s phone number.
Despite these claims, the Museveni regime is the most corrupt and oppressive government. The Musevenis enjoy luxury that is blessed and endorsed by the religious leaders yet at the expense of taxpayers. The president regularly and publicly opens the tax coffers for religious leaders and religions to spread his prestige while hospitals go unfunded and without supplies and many women die during childbirth.
Besides being a Member of Parliament, Mrs Museveni is also a state minister in charge of Kalamoja, a far northeastern part of Uganda, where citizens are dying of famine because of an extended multi-year drought. People there are so hungry they are eating mango leaves to try to survive. [Note: Mango leaves are indigestible and akin to sandpaper.] Yet Minister Museveni does not make arrangements to provide food or water - we do not even hear her praying for rains. What she has done since she joined the Parliament is make and promote bills That made the 8th OctoberNational Prayer Day. This is a new national holiday that is celebrated one day ahead of National Independence Day which comes on 9th October of each year.
addition to the failing and impotent state institutions, 80% of all the
information broadcasted in Uganda’s
media, both on air and in print, is religious. We have more than 30 radio
stations purposely built to just promote religion and President Museveni. All
powers are in the hands of the President: Nothing can be reported without his
endorsement. Even the secular media houses are required to make 75% of
their broadcasting religious. Our people are being fed government-sponsored
religion night and day to help distract them from their misery and poverty.
Then we have the unfriendly bullying religionists, women and men, young and old, Islamists and Christians standing on every street corner of Kampala from morning to evening, shouting to passers-by to turn to their gods and loudly praying for a decaying city which they have branded the “city of God”. These preachers are encouraged by the Musevenis. It is actually a good job, because many people contribute money to them. We also have churches and mosques competing with one another by turning their outside loud-speakers to maximum decibels from dusk to dawn.
- Mr. Kirumira Mpagi Micheal
President, Atheist Association of Uganda
Former church planter / missionary