For most Americans, our accepted thinking about Uganda is bad. We remember Idi Amin Dada, Uganda’s dictatorial president from 1971 through 1979, whose rule was characterized by brutal repression, ethnic cleansing of Indians and other non-Ugandans, murder, corruption, and national financial mismanagement. Or we remember the 1976 Israeli raid on Entebbe, Uganda, where an Air France jetliner with 248 passengers was hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and German terrorists, and flown to Entebbe, near Kampala, the capital of Uganda, where the terrorists were protected by President Amin. In that hijacking, the hijackers separated the Israelis and Jews from the other passengers, and more than 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers, along with the non-Jewish flight captain, were held hostage and threatened with death, until a daring and successful rescue mission was carried out by commandos of the Israeli Defense Forces. (Interestingly, the commander of the rescue mission was Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, the older brother of the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Colonel Netanyahu was killed in the raid on Entebbe.)
However, in recent days, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni celebrated Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence from Great Britain by publicly repenting of his personal sin and the sins of his nation. Here is President Museveni’s prayer in its entirety:
Father God in heaven, today we stand here as Ugandans, to thank you for Uganda. We are proud that we are Ugandans and Africans. We thank you for all your goodness to us. I stand here today to close the evil past and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness. We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation.
We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal. Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict. These sins and many others have characterized our past leadership, especially the last 50 years of our history. Lord, forgive us and give us a new beginning. Give us a heart to love you, to fear you and to seek you. Take away from us all the above sins.
We pray for national unity. Unite us as Ugandans and eliminate all forms of conflict, sectarianism and tribalism. Help us to see that we are all your children, children of the same Father. Help us to love and respect one another and to appreciate unity in diversity. We pray for prosperity and transformation. Deliver us from ignorance, poverty and disease. As leaders, give us wisdom to help lead our people into political, social and economic transformation.
Next, President Museveni dedicated Uganda to God:
We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own.
I renounce all the evil foundations and covenants that were laid in idolatry and witchcraft. I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation. And I hereby covenant Uganda to you, to walk in your ways and experience all your blessings forever. I pray for all these in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Should a nation’s president lead citizens in a national prayer of repentance? And does President Museveni serve as a powerful role model for other national leaders, including our own? This is quite a contrast to President Obama, who in his recent weekly presidential radio address, wished Americans a happy Thanksgiving, but again neglected to offer verbal thanks to God for the fourth consecutive year. However, he did ask the American people to unite behind his administration. (Yes, I know that the official Thanksgiving proclamation does mention God, but no specific thanks to God, which is the point of Thanksgiving for at least some of us.) It might be a reason that polls consistently show that many Americans are unaware that President Obama is a Christian, or doubt his claim. In fact, polls show that many people believe he is Moslem. Others consider his administration to be the most anti-Christian administration in American history. But you sure cannot have any doubts about where President Museveni of Uganda stands. In the Bible, we are commanded to pray for our civil authorities. There is, of course, no limit geographically to this biblical admonition. As the United States continues its rapid descent into history, I, for one, have already started to pray for President Museveni and for those who work alongside him, and ask that our God bless a great and peaceful Uganda that will be a beacon of righteousness and justice to the world.