Monday, April 21, 2014
Harassment of the Christian Union in Makerere University
P.O. BOX 7062, KAMPALA.
TUESDAY, 22 APRIL, 2014.
THE DEAN OF STUDENTS,
P.O. BOX 7062,
RE: HARASSMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN UNION IN MAKERERE UNIVERSITY
We extend our sincere gratitude and deep appreciation for the good work you have so ably engaged in at this great university. We appreciate that the running of an institution of such repute and influence is no mean task but under your wise and able leadership, life at Makerere University is better than ever before for members of the university community especially students. Thank you, once again.
Having said that, it is with great humility that we humbly write to you, sir, informing you of some sad developments in the university that are calculated to harass the Christian Union and its members. We seek protection from your office against all forms of harassment and intimidation that have been so savagely levelled against us in the past month.
The Christian Union is a student umbrella organization of various Christian fellowships running at the various faculties and halls of residence. The Union organizes regular prayer meetings and other faith-related activities around the University and these have been greatly instrumental in inculcating morality and building the student body in the Christian faith. The union’s contribution to the Christian growth of thousands of students and its impact on their social and academic life cannot be underestimated.
As part of its programs and activities, the Union invites different pastors to preach the word of God to members of the university community especially students.
As you may be aware, there are many other preachers and stakeholders operating in the university, some of whom own churches. We as a union are deeply appreciative of their avid interest in the youth of this nation and their general concern about the need to raise a generation that both respects and fears God.
Of note is a group known as the Fellowship of Christian Unions (FOCUS), headed by Ms Langaret Beatrice, the General Secretary. We thank God for their contribution towards spreading the healing gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and for building the church of God. As far as we are concerned, we are happy to have them around, working with and alongside them.
Unfortunately, we would like to bring to your attention the fact that FOCUS has overstepped the boundaries of its authority and has resorted to some very high handed measures in its campaign of influence over the university Christian community. There methods stretch from the bizarre to plain absurdity.
Sir, by the grace of God, our fellowships are very popular that the number of students attending them increases every passing day. Students attending the fellowships number in the thousands.
We note with concern that this did not auger very well with some parties interested in the Christian youth population of the university, especially FOCUS. Whether these are sentiments of jealousy is not a matter for us to judge. Whether it is a matter of doctrinal differences, we assert that doctrinal correctness has never been the preserve of an institution.
Consequently, FOCUS and its affiliates are now spearheading a campaign to harass, intimidate and undermine the Christian Union in Makerere University. Ms Langaret Beatrice and Mr. Umoja Ken alias Apostle Ken, a self-proclaimed ‘spiritual authority over Makerere University,’ are the masterminds of this shameful and ungodly campaign. To our utter shock and genuine astonishment, FOCUS is actively involved in dissuading and stopping students from attending our fellowships.
We would have you know sir, that the group is conspiring with leaders in halls of residences to deny us space to pray and worship. Specifically, attacks have been levelled against Afro-stone fellowship a strong and budding fellowship that is transforming the lives of students in an unprecedented manner. The Afro-stone fellowship was previously congregating in Africa Hall, where it held weekly prayer fellowships. However, under FOCUS’ influence, the warden chased the congregants away under suspicious circumstances and for no clear reasons. This was unjustified, unprovoked and utterly baseless.
The Afro-stone fellowship then moved to Livingstone Hall. Now, FOCUS and its cohorts are now putting the warden and his staff members under intense pressure to chase the congregants away from there as well. FOCUS’ campaign is not only targeted against the Christian Union as an entity, but its individual members too and all its friends and allies.
It is of note that other fellowships are also suffering the brunt of FOCUS’ merciless and unprovoked attacks. This is to their genuine dismay and apprehension at the audacity that FOCUS is demonstrating.
As a matter of fact, through its networks, FOCUS is exerting influence to expel one of the Union’s most prominent preachers whom they have for instance tried to deny access to St Francis Chapel in collusion with the chaplain but have so far failed. This is thanks to the love and vigilance of students, who find value and merit in his sermons and the wealth of wisdom that he has to convey.
As if this is not enough, FOCUS has now threatened to storm his sessions and even issued terrible threats like police arrests and tear gas. If these people are not restrained by the responsible university authorities, sooner than later, they may cause a deadly scene in the university, occasioning great embarrassment.
Further, FOCUS goes around spreading horrendous lies and false accusations against us. For instance, they say that we, in the Christian Union, support homosexuality, theft and prostitution; that we tell students not to attend classes and not to revise their books; that we give condoms to students at night; that we support abortion and even run an abortion room in Africa Hall! This is preposterous!
We strongly deny all these flimsy and baseless allegations. There is no iota of truth in them and we contend that FOCUS and particularly, its General Secretary, Ms Lagaret Beatrice or Mr Umoja Ken do not have the slightest scintilla of evidence to support them. Their actions are unwarranted, baseless and uncalled for. More than just a disgrace to the Union, their works are a great humiliation to the University from a body that is otherwise worthy of great respect.
Sir, the lengths to which these people will go in this scheme are quite illustrious. They are busy going around defaming the Christian Union and its members. They also bribe people to frame us. For instance, they approached and promised one of our leaders, Mr Kabagambe Moses, a sum of Uganda shillings eight hundred thousand only (Ugx 800,000/=), if he accepted to be recorded confirming the lies stated earlier in this letter. Definitely, they were unsuccessful in this mission because our members are morally upright people and are totally law abiding citizens who cannot be engaged in lousy conspiracies to break and undermine not only God’s law, but also Ugandan law. They even go as far as paying spies to attend the meetings. This is just a tip of the iceberg on the extent of their deviousness.
All the above transgressions are in spite of the fact that the 1995 Uganda Constitution guarantees ‘freedom to practise any religion and manifest such practice which shall include the right to belong to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organisation in a manner consistent with the Constitution,’ This is enshrined under Article 29(1)(c) of this supreme law of our land. FOCUS and its members are therefore, violating our constitutional rights. It claims that it is the only one entitled to hold prayer sessions in Makerere University.
Sir, following the Supreme Court decision in Dimanche Sharon v Makerere University Constitutional Appeal No.2 of 2004, the Honourable Court firmly established that Makerere University is a secular institution with a guaranteed freedom of worship. No specific group of persons or religious affiliation can super-impose over another. FOCUS therefore has no right to play as the doctrinal police man in Makerere University.
To the best of our knowledge, FOCUS is not even a legally registered entity in this University. It has no inherent authority over the Christian Union under any recognised law, be it in the university or in the nation.
Of note is the fact that FOCUS came into being in 1972 while the Christian Union has existed since 1962. Article 6 of the Christian Union Constitution only recognises FOCUS as a partner body but not an authoritative mother body. We strongly assert that FOCUS has perhaps overestimated and misconstrued the authority it has over the union and its members and this is an opportunity to set it right. The said article clearly stipulates that the Christian Union would maintain its distinctive autonomy. It left the Christian Union with a wide discretion to determine the extent of its involvement with FOCUS. If this is clearly being abused then it remains the preserve of the Christian Union to sever any such connections.
FOCUS’ leadership has now chosen to rebel and take a splinter path while causing and threatening mayhem as it does so. It is busy establishing illegitimate leadership circles by clandestinely appointing kangaroo committees. To our utter amazement at its sheer audacity, FOCUS purported to dissolve the duly constituted Christian Union Committee and instituted its own.
We strongly assert that FOCUS has no authority over the Christian Union, has no say in its choice of preachers and has absolutely no say in who undertakes to pray on the university grounds.
We therefore, humbly request you sir and other university leaders, whose attention to the matters raised in this letter is sought by copy of the same, to help us address all of the concerns raised, particularly by ensuring the following, though not necessarily limited to the same:
1. That the security of Christian Union members and the university community is guaranteed through immediate protection from the hostilities meted upon us by FOCUS and its members.
2. That FOCUS and its members are restrained from abusing our freedom of worship in Makerere University and stopped from any interference in the Union’s activities.
3. That police immediately investigates the activities of FOCUS, which we contend are criminal in nature, in order to avoid the possibility of unnecessary clashes in the university.
4. That the Afro-stone fellowship that has come under unprecedented attack from FOCUS be guarded against these hostilities and protected from being thrown out of their current premises of congregation in Livingstone Hall.
Aijuka Brian Kaguna Ann
Chairperson Vice Chairperson
c.c. Deputy Vice Chancellor
c.c. O.C. Makerere University Police Station
c.c. Guild President
c.c. FOCUS General Secretary
c.c. All Student Notice Boards
c.c The Chaplain, St. Francis Chapel