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The Pearl of Africa

Sunday 9th October 2022, Independence Day.

60 years since Uganda was a British protectorate. A moment for Uganda to stand proud? A moment for Britain to reflect? I am conflicted. I sense that many Ugandans celebrate with reservation. Sceptical about the political leadership in the face of the great rich poor divides evident everywhere. The Pearl of Africa continues to be forged through struggle, responding with determination each time grit enters the system, a constant turmoil of activity. People in an unending search for opportunities and resources, applying creativity and ingenuity to find ways forward. Overwhelming needs all around. Complex webs of community; familial ties, ethnic bonds, shared experiences, shifting political alliances. Hard to look ahead when living in uncertainty and constant change. Hard to plan, hard to predict, hard to commit.

And yet there is laughter, joy and even hope.

Britain left Uganda having reorganised boundaries, set up administrative structures, introduced new systems for education, health care, legislation and finance. Full of hope in the newly established democracy and confident in the theory of trickle-down economics, western ideologies which were thought to be universally useful.

Much has changed, much change was needed. Through the ups and downs of the past 60 years Uganda has experienced civil war and insurgency, political mismanagement and ethnic tension. Uganda has also experienced remarkable economic growth, developed effective community led governance, attracted international investment and become a stable host for many of its neighbours.

And so how can CMS Ireland draw alongside this remarkable people, avoiding the pitfalls of the past? What are the implications for the church to church partnerships we broker? How can the differences in experience, perspective, culture and material wealth be managed? How can they best bring enlightenment and enrich our discipleship and impact the life of the church?

As we join the journey, let us do so with humility, travelling in companionship, listening to one another as we search together, learning together and working to bring God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

‘Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel’ Philippians 1:27


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