Human suffering and the resurrection of Christ

A senior state prosecutor Joan Kagezi, was gunned down last week on her way home in Kampala. As has become the tendency since the July 2010 bomb blasts in Kampala, the media waited for the government or the police to speak and speculate, and then reported on their front pages the following day what the police had speculated about.

There was a time in the 1990s when the Daily Monitor, when such a serious crime occurred, would immediately start contacting its sources, put its investigative reporters to work and after a few days a story investigated from scratch by the Daily Monitor would be published.

Today, once one has read or heard what the police gave as its first account, there is no need to buy or read newspapers, because the following day, the paper will simply report what the police has stated.

The Ugandan media needs to return to its former ability to research and investigate for itself, not keep going by preliminary official speculation.

Garissa University attack
A few days later, gunmen of the Somali militant group al-Shabaab are reported to have gunned down at least 147 students and employees at the Garissa University College in northeast Kenya.

These are humbling days. In the 1970s, Kenya was not just the most stable country in East Africa and the most prosperous, but was almost what Ugandans regarded as an exotic place, a kind of “abroad”.

Uganda was then in the dumps, at its lowest, the economy stricken by a Western economic boycott and scarcity starting to become a reality of daily life. We got used to the idea that Kenya was better off than Uganda in every way possible.

Over the last seven years, this long-established reality has started to turn around. For the first time since the mid 1970s, amazingly, Uganda is now a more stable country than Kenya as far as security goes.

We are now growing used to the fact that every three or four months, there is going to be a bomb blast in Nairobi or Mombasa, a militant attack in Garissa or Wajir in the northeast or some other kind of terror incident.

The only major positive surprise last week was the result of the Nigerian general election, in which for the first time since independence in 1960, an opposition political party defeated a sitting government in an election and what was more surprising was that the sitting government casually conceded defeat.

It will take Nigerians and many Africans a long time to digest this surprising result and for it to sink in. This is not the way elections in Africa usually end.

European families are still numb over the apparently suicidal plunging of a Germanwings plane into the French Alps. The September 2001 terror attack on the United States by flying planes into buildings left behind a feeling of horror all over the world. It is imagery that will take a while to completely leave the minds of those who witnessed that fateful day.

But since it was later discovered that these attackers were al-Qaeda operatives, passengers on flights far from al-Qaeda’s reach could feel safe. Now that a German pilot with no known connection to terrorism has done this, we are back to the fear of 2001: how can one ever feel 100 percent safe with air travel again?

Because of the Internet and 24-hour television, much news that used to be local and national has now become international. We are now bombarded with so much news about tragedy and violent death that we have almost become numb and even indifferent to it.

Long after the news camera crews have folded and packed their equipment and returned home, the bereaved families continue to feel the profound pain for many years later.

There are Jews still in pain today from the 1940s holocaust, thousands of ex-servicemen and their families still feeling the trauma of the 1965-1975 Vietnam war, the 1991 Persian Gulf War, millions of Ugandans, Rwandans, Burundians, Sudanese, Congolese, Angolans, Sierra Leoneans, Liberians, Somali and other Africans still traumatized by the 1990s civil wars and genocides.

There are millions of people in the Middle East, North Africa and southeast Asia who have known no peace since 2001. Millions of Christians displaced from the Middle East by rising Islamist militants. Millions of Muslims displaced from their homes in Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Egypt and Iraq.
Who can quantify all the pain, the suffering, the irrecoverable loss, the sadness that comes with life?

This is where the message of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection not only becomes topical because this is the Holy Week of traditional Christianity, but because of all these violent news events and the utter misery being felt around the world by half the world’s population.

The core of the Christian message is not simply about Christ having been a good man and wise teacher or that by Christians being upright the world will be a better place.

One can still be principled and good-hearted even without being religious. Christianity’s claim to a place in history is that its founder died, as prophesied, rose again from the dead on the third day, as prophesied and today sits on the right hand of God and those who believe in Him (the resurrected one, that is), will be resurrected too at the end of time.

Another good religion
If Christ did not rise from the dead, then that leaves Christianity as just another good religion and social movement, but it loses that unique claim to a place in history.

No amount of flowers and cards we lay at terrorism sites or on coffins of departed ones is good enough. No number of memorial services will do if there is no life after death.

If Christ rose from the dead and all the Biblical New Testament claims about the dead being raised from the dead are true, then this is no ordinary religion. This is the ultimate in good news, cheerful news and the answer to all the tragic suffering and displacement since the dawn of time.

This weekend I spend pondering over this Christian message and reading up further the matter of the existence or not of God.

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SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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