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Interview: Edidah-Mary Mujinya

07 February 2014

'I am not used to having holidays'

Basically, I am a teacher by profession. Therefore, after my ordination in 1997, I continued teaching in the government church-founded secondary schools of my West Ankole diocese, and serving as a school chaplain. This is a ministry I did from 1997 to the end of 2011.

Since 2012, I now serve at our diocesan university project: Ankole Western University Project, Ankole Western Institute of Science and Technology - first as academic registrar, then, in 2013, as institute secretary, and, since November, as acting Principal and director.

I was made a Canon of St Peter's Cathedral, Bweranyangi, in West Ankole diocese, in September 2006. Besides that, since 1997, I have served in my diocese as Mothers' Union president. I have served two terms. I also served as provincial MU chaplain for three years. And, from November 2006, I have served as Church of Uganda provincial MU president.

I do not believe that the Mothers' Union is different in Africa and Britain: we still operate within the same objectives. Maybe the challenge is the failure to stick to the five objects of the Union.

Li Tim Oi's significance in Anglican history is that she broke the ice of the long-prevailing attitude that church work and ministry was designed by God strictly for men. [Canon Mujinya preached at the Li Tim Oi anniversary service, in St Martin-in-the-Fields, a fortnight ago.]

Immediately I felt the calling to the ordained ministry, I felt a very strong relief that my existence in this world had been satisfied. I imagined that I had reached the true path of my relationship with my Creator.

There is no difference between men and women's ministry in the Church.

In such countries in Africa where women are still not ordained, I am very sorry to say that there is selfishness resulting in ignorance and disobedience to God's will for the potential that could be lying in women within their churches.

It is a misconception that the roles of men and women are different. They are human beings, whatever their skin colour, and they are equal in God's intentions for humankind.

Many couples tend to mix up rights with responsibilities, a thing that causes chaos in a home. For instance, if one is a mother or a father, there are roles one must fulfil. But nowadays some may tend to concentrate on pursuing their rights, like fulfilling one's career, without striking a balance between rights and responsibilities. Consequently, by either party, their home or other roles are neglected.

My Ph.D. is in religious studies. Because of my background as a teacher, however, my thesis was partly educational and partly religious: on education and morality in Uganda.

It has been such a long academic journey. I started at the lowest level of teacher education in Uganda, because, as an orphan, that is all my guardians could afford to give me. The rest I have struggled to get on my own. For my academic interest, now, I would like to settle and write books on various subjects - of course, God being my helper.

I was born in Masheruka, Sheema, Ankole. When I was aged six, my father died, and my mother did not keep me in the family. Instead, I was brought up by my stepbrother and his wife.

A typical working day for me? About 5.30 a.m., I wake up with Abiaz, my husband, to pray and read the Bible. At 6 a.m., we listen to the radio announcements on our local radio station. Afterwards, I do physical exercises in the house for about 30 minutes. Then we go into breakfast, after which we set ourselves for work. We pray all of us as a family in the evening, at about 10 p.m., before we go to bed.

I have been married to Abiaz Mujinya since 16 January 1982. We are blessed with six children: four girls and two boys. Their ages range between 32 and 21 years. Reumah is a secondary-school teacher of foods and nutrition, married with two children. Arabella is an assistant university lecturer in History and Religious Education. She is married with one child. Rahab is a land surveyor, also married with one child. Ridley is an accountant. Remmy is a mechanical engineer. Rachel is completing her four years' training in telecom engineering. Currently, our home is in Nyakitoko, Burere, Buhweju District, Uganda.

I have lived a busy life. I am not used to having holidays. But whenever I have free time, I stay at home with my family. That is where I relax, with my husband and children, plus attending to some duties and obligations, or visiting a relative whom I may have obligations to, for example, my mother and mother-in-law, when they still lived.

My favourite sound is Christian music, or listening to some preachers on both local and international channels.

The late Bishop Festo Kivengere and Kesi Nganwa influenced me, as well as many characters I have read about in books.

There are very many books which have influenced me, because reading has been my major hobby. Mostly I enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies, mainly about people's contributions to the well-being of humankind. Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie is another book that taught me to appreciate who I am, and to guard against worry.

I don't encounter so much opposition to my ministry now - especially when I realise that what people, especially the laity, want to see is a servant, whether a woman or man.

Where I am as a church minister, I think I am satisfied - but, if God wants more out of me, I would still have hope to be used by him.

Of course, I would choose to be locked in a church with my husband, who has sacrificed some of his rights as a husband for my sake, and the sake of the work of God, and, above all, has supported me in the ministry.

Canon Edidah-Mary Mujinya was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.

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