While growing up, it was common to come across tales of a chap called Kapere.
He was a poor man who hardly owned anything. One day, as he occasionally did, he made his way to the lake to take a shower. On that fateful day in the lake, Kapere noticed a smoother rock than the one he occasionally stood on while he showered.
So, he decided to make use of the smoother rock. Despite several warnings from his friends and desperate attempts to tell him that it may not actually be a rock, Kapere paid a deaf ear. Clothes off and halfway through scrubbing himself, the ‘rock’ began to move and turned out to be a hippopotamus.
One may wonder of what relevance Kapere’s story is to us today. This stems from the looming religious policy to regulate faith-based organizations.
So, the current interplay with the policy may turn out to be a replay of the Kapere incident by some of our religious leaders that are trying to support the passing of this oppressive policy into law.
It is incomprehensible that any Christian leader should vehemently support a bill whose provisions largely curtail the move of the Holy Spirit.
Some of the provisions of this policy require one to first obtain a license before doing the work of God. Additionally, this license may not be granted without the approval of the Inter-Religious Council, or the general public.
This is turning a blind eye to the multi-religious society Uganda is, and the fact that there will always exist a degree of cross-intolerance on the side of some individuals.
Contrary to Bible principles, individuals will also be evaluated on the basis of their past deeds before they can be regarded as fit and proper. Needless to point out is the fact that this policy seems to specifically target one main sect – Christians.
This will eventually turn out to be a classic case of handcuffing oneself and bending to the whims of a fallen society as a hopeless prisoner.
Allow me draw your attention to a certain case that has come to be known as the Speluncean Explorers case. Similar to the recent incident of the young Thai boys and their soccer coach that got trapped in a cave, a group of five cave explorers gets buried in a collapsing cave. Expecting to be rescued within a few days, the explorers wait patiently to no avail.
Ten days later, after running low on supplies, one of the explorers, Roger Whetmore, suggests that they cast lots to choose who amongst them should be eaten to save the rest of the team.
After contemplation, he retracts his suggestion, but his colleagues reject his retraction. The lots determine Whetmore as the one to be eaten, and by the time of a miraculous rescue of the group, almost little or nothing was left of Whetmore.
Similarly, Grace Ibingira’s agonizing experience in the 1960s also comes to mind. As a parliamentarian, Ibingira was one of the most vocal members who pushed for the passing of the Deportation Ordinance into law. All cries from opposing house members fell on deaf ears. Ironically, in 1966, Ibingira fell prey to the very law he passionately advocated for.
Do not get me wrong; it is not that we should not advocate for laws and expect to be exempted because of our contributions. However, like Ibingira, when you passionately advocate for an unfair, archaic and oppressive law, it is likely to come knocking at your door at one point.
This incident is likely to play out should the religious policy be passed into law. As a law, it will not be applied in isolation of who contributed to its passing, and who did not; it will be applied uniformly to all, including the hungry oppressors behind it.
It will be an ironic boomerang on some of these religious leaders that have misguidedly and vociferously pushed for its passing when they are caught in the crosshairs of some of the ridiculous provisions in this bill. If I may, we may have the ‘ghost of Ibingira’ hovering over some church leaders in Uganda. What may start out as seemingly protective of traditional faiths will eventually turn out to be a booby-trap.
It is for this reason, therefore, that I call upon the proponents of the religious policy to rethink their actions.
The author is a lawyer