Remembrance Day

Is observed on 11th November to honor those who died serving their countries in World War I. There are poppies everywhere you turn on any street in England. On lapels. On billboards. On hats. Everyone has a poppy to remember. The tradition was instituted by King George V, grandfather to Queen Elizabeth II. This tradition is over 100 years old but it is as real as Christmas and as Thanksgiving. There is even an order of service for the Service of Rememberance

In October, I teach a session on the History of Uganda at Harvest Institute School of Leadership. The sessions have varied over the years, because wow, we live in interesting times. So this year, we were looking for history around us. Prior to this class, I found out from a friend that her grandfather whose home is in my neighborhood was a WWI veteran and a published author! Go figure. Do you think we have Remembrance Day in Kiwanga? Not in the least. If we were living in England, there would be a whole ceremony at the St Thomas round the corner from his home. And we would leave wreaths and little notes at the gate of his home. It is such an ordinary day.

Some of the students were not in Kampala so they needed help finding historical sites in the districts where they were. And that’s how I found out that Semei Kakungulu built a synagogue in Mbale. A synagogue. How could someone not remember to teach this in school? It is such a contrast to who he was and what we were taught that it should have found its way to the books. It didn’t.

We must choose to remember. And to remember not in part but in whole. Our lives did not begin with us so taking a moment to remember is us being grateful. Grateful for choices we did not have to make. Grateful for decisions that led to us being on this planet. Grateful for all who made it possible for you to live where you live.

On this last day of November, who do you need to remember? How can you express your gratitude?

A note to my father

There was a time in our history, the history of Uganda when intellectuals were hunted down and murdered. Several went missing and I can only imagine the terror in the faculties at the University. Getting in to work to the news that your alma mater had been murdered or had disappeared without a trace. I experienced a glimpse of this with COVID-19, when every message alert caused a bit of a flutter. Even now, as I was searching for the image for this blog, there were more images of death announcements than there were of celebrations. Yet, he remained. Even with all the options, he had to leave and start afresh.

My aunt tells the story of how they had to cross the Uganda-Kenya border with eggs. (This story is for another day). But yes, he crossed the border to shop for everything we needed. From milk to soap, there was nothing in our home that did not come from Kenya. For the longest time, waay past 1986, we did not purchase anything other than fresh food stuff and bread from Uganda. I don’t know how many miles he packed into his various cars plying the border but they are in thousands. I know that when I first crossed the border alone, some Immigration officers still remembered him plying the route.

Classic Daddy

I recall meeting one of his secretaries, she was a wife to one of the ministers in the Obote II government. She was delightful and loved to have us over to play with her children. And we loved her in equal measure. One day we awoke to the news that she had killed herself and her children. We quickly run to their home, hoping it was not true. But no one would let us anywhere near. There was no funeral for us, we were too young. I think times were too perilous, but death is cloudy. The mind selects what to focus on. All I recall was not seeing her busy in her kitchen through the big windows. Later, it would be that no one played with us anymore. There was no one to accompany home after Sunday School. There were no more simsim balls and groundnut bars. My dad still went in to work, he paused to check that we were well. And back to his routine.

The next time we heard from this family, the dad was running into exile in 1986 and requested my dad to park the official cars in our compound. My dad obliged; there was a formal handover. And he stayed while the former minister fled into exile.

Didi’s World opened with loads of fanfare, our first almost theme park. The highlight of everyone was the Pirate ship but you had to wait till you were twelve years. It was the equivalent of our rollercoaster. There was the Octopus and caterpillar but nothing beat the Pirate ship! I do not recall who had turned twelve, but we were finally all able to get into the ship. Some of us has been on it before, for the rest it was a fresh experience. My dad joined us and sat, stoic as ever. Then it started to swing. A gentle sway at first, then the speed increased and so did the height. Total mayhem.. At a certain point in its swing, one could see the Sheraton, and then it was down again. We were screaming, some children were crying. My dad, he sat there very calmly.

38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Mark 4:38 NKJV

One fine day, Jesus got into a boat on one side of the Sea of Galilee so he could cross over to the other side. It should have been a normal crossing, or maybe it was a normal crossing because such storms were common on the Sea of Galilee. I imagine it is similar to what has become common place flash flooding whenever it rains here in Kampala. Some sections of the road are cut off and crossing becomes perilous to everyone around the road. While, we tend to worry at the sight of grey clouds if caught around this section, Jesus enters the boat, finds a comfortable spot and puts a pillow under his head. He promptly falls asleep and only wakes up when roused by troubled fishermen.

Whenever I imagine this picture, I recall my dad seated in that pirate ship. In the midst of screaming and crying children, he is seated calmly taking it all in. Maybe it is the Mathematics, he might have been calculating in his mind. He shall write his story and tell all. To me, it will always be a reminder of Jesus.

You Have Authority Over Any Storm You Can Sleep In

Bill Johnson

Swords Up!

An AK 47/is a heavy prop to carry around but there she was swinging it around as she spoke with her colleague. Is there no protocol around these matters? How should a guard on duty conduct themselves?

We had to learn how to handle a gun as part of the training. Theory and practical. Take it apart, assemble it, and fire in a range. For some of the class, the shock started with the sound of the bullets up close. Mine started with the weight of the gun, especially during the recoil. One of the sergeants had to sit on my back to ensure that I was not destabilized by the recoil. Well, that would not cut it during any armed operation. So we had to learn to handle the weight of a gun on a daily. We were told to purchase specially fashioned batons known as silas. These would be our guns for the duration of our study. We marched with them to class, carried them to the dorms, even to meals. It was never lost. Wherever you appeared, you appeared with your gun.

That gun became almost an extension of each one of us. How interesting the allegory Paul painted to the Ephesians about the Sword. The average Roman Sword (gladius) weighed about 1kg. This seems so light, after all what is a kg of sugar, until you have to constantly carry it over long distances in formation. The Roman Solider was never without his armor.

African troops in Burma during World War II.

Swords Up! Such a fun game. Our Sunday school teacher used it to teach us to find Books of the Bible and then verses. It was such a joy to be the first to find the verse first, which was always easier with a well read Bible. The pages of a new Bible stick together for the much shorter books which makes it longer to find them. The last books of the Old Testament and New Testament were always the most rewarding because they were hard to find.

The Bible is delightful because it is the very Word of God. The Word from whom all things exist. The Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Whereas the Bible looks like an ordinary book, Jesus reminds us that His words are Spirit and Life.

28 My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word.

Psalms 119:28 NKJV

Your strength is found in always carrying the Word of God everywhere you go. There is no day off. There is no one time you appears without the Word or carry it in a careless manner. Every Christian must spend time learning and memorizing the Word of God. Listening to the Word being taught by their teachers of the Word so you are equipped in and out of season. It is the only offensive weapon a Christian has.

Feed the World

Let them know it’s Christmas time 🎶 You have not heard this 1984 Band-Aid favorite song? Never fear, the link is here. Or maybe you would prefer, Celine Dion’s ‘And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?’ You guessed it, the Christmas season is finally here. Is it your Most Wonderful time of the Year? We could do this all day…such fun.

Bob Geldorf and his pals were moved to avert a crisis in Ethiopia. There was a famine, a terrible famine that was documented by the BBC and caused everyone to want to do something. So that Christmas and the one after that, Band-Aid raised about £8M for the relief effort.

4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Matthew 4:4 NKJV

And so this is Christmas, what have you done? You have fed the hungry, well done! But Jesus, whose birthday is the reason for the Christmas celebration says there is more to life than food. Food offers temporary satisfaction, I recall all the Christmas dinners my mum cooked but that’s it. No more to feed on it again. Jesus is the Word in the Beginning, the Word that was spoken and everything we know was formed. so He should know what He is talking about.

Christmas time is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. Because our Savior was born on Christmas Day. And we need a savior because on our own we cannot save ourselves from the fallen nature of this world. When He became the Word incarnate, He showed us what to do.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Jesus did feed the hungry, 5000 of them in one go. It is important but not the most important. The most important is to feed the World with the Word of God. Every problem in this world is a sin problem. Even within relief agencies who are humanitarian, they fall short and their corrupt environment should be a reminder that there is more.

So this Christmas, would you lead someone to Jesus? So they are not only filled with a sumptuous Christmas dinner but remain with the Bread of Life all the days of their lives. The satisfaction is guaranteed by Jesus Christ.

I was glad

When they said unto me let us go into the House of the Lord.

Sundays have always been such cheery days in our home. It was the one day that my dad boomed hymns and chorals all day long. But there was also just the delight of dressing up to go to church. The normally jammed lanes and pavements of the University were quiet, even the Library closed. We had all the quadrangles to explore, what made it more interesting was we could never guess in which faculty we would be having Sunday School.

But the fascination was the two Chapels, St. Francis and St. Augustine. During the week, they were inaccessible to us. But now I had all the time to gaze at the fresco’s and take in the amazing architecture. When the organ piped out those hymns, it was divine. Suffice it to say that I did not really understand what Church was about but all the pomp and ceremony was enthralling.

The order of service and how the Chaplain and the other priests moved at the altar. The endless rows of neatly arranged chairs. The baptismal pool at the back. The side aisles that people walked through very ‘humbly’ as they came back from taking Communion. Oh my, I loved doing it over and over.

When I walked to the Gayaza Chapel and found a similar arrangement, I was completely sold. Those two side access doors that we used and the drum fanfare before service. One of my favorite pastimes has become visiting ancient Cathedrals, just sitting there and imagining the countless congregations that have sat there, in war and in peace.

Namirembe Cathedral, was not a typical Sunday but rather a Christmas Carol service by the Kampala Singers. Without any microphones, we were able to hear the beautiful, harmonies from any cleft in that vast Cathedral. The organ, sounded even more glorious than the one in St. Francis. And then there were the vast terraced grounds, which we were free to roam at the time. I could never get over the different access points and would find myself wonderfully lost, trying to get back to my mother.

All Saints Kingston. Photo Credit: Pinterest

The church bells are pealing. Well, our bells never pealed. And we did not have Church bells either. I was glad to experience the actual pealing of Church bells when I visited Kingston,England. Early one Sunday morning. Oh, it was so thrilling and wonderful in contrast to the quiet in the neighborhood.

I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the House of the Lord.

The President is Coming

“H.E. The President of Uganda shall be the Guest of Honor at the event.” And that’s how it all started. With groans, with sighs, with enthusiasm, with nonchalance, it did not matter. There was work to be done.

The team that I was a part of was tasked with finding the tent. It was not to be a collection of tents but rather one big gigantic tent. At the time, our only exposure to this notion was the one used at Speke Resort Munyonyo. We had received a brief on the cost and it was extremely high.

Our role was to source a good alternative. The hunt was on and so was the countdown. Oh, Uganda, may God uphold thee. The term is kuyiya. My dad says that Ugandans will never acknowledge that they don’t know, rather they will impose what they know on your specifications. Sometimes it works but most times it is a rather shoddy substitute. One service provider enthusiastically told us how they were able to provide what we wanted, only to be asked at the reception, “how many tents we would require?” I could not help but also ask him whether he did not hear that it was singular and not plural.

One service provider did have the specified singular tent but it only sat the number we required if there were no tables.

I got a small headache.

So it was back to Munyonyo. The operations team lead was very courteous, responding to my inquiries and asking his questions. Even though he was sure it would not be set up on the tarmac, he visited the site anyway. The number and depth of holes we would need to drill to set up the tent would ruin the parking lot. But you can think about it, we would have no problem setting it up, if that is what you want. No, it was not what we wanted, I thought.

Eventually, one service provider imported the tent with the required specs. We were all set for the day. There was a dress code, a specific parking area, a program and caution to be prepared to be unavailable in person and on phone all day.

1 And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. 2 So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble.

1 Chronicles 29:1‭-‬2 ESV

How much more ought we to prepare for the House of the Lord? The place where God resides. David would not leave it to chance, he had to ensure that Solomon could fulfill the task at his young age. Solomon was not going to botch this up. He set up storehouses of treasures for everything that would be needed for the temple. He invited other leaders to join in. He set Solomon up for success.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Yes, the Holy Spirit indeed resides in us and we are the Temple. We are part of the Body of Christ. We have chosen to congregate in specific locations. Would the visit of the President be more important than meeting Jesus every Sunday? How have you prepared for the House of the Lord? Will zeal for the House of the Lord consume your children and their children? Or would they wonder why it is so important? Will they succumb to any offer or will they look for the best for the House of the Lord?

Don’t be caught unawares, prepare

Jerusalema

It became the most popular song during the COVID-19 pandemic. Complete with a dance routine. There are so many tik-tok videos in various countries. It went viral.

We long for Jerusalem in times of distress and Master KG’s Jerusalema lyrics do not stray far from this very familiar cry.

Jerusalem is my home
Jerusalema ikhaya lami

Save me
Ngilondoloze

He went with me
Uhambe nami

Jerusalema Challenge. Photo Credit: Pinterest


In World War I, a poem by William Blake was set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. It became England’s version of The Battle Hymn of Republic. Recently, there have been calls for it to become the anthem of England.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land

1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” 2 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Psalm 122:1‭-‬2 ESV

Lord, like the Psalmist, prayed so long before our time, may our hearts never forget you, O Jerusalem. May our feet always stand in your gates. May our souls receive gladness when we come into the House of the Lord. May our home always be in Jerusalem. Amen.

Terror

Transformers, Dark of the Moon is what we were watching. Again for the umpteenth time. My first encounter with transformers were as fascinating toys, that came as trucks but could be changed into an action figure. Well, here we were in someone’s imagination, on what those toys could do.

When the decepticons invade Chicago to set up the bridge, their first priority is to cause terror so the humans flee and cannot stop their mission. Eventually though Sam comes with the soldiers to rescue Carly and the decepticons up their game! Shockwave brings in his drill that destroys an entire sky scraper! Horror! Where do we go to from here? In Dark of the Moon, the humans are like props on a set but being human, I cannot help but imagine if this happened in my own city, (Scooby and Shaggy teeth chattering)

It dawned on me that all terror starts in this same fashion. A few decepticons are sent to cause a few ruffles to fly. During the 1985 into 1986 war, we developed a running reflex! If you saw a group of people running in a certain direction, you dropped whatever it was you were doing and run in their direction. Why? It was the only signal we had of an attack. You just knew that people were fleeing from danger. Oh my, it was so bad, that way into the 90s, people would hear a tyre burst and run. And cause others to run as well. My children find this story very entertaining, btw.

Then the object of the terror becomes the clear focus and the intent is still to intensify terror in the hearts. As Shock wave’s drill, comes up through a street in Chicago, destroying everything in it’s path. You know, you should not be anywhere near it. However, when it systematically weaves its way through the sky scraper and crushes it like one does ice in a blender. The levels of horror in the heart have gone up. Eh! The sound effects do not make it any easier, neither do the shots of people trying to run as the building is being crushed. Horrifying. Mass graves, rape, mutilation and destruction of key land marks in war are designed for this very purpose. Terror that causes one to stand still like a deer looking at headlights.

Photo credit: Pinterest

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.


Psalm 91:5-6 AMPC

And all this is going on, there is the final battle that the autobots and Optimus Prime must prepare for. The battle of slander. Sentinel Prime and Megatron seem to have outwitted the autobots and Optimus Prime. They slander Optimus, taunt him and try to weigh him down. Slander is such a wicked tool, because it tags at your heart and mind. It causes you to stay still because you are double minded. Is this person for me or against me? A person who was for me would not say such a thing? Or conversely, your enemy will offer a truce as did Megatron? But it’s a Trojan horse. Optimus Prime decapitates Megatron and destroys Sentinel Prime bringing an end to this battle.

What has terrified you? God’s promise is if you remain in His Shelter, you shall not fear. You shall not be terrified. Return to His stronghold and find reprise from the terror, from the pestilence, from destruction and sudden death.

Who has come against you? To win the battle of terror, you must be clothed in physical and mental might. All are found in the Shelter of the Most High God. Are you wearied from too much violence? Return to your shelter, let the Father dress you in His compassion.