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Why Some Clergy Are Warning Christians Against DNA tests

Why Some Clergy Are Warning Christians Against DNA tests


MUKONO, Uganda — Police in Uganda are holding an Israeli man on allegations that he murdered his Ugandan wife after conducting a DNA test on their six-month-old baby, which showed that he was not her biological father. 

Raed Wated, 58, reportedly confessed to police that he murdered Monica Nabukenya, 25, in Israel because of her adultery. 

Police said that after Wated’s arrest on July 16, he led authorities in Mpigi District, Central Uganda, to a septic pit at their home on Kalagala Village, where he dumped the body. Wated was arrested after the relatives of his deceased wife alerted police that she had disappeared from their marital home. 

Katonga Regional Police commander Dauda Hirigi said that Wated reconstructed the murder scene for the investigators. According to police, Wated, who had previously worked for an Israel construction and civil engineering firm in Uganda, become a resident of Kalagala Village in Mpigi District after marrying the deceased and buying land in Uganda.  

The recent murder highlights the threat DNA test results are posing on families as more men who seek paternity tests continue to discover that they are not the presumed biological fathers of their children. 

According to the Ugandan government, the number of men currently seeking DNA services this year has shot up by 70%. Mundenyi said that the men seeking DNA tests want immediate proof of the paternity of their children.

“Last week alone, we had 40 people looking for DNA services at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which controls the government analytical laboratory,” said Simon Mundeyi, the ministry’s spokesperson at the start of July.

He added that in the previous three years, the average number of people seeking DNA services per month was only three, compared to this year, when the number is nearing hundreds. 

But the DNA blood tests are threatening the sanctity of the Ugandan family. Most men like Wated, who receive negative DNA test results showing that they are not the biological fathers of their presumed children, live a dejected life afterwards. 

For Ibrahim Musisi, 40, a resident of Butebe Village in Mukono Central Division, Central Uganda, who discovered that he was not the biological father of his 11-year-old daughter in 2018, life has never been the same. 

Musisi had raised the girl single-handedly after separating from her mother, Patricia Birungi, in 2010 when the daughter was only three years old, only to discover in 2018 after conducting a DNA test that she belonged to another man named Fred Kisitu. 

Handing over the only child he ever had to his biological father, Kisitu, was an agonizing slap in Musisi’s face — one that pains him still after five years. 

“My life was destroyed when they separated me from her,” Musisi said. “I don’t mind what the DNA results said. I am her biological father. They forged the DNA results and took my daughter away from me.”  

Since being separated from the girl, Musisi has had nightmare-punctuated, sleepless nights with visions of the girl crying for him. He suffers depression and weight loss. He has a message to other men: Get your children DNA tested earlier rather than later. But with the help of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, where Musisi converted from Islam after separating from the girl, he heals. 

Michael Kasawuli, a Kampala city businessman, is also struggling to recover from the shock after taking his 25 children for DNA tests recently, only to discover that 10 of them were not his. The 10 included a 25-year-old male he had helped go to college and who graduated recently. Kasawuli has since fallen out with his first wife, Rosemary Nantume, whose two children the DNA results showed didn’t belong to him. Although the couple has been married for the last 34 years, Kasawuli is now evicting her from their marital home over infidelity, and the matter is in court.  

The issue of Ugandan men losing paternity of their children after DNA tests has recently sparked tension and forced men to rush for DNA tests.

Before this wave of DNA tests, clergy in Uganda had been urging the flock to work toward building strong Christian and Muslim families for the good of the society and had somehow succeeded. But the DNA test results are ruining the families as men who discover that they are not the biological parents of their children abandon their wives and accuse them of infidelity. 

The result is more broken families where children are the victims, ending up missing basic necessities such as education and becoming lower-class lumpens. This threat to society has drawn the attention of the government and religious leaders. DNA tests were in July a hot topic in the Uganda Parliament, which debated the matter with the utmost concern along with other crucial subjects in the country, such as national security matters.

During one of the debates in Parliament on July 4, the deputy speaker of the Ugandan Parliament,  Thomas Tayebwa, asked the government to come up with guidelines for carrying out DNA tests without breaking up families and ruining lives of innocent children. He noted that the latest surge in DNA testing, particularly in cases where men discover that their presumed biological children are not related to them, has led to potential harm to the children.

”We need the Right Honorable Prime Minister at least to come out and guide the nation on this matter, and we will see how best we can counsel these people. Maybe if there are regulations around it, but we just don’t leave it,” Tayebwa said, adding, “Innocent children are falling victim. You don’t know what your parents were doing. You don’t know whatever happened and all of a sudden you see someone saying, stop using my name. Someone is saying bring back your national Identity card, it bears my name, so I want to go and change it and all that kind of confusion. And really the boy child is committing suicide. Men are suffering with the DNA tests.” 

During the debate, the minister of ICT and National Guidance, Chris Baryomunsi, said the government will assess all the laboratories carrying out DNA testing in the country to ensure that they are fully accredited. The minister’s response came after a section of female legislators raised concern that some laboratories could be faking DNA results to serve the interests of rich clients.

“Part of the concern is on the laboratories and the tests being carried out,” Baryomunsi said. “The Ministry of Health this morning held a meeting with various lab managers, and an assessment is being carried out to check whether or not the labs are accredited.”

Religious leaders too have weighed in on the subject, attributing the surge in people running for DNA testing to moral degeneration in Uganda and asking parents to ensure that DNA test results don’t tear families apart. 

Speaking at the sideline of the signing of the memorandum of understanding for the implementation of the solar project dubbed the Solar Pledge East Africa Program between the Catholic Diocese of Gulu in Uganda and the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar in Kenya in Kampala recently, Bishop John Mbinda from Kenya noted  that for whatever reason DNA tests are conducted, they should be done with the proper motive of safeguarding the family and within the set legal frameworks of the countries so that the results are authentic. 

“It is essential that the family is guarded very well with the DNA tests,” he said. “People can make mistakes, but one mistake does not mean that a full family of 10 people, for example, will disintegrate. Forgiveness is key. Christ told us to forgive not only seven times but 70 times 7 times.”

He added that the DNA tests should be done with the principles of faith and also accountability that calls for forgiveness and understanding so that couples can be helped to move forward.  

Speaking at the same event, the Gulu archbishop, John Baptist Odama, noted that the surge in DNA tests is a consequence of moral degeneration in the country. “The more its going on, the more its proving that we are not morally OK,” he said. “The word of God must prevail. God established clear moral behavior. A young man who wants to marry a girl should prepare himself not to dilute his life before marriage and so is the girl. When they get married, they should keep that moral integrity and continue being committed to those they married or got married to until death do them part.”     

The prelate called upon the faithful to strengthen their relationship with God and stay away from actions that are detrimental to their health, family, children and reputation. Similarly, Sheikh Muhammad Ssekkadde, one of the Muslim elders in Uganda, advised men not to take their children for DNA tests if they do not want to destroy their families. Ssekkadde noted that all children are a blessing from God. 

The issue of confirming paternity of children is particularly important in Africa, where a man who has no biological child is treated with less respect in society and may not be entrusted with leadership responsibilities in his own clan. But also for decades, the African culture has supported men who sire children outside wedlock while discouraging women from doing the same. The latest discovery that some women have also secretly been doing the same, has therefore shaken the men’s social status, explaining the ongoing tension. 


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