Uganda like other developing countries adopted stabilization and structural adjustment (Washington Consensus) programs (SAPs) since the 1980s with a focus on export-oriented economic growth; fiscal discipline to balance the budget through inter alia retrenchment of public servants; inflation control through high interest rates that discouraged borrowing and reduced the quantity of money in circulation and economic liberalization that fostered competition and freed trade. The invisible hand of the market mechanism and individual entrepreneurship (laissez-faire) would drive economic growth while governments generally took a back seat. The human rights sectors of food security, education, healthcare, housing and work that form the foundation of nation building were starved of resources because they were considered non-productive in the short-run.
Volcanoes are classed as active,
intermittent, dormant or extinct. Active volcanoes erupt constantly while intermittent
ones erupt at fairly regular intervals. On the other hand dormant or sleeping
volcanoes have become inactive while extinct ones have been inactive since the
beginning of recorded history.
Human societies have, by and large,
been divided into two major categories – the active or intermittent and the
dormant or extinct. The elites and other urban dwellers are regarded as
politically, economically and socially active or intermittent. To contain this
group, rulers have devised mechanisms to appease them.
Peasants, on the other hand, are
treated as extinct or dormant at best. To keep them in their place, priests have
preached to them in Europe and in the colonies that the afterlife would be
better for them than the earthly life. Against this background, they have been
mercilessly exploited to satisfy the needs of the urban dwellers and the
Prior to the 1970s, missionaries
provided distinguished services including education, healthcare and spiritual prayer.
Much of this has been lost. The purpose of this article is to give younger generations
an idea of what existed between 1900 and 1970 in order to enable them to
compare with what is going on in their churches at the moment. To this end, an examination
of services rendered by priests then in the Protestant church in the Rujumbura
area of Rukungiri district will be undertaken.
Priests worked full time on church
related matters, recruiting worshippers, teaching them to read the bible,
conducting marriage ceremonies, baptizing and confirming children and spreading
the word of God and counseling couples that faced challenges in their marriage.
Prior to Uganda’s independence in
1962, the people of Rujumbura in Rukungiri district cared for and protected one
another. Community responsibility and reciprocity was very strong. When children
were found doing something wrong, they were warned and their parents or
relatives were informed. Lost and found objects including money would be
returned to the owner. When someone fell sick, the neighbors would get together
and help as much as possible including taking the patient to the hospital, and
where necessary the children would stay with neighbors until the situation
improved. When there was a function, such as a wedding, neighbors would
contribute labor, foodstuffs and other materials.
Students were especially treated
with kindness and generosity by all, receiving food, drinks and rides. New
arrivals in a community such as teachers would be helped as they settled down. During
the 1950s and 1960s, Rujumbura received migrants from Kabale. They spent the
nights on church premises most of the time as the churches were considered most
secure. They received all the help the host could muster without distinction. All
these services were provided free.
Those who believe in prevention
rather than cure and those who love Uganda and her people should begin to pay
immediate attention to the rapidly deteriorating economic, social and
environmental conditions. A country – where twenty percent of the population
own over fifty percent of the economy, where an increasing number of people are
eating one meal a day of cassava or maize, where forty percent of children
under five years of age are stunted, where 12 percent of infants are born with
low weight because their mothers are under-nourished, where around 80 percent
of children drop out of school largely because they are hungry, where farmers
are encouraged to grow food for cash rather than for the stomach, where
peasants are diversifying into pigs and chickens as in the Middle Ages, where
parents are marrying off their daughters at tender ages in order to make ends
meet, where young girls are marrying old men already married with more than one
wife because they want to survive, where unemployment and the associated crime
and violence are on the rise, where rivers are disappearing, lakes are shrinking
and water tables are dropping, where wetlands, forests and fisheries are in
danger of extinction, where droughts and floods are increasing in frequency and
intensity, where two growing seasons are merging into one because of adverse
changes in weather patterns, where agricultural productivity is dropping, where
infrastructure and energy are falling behind demand, where conflicts over land
and water between herders, cultivators and game wardens are growing, where
education and health systems are decaying, where rapid economic growth is
delinked from social conditions, where educated and experienced Ugandans are
leaving the country, where income gaps between classes and regions are widening
and where the use of secondhand products including clothes has replaced new
ones – is a country in real trouble indeed.
The Enlightenment (or the Age of
Reason or the Age of Rationalism) was a period from the 1600s through the 1700s
when European philosophers emphasized the use of reason as the best method for
learning the truth. The Scientific Revolution (from 1500s) and the
Enlightenment periods marked a shift in emphasis from authoritative truth – the
truth God had revealed in the holy scripture concerning man’s origin and
destiny – to factual, objective truth regarding the processes and laws
governing the natural world. Emphasis also shifted from the next world
(afterlife) to now. The developments in science and technology had much in
common with and were enriched by earlier path-breaking work of rabs, Persians,
Chinese and Indians between the third and fifteen centuries.
The scientific and rationalist
terms describe interrelated and sequential European intellectual movements.
Together they shaped an era that would lay the foundations of modern western
civilization – foundations that required the use of reason, or rational thought,
to understand the universe, nature and human relations.
There are reports that authorities and
researchers in Uganda are encouraging rapid rural to urban migration in order
to speed up the process of modernization including industrialization. Presently
about 10 percent of Uganda’s population reside in urban areas. The economic, social
and environmental challenges are already enormous even with this small
percentage of urban dwellers. Do the authorities and researchers have plans for
jobs, food, transport, housing, schools, health, sanitation and recreation facilities
to absorb such an influx of poor and functionally illiterate people as being
encouraged to reside in towns? Do they have a time frame within which to
realize this goal? In order to give an idea about the dangers ahead, let us
look briefly at what happened in European towns particularly Britain that
experienced rapid urban population growth.