Meet Wilhelmina Uhai Tunu

I am Sr. Wilhelmina Uhai Tunu, a member of the congregation of the Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. My congregation is of a Diocesan right and was founded in 1923 by Mother Mary Kevin Kearny, a Franciscan Missionary. The Motherhouse is at Nkokonjeru in the Archdiocese of Kampala, Uganda. The members of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of St. Francis follow the Rule of the Third Order Regular of St Francis of Assisi and they work in East African Countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. I had my Religious Formation and First Profession at Baraka Novitiate at Ijinyu in Same Catholic Diocese- Tanzania, between February 1996 and January 2000. In 2000 to July 2001, I worked as an assistant Postulants’ Mistress at Ukarimu Postulate and a teacher at Dido Vocational Training Center in Same Catholic Diocese.

I completed my Diploma in Theology at Chemchemi ya Uzima, an Affiliate College of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi from 2001 to 2003. I wrote a Project entitled Chanjale Seminary: A Vital Instrument of Evangelization in Same Catholic Diocese, Tanzania. Chanjale Seminary was intended by the founder to be like a seedbed where different vocations of young women and men would be nurtured to prepare church leaders for effective work of evangelization in the diocese. From 2004 to 2005, I worked as a Coordinator of Pastoral Works at St Clare Parish Kasarani, Nairobi. In January 2006 I made my perpetual vows after which I was sent to teach theology at our Novitiate in Nakuru, Kenya. Then I was trained as a religious formator and a spiritual directress between August 2006 and September 2007 and I worked as a Postulants’ Mistress at Bahati Novitiate Nakuru, Kenya until July 2009. As a formator, I played the role of assisting young women in the discernment of their vocation to Religious Life in the African and Christian context. That is, responding to the call of God in an African context.

Thanks to the CTEWC scholarship for the advanced training of African women in theological ethics, I did a comprehensive BA program in philosophy 2009-2010 at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi Kenya. I then proceeded to do MA/STL in theology with specialization in Moral theology at the same university between August 2010 and May 2012. I have now completed my Licentiate in Moral Theology and wrote a thesis entitled, Respect for Human Life: A Christian Moral Response to the Albino Killings in Mwanza, Tanzania. My aim was to explore the problem of Albino Killings and discover the causes of its emergence in resent past. I also intended to assess the Moral implications of this problem in relation to the respect for life and dignity of the human person. Through research I discovered that there is a general breakdown of African traditional values among the members of the society today which has been due to growing individualistic and selfish tendencies among the people. Such tendencies seem to have motivated many to search for power and quick wealth at all cost. The insatiable search for wealth has led to increasing disrespect for life and the search of wealth at all cost. Unfortunately, witchcraft beliefs and the myths surrounding people with albinism in Tanzania have also pushed some greedy, self-interested and ill-intentioned wealth seekers to kill the albinos and sell their body-parts in order to get quick wealth.

Thus, through a deeper moral theological reading of the situation, I realized that killing is a problem which is happening not only among the people in Mwanza. It is a serious problem world over. That is why, in giving solutions to this problem we need to go beyond this area because there are external structural causes which exacerbate the problem. For example issues like drug abuse, human trafficking and disrespect for the sacredness of human life bring about the same results.  The truth is that people are not satisfied with what they have thus they crave for more. If they do not succeed they kill others. On account of this, I proposed ways that should be employed to combat any further killings of people with albinism. On the part of the Church I pointed out that, as the conscience of the society, she has a moral obligation to ensure that all people observe the natural law in a manner fitting to the Gospel of Life. In fact, every stakeholder in the society is responsible for the protection and promotion of life, especially of the most vulnerable. The government must put in place policies and rules that will ensure the protection of the life of every citizen in the society.

Furthermore, an African Christian moral response in promoting respect for human life ought to focus on relatedness. This is a fundamental principle where a human person is basically human because of other humans. There is a need to reconsider the African communal values like respect, solidarity, love, and holiness. These values shape a person in such that one is considered as a person-in-community not against the community. These are the basics of the ethical dimension of the community. In promoting respect for human life in an African context, we face the challenge of inculturation. That is, a way of inserting the gospel message into the human culture in order to make Christianity feel at home in the lives of people. The sanctity of human life implies that all human life has an inherent dignity, worth and sacredness that sets it apart from all other creatures in the world.

As I pursue my doctoral program from August 2012, it is my wish that all will be well and God willing be able to take me through, and help me to tackle yet another troubling moral issue and deepen it for the good of the Church and society at large. I continue to pray for CTEWC and thank them for a wonderful program of training women theologians in Africa, where they are few and their indispensable role is yet to be fully appreciated.