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Monday, December 5, 2011

A gathering of purpose


Women are always trying to get together, be it for serious or light concerns, but most male meetings are limited to sports or brown bottles. However, writes DENNIS D. MUHUMUZA, every first Saturday of the month, a group of men come together at the University Men’s Breakfast to touch base on different issues ranging from their Christian faith and family to economic conditions and happenings in our society over a plate of Katogo.

Comedian Bob opens the Breakfast with some funnies
It’s a classic case of iron sharpening iron as university and post-university men come together every first Saturday of the month to touch base and talk without inhibitions on man issues in what’s dubbed University Men’s Breakfast.

“The world’s script says all men are liars and cheats, but what if we thought different?” said the Facebook ad on the event. And then: “Be part. Live life – on intention.” That provoked sufficient curiosity in me, and I attended the second edition, which like the first, took place last Saturday on the second floor of Diamond Trust building in Wandegeya, and is organised by Pastor Martin Ssempa’s One Love Dream Church.

The flier I was handed on arrival congratulated me for having overcome the temptation to stay in bed and enjoy the sweet morning sleep and for braving the cold to be here this early. I couldn’t help grinning at how apt it was seeing it was not easy abandoning my bed at 5.30am to prepare to be here by 6am.

“Our hope is that you will enjoy the katogo accompanied by a hot cup of spiced black tea, connect with other men, get a chance to stretch your vocal cords as we sing together and finally catch some words that will be thrown at us on our manhood journey,” the flier read on, and listed seven principles that should govern the authentic man.

These promises challenge the real man to honour God always, have vital friendships with other men to help him remain accountable, practice spiritual, moral, ethical and sexual purity, build strong marriages and families based on Biblical values, diligently support the church through giving his time and resources, rise above racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of Biblical unity, and remain committed to influencing his world, being obedient to the Great Commandment of loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbour as yourself, and fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples of all men as put in Matthew 28:19-20.

The meeting began at 6.30am with day’s emcee, comedian Bob Nuwagira of Pablo Live, cracking us up that some could be here this early out of running away from their landlords! Then David Katumba of Centenary Bank shared on the delights of being a family man, and how he has managed to balance family life with his professional work as a banker as well as spiritual life seeing he’s a pastor too.

He said it’s mandatory for a husband to pursue priesthood in the home, lead family prayers, bless your children and have the knowledge of deliverance because, “a Christian without knowledge of deliverance is like a soldier without a gun.”

He also explored the subject of sloth and mediocrity: “Some Christians are lazy and this morning I want to challenge you to wake up. Reach your workplace early, work like an ox, set an example because through all that there’s a lot of favour.”

Katumba’s sharing was followed by praise and worship as guttural voices soon rocked the house with men singing their hearts out to Jesus. Then they declared in one accord to lead the family, the nation and the world all for the glory of God.

Breakfast was served, katogo of matooke and rice with offals. Men helped themselves to a second serving, even a third because there was more than we could consume. And as they ate, Eddie Ssemakula representing all the bachelors in the house, shared on his challenges as a young man striving to be the man God desires him to be. His trials were basically an embodiment of what every career young man goes through, the challenges of striving to stay sexually pure in a morally decadent world, challenges of budgeting as the cost of living continues to escalate, and finally his struggle to remain true to his identity in Jesus Christ.

Key speaker, Ps Ssempa, talked passionately on “Crush-landing into Manhood,” about the negative effects of growing up without a father-figure. He shared his personal story of being raised by a poor single mother, and becoming a father at 16 after impregnating a girl, how he was once attacked by a homosexual and how he ended up at a Christian meeting because of “a hot babe,” only to find salvation and transformation.

Everything from identity to finances and domestic violence against the men were discussed with such brutal honesty that by the end I felt empowered and returned home with the true definition of manhood.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MEETING: Five things that troubled the men

Domestic violence:  You won’t believe it, but the issue of domestic violence against men dominated the November Men’s Breakfast. Apparently, the independent woman of today who is educated, has a powerful job and probably earns more than her husband has become a bully in the home. Although the slap or pinch is sometimes part of the equation, this domestic violence against the men is more psychological as the woman uses intimidation and threats until the man is cowered into meeting her demands for the sake of peace in the home. It has reached such alarming proportions that the men agreed to establish a centre to help male victims of domestic violence.

Financial insecurity: As the cost of living continues to escalate, the men voiced their fears over how they’ll manage putting bread on the table while the younger men’s overriding concern was where they would get money to marry the girls of their dreams especially seeing they are all God-fearing and cannot steal or contaminate their hands through shoddy deals. They got reassurance that you can use your God-given wisdom to attain wealth without necessarily resorting to corrupt means.

Rootlessless: Apparently, most men have grown up without father-figures or mentors to help them navigate the difficult waters of life. And so have grown up with low self-esteem or insecurity, because most of them were born out of wedlock and raised in loveless homes by either a single parent or by abusive relatives. So the demons of the past still come back to haunt them, and this coupled with confrontations from the tough challenges of life force them into seeking solace in the brothel or nightclub or in the liquor bottle. The question was: where is love in this world? How can I find a sense of belonging? How can I gain self assurance and attain the destiny I deserve?

Decadence: The breakfast meeting happened just days after UK Premier David Cameroon said foreign aid to Uganda was going to cease unless the country changed its hard stance against homosexuality. This really incensed the men at the Breakfast Meeting who said they are not going to equivocate, or backdown. That there’s no way the developed countries especially America and the UK are going to bully Uganda whose motto is “For God and my Country” into embracing “licking vomit under the guise of minority rights.” They vowed to write a petition against Cameroon and through a protest walk take it to the UK embassy in Uganda.

What can we do: Most young university students and graduates wanted to know what they can do for their country, and how they can begin especially in this day and age where unemployment is such a thorny issue, and where without “connections” it’s harder getting a job. The men agreed to keep having the monthly meetings to network and join brains on how they can infiltrate the world and set precedence as leaders of integrity that will redeem this this country and the world from the social, economic and political ignominy it had descended into.

 --Sunday Monitor, December 5, 2011