Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni equated COVID-19 to the biblical “rod of fury,” claiming that the country survived the global pandemic because of Christian teachings while ignoring the good influence of science.

On Friday, Martyrs’ Day, Uganda’s national holiday, he addressed the country on this subject. “Please go home and shut the door! Hide for a while until the Lord’s wrath subsides.” He went on to quote Isaiah 26:20 from the Bible.

He explained the text using COVID-19. “Now that the Lord’s anger (Covid-19) has passed and the virus has been defeated,” he said, “Christians can unite to worship the Almighty God once more.” For the first time in two years, Martyrs’ Day was marked by public celebrations. 

Uganda, like many other countries that heeded scientific recommendations to prevent human contact during the pandemic’s peak, imposed strict lockdown regulations. Buganda’s (present-day Uganda) medieval kingdom murdered 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic converts to Christianity between January 31, 1885 and January 27, 1887. Between 1920 and 1964, the Catholic Church beatified and canonized 22 Catholic martyrs.

Martyrdom, according to Museveni, transcends religion. He also paid tribute to African nationalists who had died for their causes in his speech. President Yoweri Museveni remarked during the event that religious ideals guided the country’s lockdown protocol.

“African independence fighters such as Eduardo Mondlane of Mozambique, Cabral of Guinea-Bissau, Herbert Chitepo of Zimbabwe, and Patrice Lumumba of Congo were assassinated because they advocated for Africa’s emancipation from colonialism. These people were political martyrs.” Museveni made this point.

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