KAMPALA – The recent scenes in Luzira, Gaba, Bunga, and a few other areas are a clear testament that we have disturbed nature and it is fighting back. For many years, the rich and mighty have used undue influence and acquired land in wetlands – with some who built near the lake, reclaiming land by the shores. All these actions have had grave effects on hundreds of communities living in lowlands. Places like Bwaise have experienced flooding year on year with many losing lives and millions worth of properties as places supposed to absorb rainwater have are encroached and now home to factories and posh houses.
Wetlands play a very critical role. A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail. Wetlands play several functions, including water purification, water storage, processing of carbon and other nutrients, stabilization of shorelines, and support of plants and animals.
The poor have for many years cried for help as their properties are washed away, their children drown and die; but no one has listened. The watchdog agencies mandated with preservation and protection of nature have continued to approve construction projects in total disregard of repeated calls by environmentalists to steer clear from wetlands and lakeshores.
The bible reminds us in Proverbs 22:22 – 23 “Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the LORD will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them”. This verse reminds us that everything we do to cause pain on a poor soul will never go unpunished. Perhaps God has finally heard the cries of his helpless people and acted.
This and other events in-country should help us reflect on our actions and behaviors over the years and seek forgiveness from God for all our unrighteousness. Many families in Uganda remain landless because of land evictions and many children wonder on the streets because families lost dwelling places from those seeking to acquire and own everything. We must develop a spirit of contentment and be happy with the little God has blessed us with.
In 2010, I spent about four months in Israel living in cooperative/Kibbutz. The concept of the Kibbutz is built on communal living, collective participation, and caring for one another. From this settlement, I learned several things but notable among them was the fact that “caring for one another should be our cardinal responsibility as human beings”. As human beings, we can only eat one plate of food, sleep in one bed, drive one car or bicycle, and sleep in one house. However, we have chosen a completely different path with determination to own everything we can put our hands on. On this journey to satisfy our greed, we have left behind a trail of homeless families, flooded communities, income inequality, drowning children, and endless tears from the young and the old. Our actions by no means do not please God!
It is time we take a pause as a country and genuinely repent and seek God’s forgiveness. Many of the things happening now (Covid19, Locusts e.t.c) could be signs of God communicating something to us. We have not only sinned as humans through our actions but also turned to the environment – destroying nature and rendering thousands of animal species homeless.
It is not too late to correct the wrongs. It is within our power to change the course of destiny and collectively work towards a just, fair, and equitable society within which everyone can thrive and live peacefully.
Mr. Were is the President of The Nathan & Christine Were Foundation.