Confirmation at Nyendo, West Buganda

On 19 October 2014 I left Kako at 8.30 am for All Saints, Nyendo Town Parish.  Nyendo is known for hooliganism, prostitution and all sorts of vices. The parish lies on the outskirts of Masaka. It includes a substantial number of schools. There are 800 Christians in the parish.  The parish church building is not adequate and tents are used. The vicar is Revd Fred Matovu, and he is assisted by Revd Dickson Kimbujje; both are married with children. There are two other churches within the parish; they are under the care of lay readers Mulema and Kigowith.

By 9 am I was at Nyendo and then I met the confirmation candidates. At the same time my wife Deborah, supported by Mrs Sarah Byamukama (Diocesan Mothers’ Union President), saw the Sunday School children. Her husband, who was also present, is Head of Laity at St John’s Kijjabwemi Town Parish. While at All Saints I was received by Mr Luswata, Head of Laity, and Mr Mitala, the head secretary of civil servants in the Uganda government, who was accompanied by his wife. There were also other parish executive members in attendance.

The service began at 10 am and lasted until 2 pm. The Dean of Kako Cathedral preached, challenging Christians to focus on Jesus and emphasizing the need for transformation. All Saints Nyendo is part of Kako Deanery. Over 300 children and adults were confirmed and received communion.

I confirmed the children and celebrated mass, assisted by the Diocesan Secretary, Revd Canon Samuel Mwesigwa, and other priests.  Mr Mitala was invited as a special guest and he contributed UGX 500,000 towards a parish common project. In his address he emphasized the virtues of discipline, hard work and patriotism.

Mrs Deborah Makumbi, in her brief address, advised Christians to live the gospel. She said actions speak louder than words; she warned against ‘Okwesoma (Pride).’ She acknowledged the achievements made in the parish and challenged the Nyendo Christians to make full use of the two priests in their parish.

At Nyendo Parish, they normally have three services on a Sunday and fellowship meetings during the week.  I tasked Revd Matovu with trying to assess the impact of fellowships in his parish and come up with a report, to guard against complacency.

This was my first time to confirm as many as 300 candidates at one service.  Normally numbers vary between 50 and 200.  Last year Nyendo had the highest number with over 200 recorded, and it was followed by Ntuusi in Sembabule District under Canon Herbert Tumwine.

The challenge is always to nurture young children as they grow up. There is no guarantee that we will be able to retain them as some are rarely seen in church except on festive days – Christmas and Easter.  Therefore it becomes imperative not to lose them as they grow up. It is also evident in the diocese that some Christians live double lives that contradict the gospel.  Notwithstanding these challenges, the church continues to grow and to make sense to many people.

Nyendo has challenges of hygiene, inadequate toilets and overcrowding; the crime rate is high, and there is too much pollution from traffic. Unemployment is high although there are some artisans and small shops.  The parish is regularly a centre of opposition to the government although highly enthusiastic about the Kabakaship.  Among the churches the Roman Catholics have the highest number of followers.

West Buganda Diocese has 98 parishes in seven districts and over 120 priests.  It has over 300 primary schools, 30 secondary schools and three tertiary institutions.  It has six poorly-equipped dispensaries.

Earlier in the year, it was in the same parish that we launched a campaign to create a malaria-free environment by 2020 in the three districts of Rakai, Kalungu and Bukomansimbi that form part of the diocese. This was done in partnership with the provincial development office. The function attracted a large crowd, including civic and religious leaders. The invited guests were advised not to use mosquito nets for the wrong purposes, eg as nets for fishing, chicken shelters or other things.

The Rt Revd Godfrey Makumbi is Bishop of West Buganda.