Soak In It

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Last night I had dinner with a very dear friend. I met this friend about five years ago and out of the blue we became hard and fast friends. This friend has been there for me especially through trying times. This friend checks on me, listens to me, encourages me, rebukes me, reassures me and is always there for me. When I got back to my hotel room to send a message that I had arrived safely, I found a message from my friend and it read “I love you my dear friend. Always feel free to soak in my love and friendship.”

And I thought to myself – that is exactly what God invites us to do. To soak in His love.

My mind quickly conjured up the image of soaking is a tub. Imagine coming home after a long, tiring day, and you walk into your bathroom. You put the plug in and turn on the taps – the hot water, then the cold water – getting the temperature just right. As the water fills the tub, you pour some of your favorite bath oils into the tub and the scent fills the air. You light a candle or two, put on some light soothing music, and then get in and soak. You take it all on slowly. You let the weariness of the day slip away. You let your worries and anxieties go. Here there is no rush. You close your eyes and relax. You take the moment in. You breathe deep. Your creased brow evens out. A light smile touches your lips. You just take it all in. You soak.

Imagine doing that with God’s love. Taking it in slowly. Knowing that it never runs out, knowing that God’s love for you is simply amazing. He loves you no matter what. He’s not mad at you, but madly in love with you. His love is a soothing balm, it’s a healing balm, it’s a balm for weary bodies and weary souls. It’s a love everlasting, never ending, deeper, higher, wider than we can ever think or imagine.

Take time and soak in His love. Relax. Breathe deep and take it in. It’s there for you. It’s all yours. You are the apple of His eye, the object of His affection. Let His love fill every recess of your soul. He loves you. You are loved beyond measure.

Soak in it.

Lord, Use My Story For Your Glory

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That’s the prayer I prayed this morning as I reflected again on the story of the blind man that was healed by Jesus, whose account is told in John chapter 9. This man was born blind and a conversation ensued among Jesus’ disciples about who had sinned in order for the man to be born blind. But Jesus quickly stepped in and cut the conversation short. He told his disciples that in fact sin was not the cause for the man’s blindness, but rather that he was blind so that the works of God could be displayed through him and Jesus went ahead and healed the man.

And I thought – Wow!!!

I am God’s novel. My story points to Him – to His grace, His love, His favor, His forgiveness, His tender mercies, His patience with mankind, His faithfulness, His protection, His Father heart. My story is for His glory.

In God’s story, nothing goes to waste, not failure, not falling, not faults, not mistakes, not triumphs. All things work for good. God redeems all things. He is in all things. The Author and Perfecter! Imagine that!

The Bible is testament to God using all kinds of stories for His glory – from the gory to the glorious! Think of Adam eating from the forbidden fruit, or David the great king who committed adultery and murder. Think of Esther who won a beauty contest and won the king’s heart. Think of Joseph’s tragedy, thrown into a pit, thrown into jail, forgotten by man yet remembered by God. Think of Peter who walked on water and still vehemently denied Jesus. Think of Saul the persecutor of Christians, who turned to Paul. The stories are endless, yet the Author is the same – God.

All stories are God stories. He uses them for His glory. Even yours, unseemly as it may be. He uses it to touch others and to point them to Him.

And so it is with reverence and awe that I bow my knee and pray, God use my story for Your glory. It’s not about me, never has been, never will be. It’s all about Him!

GREAT NATIONS DO NOT JUST HAPPEN….

I woke up this morning to this powerful reflection and call for action from my dear friend – the Dream Weaver.

Wish her permission, I have posted it here. Please read it, and then act!
What a week this has been!

The Democratic Alliance (TDA) TDA, TDA, TDA.
If there is one thing all of this has taught us…it is about the importance of active participation in politics because great nations do not just happen.

We find ourselves in a terrible situation where we have to make very tough choices.  Museveni versus John Patrick Amama Mbabazi (JPAM) is choosing between  a dark room and a night sky .

I say Night sky … because while there is a darker background. ….there are also stars. Lets use those stars to ensure Uganda never has to come to a situation like this again

Lets prepare to actively engage. New regimes are easier to reform because they are pressed with all sorts of expectations.

Let we, the elite begin to organize for post 2016 and be part of the government of the country because Great Nations do not just happen….to passive citizens.

While TDA or National Resistance Movement (NRM) may win….lets determine to be smarter and more deliberate next time.we must never be caught hoping great leaders will just happen “on” us.

We all know how dragons are created and what power does-or is designed  to do to men. It amplifies character.
It is like an intoxicating drug. You literally get  high on it!

The high is not instant though .It is  gradually created every time we:-

1. Choose to become a media that is For the state instead of THE FOURTH ESTATE

2.Prefer to   analyse and agonize till we are paralyzed as opposed to organizing to affect and effect

3 . Find every excuse to remain apolitical as opposed to finding the one reason you must care about your country

4. Let money and money alone define our values, determine our virtues and influence our views

5.When religious leaders use the power of faith for wrong instead of using it for the good

6.Take on a permanent spectator role at what should be a Team Sport #Team Uganda.

For everyday you wake up and do any or all of the above….you either feed the drunken dragon another bottle of power  or not.  Dictatorships do not just happen. A less than strong opposition does not just fall from the sky.

So. Rather than worrying about individuals. …lets prepare to destroy the instruments that turn men into dragons. When ordinary men slay dragons and wear its armor….it destroys.
Please people emerge. Get serious and emerge to lead.
Lead thoughts, ideas, programs that will destroy and recreate armor that is good for us all:-

There is a lot to do. Organize your selves to engage with the state regardless. The Ugandan state will be different after 2016 no doubt. The state of States does not just happen.

Make sure you contribute to the framing of questions of the day. At least question if answers seem scarce.

Question Narratives , Question Doctrines; Question ko banange!

We have so many issues we have yet to build consensus on …like what system of representation  works for the people (should we maintain a presidential democracy or we go to a parliamentary one….why? Whats the difference? What else is possible?
How do we contribute to the rebuilding of Ugandan society? So much! The Harvest is ripe but the labourers are few!

This business of moral postulating and fretting because TDA preferred Amama is the sort of pettiness we must stop.
TDA happened because of all of us who want change but dont want it enough to make it happen.

I for one….marvel that people like Prof. Ssempebwa, Bishop Zac …Hon. Matembe and many more who were part of the TDA process , are Ugandans  who have made their contribution  and should really be resting but are forced to come back to fight for Change again. A seasoned Commitment to Nation, Purpose and to GOD does not just happen.

KB was a bush hero  and is now a Trench hero …Amama will tell his grandchildren he took part in two revolutions and so on.Can you imagine how wonderful that must be? Even if you are the vilain in both..you will have built a legacy and capacity in your offspring to effect dynamics. That , That,  That my friends is the stuff we should pride ourselves in!

How can we  be so content that we haven’t even written a newspaper article in the least?

What is it that drives these Distinct Men and Women to fight on…even in the evening of their lives?

We should be as embarrassed as we are challenged that we have to chose between bad choices (Mbu!)

Surely, as opposed to staging all sorts of “self afflicted” grievances at their show of commitment to the TDA process because we have face book fans and lovers and must be seen to know so much…why don’t we plug in?

Show me their equivalent in our time and generation!!!! (1986 and beyond). The most (You) th could do was protest outside royal suites in a convoy escorted by police. And we were excited to tweet, like and write about this.Great Nations. …….

President Museveni has also admitted to being tired of fighting for Youth and he is right!  We really feel the world owes us so much. How can a man who cant even muster the courage to ask a woman he admires for her phone number fret because his Father tells him he is not prepared for marriage?

Who is selling us this toxic poison of entitlement?

I remember TDA approached Ugandans of repute to contribute to the process as eminent persons, women representatives, support staff for secretariat, volunteers. ….name it. ALMOST everyone was busy!!!! Nobody had time or the courage to put their heads out there.

Now that TDA has had to make a decision. …suddenly we are all experts at Alliance building and all- making all sorts of utterances ! We shoot them for presenting A preferred candidate yet we never put ourselves forward. You dont want to form political parties to engage, your NGOs are ideologically bankrupt, you refuse to engage and  prefer to store up your Intellectual energy for the day when those who are seemingly less than ideal DARE to do something. ….GREAT NATIONS DONT HAPPEN BY IMPOTENT ATTACKS OF CRITICISM FROM MEN WHO CAMP ON FENCES.

Equally infuriated are those who believe Kizza Besigye (KB) was cheated for his contribution to the struggle. He deserved TDA flag-bearer because he has been “in the trenches”.

Is he any more trench praise worthy than the Ugandan mothers who have made peace with birthing on hospital floors?
Is he anymore trench praise worthy than our Young people who are more likely to find a stray 50,000 UGX note on the road than a decent job?
Is he more trench worthy than the few professors at Makerere who have taken to the exception to provide thought leadership in a context that would rather suffocate intellectual engagement than advance it?
But at least we are contesting a claim to something.

I get literally infuriated when we now take to blame games and moral posturing ,as if we who sit on the fence and face book rant like an art are any better.

At what point do Ugandans take collective responsibility for a situation?  When does it hit us that we are as responsible for the mess we are in as a nation..as we are for the solution? Which angels have been assigned to steer the affairs of men?

Let us accept collective responsibility for what has happened, stop blaming the elderly for mistakes we can address but refuse to! It is a form of auto immune dis functionality.

In the process of Nation building there are pro active laborers and spectators. You can only be either never both!Great Nations don’t just happen…they are built on the resolve and pro active determination of ordinary people committed to making an extraordinary mark in their time.

You cannot change what you won’t confront…cannot give what you never had.

Lets accept the challenge of our time and emerge to generate knowledge, to question, to Lead.

I hope in the forward, we can be more responsive and responsible.Stop by-standing and start participating.  Let this experience serve to teach us this very instructive truth:-Great Nations do not just happen.

@Dreamweaver 2015.

No Matter What

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Some days, I wake up with a song on my heart. Today it was “No matter what I’m going through, I will praise Him!” That one line has been playing over and over in my head. I think the next line goes – situations come and go, yet I will praise Him.

I know God is telling me about perspective. I know He is telling me to focus on Him, to take my mind away from any worries or troubles I may be going through right now. I know He is telling me that what I focus on I magnify. And in this time, I want to magnify Him. I want to praise Him. I want to fill my mind and heart with God thoughts, with good thoughts. And I have a lot to praise Him for. God has been good to me. I am alive. I am well. I enjoy life. I am happy. I smile. I have family. I have friends. I have peace. I have joy. I am abundantly blessed in so many ways. God loves me. His favor is upon me. His mercies are new every morning. His thoughts are ever towards me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. His gracious hand is upon me. His goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life.

And so I praise Him. No matter what. Because the what doesn’t matter. God is God. Always has been, always will be. God. The Almighty, the Creator, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End. All knowing. All powerful. All loving. And He loves me.

No matter what happens. And my ‘what’ matters to God. And because it matters to Him, I know He’s got my back. I know that all things work together for good. All things include the bad things and the good things and all the things in between. God’s got all of it. And that frees me to praise Him. That frees me to be free, to sing, laugh and dance. To Pray. Eat. Love.

What is your what? No matter what. Praise Him!

Lord Help Me…..

Lord Help Me
(By Jackie Asiimwe)

When I don’t know what to say
When I know not how to pray,
Lord help me

When it hurts so much inside
And all I can do is cry
Lord help me

When I’m lost and all alone
When I feel all hope is gone
Lord help me

When all I see is haze
And I walk around in a daze
Lord help me

When I’m feeling all confused
And all my energy is used
Lord help me

When I need to see the light
To alleviate my plight
Lord help me
(Based on the verse “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Ps 46:1)

The Politics of Sleep

In this week alone, I have spoken to two different women who had to leave abusive relationships. Neither of the women know each other, but what struck me in speaking to them, was that both mentioned that after leaving the abusive relationship, they were able to sleep. Really sleep.

It is very easy to take sleep for granted. And I guess many of us do. It’s only when you suffer sleeplessness, that you realize how precious sleep is. Trauma and abuse of any kind can cause sleeplessness. There is a whole generation of Ugandans that suffered sleeplessness due to the political instability and violence of the late 1960’s to the mid 1980’s. It was hard to sleep during the time of coups. It was hard to sleep when all around all manner of gunshots were going off, some very close, others in the distance. It was very hard to sleep when a relative did not come back home and you feared the worst – that he or she had been kidnapped or killed. It was hard to sleep when you were not sure whether or not marauding thieves dressed in military fatigues, would come knocking on your door to loot or rape or maim. It was hard to sleep when the panda gali trucks indiscriminately took away young men from towns and villages. It was hard to sleep, not knowing when the brutal hand of the regime would be stopped. It was hard to sleep when you knew you belonged to the ‘wrong’ tribe or the ‘wrong’ political party.

Then came the dawn of sleep in 1986, when the National Resistance Movement (NRM), took over government. That was when people started talking of being able to sleep. That’s when despite any ills or shortcomings of the NRM, people were willing to overlook them as long as they were able to sleep. There is a generation of Ugandans who said whatever happens, “kasita twebaka ku tulo”, loosely translated as “at least now we sleep”. Ugandans had learned not to take the simple things of life for granted, simple things like sleep.

It is easy to laugh at or denigrate those who, for now, despite all that is going wrong and the democratic reversals the country is experiencing, still enjoy their sleep. It is also easy to abuse those who sleep, to fuel impunity, mistaking the sleep for dormancy. But that is not so. People who have lived through trauma will hang on to the last shreds of sleep, because it is precious, but that does not mean, when pushed to the wall, they cannot or will not resist those who disturb their sleep.

We have seen this resistance against impunity in Apaa village in Amuru, where elderly women in the community have pushed back against and expressed dissent at the impending land grab. We have seen this resistance in the Black Monday Movement, a citizen led, anti corruption movement. We have seen this resistance in the Walk to Work protests. We have seen this resistance every time workers in Uganda lay down their tools and strike for better wages and better living conditions. We have seen this resistance in the yellow pigs protests by young people, or their resistance to the government move to have unemployed graduates go to work as housemaids in the Middle East. We have seen this resistance when wives of policemen protested the poor living and working conditions of the police force.

Trauma, whether at the family level or at the national, political level, robs people of sleep. We must thus desist from laughing at or abusing the rights of people who for now are enjoying sleep, for they are the wiser for it. They know what it is not to sleep. They know what it is to live in fear, to live through violence, and they will defend their right to sleep at all costs.

So the next time someone tells you they can now sleep do not dare take it as a license to run roughshod over them. They are very awake to their right to sleep!

I Still Have Hope

As we wake up to the news that The Democratic Alliance (TDA) has decided not to decide on a joint presidential candidate, it’s easy to lose heart. We had so hoped that for once, country would be bigger than personal political ambitions. We had hoped that for once, after several attempts at trying to come together, the forces opposed to the continued misrule in our country, would present a united front. And we must give it to them, they did try.

But I do not lose hope. I think each trial at working together brings us ever closer to the hope that one day things in Uganda will change. What was different about the TDA attempt this time was that politicians and civil society worked together. I applaud all the galant Ugandans who worked behind the scenes and round the clock to ensure that this process worked – people like Bishop Zac Niringiye, Godber Tumushabe, Sheila Kawamara, Miria Matembe, Thelma Awori, Professor Sempebwa and a host of others. These men and women have spent their time, energy and intellect putting the TDA together, supporting the meetings of the TDA, ensuring that the secretariat is up and running, working as volunteers while looking for funding, trying to broker peace and unblock the stalemates when they happened.

This work is not in vane because these men and women believe in the idea of TDA – which is not just about a joint presidential candidate, but an idea for a new Uganda, where consensus is the bedrock of our democracy, where pooling our gifts, talents and resources for the good of our country is the key method of work. TDA is a dream of a new Uganda, a Uganda free from corruption and the tyranny of impunity, a Uganda where we are happy and peaceful, a Uganda of opportunity and solidarity.

Whatever happens, whatever the disagreement by the top politicians, this dream must not die. This dream must be kept alive. And we can do it, one Ugandan at a time. We can do it in the way we reach out to each other, in the way we work together, in the way we build bridges towards each other, instead of walls. We must carry on this dream for ourselves, for our children and for Uganda. We can learn from what didn’t work and push on. We can do better.

Change will come. It’s only a matter of time. Let’s keep on keeping on. Let’s keep hope alive.

Birth Cannot Be Rushed

Giving birth is an interesting process. When you are a first time mother, you start getting anxious around the time indicated as the due date – that is, the date on which you are expected to have the baby. But doctors also warn that despite what modern gadgets may tell us, babies have their own time table, and they only come out when they are good and ready. What a mother has to do instead, is to make sure that she is ready to receive the baby. She has to be ready with bags packed with the right clothes so that any time the baby calls, she is not caught off guard.

The birth process is one that cannot be rushed. The pacing up and down of a father outside or within the maternity room, will not cause the baby to come out. The incessant calls from relatives, asking whether or not the baby has arrived, will not cause the baby to come out. The screams of a mother in labour will not cause the baby to come out. The baby comes when it is good and ready. All the mother can do is be patient and wait.

I thought about the birthing process in light of The Democratic Alliance (TDA) process of trying to agree a joint presidential candidate. Everywhere you look, people are trying to rush the process. The media is knocking, social media is going wild with all manner of speculation, supporters of various contending TDA candidates are growing more and more impatient by the day. People have prophesied doom and gloom regarding the process and the outcome.

But I think as in birth, the TDA ‘baby’ will come when it is good and ready. The negotiation is delicate. There are so many things at stake, most important of which is the future and destiny of our country, the future and destiny of more than 35 million people. Such a process cannot be rushed. We must exercise a great degree of patience and maturity.

Democracy is not instant coffee. It is a slow, painful and laborious process. We must give it time. We must give it understanding. We must give it all our support. Let’s not rupture the uterus in our rush to birth this child otherwise the consequences will be disastrous.

Housewife From Bwaise

Every once in a while the media approaches me to give a comment on the goings on of the day. After I give my comment, the following conversation ensues:

Reporter: “Madam, what is your title?”

Me: “I’m a housewife from Bwaise.”

Reporter: (smiling in bemusement) “Is there anything else?”

Me: “Not really. I don’t have another title. Do you people not think that a housewife from Bwaise can have anything intelligent to say about the issues of the day?”

Reporter: “It’s not that. It’s just that…… Ok, can we say you are a lawyer?”

Me: “If you so wish…”

I am not a housewife and I am not from Bwaise. But I use the two together as a way to say that we cannot only just hear opinion from people with high sounding titles. We cannot only hear opinions from people who stay in the high end suburbs of Kampala. We cannot only hear opinions from (mostly) men. We must learn to hear and seek out the opinion of the most unlikely among us because they too are Ugandan, they too have options and feelings about what is going on in their country and we must find a way to amplify their voices in the discourse of our country.

And maybe the discourse in our country is stale because we go to the same people all the time to get a sound bite. We need to hear new voices, see new faces, appreciate different realities, see our country not only through the eyes of the rich, the famous, the well connected, the educated. We cannot relegate the struggling and the suffering to a side bar, or to posters depicting poverty. They cannot be used just for their amusement value or for raising money for ‘development’. We cannot care about them only when we need to pity them. They deserve as much airtime as we give to the usual suspects. And I am sure they would bring a fresh, new perspective to the issues of the day.

We have to overcome our bias for and the assumptions that we make that it’s only certain people that have something to say. Those certain people are usually male, older, educated, affluent and with some level of name recognition. We must learn to democratize the space for public opinion. We must make it more inclusive and diverse. We must be attuned to different perspectives on different aspects of our country. We must democratize the conversation about our country.

Corruption hears and laughs!

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) has chosen its flag bearer for the 2016 general elections and unless you are totally new to Uganda – you will know the choice that the party made – His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. No news there.

No news too, is the fact that he said if elected President, he would fight corruption. Really?! Is he not tired of telling us the same old story about how this time, for real and for sure, I swear! –  corruption is going to regret ever coming to Uganda because it will be booted from Uganda so fast, it will forget where it came from! Isn’t he tired of threatening to fight corruption? I see corruption having the laugh of it’s life because it knows the people its dealing with. It knows the President it is dealing with. It knows that for all his grand standing about fighting corruption, the President will not do much to catch the ‘big fish’ that swim deeper and deeper into the waters of our public tills, taking all they want, when they want to, well knowing that they will never get caught, or that if they do, they can worm their way out of prosecution.museveni-cash

Corruption knows that the current government is fed and sustained by corruption, so its not about to let go. Corruption is the oil that keeps the system in place and which keeps it going. Corruption and it’s cousin patronage, have a firm front row seat in most government dealings from access to jobs to access to contracts. Just open any Auditor General’s report or any corruption probe report over the last ten years or so. Those reports are sure proof of just how entrenched corruption is.

Corruption knows that it takes leading by example, to root out corruption, but it knows the President will not do this. Corruption has watched as the President doles out envelopes and sacks of money without any accountability. Corruption knows how the term limits were lifted from our Constitution. Corruption knows how many bills in Parliament are killed or boosted through backhand cash handouts to MPs. Corruption knows how many ‘investors’ have had to oil certain hands in order to be given lucrative deals. Corruption sees the money that is dispensed to pay the legal fees of those caught in its web. Corruption knows of the night calls made to judicial officers, so that justice can be corrupted.

Corruption sees. It knows. It hears. And it still flows.

The most recent research World International (RWI) poll showed that 41 per cent of Ugandans think corruption and embezzlement of Government funds is one of the most serious problems facing Uganda. Corruption was ranked second after poverty in the poll and this shows that citizens take it seriously enough. I wish Government would too. I wish the NRM flag bearer actually meant it when he says he will fight corruption. The seriousness will not be shown in how may times he repeats the fact that he is going to fight corruption. His seriousness will be shown in action – starting with himself. If he wants to retain a legacy of Fountain of Honor, he should stop the habit of being the Fountain of Brown Envelopes.