I fail completely to see the logic - writing, not actually performing, about something illegal, qualifies you for deporting?! Jackfruity reports about the incident here, and Glenna Gordon receives lots of comments on her post here. Kelly pays attention to a poster (inserted photo from her blog) and renames the CHOGM to 'Citizens Here Obviously Gone Mad'. The 27th Comrade, apparently being one of them, as he comments all over the Ugandan blogosphere as, well, mad ( I mean take a look to the right...).
We are talking 2007, and we are talking about Kampala, a relatively modern African capital which at present is striving so ridiculously hard for living up to some unclear standards for the CHOGM. Most of these demands, however, are purely focused on the facade of this country; – Appearance! I fail to see any vital change of what binds all this together; The inside. I am a visitor here, and I live with the fact that a lot is done differently. However, I do find it hard to accept the way Uganda is treating its minorities, the people who haven’t chosen as the majority, the man who marries a woman from another tribe because he actually loves her, the few who have the courage to stand up for what they think is right. Someone claims this is a special African trademark, to suppress your individual desires and adapt to the majority, and that Western influence should pack.
In this case a group of people has chosen to declare their sexuality openly. But in this country it is not only illegal to have sexual relations with people from the same sex, by some people it is even considered a disease which they believe can be cured by i.e., praying. How can Christianity be this inhumane? And doesn't this country have more serious criminals than being homosexual? Judging from a poll carried out by the East Africa Social Political Economic And Cultural (SPEC) Barometer 95% of the Ugandan population support the legislation and assumption.
I would still question if those 95% really do know what we actually talk about since we in Uganda are not allowed to report it in the papers, teach about it in school (mainly homosexuality seems condemned when 'taught') - or for that matter - practise it. In the Daily Monitor today I skimmed the page with the letters to the editor, and here one man suggested that 'why the police had not arrested the people behind Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug) - a coalition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) organisations - and taken them for medical check-up to see whether they had had anal sex recently'. Hm, I still don't know what to think about that procedure, than how stupid it is to believe that homosexuality is all about analsex.
I think Uganda has got her priorities wrong somewhere. Ugandans claim that homosexuality is of Western origin and influence. But it is here and has been all the time. Uganda can fill its pot holes, tarmac its roundabouts, build shiny new hotels and receive the international community for CHOGM, but homosexuality won't go away. The question is whether Uganda will allow people to express it. All my respect for people like SMUG who dare standing up for a controversial issue, risking everything.
The BBC Africa covers the case here, and has some interesting inputs from people here.
Sunday I drove from Lake Mburo through Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kasese to Fort Portal. The landscape is beautiful. Makes you forget all about northern Uganda (seems to a general thing that people here are forgetting about northern Uganda!)
I have just received two copies of the Last King of Scotland from Los Angeles as I have promoted the film here on this very weblog. I have done so as I really liked the film itself - in particular for having been shot in Uganda, for the use of the African light, the blurred colors and the sound track. However, it is obvious that making a film about a real and a very controversial person based on a 'fictional story' can cause confusion and interesting statements. Whenever the film is brought on, the Ugandans will say something like;
'Artistically this is not a very good movie'. That other one (The Rise and Fall of Amin - watch the trailer here.) is so much more better and realistic... (The film where Amin keeps the heads of his enemies in his fridge).
'Amin wasn't at all like that' - often followed by; 'he was much worse/better/different'.
That one (the actor) who plays Amin, he doesn't talk like Amin at all...! I feel slightly stupid when I hear myself claim that I think Forest Whitaker does an amazing impersonalisation of an African president. Because who am I to know when a lot of Ugandans did meet the man face to face - and they all have each their impresion.
'Why can this film not be copied? Oh, it is right-protected !!' ( A dissappointed Indian shopkeeper investigation the DVD while also formatting an external harddisc for me in his shop in Kampala).
What is really interesting is that sometimes I can't help note a tone of admiration for the man, in spite of the hell he created for some. He actually did meet a lot of his people face to face, not many African presidents does that today (well, some of these people didn't survive the meeting). He changed the British names of i.e. the Lake Albert to Lake Mobutu/Lake Amin (half half Congo/Uganda). Anyway, now a 'rights-protected' DVD is donated to Arua Resource Centre, Idi Amin's hometown. And I keep the other one.
I used to be a teacher myself, in a Danish primary and secondary school, 10 years ago. No matter where I have been moving around - among Sudanese refugees in Northern Uganda or in Southern Sudan the sight of pupils carrying books and bags on their way to and from school - and the quality of the schools always have a certain appeal to me.
I am fascinated by their eagerness to learn, in spite a lot walk barefeet, have to sit under a mangotree or in massively crowded classrooms, the schools looking like cows' stables. In many cases the teachers are not paid well, and payment of salaries are delayed. There are basically no materials, but a blackboard, and the quality of the teaching might also be disputable.
However, most children are curious like hell, and will search instinctively for getting to know what is outside the village. It does move me to see when this curiousity is not satisfied. Potential is lost. The future of Africa.
Here, access to education cannot be underestimated. It is your only chance to make a difference in life, to move on and out of poverty. Education can enable you to change the structures which determine the poverty you are stuck within, such as tribalism, oppression of girls and women and post-war traumas... just to mention a few issues which in Southern Sudan's case have to be adressed.
Personally, I strongly believe that education is the way to enable people to make the changes they find essential to create their own version of happiness. Get as many African children in school as possible! In particular, make an extra effort to get the girls to school and finish it!
I keep imagining how fun it could be to make a responsive counter campaign displaying images of common, non-famous Ugandans - saying 'I am not ready for CHOGM!. (In fact I'm not so sure what it is, an why are they by the way removing schools and building hotels in stead...').
Billboards and posters all over Kampala featuring famous Ugandans are telling us that Uganda is ready for CHOGM.
For a long time doubt has been expressed about Uganda's capacity, security and effiency to accommodate the meeting. We observe the daily progress of the construction of new hotels in the centre of Kampala, and ask each other if they will ever make enough room for the CHOGM participants arriving.
However, I see the billboard and poster campaign as an interesting - and constructive - respond from the Ugandan government; - a positive branding of CHOGM - we ARE ready! I hope so. It is important to Uganda to get this attention. Positive attention. Read more here.
In Uganda the New Vision today is asking with the high population growth rates in Uganda, how many children should a Ugandan family have? Half of the Ugandan population is below 15 years of age. Half the young girls of Uganda have had their first baby before the age of 18. See some interesting considerations and comments here.
In Denmark the Minister for Family claimed that the Danes are having too few children, and that they should have at least three children per family. At present the average is 1,8 child per family in Denmark. On March 7, 2007 the Minister of Family committed to investigate why the Danes don't have more children. She pointed out herself, when asked what she thought, that the Danes are too obsessed with decorating their homes and making things looking perfect, thus not having the energy for a time-consuming second or third child.Here the Danes commented on why they did not have more children (unfortunately all in Danish).