As the entire country observes the corruption trends in Uganda, Popular satirical author Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo has been inspired to write an open letter to God.
Is this gentleman crossing the lines or simply making an earnest prayer? The opinion, titled ‘Silence, ordinary man praying’ has been published in The Observer newspaper, and has been widely shared on social media – with some applauding the writer’s creativity in talking about the country’s exact state of affairs.
Currently in his late thirties, Ssentongo is a proud holder of a PhD, has two master’s degrees to his name and is the chairman of the centre for African studies at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi.
Read it below:
Dear God, it’s me again. I hope you don’t get tired of the prayers from this corner of your vast empire.
Sometimes I get a disturbing feeling that you will lock us out one day. But I swear upon your mighty name, dear Lord, we shall break your door. Please forgive my questions, I do not mean to doubt your sense of justice.
Before you, I am only a child with an imperfect mind. What do I know? But if I may ask, what did we, from this side of the world, do to you?
We are told that leaders come from God. Yes, that they come from you. But dear Lord, when you looked around, are these the best you could find for us? I am not by any means trying to accuse you of anything. Besides, how could I! But, how come some parts of the world get better deals, yet some of them even long abandoned you!
Could our countries be your demonstration ground on how not to lead! Could this place be where you usually conduct experiments on bad governance? It is true we vote, but you know we hardly choose.
I will keep apologising, again forgive us if we blame you for our own faults. Sometimes we feel so helpless and abandoned, like white ants between teeth. Left with nowhere to turn to, to you we return with our load of burdens. Sometimes we go through those who tell us you sent them; they even charge us exorbitantly to bring our prayers to you.
You warned us that many false prophets shall come claiming to be sent by you, but we are too vulnerable to tell when they arrive in the middle of our miseries.
Our problems are their capital. Not to risk my prayer getting lost after my money has been picked from the envelope, today I chose to come directly to you. This is going to be a complicated prayer. A little back to our leaders. They have made it difficult for us to know what to pray for.
It is not until one of them dies in a road accident that road carnage becomes a serious problem. Then they come out to condemn pot- holes and bad driving in the strongest terms!
With their faces drenched in sorrow, they regret that if their own was not using the ordinary person’s means of transport, he wouldn’t have died in an accident.
As if the accident has served them with the long- awaited justification, like a cannibal at a funeral, they then use this to demand for money to buy themselves huge cars.
Dear God, in such circumstances, what should be our prayer if we want public transport to concern them? You know we are good-hearted people, only that we have been treated like cockroaches. Guide us not to be led into temptation to pray contrary to their wish to live.
Now they no longer talk about the cancer machine, long after the promised period. My Lord, they said they procured it in 2013. They then loaded it on a tortoise so that it gets here ‘soon’. Yes, as soon as we are dead!
The gate receiving the dead from Uganda must be very busy. Don’t you ask yourself why? The ushers on that gate need a ‘hand- shake’ from you, for it must be a tedious job.
Nevertheless, not until one of the leaders you gave us is accidentally hospitalised here and dies from these death traps they call hospitals, it might never become a serious matter. Oh again, lead us not into temptation to pray harmfully, but please deliver us from this evil!
Dear God, you are all-knowing, but you must have lost count of the money stolen from this country. Now let’s play a bit, my Lord. Just mention any kind of thievery and I will give you an example from my country. If I fail to come up with one in seconds, you are free to condemn me to die at a Ugandan public hospital.
But tell me something; when they die and come that side, how do you receive these thieves? How do they look in the eyes of the millions that lost their lives due to their bottomless greed? Do they run to hell before you even condemn them?
For the sinner that I am, I shouldn’t judge. Besides, we are told that all sins are equal before you. But if at all I am to end up in hell and I find myself in the same section with them, I will walk out in protest. You told us that ‘to whom more is given, more is expected’. You gave them more power than us, and I don’t have to remind you how they use it.
My Lord, these broken shoes I am wearing, I bought them brand new three weeks ago. Yes, from a licenced shop whose goods are cleared by government. Down here is every- one’s dumping ground. We are at your mercy all the time, never sure that anything we buy is genuine. They shop abroad, from those countries you gave caring leaders.
A few days back, our assistant inspector general of police was brutally assassinated. His bodyguard and driver were ordinary; I won’t mention them. We solemnly mourn him, even those of us who are still haunted by echoes of his voice commanding the suppression of some people’s legitimate claims. Many more people have died at the hands of assassins and robbers with no report.
Finally, now our caring president finds the urgent need of installing security cameras in all towns. Dear Lord, how should we pray?