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Father Claude

As I was saying.....

I embrace the world from my backyard at the University of Portland, January 1, 2018. I again invite you to "clod-hop" with me on my journeys to Latin America via this blog. More...

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Last Post From Kampala (Category: Uganda)

A FEW IMAGES AS I LEAVE KAMPALA. The images that dominate the international imagination of Ugandas are the death of Margaret Thatcher and a peaceful transfer of power in Kenya. The Iron Maiden, as the pundits and cartoonists loved to depict her, was larger than life in Africa. The image of a Prime Minister who supported the Apartheid regimes of South Africa and denounced the freedom fighters of that countryfollows her to the grave -in spite of the dramatic turnaround of President de Klerk. The event that riveted Ugandans to their TV sets was theInauguration of President Kenyatta on Tuesday. Events in Kenya, especially a peaceful transfer of power is watched carefully by Ugandans. Uganda is a country where democratic elections and peaceful transfer of power appear as cruel hallucination. Kenyan newscasters favorably compared the significance of this inauguration with that of President Obama. Ugandans watched this event wistfully. Last week, President Museveni announced that he is forming a new brigade of 500 loyal storm troopers in order to "maintain the peace" when elections are held in this country, for elections, 3 years from now. No one doubts that Museveni has no intention of losing his grip on power. As Kenya moves in the direction of Ghana, some fear that Uganda is on the slippery slope to Mugabe's authoritarian  government to the south.

TWO POSITIVE EXPERIENCES RELATED TO EDUCATION.  I was privileged to attend a convocation of influential  and articulate academics at Makerere University, a large public institution in Kampala celebrating the legacy of Chenua Achebe. The symposium was organized and managed by one of Africa's outstanding social scholars Mahmood Mamdani. The students who packed the large auditorium heard personal testimonies about Achebe, and how this literary giant helped to give Ugandans (and all Africans) a confident voice for abetter future. I was also privileged to address a class at one of Uganda's best private universities, Uganda Martyrs University.  During exchanges after the presentation, it became obvious that young scholars in this country resent the negative image of their country, "land of Idi Amin" with its continued corrupt culture and poor educational institutions.

I MARVEL AT THIS POTENTIALLY RICH COUNTRY STILL SEARCHING FOR AN IDENTITY. Uganda consists of several kingdoms, big and small,  of many languages and distinct ethnicities, of all major Christian denominations, Muslims and Jews, all living and working together. Its roads and infrastructure are a disaster. It's animals, plants, birds and mountains that suggest an earthly paradise. Any discussion of topics such as the proposed Marriage and Divorce Legislation (that attempts to define and legislate marital rape), proposed zero tolerance for drinking (that's right ZERO TOLERANCE -- a speed-trap paradise for local  police). human rights for gays, and -- horror of horrors -- same sex marriages,  and all these topics produce heated arguments that quickly lead to "conversion disorder", aka hysteria.

I CANNOT END THIS POSTING without some mention of the wide range of Ugandan responses to the election of a non-Italian / non-European pope. Most Ugandans are delighted with the simplification of rituals and a renewed focus on the poor. However, one frequently hears warnings that this Pope goes too far ("My God, he  washed the feet of a Muslim girl. Isn't hat's forbidden by Rome?"). One also hears that a papal tradition that is a  survivor of French meddling through Avignon, of Martin Luther, and of numerous nefarious heresies, that this struggling and true Church may have finally elected its own heretical Pope, who runs the risk of repeating the errors of Vatican II.    Amen to that, baby.

 


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