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5th January 2019 - New year shows its face again

It is my eightieth time to witness this phenomenon, although few readers will believe I was already counting in the first years of my stay on Earth!

However I readily confess that I increasingly catch myself wondering how long will be the rest of the trip! Might it be that the longer we are around, the more likely would we dwell on our final hours?            
I grew up in a deeply Christian home, with Balokole (Saved) parents for whom this was a problem long solved: if you were not saved, you would go straight to the Hellish Chambers of Satan, where your littlest finger would take a million years burning, let alone the rest of your body. Lords Alive, it kept me awake for many a long hour during nights. At around four years of age I had signed up as a little preacher, complete with my little coloured book of Salvation, which I would pull out to teach strangers.
Made in Britain, its tiny pages were coloured Black, followed by Red, then White, then Gold, meaning respectively that Black was Sin, Red was “the Blood of the Lamb” (meaning Jesus Christ) who had come to Earth to save Humans from Sin. After immersion you turned White, and went to Golden Heaven to be with Golden God. At this time we were living at Mukono, where Dad was studying to be a priest. He didn’t stay to the end before he was slung out, the more so because he and his fellow Balokole felt the White Leaders of the Christian Church were not “hot enough for God”, but cold and calculating, and told them accordingly!
There were Whites who were “hotter for God”, because they had been Saved, and countless Blacks, in queue to become the same, among them Semioni Nsibambi, a big landowner, Joe Church (an Englishman, who was doctoring and preaching in neighbouring Ruanda Burundi, where Yosiya Kinuka was one of the first converts, along with Dad (whose father was already a large landowner). From Ankole there were converts too, among them Mugimba, heir to the throne of Buhweju. It’s not under-estimating their wives to say all of them had perforce joined their husbands in this Fire of Jesus!
One of my cousins (name withheld) has confessed that it is fear of the Heat of Hell that made him Omulokole. That’s fair enough, although I (a preacher at four, remember!) finds that reason not comforting: for should Fear be enough to bring Love? When my Father was dying in his sixty-first year, but still strong enough to preach to me (and promising to do so to the very end if left with enough breath) it broke my heart. But I did remind him that it was he (and my Mother) who had brought us up to tell the truth, and nothing but. My valued Readers, if all this leaves you weary that I soil your New Year in its infancy, so be it. But for me it’s because of full expectancy that Truth Makes Us Free!
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That grimly realistic novel Knock on any Door, Willard Motley’s 1947 bestseller, which, if memory serves I first read in 1957 in my first year at Makerere University, jumped into my mind in odd circumstances this week. Funnily enough it was at seeing a picture of the American First Couple, the Trumps, on a night-out, which reminded me of the dark underbelly of US life. She was dressed in what I took to be a mini raincoat not quite covering her knees, and her stony face seemed innocent of makeup. He wore a look of thunder. Together they seemed to represent: “I won’t come out” and being told she would. For the first, and perhaps last, time, Pity for them found its way into my stony heart. I looked for it the next day and it had vanished.
Now that Democrats form the majority in the US House of Representatives, expect the president to choke indefinitely on his humbuggers. The Economy, which as even the least informed American citizens must have known, had started its upward curve during the last years of the Obama administration (rather than be only Trump’s work) had now started to fold. Trump folded into silence. Expect him to become daily more frenzied as those not being paid during his Government’s standoff with the Democrats gathers pace. Were I Secretary of State Mike Pompeo I’d be wearing my Cheshire Cat grin!
The last words must be reserved for the country we all love, Uganda. The annoyingly slow way in which we grapple with those robbing our riches must be exchanged with action which those among our poorest would recognize for Truth, not empty statements. Of course I cannot go without mentioning the death of Uganda’s greatest music composer, the one and only Henry Serukenya. I had last seen him at the National Theatre, sitting at the Bar. Years before, in the same spot, he and I had discussed the idea of words from me being put to music by him. In my mind I confess I didn’t think I was up to it. May he now attain Eternal Peace where he finally is. I doubt we will soon see his like again.

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