It was a joyous and momentous time when Pope Francis came visiting. He is the third Pope to visit Uganda and his visit created such a feeling of good tidings amongst Ugandans of different walks. I too felt proud that the Pope came around, but there is always the realism we adults have to live with. Especially now that he is safely gone. A big thank you to all those who made it possible. Here are ten of the lessons I learnt from His Holiness’ visit. If I offend, apologies for my acerbic tongue.

  1. That if it wasn’t for Sekabaka Daniel Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga II and his executioner Mukajanga (sic), we wouldn’t have had the martyrs. Every story has two sides.
  2. That we can all live together in peace and harmony despite our different political beliefs. It is not a crime to belong to the NRM, FDC, UPC, DP or the lunatic fringe. These are just choices and we should always protect each other’s right to have a different opinion, even when we disagree with that opinion.
  3. That Father Francis is a uniting factor to people from all walks of life. His message of love, peace and social justice is transcendental and we should embrace it for a better Uganda.
  4. Belief in a national ethos is a great thing and we need it. What is it that we Ugandans universally believe in that makes us what we are –Ugandans. At least the Catholics believe in the nativity and the Pope’s infallibility, never mind the veracity of those things.
  5. It doesn’t matter what mode of transport you use. If you are the Pope you don’t have to shout it on the top of Mount Sinai. Our leaders could be a little more modest too as that modesty will not prevent them from being the first, second or nth citizen, whatever they are in the pecking order. They don’t need to hurtle around at breakneck speed with sirens and all tribes of paraphernalia.
  6. African’s need a third, fourth and fifth liberation. How else does one explain their fawning and extravagance over the visit of the son of an Argentine peasant when they don’t have even one decent (world class) national referral health facility or center of academic excellence?
  7. Religious associations are still the machoistic preserve of men, despite their universal message. How else do you explain the intolerance of my sister’s right to serve at God’s altar?
  8. We need to learn to respect professionalism and inculcate it in the way we do things if we are to be world class. How else does one explain the inchoate MCeeing at the different venues? Simply irrational exuberance and disrespect for the Pope and his audiences of believers.
  9. But for the greed of we the elite, we can build a better and more inclusive Uganda. There are enough resources to change our lot if only we were rational men and women.
  10. Now that the Pope is gone, we can get back to business as usual, whatever that means.