Sacrifice today for others tomorrow: Your current enjoyment was someone’s sweat yesterday

As I sit here in my apartment at Råbyvägen 4th floor, Uppsala, Sweden, I reflect on many things. As a 2022 awardee of African guest Researchers’ Scholarship programme at the Africa Nordic Institute (NAI), I reflected on how I reached here. As a mukiga woman all the way from western Uganda, did I ever have a dream of visiting Sweden to this high-level professional treatment? Then I remembered a proverb that when you see a tortoise up in a tree, there must have been someone who helped it to get there. In my monologue, I started wondering who got me here at NAI. I am here enjoying professional treatment, an academic ambiance, beautiful accommodation, subsistence to mention but a few. The religiosity in me points to God but whom did God use to get me here? Okay I applied and convinced the reviewers who selected me. But still, who is paying for my well-being while at NAI? Maybe the NAI institute. But who is NAI? A voice came to me, and it was clear that what I am enjoying today, has been someone else’s sacrifice or sweat for a long time. Yes, it dawned on that someone I have never met or heard about paid the price for me to be here. Some men and women worked so hard – maybe some have already departed; they paid taxes, they bore the brunt of winter hardships, they walked long distances and lived a humble life. 

This is undoubted. Christians are enjoying and even abusing Christianity because Jesus Christ paid the price as a sacrificial Lamb. Children are enjoying because some mother went into the labour ward and almost lost her life. In Africa, children born in economically challenged families acquired education because some poor parent sacrificed their sleep or enjoyment. Their parents worked without resting and that is why their children or grandchildren are thriving on. In Uganda, where I come from, I meet teachers who spent their time away from their biological children to teach us during “prep time [between 7am to 8am or 7pm t0 8pm]”. We are products of their sacrifice.

I ask myself and you too might help me answer these questions.

  1. What is a sacrifice? says sacrifice is something important or precious that is given up for the sake of gaining something or allowing something to happen that is considered more important
  2. Why should we sacrifice?

The first question is clear and straight forward. The second question is more complicated. Sacrifice is a divine act, and it brings pleasure and satisfaction. The only way one can be remembered when you are long gone is by what you scarified not what you greedily consumed. In African tradition there is a saying that the dead are not. It means that though they died, their deeds still speak for them. As I continue to reflect about the Swedish who sacrificed for me to come and enjoy at NAI, I am inspired to reciprocate. I will continue supporting the disadvantaged especially girls to go to school, the elderly including my former teachers and others who may not be as advantaged as I am.

I get to think that even if a selfish person (who do not sacrifice for the future generation) lives long and enjoys all the good things on earth, once they die, they will be forgotten.

Unfortunately, the one sacrificing may not realize the value of sacrifice but fruits of their sacrifice constitute their legacies and leave forever. Perhaps this explains why Christians believe that if you love your life, you must accept to lose it here on earth meaning that sacrificing what something we treasure does not mean losing it but passing it on.

The writer Peace Musiimenta, PhD.

A 2022 awardee of African guest Researchers’ Scholarship programme at the Africa Nordic Institute (NAI) and a Senior Lecturer, School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University.