DEO: Why Papal visit is more political than religious

It is just a couple of weeks before the Holy pontiff touches the ground in Kenya and Uganda for his maiden visit.

However, far from his trademark presentation as a Pope for the poor, down in Uganda, folks are soliciting for money day and night in an apparent drive to ensure a pompous image on the occasion of the Pope’s visit. One wonders whether we actually need to create an impression before the Pope, of what we actually are not.

Christians are being told to contribute money in preparation for the Pope’s visit. Not so bad an economic strategy, because traditionally believers have always been asked to apparently give back to God — and who wouldn’t want to give money for the Pope if that should accrue reciprocal blessings?

What I never hear, is actually the clarification that ideally our God does not need money.

In my view, if the Pope’s visit is to have any spiritual meaning, the Archbishop should concentrate his energies on calling upon people to renew their Christian vows, rather than have folks part with the little money on them in the name of supporting a Pope’s visit.

I believe that the Government of Uganda as host has enough resources to fund the Pontiff’s visit without putting pressure on individual believers.

I also know that the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is currently working day and night to fix the roads leading to the Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo and washing the roads to ensure that by the time the Pope arrives, they would be sparkling clean.

Thank you very much Ms Allen Kagina, the UNRA executive director, but I do not think that Pope Francis will even notice that anything was recently done — and so what if he comes to Namugongo and finds it sparkling, when much of the city where the believers will be filing in from is engulfed in mud?

This kind of hash up development was witnessed in 2007 ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and soon after the dignitaries had flown out of  the country, much of it started crumbling one by one because there was no proper sustainability plan — the lights stopped functioning, pavements were run over, and roads developed potholes all over again because they were haphazardly done.

I very well understand the usual temptation to construct roads based on their likely economic benefit or tagged to momentous events like the Pope’s visit but I dare say that even the poor people living in lesser economically viable locales, deserve to live decently.

It is not even good enough to repair only main roads while ignoring feeder roads within and around the city. If protocol allowed, and assuming Pope Francis had the time, I would have loved him to visit places like Kikubamutwe in Kibuli or Bunamwaya in Wakiso or even Mpala in Entebbe. These are places where feeder roads are grossly neglected.

I wish at this, to welcome Pope Francis Home. Home, because no matter his colour or nationality, he, I and you, are children of the same God and wherever we are, we must feel at home.

Tumusiime is an international communications consultant.