How US evangelicals are shaping development in Uganda

7/25/2014
Al Jazeera

US EVANGELICAL GROUPS ARE INCREASINGLY SHAPING UGANDA'S DEVELOPMENT POLICIES TO SUIT THEIR RELGIOUS AGENDA.

There has been widespread criticism of the role that US evangelical groups had in influencing Uganda's recent draconian anti-gay legislation, But what is less known is how foreign faith-based, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are shaping many aspects of my country's development to suit their religious agenda.

I grew up in rural western Uganda where I learned the spiritual significance of my Banyankole ancestors. But the Bible translated into my mother tongue proved to be a stronger influence. It was the only book I had access to, and I read it every day as a child while tending our cows. Eventually for me, as for many of my countrymen, oral storytelling traditions were replaced by the Christian faith.

I carried that faith with me when I had the opportunity to study and work in Tallahassee, Florida. I was one of few Africans attending the local evangelical Every Nation church, and because I was deemed an "AIDS orphan", I was often given the podium to share my story to attract donations and volunteers for church missions across Africa. While I sensed at the time that these American churchgoers had good intentions, I only gradually came to understand that the church and I were perpetuating the harmful notion that it takes westerners to "Save Africa."

When I returned to Uganda last year after a decade away, I was taken aback by the swift spread of the evangelical movement in the country, especially as I had witnessed its diminished authority in...

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