His Grace, the right Rev Henry Luke Orombi, 7th Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, is no doubt a most impressive human being with many achievements.
But the four-page supplement, which appeared in the Sunday Vision of March 8 2009, showed much that is wrong with the reality of Christian values in Uganda and with Africa’s “big man” culture in general.
The supplement celebrated Orombi’s fifth anniversary as Archbishop. Five is hardly a big number, so the first question is; why celebrate this fifth anniversary at all, except in a modest, private way?
In a mere four pages, the supplement contained 10 photographs of Orombi. The second question is, therefore, to what extent did the supplement reflect Africa’s “big man” culture, and should Quitstorm follow suit by producing a column that includes 10 photos of himself?
But the bigger questions, and much more worrying issues for Christians, surround the huge cost of the supplement, and the better ways such money could have been used.
My enquiries with the Vision’s Advertising Department suggested that the initial cost of the supplement’s eight quarter-page advertisements would be Shs1,962,450m each for the two coloured ones, and Shs1, 142,450m each for the six black and white ones. This totals Shs10.7m. The advertisers were mainly Christian organisations.
So, what was the total cost of the supplement, which also contained two pages of text/photos put together by the NewVision’s Elvis Basudde? A journalistic acquaintance told me, “Take the cost of the adverts (i.e. Shs10.7m), and then double it. The general practice here,” she continued, “is to offer 40 per cent as “free” to the client, and require them to pay the other 60 per cent”. If this is correct, then the supplement’s total cost would be around Shs12.8m ($6550).
Now, I am sure my financial research can be queried, but it doesn’t really matter whether the cost of the supplement was Shs5m or Shs15m. For, whatever the exact figure, it still represents a huge amount of money in a developing country like Uganda, just to “congratulate” and praise Orombi on a fifth anniversary.
If we consider some of the eight quarter-page adverts, better uses to which the advertiser could have put their funds spring to mind. Thus:
Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau – more free healthcare to more people in the poor/conflict areas it operates in.
Bbira Vocational Training School – more scholarships to needy youngsters to acquire skills in carpentry, bricklaying, motor mechanics etc.
Compassion International – increasing the number of children that the organisation releases “from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty”.Basudde’s article comments that Orombi is “phenomenal, vibrant and motivated…with a distinguished personality”.
I would politely suggest to Orombi that if he is as phenomenal, vibrant, motivated and distinguished as Basudde suggests, he should put a stop to such useless wastage of funds on future anniversaries of his enthronement as Archbishop of Uganda.