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Meet the First Ugandan Buddhist Monk

The most venerable Bhante Bhikkhu Buddharakkhita has ambitions to train 54 novices, one for every African nation. “I’m teaching Theravada Buddhism with African flavour to ensure people understand the Lord Buddha and don’t see it as something weird, foreign and Asian. I see a lot of people suffering in Uganda and Africa. I find this role as a game changer, or a paradigm shift from suffering to happiness in Africa,” he says. Founder and abbot of the Uganda Buddhist Centre and temple, and author of Planting Dhamma Seeds: The Emergence of Buddhism in Africa, Buddharakkhita was born Steven Jemba Kabogozza, and raised a Catholic. He converted to Buddhism in 1990 while studying in India, and has been teaching mindfulness meditation in Africa. A monk for 18 years, Buddharakkhita’s training took him from India to the US and Brazil before he finally returned to Uganda and established the Buddhist centre in 2005. “My role in general is basically teaching Buddhism through meditation, doing humanitarian activities that can help promote it, researching how Buddhism can be best introduced in the context of African culture, and publishing books so that this new tradition can be known in Uganda.”