Forgetting the prior preparations, from the second that Pope Francis’ shepherd one landed at Entebbe International Airport on the evening of Friday, November 27th, 2015 at 17:07pm, Ugandans witnessed a change from the normal life of gun wielding policemen, political and religious severances and social ineptitude to an organized, a bit competent ideal nation that many would wish to dwell in for the next decades.
Amazed at what transpired during the Pope voyage, many have confessed that the Jesuit Pope at least performed miracles in Uganda.
Let me attempt to classify the ideal nation in the religious, political, and social spheres.
At the airport, the Pope was welcomed by the Bishops, not only Catholics but also Anglicans.
Clergymen from the two creeds do often meet but welcoming the Pope in unison was an indicator that religion can spearhead the mission of uniting Uganda.
In turn, Pope Francis paid a courtesy visit to the Anglican martyr’s shrine before celebrating mass at the catholic shrine on Saturday.
Politically, it was a mass that blessed the nation with the Museveni, Besigye historical hand shake.
A hand grasp that Uganda had not tested for more than 15 years! It is a moment that Ugandans and Stephen Wandera, the Daily Monitor photo journalist took the photo we will live to remember.
Kudos to NRM Secretary General Kasule Lumumba who reminded president Museveni to shake hands with his political nemesis.
According to a story published in the Observer on Monday (last week), Museveni and Besigye last shock hands in public in 1999 when a group of elders from Rukungiri went to meet the president and pleaded that “their son” is not arraigned before the army court martial for writing a paper critical of the Movement system of government.
At the same mass, Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura sat next to Besigye who police has arrested more times than any other Ugandan in the 21st century.
After Pope’s departure, Kayihura said, “the pope has blessed me. If you continue demonising me, you will go to hell.”
Those who were present at a gathering addressed by the Pope witnessed Uganda police controlling large crowds without guns and teargas canisters.
It was a victorious mission for the police. Why not try it again and again?
Along Entebbe road, I stood between two aging Muslims who were among crowds waiting to cheer the Pope on his way to Muyonyo shrine on Friday evening.
In a Question Answer session with journalists on his way from Africa back to Rome, the Pope said among his best moments in Africa were the crowds that felt visited and had a great sense of welcome! Indeed, my Muslim friends who felt visited were eager to have a glance at the Pope.
Patiently, we waited for more two hours to see the Pope.
When his speeding entourage drove past Clock Tower, where we were standing, we all felt betrayed, and started complaining why didn’t the stop to wave to us?
As I stared and experienced how Uganda morphed in just a matter of seconds to host Pope, my mind set changed from cynicism to thinking about how we can build a society that all Ugandans would be proud of!
A Uganda that everyone would be ready to defend at all costs! A Uganda that other nations would envy! And it is the ideal Uganda.
Pope’s visit gave us optimism that it is possible to build an ideal Uganda.
It starts with the modifying of our leadership. Uganda is in need of leaders who will work for common good.
Leaders who will unite to celebrate the country’s success and work hand in hand to overcome challenges!
This is the brass of leaders who are going to change perception of Ugandans about political leadership.
How about religious leaders? We are waiting for men of God who can go beyond religious fences by preaching unity, harmony and clemency and practice these teachings.
February 2016, we are going to polls; Ugandans, vote for leaders who will espouse Pope’s traits.
Simplicity, humility, integrity, selflessness, normalcy, openness, et cetera! These are the characters that usher us into an ideal Uganda.
Blanshe Musinguzi is an undergraduate Journalism and Communication Student at Makerere University
Email: [email protected]