I write to you from Kampala, Uganda. Here, a number of young men demonstrated the greatest courage by choosing to die for the gospel of Jesus Christ, a few years after they had heard it. Many of these young men were pages in the king’s palace carefully chosen among the most hardworking and well-behaved boys in the monarchy.
It is for this act of courage and faith, I believe, that you have chosen to visit the land where these young men, now celebrated as martyrs and saints, were born and raised.
Indeed, Uganda is the land of courageous, hardworking, and Godly people, whose motto is “For God and my Country”.
Holy Father, Uganda has a very young population. However, 83 per cent of these young people have no jobs, no means of survival and thus lack basic human dignity. Even those who work hard and honestly in quarries, metal fabrication workshops, or construction sites, are paid very little.
Like the Uganda Martyrs who were persecuted by their own king, some young people who have challenged their government to create, or enable the creation of more jobs, have been battered, and arrested by the police that are supposed to protect them.
Your Holiness, our humanity is challenged because we do not have the basics for survival. Recently, 10 people were reported to have died of hunger in north eastern Uganda. In the past months, millions of unemployed young people have been trained by government as ‘crime preventers’ ahead of next year’s election.
Holy Father, today, the values on which Uganda is founded are being eroded. The spirit of resilience, sacrifice and honesty as demonstrated by Uganda Martyrs is being replaced by dishonesty, hatred, greed, violence and corruption.
Your Holiness, many years ago, our country was intolerant to those who believed the gospel but today, we are intolerant to those who believe in a different political message or social order.
The future of our country is threatened by today’s systematic degeneration in values and unequal access to economic opportunities, spurred by bad politics. The young people who are the future of this country have been, rather deliberately, kept out of political and economic participation.
But we are believers. We trust that you, The Vicar of Christ, will deliver upon us a special blessing of hope. Hope, because we, who have been denied a chance of a better life, survive on only hope. Hope that our country will transcend the scourge of poverty and unemployment; hope that that future of the young people will be as bright as their aspirations and above all, hope that God through his son Jesus Christ and by the intercession of the Uganda Martyrs, will deliver us to the promise of the future of our country.
We welcome you, Holy Father, to our country Uganda.