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Worshipping Uganda

by Sanne Schouwenburg

· Travel Blog

"Tulimu Ekanisa" [we are going to Church, in Luganda]

Good Morning! Happy Easter! As of Easter Weekend, the In-Country volunteers (ICV’s) were very keen to go to Church. Challenges Worldwide compromised by changing the training timetable and therefore anyone who was interested could attend service today from 9h to 11h. We (the 4 Team Leaders) decided to accompany the ICV’s to experience their Easter celebrations. Although not religious, I do believe in doing good and in being optimistic and happy, if church is what gives people all of that, then I thing that is a beautiful thing, and I will swing and sing along.

After celebrating Easter at a local Church, I was keen to learn more about the meaning of religion in Uganda. Eddie – my Ugandan counterpart – asked me to accompany him to his community’s Church on the 3rd of April. Luckily Eddie had warned me that I was to introduce myself in front of the group, so I had the time to practice on the way there to introduce myself in Luganda! This was very much appreciated. I was received with great joy. The locals seem to be really happy when they do not have to communicate in English. This Church – “Kira Ekanisa” – was colourful, joyful, there was lots of singing and even some dancing.

Preaching was mostly done in Luganda and other tribal languages, and translated into English. This Church was a lot smaller than the one I visited during Easter, it seemed like everybody knew each other. It was so nice to see how people bond here, support others, and ask each other for help. There was a boy of about 17, about to finish highschool, and as he could not afford his last year’s school fees, he asked for donations of the community. I believe it takes great courage to ask for this.

The week after. Another Sunday arrived. This Sunday I decided to visit Uganda’s largest Bahai Temple, which is sat on a hill nearby our Host Home. It is surrounded by other hills covered in tropical plants and dotted with local homes. Ive got only one word for this place, Magical.

The main building is round, with big doors all around, and with big windows in the tall structure. While attending the Bahai service, sun came though the top windows and lit the entire building. The sun disappeared and left us with the wind, which traveled through all doors. It gave me goosebumps. Shortly after it rained. This was not a typical cats & dogs rain from London. This was a good old African Tropical rainstorm.

The Bahai faith is the same religion of God that was brought by Moses, Jesus, Muhammed and the other prophets. I have understood that this religion only dates back from 1844 and is about the oneness of mankind. It is about the coming together of all people, races, classes, nations and religions in a spirit of understanding under the guidance of the one God in which all believe. Bahai followers love Christ, Moses, Krishna, Muhammad and founders of all the World’s revealed religions. These religions are believed to be part of God’s message of continuous guidance to mankind down through the ages.

Luckily I was able to meet some followers of the Bahai faith at the Bahai temple. I was really keen to learn about the practicality of this religion. Interestingly men and women are entirely equal. They must have equal opportunities, rights and privileges. Both work, and both take care of children and household. Not only education is encouraged for everyone, but also nations are encouraged to choose an international language to be used along with their mother tongue, to limit misunderstanding and mistrust. Bahai includes a special attention for agriculture, and what I found intriguing is that within the Bahai faith Religion and Science go hand in hand. The community should be obedient to government, alcohol and drugs is strictly forbidden, and for the one’s who are curious, men only have one wife, and cheating is not done.

As there are no priests, individuals are responsible themselves for their own spiritual progress. This meant that during the Sunday service, people from the public walked up to read to each other scripts of different religions, accompanied by some beautiful songs.

What I have learned over the last few weeks is that people of Uganda do not discriminate based on religion. Not only at the Bahai they welcome all religion, everyone is very acceptant of different cultures and religions.

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