The Observer (Kampala)

23 December 2012

Uganda: A Reason to Celebrate Christmas

editorial

Tomorrow is Christmas, and millions of Christians in Uganda and elsewhere in the world will be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Billions of prayers will be said, promises made, journeys and sumptuous meals eaten as we reflect on the life and teachings of a man the world's two largest religions recognize as the son of God or - at least - a great prophet.

But as we end the year, many Ugandans are wondering whether this Christmas is worth celebrating. We have had a bad year. A bad year financially - with debilitating inflation, while agents of the state took their thieving antics to mind-boggling levels; a bad year politically - with deadly, increasing attacks by the state on basic freedoms and loss of the public's trust in the state; a generally mediocre year in sports - with the exception of the golden lining in Stephen Kiprotich...

The bad news has been all over the place. All these things have happened despite the fact that 90 per cent of our population professes the world's two largest faiths - Islam and Christianity. While Christmas is essentially a Christian tradition, the values associated with Jesus are the same values that Uganda, whatever one's faith, needs to turn our fortunes around - respect for God and neighbour, honesty, hard work, humility, sacrifice.

Even for nonbelievers, these virtues are akin to the traditional African values that held communities together long before Christianity came to Africa. The managers of public affairs in Uganda have a responsibility to inspire hope and confidence in the people of this country. That way, we can celebrate our heritage as we march into the future, rather than curse our past as we flock to other countries to do all manner of jobs.

Let us as Ugandans reflect on the values of Christ and renew our commitment to do the good deeds that our families, neighbours and communities expect of us. But most importantly, leaders at all levels must endeavour to give Ugandans a reason to truly celebrate the many more Christmas days that lie ahead.

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