Nebbi has seen better days and demonstrated a deeper faith.

Nebbi has seen better days and demonstrated a deeper faith.

I have been looking forward to this year’s Martyrs’ Day celebration in a special way, in solidarity with my diocese of Nebbi who is cheering at the Catholic Shrine. I attended the last time the Catholic Diocese of Nebbi led celebrations and I still feel nostalgic more than a decade later. Perhaps that was the last time I ventured into Namugongo on Martyrs’ Day.

Since so many people are coming from all over to celebrate now, I find it useful to give them the opportunity to be there in person, while I watch from home. The real reason is that I often can’t imagine the chaos of trying to get in as the years go by.

The Catholic Diocese of Nebbi has been a big part of my life. I spent my Senior Six holidays in 1999 volunteering in the diocese. We had nine months of vacation and I thought I would be bored.

Maybe that was the most important decision for me. We get involved in a lot of work around Youth Alive and attend a lot of events. At the height of it all, after being admitted to university and about to start school, the parish sent me and another lady to attend an important event in Nairobi, Kenya. It was an event that brought together young people from all over Africa. It was my first time leaving the country and Nairobi fascinated me.

We were put into groups that ensured all members were from different countries and sent us out of Nairobi for a study trip. It turned out to be the best part of that experience. We would introduce ourselves and tell the people we meet what we are doing with our lives. Every time I said I was going to Makerere University in a couple of weeks, they told me how lucky I was to be able to attend that university.

Until then it had not occurred to me that I was lucky. Sometimes it takes other people to help you count your blessings. In fact, I had become depressed because I couldn’t get government sponsorship and I couldn’t study the course I wanted either. Thus, I began to change my way of seeing the situation. That week in and around Nairobi would shape my view of the world and can perhaps be called a turning point. It gave me confidence and partly helped me find my voice.

Those months in the diocese planted their seeds. At university, the following year he would become part of the executive committee of the Nebbi Makerere Students Association and, the following year, its president. Over time, as a teacher at Makerere, I was his patron. Without that experience, the shy girl he was couldn’t have done those things.

So many years have passed and yet very little has been achieved when it comes to the human and socio-economic development of our people. However, Nebbi sure has had some great days. The former bishop of Nebbi diocese, Henry Luke Orombi, served as archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda. The Catholic Diocese of Nebbi has had its share of good luck, I dare not count it.

If you see the enthusiasm with which these people have walked, you could speak of a much deeper faith. That faith fuels a community spirit that is difficult to deny, and allowed many of us to succeed in life, not only thanks to the efforts of our parents, but thanks to the good will of other people.

For many people in Nebbi, when good things happen, they know they are not their doing. They often say that everything is the work of the Lord. Even when God closes the doors, they still say it’s okay.

What remains, which we must strengthen, is the deep faith that the majority of the people of Nebbi have. I once read that ‘faith sees the unfeasible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.’ Many of our Christians could testify to this. We have grown up seeing the favor and hand of the Lord in our lives where systems have failed us.

Someone once told me that this attitude of ours is what hinders social and economic development. Too many people become content and simply trust in the Lord, the person told me. But maybe we have to find different ways to see how blessed we really are as a people. May the deep faith of our parents that we have inherited guide and lead us. Happy Martyrs’ Day.

Ms Maractho (PhD) is an academic.
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