Pastor “Mama” Janet Returns: The Sermon of Digital Destruction

A report by online retailer Jumia detailing mobile trends in the country by end of last year shows Uganda’s internet penetration has reached 42% with up to 19 million Ugandans now connected to the internet out of the total estimated population of the country that stands at 44.5 million people” (New Vision – ‘42% of Uganda’s population now connected to internet’2020).

Again and again First Lady of the Republic Janet Museveni writes her sermons or speeches. Because, she is a minister and the First Lady. Many will publish this without any question or sincere commentary. The Ministry of Education and Sports should have a ministry to run, but for some strange reasons has time to write these small “articles” boosted with scriptures and lessons for the general.

It is funny that she is talking about digital addiction and such. When the government she represents has blocked several of social media sites, which is only available through the usage of VPN. This is has been the case with Facebook who have been blocked since the general elections in January 2021. The government also have no issues shutting sites down or pages in general. The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) can easily take away access and licenses to anyone who dares to go to hard on the government policies. Therefore, it is rich reading a text by the first lady… like we don’t know what the state does and is willing to do!

The Pastor starts by: “The problem of social media or digital addiction is relatively new, but it has really reached all over the world. It has been called the modern day addictive drug – like tobacco or alcohol. It leads to poor school performance, breakdown of family communication and delinquent behaviors” (Museveni, 06.09.2021).

Data and internet is an expensive thing in the Republic. It is not like data bundles are inexpensive and something anyone can afford. Especially not in Uganda. Still, the usage of internet is rising and usage is growing. However, the average citizen doesn’t have the network or cash to use the internet for long time. The smartphones has helped, but it’s not like it is steady problem up-country or elsewhere. Most likely this digital addiction isn’t a huge problem in Uganda. Then the data-bundles needs to be affordable and the telecom companies needs to make the internet speed better across the republic.

The Pastor continues: “As you, my young friends devote all your time on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Tik Tok and all other social media platforms, it is very easy for your academic work to suffer. As parents spend lots of time on the same platforms, communication in families breaks down and before you know it, family members are living as strangers under the same roof. As the saying goes, “too much of anything is always bad”” (Museveni, 06.09.2021).

She is right that to much of anything is bad, the same goes to Social Media usage. That me and Janet agrees on. However, the new generation is used to be bombarded with information from several of sources at the same time. Youth are used to having radio, social media and the books in the dorm at the same time. Some have to read in silence to study, but everyone isn’t the automatic book-smart and follows the programme. That’s why students study differently. Social media should never be a wedge between families either, but if it is… then there is usually something underneath that was amplified by the social media. That’s how I see it and then the person or family member should seek guidance somewhere. Not just stop using time on social media in itself.

Academic work can suffer from everything. From noisy neighbours, friends wanting you to join social gatherings and other social pressure as a student. Social media only shows it and makes it public, if so… and should open the students mind to do the right thing. However, a university student on a grant or little subsidizes doesn’t have the funds to be constantly online. Especially, not with the taxes and the costs that comes with it. Unless, the student has “blessers” or “sponsors” to cover the bill.

The Pastor continues: “Time is one of the greatest resources God has given to us, to waste time is to waste your life. Apostle Paul cautions us in Ephesians chapter 5, verse 15 that, “Pay careful attention to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil”” (Museveni, 06.09.2021).

It is ironic that she speaks of wasting time and how your are wasting life. When she is the wife of the President for Life who has little to no achievements to prove of after years in office. The husband of the Pastor hasn’t delivered what he promised when he came in and still delivers the same suffering, which was rampant during previous regimes. Therefore, she shouldn’t throw stones in a glass-house or the State House for that matter.

Janet should teach this lesson to her husband Yoweri before she speaks of this again. Because, its distasteful that she does this in 2021 after her husband being in-charge since 1986. That says it all. The ones she is lecturing was most likely not even born or thought of when her husband took power. He could have left a legacy of achievements and policies to study for eternity. Nevertheless, the greed and will to oppress have depleted this. That is something the Pastor should repent and confess about herself.

She continues with calling it a “sin”, that you need “discipline” and put a “set time”. The sinner and sinful part is weird. Just like Social Media only is foolish and a waste. Not that it has a possibility to broaden perspective or get new inspiration from either people you know or people far-far away. The discipline and set time is to be anticipated. However, plenty cannot afford to be constant online with the pricing and discipline only matters pocket-wise. Only the little elite and lower middle-class has ability to be online 24/7 but that is not for everyone. So, this lessons are a waste in itself.

Janet should fix the problems of the Ministry instead of writing pointless lectures like these. The Pastor should become a minister in a church and retire from government. Especially, when she writes stuff like this on the regular now. Peace.

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