By Mike Ssegawa
The problem with Ugandans is looking at everything with political lenses.
It therefore took me more than eight hours to properly understand the excitement on social media over President Museveni’s trip to Kanoni where he apparently “discovered” church records showing he was baptized on 3 August 1947.
Fortunately, I am not one to believe there was anything like a “discovery” for Mr Museveni, rather, the emphasis that his baptism was captured for history purposes. This record therefore is a national treasure, especially, with the absence of President Museveni’s birth record.
The priest who also baptized Yoeri, on that Sunday, possibly did not know he was making an historic act, and so was the person who entered the registration in that old book. The lack of attention he or she had in not spelling the names of the future leader, is there to see. And that was sad.
We should however give credit to the church of Uganda for the culture of keeping its records, for at least this long.
In government, as well as other institutions, most of these records go missing, or are poorly handled and end up being destroyed.
The book record where Museveni was entered as a Christian should be a national treasure because a president of 35 years is not a normal president. This is one is therefore one of the important documents which this country’s archive officers should pick interest in. And researchers should actually move around to check on the children who were baptized on the same day as Museveni; where are they and what are they doing?
The biggest political debate in Uganda is about transition. And clearly Mr Museveni is in the evening of his life or if not his presidency.
Artifacts such as the records of his baptism, school, military career, presidency, etc, should be priceless, and handled well. For one of these days, a museum will be erected in Mr Museveni’s honour or memory and it is such things that make it worthwhile. As a country, we should learn to celebrate our history, and the history of the notable citizens. It is such things that give countries their honour and international standing.
I throw the challenge to the ministry of Tourism, where Prof Ephraim Kamuntu and comrade Godfrey Kiwanda, are captains, to think seriously about these artifacts despite social media talkers making fun of them.
The photo of Mr Museveni checking his baptism record is priceless too.
There are things that will not change, including the age of Mr Museveni and therefore we should not waste valuable time debating things we cannot change. However, the country stands to benefit if Museveni’s life is captured and documented for historical purposes. It will not only educate our countrymen about the man and his life, but also attract tourists who as we better know, spend to improve our economy.
I have been to the Uganda Museum a number of time, and honestly, the history of Uganda is done a disservice at that institution which is also a museum in its operations. We should give life to the museums around the country and to ignore Museveni’s life story is a big mistake historians are making.