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Uganda's Presidential Statement

Early this year, Y. K. Museveni, Uganda's President, described by the Reuters news agency as "one of the most outspoken proponents of change in Africa," gave a speech so explicit in its description of Christianity's role in the continent. Oh that all presidents and leaders would follow in Museveni's footsteps.

"Honourable ladies and gentlemen, I would like to share some thoughts with you about the spiritual situation of Africa's peoples. I see the tribal differences, poverty and illness, lacking resources for educating our children, political and racial problems. It is obvious that the principles of Jesus Christ have not yet sufficiently permeated Africa!

It may seem strange that I speak so openly about Christ. I know that many will think that this is simply a religious statement and not a very practical solution to the problems which I mentioned. Now, I am not a very religious person; I even have problems with very religious people, as those who know me can confirm. Everyone who claims to love God should also love each other. This is one of the basic characteristics of every follower of Christ. In him, I find the inner strength, principles and lifestyle which can help me and all of Uganda's peoples to solve our individual and national problems.

One of the most interesting facts about Jesus Christ is that in every nation on earth, no matter which religion is practised, he is regarded as the greatest authority on human relationships ever to have lived. His views on this subject transcend all cultures and religions and are accepted by all people. I'd like to pick up on three of his principles which, if we can put them into practice, will help Africa. I'm speaking of forgiveness, humility and love.

Forgiveness: Jesus Christ is the only person who spoke of unconditional forgiveness, even towards personal enemies. How, in countries at war since generations, can any person or nation find peace unless we at some point forgive and leave God to judge over our enemies, if he so chooses. It has been discovered that, if we do not forgive, we hurt ourselves more than those we hate. I have reached the conclusion that Christ's message about forgiveness is the only practical solution for a nation's wounds, and the only way to true unity.

Humility: One of the greatest requirements for becoming a good leader. Many leaders follow their desire for power, their greed and their own interests. Once they achieve prominence, they suddenly forget the people around them, with their poverty and needs. They forget that they could become great instruments of help for their countries, and behave like small kings and dictators. Only if we humbly recognise that those with great responsibility are in truth only servants of God and people will we be able to lead our peoples out of their third-world existence into a new future. The Bible says: "God withstands the proud and helps the humble." If you have time to pray for me, please pray that God will give me the strength, wisdom and understanding to be humble.

Love: I find it fascinating to see that since centuries, those people who made great contributions to human development were united in their belief that life's highest goal is to seek God and to love him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. I am thinking of Moses, Abraham, William Wilberforce, Mother Theresa. If we in our nations and societies would make a rule of loving God and one another, all problems would soon be solved.

Can we today decide to free Jesus Christ from the religious straitjacket into which we have forced him, and with him travel Africa's dusty roads, where he is much more at home?"

Y.K. Museveni

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