By Nickie Karitas
“Anything that costs you your peace is too expensive,” goes a popular quote.
At the mention of the word ‘Covid19’ today, fear sends cold ripples of defeat down every student’s spine. The word has successfully sent all of us into hiding places and put all social classes at the hope of mercy from above.
Turning televisions on, all we see is New York, the city that never sleeps, Paris, the center of romance and Rome, the ‘eternal city’ all living in melancholy. Disney running out of magic, the Great 8 ‘G8’ nations standing speechless, Mecca empty and the world at large, from Kings and Queens, to you and I seeming to have picked up the silence of a grave waiting for tomorrow and then tomorrow.
While we envision a future of butterflies and roses, virtual education is busy leaving many behind. The race to excellence feels like ramming into doors slammed at our faces only for us to hear a double-bolting inside. With parents seated at home, the gap between those who can afford virtual education is as wide as the gap between the living and the dead. The word ‘tuition’ sounds like the last nail on some students’ coffins.
To every student at Uganda Christian University (UCU) reading this, forget the pages the pandemic has stolen and let this be your forever chapter, the hero of your book. This is dedicated to every student passbook. I am writing to the hurt, the lonely, the forgotten ones. This goes out to the weary, the sleepless and the hopeless.
In the midst of these trying times, may this ‘Christian University’ open your Bible to John 14: 27’s Jesus’ declaration of ‘peace for all seasons’ with no exceptions of storms like COVID-19 but for everyone to live and be a witness of this inner peace. To experience peace does not mean that your life is blissful amidst a global menace but it means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the social distancing, confirmed cases, ‘RIPs’, masks, sanitizers and a lockdown that has left many degrees in tatters. After all, you must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.
Don’t call me a genius if I say there is no lockdown for me, I am not alone. Taking a stroll down Kauga, Bugujju and other deeper parts of Mukono, life is normal for many. As usual, people move about talking and laughing. While the rich are complaining about denial of private means, these people are eating the little they have always had, sailing through their prior struggles, sleeping under the same moon, the same stars and the very same sky like they have nothing to lose. And what difference do they have with the high classes now that only ambulances move freely and now that everyone will live to tell generations, that a car is not a sign of wealth and walking does not mean poverty? A special applause to these never recognized people who have taken beyond the political economy and chosen peace over frustration. May it ring in every student’s heart that peace comes from within, never from any surrounding people and situations.
And writing this, I feel very still, the way the eye of a tornado must feel moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo as I create beauty out of this chaos. As you sit locked up in that hostel room or home, wherever you are, look around. Peace is in those pictures we paint, the music we compose, the people we love, the laughter we let out, the books we read and write and the lives we choose to lead. Of all these, the richest is the beauty of a peaceful mind. Judith Ainembabazi, a second year Education student narrates, ‘’There is more to life than throwing tantrums and questioning God. My both parents have fully recovered from COVID-19. What else should I ask from God? Since they were laid off work, chances are high that they may not afford tuition for now but trust me whatever tomorrow holds, I am at peace’’.
There is always calm in the midst of chaos. Just apply within. May you love in the midst of hate and hope in the midst of despair. You may not find them immediately but have faith that there is a peace giver beyond those blue skies and hold tightly to your faith. Shine your soul with the same egoless humility as the rainbow and no matter what happens tomorrow or after the next presidential address, whether tuition is cleared or not yet, peace will find you.
“The situation is tough. If some of our classmates are missing out on attending lectures because they cannot afford to pay for internet, how shall we keep up with tuition? But despite everything, I choose peace of mind. I would rather find peace in those flower gardens at Colline Hotel than allow myself to get depressed’’, affirms Rhoda Aweh Majur, a finalist Journalism student.
Perhaps your course mates and your entire circle of friends are able to go about their lives unfettered by such concerns whereas your fate is to face the world like an orphan chasing through the shadows of vanished parents.
All in all, there is nothing for it but to try and see through our missions to the end. For until we do so shall we be permitted to peace. Only then can we have that peace of mind that will allow us to overcome the humps that life has handed to us. Only then can we allow this situation to teach us how to survive, to live for now and to have courage to confront each day, carry on with our courses and graduate tomorrow. Read this again.