About a fortnight ago, I attended a wonderful wedding ceremony somewhere in Kampala which was graced with people from different classes of Ugandan society. I enjoyed listening to the words of wisdom, love, and encouragement bestowed upon the new couple. But I was particularly amazed, and at the same time taken aback by the words said by one of the day’s speakers – Dr Samuel Kazibwe.
In his speech, Dr Kazibwe, a renown media expert and a personal mentor of mine, passionately described the bridegroom as a well-groomed individual, with the morals and ethos that have become elusive among many Ugandans – young and old – in today’s society.
Dr Kazibwe painted a grim picture of our country’s moral state and the dysfunctional mess in which we are. He explained that, if not checked, our country’s rapid descent into apostasy will undoubtedly lead us into a calamitous future.
With the current ongoings in Uganda, I couldn’t agree more with the words of Dr Kazibwe. Corruption, greed, criminality, social injustice and lawlessness, have become the norm in our beloved country. And our sense of right and wrong appears to have shifted in the opposite direction.
Currently, not a day passes when we don’t read or hear of a major corruption scandal in a government agency.
Corruption and bribery have become so common that, for example, when a traffic police officer stops you, sometimes for a normal traffic check with no apparent violation of traffic laws, the first statements to be uttered will be about ‘Kitu kidogo’
Our country greatly misses people such as Rtd. Maj Gen. Mugisha Muntu and Bidandi Ssali, who, despite the various positions of power previously held in government, maintained (and continue to maintain) the decency, humility and simplicity of ordinary people.
These were individuals with virtues and moral calibre high enough to deliver on their job description, without the desire to amass wealth for themselves, families or friends. But it is surprising that today, people of Mugisha Muntu and Bidandi Ssali’s nature, would be loathed by our society for acting differently from their peers.
One cannot blame government for all of society’s ills, but there is no doubt that by not holding people accountable for their negative actions, our government has partly contributed to this moral decay. And mind you, all this is happening in the full glare of thousands of well-articulated acts of Parliament being enacted almost every month.
Our problems are no longer about enactment of new laws or amendment of existing ones. It is amusing that when the ministry of Ethics and Integrity recently approached the parliamentary Budget Committee over a UGX2.5 billion request to fund government processes of instilling morals and generating policies to end corruption in the country, the request was vehemently rejected.
MP Fox Odoi described the government proposal as “corruption itself.” He was quoted by the Daily Monitor newspaper as saying, “This country doesn’t need any more laws to fight corruption. We have more than enough. This is completely ridiculous. If anybody tells you, they need more money to develop policies, that person is corrupt”.
In 2021, despite the Police spending a budget of UGX 1 trillion, Uganda recorded an upsurge in crime if compared to the prior year. This was revealed by the 2021 Annual Crime and Traffic Safety Report where theft, assaults, domestic violence, sex-related offences and economic crimes were listed as the top five crimes.
As a country, we have become morally bankrupt and it is unfortunate that many Ugandans do not even realize it. We have traded away too many of our core moral values and commitments and all this is having disastrous effects on our nation.
But part of the problem emanates from parenting and child upbringing. Parents should be blamed for having relegated their parenting duties to house-helps and teachers. They have failed to provide their children with the support and guidance needed for their proper growth and development.
It is, in fact, ironic that almost every parent I engage in discussions regarding parenting refers to the good old days when, as children, they were brought up with sound moral and ethical sanctity. This always makes me wonder: Why is it that people who were brought up with such quality upbringing are the ones raising irresponsible, and morally decadent children with little regard to societal norms and values?
In education institutions, our children are being exposed to corruption and immorality at every other turn. From examination malpractices (sometimes orchestrated by both parents and teachers), violent protests to sex scandals, our children are at a serious loss and indeed, our country’s future is in a serious disarray.
In the eyes of Chinua Achebe, things have fallen deeply apart and as a nation, we must do some soul searching and rediscover our moral and ethical roots. We must look at how we can rebuild up the moral fabric of our society; We must take time to rediscover the distinction between right and wrong.
We need to expose the intellectual and moral bankruptcies of our nation. Our government needs to restore the ethos of liberty and responsibility in the citizenry, but starting with a change in the political process and direction. Greed, indiscipline and lewdness, must be replaced with kindness, decency, integrity and consideration. Short of these, we are bound to continually fail on virtually all fronts!