By Yasiri J Kasango
A recent act by Uganda Christian University (UCU) is a reminder that when people are protecting something dear to them, they will defend it in spite of adversity. While digging into pockets was ever harder during the most-recent Uganda Covid lockdown, dig is what UCU did – for the church.
Church of Uganda Archbishop Samuel Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu was recently at the UCU main campus during a visit as part of his duties as the chancellor of the university. That is when he was welcomed with a donation of about sh111m (about $31,000) towards the Church House project.
The donation, which was from the institution, its staff and student leaders, went towards clearing the sh60b (about $17m) debt that the Church incurred while constructing the commercial complex located in the heart of Kampala in Uganda.
Of the money that was handed to the archbishop, sh100m (about $28,380) was a donation from the university while the rest was collected from members of the University Council, the staff members as well as student leaders.
The university’s staff members used their social groupings – Christ centeredness, diligence, stewardship, integrity and servanthood – to collect the money. The social groupings are built on the institution’s core values of “a complete education for a complete person.”
Christ centeredness contributed sh2.8m (about $810), integrity sh2.2m (about $630), stewardship sh1.3m (about $380), diligence sh460,000 (about $130) and servanthood sh420,000 (about $120).
The University Council members contributed sh2m (about $580) which they cut from their sitting allowance. The student leaders, under the Guild Government, donated sh1m (about $280).
Kaziimba thanked the university and its staff for the generosity, imploring other Christians to own the project by contributing towards clearing of the debt.
Kaziimba said the building is not fully occupied, with 13 floors lacking tenants. He said the church would advertise calling for tenants for the remaining space, to attract tenants.
In 2010, the Anglican Church, through its business arm, the Church Commissioners Holding Company Limited, secured a sh41b (about $15m) loan from Equity Bank to fund the construction of the commercial complex, the Church House. However, the Church faced challenges in repaying the loan, attributing it partly to the Covid-19 lockdowns.
On June 3, during the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations, Archbishop Kaziimba launched “Yes, We Can! Yes, we can raise sh60b (about $17m) from one million people.” During the event, he asked individuals and institutions to contribute to the cause.
The idea of constructing the Church House was conceived by Janani Luwum, who was the archbishop from 1974 to 1977. Luwum was in February 1977 arrested and later died in what many believed was murder by the Ugandan regime at the time.
Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo later reignited the idea of the Church House project as a real estate when he was the archbishop from 1995 to 2004. Over sh720m (about $204,500) was collected, but it was not enough to start the project.
In 2010, the Church secured a loan from Equity Bank and the following year, the project started under the reign of Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi. Six years later, a sprawling 16-story building was commissioned by then Archbishop Stanley Ntagali.