Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa needs no introduction in literary circles. He distinguished himself for having an opinion on all subjects in Uganda. Unlike many men of the cloth who tend to stay on their side of the fence, the Bishop isn’t afraid to be part of the larger narrative to which he brings a theological perspective tempered with wisdom. I commend him for his courage because, as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, a lot of things go wrong when good men choose to be silent. We also commend him for the discipline and consistency with which he continues to write, for with his kind work which involves desk and field work and occasional travel abroad, it is a miracle that he has time to write.
Also, because by writing these articles for almost 20 years, he shows his love for his country and his deep desire to see it become better and better. This is because often many people who are knowledgeable or educated or privileged enough to access information either selfishly keep it to themselves or believe that there is no audience for the advice and guidance they need. Bishop Mwesigwa is following in the footsteps of others like Ezekiel the Watchman and John the Baptist the Voice in the Desert.
As its title suggests, Mwesigwa’s book is indeed a tapestry of so many ideas. As a teacher and school administrator, Mwesigwa’s provides insights into how teacher-student relationships should be progressively balanced. He advocates dialogue and a bottom-up approach. Always seek to understand before seeking to be understood, as Saint Francis would say. In this regard, I find valid Mwesigwa’s assertion that religious leaders should be the moral compass of the nation. Christian leaders and institutions are called from time to time to be the light of the world and of the change they wish to see. Ref: Pg 46. Daily Monitor November 15, 2010.
Mwesigwa’s interest in the education sector in Uganda is also admirable. He constantly comments on enrollment, standards, performance, discipline and global education trends vis-à-vis Ugandan education more than any other topic except perhaps the church. This is encouraging because the future of any country lies with the younger generation and the type of education this generation receives is the fire that ignites its future.
As expected, Mwesigwa often writes about the church and its relevance and challenges in the modern era. He talks about declining church attendance, the onslaught of modern clerics on the traditional church in Uganda, and inter-religious conflicts, among others. For someone with a vested interest in the church, I find his view balanced and reasonable. This demonstrates a deep understanding of global trends and the sense of maturity expected of a leader of his caliber. A man who believes that while his ideas may be good and noble, other people are also entitled to their ideas.
Mwesigwa’s commitment to his beloved diocese of Ankole also shines through in all of his writings. There is perhaps no diocese in Uganda that receives as much attention in the media as the Diocese of Ankole. In the spirit of the unrecognized prophet in his village. Mwesigwa may be unaware of its impact on ongoing developments in the surrounding dioceses of greater Ankole. He is indeed a pioneer and has helped set up savings schemes such as Jubilee Sacco and set up income generating projects and scholarship schemes.
I find it quite interesting that Mwesigwa talks about other societal issues and not just moral issues. He comments on relevant health issues such as the coronavirus pandemic, exercise and diet, and HIV. He also gives his two cents on football, tourism, food security and the situation of refugees in the region. It is indeed encouraging to see that with this Man of God, no subject is forbidden and we pray that he remains so. His desire to be the instrument of knowledge, information, advice, counsel and wisdom like Saint Augustine is inspiring. I hope other men on the cloth will take inspiration from his efforts and begin to shine light where there is darkness, hope where there is despair, and wisdom where there is misinformation. Ever since the philosophers and sages of old realized that man is made up of three parts; body, mind and soul, it is generally accepted that every part of a human being must be nurtured and nurtured or else it would die. It is in this context that religious education has been introduced into our school curricula since the colonial era. After all, most schools were created by missionaries. In fact, in some schools, it was the most important subject after writing and reading. Most school activities began with prayers or mass. And the trend has continued in most schools to this day. But with the onslaught of modern ideas and growing secularism, it is no wonder that religious education has been relegated to the lower rungs of the educational shelf in favor of promoting science and business practices that are supposed to be the cure for all man’s problems. But as we know, man does not live on bread alone.
It is not just food, clothing and shelter that make life. Because we have seen many who have all this in abundance but who are still dissatisfied because their souls have been deprived of the water and nourishment that comes from the spiritual values that one receives through religious education.
Hence the need to put the question of religious education in our schools back on the table. Mwesigwa, as a scholar, tries to discover the limits of our religious education in our curriculum. So that these holes can be plugged for best results. His book is well researched and put together; a culmination of perhaps five years of intensive study and a valuable addition to Uganda’s body of knowledge. Religious leaders, teachers, scholars, parents and Ugandans interested in a better Uganda will find his insights quite interesting, captivating and refreshing. It opens up unexplored doors and avenues of thought on a subject rarely taken seriously because everyone thinks they know who Adam and Eve are and can navigate their way through every religious story.
Religious education teaching
In this book, he shows that there is more to religious education than meets the eye. Bishop Mwesigwa observes that since change and progress cannot be stopped, it is often wise to leverage the positive attributes of each change for the betterment of human development. He asserts that the days of cocooning are over and we now need diversity or we will perish.
It encourages the teaching of RE in a way that the learner is not only open to other religious experiences, but also respects other beliefs that they may not understand or are not with. Okay. It encourages pedagogues to reflect on such a way of teaching religious education so that it is relevant and impactful in our modern times; otherwise we will have cults in profusion.
That thousands of people perished in a Rwandan Catholic church in Gitaranch under the watchful eyes of nuns and priests is an indication that the lessons being taught do not go far enough. The head knows but the heart remains unconverted, vengeful, malevolent, vast and pagan.
Born September 29, 1962 in Ruhoko, Ibanda District, son of Steven and Julia, Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa wanted to be a lawyer. His beginnings were typical of any teenager.
Raised by a single mother who was a nurse in Buddu, Masaka district, before moving back to Ibanda in 1979, the Bishop of Ankole Diocese failed to make it to college. After his high school diplomas, he went to Kakoba Teachers Training College in 1983, which he said was part of God’s plan to direct his path.