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Uganda: Bloggers Respond to Controversial Daily Monitor Articles

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda, Human Rights, LGBTQ+, Literature, Media & Journalism, Photography, Protest, Women & Gender, Youth

Uganda's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community has gotten a lot of press recently in the form of a number of articles written by Katherine Roubos, a 22-year-old Stanford [1] student from the United States. Most recently, Roubos covered the first ever LGBTI press conference [2], a story that prompted an anti-gay rally [3] in Kampala.

Blogger Samantha wonders [4], “Is Holding Rallies the Wisest Option?”:

Today, we are holding a rally against homosexuality because it does not comply with Uganda’s morals. We say, “Homosexuality is abnormal according to God’s laws and nature of creation in the Bible. It is against our faith and our society moral values. That is why we are against it and its practitioners.” Why do we think homosexuality is different from corruption, stealing from the poor, despising the poor, lying, defilement and murder?

Scarlett Lion [5] and Jackfruity [6] (full disclosure: that's me) both posted pictures from the event, during which protesters called upon the owner of the Daily Monitor [7] to fire Roubos:

Another Daily Monitor article provoked even more online controversy as several bloggers responded to Glenna Gordon's piece on the achievements of Uganda's women writers [8].

Iwaya was up in arms [9]:

Did it occur to you that yes while many talented men who are writers are often consumed with chasing the buck, they do so because they are the heads of their families? They have responsibilities they will not abandon, cannot abandon and that while they may not get immediate recognition, are perhaps struggling against as great odds as the women?

While Ernest Bazanye called for simple equality [10] in the Ugandan literary world:

What we need isn’t a men’s equivalent of Femrite [11] [the Uganda Women Writers’ Association]. We need to just not listen to these Gordons and go back to what we were doing before: making art and getting it out there, regardless of the sex, religion, age, height or hairstyle of the artist.

In a different part of the country, Pernille compiles a glossary [12] of Ugandan greetings:

How are you? This is such an all-round standard greeting (which the South Africans shortened to ‘howzit?’) that when I sometimes greet by saying ‘hello’, the person I greeted answers ‘fine’….

The funniest greetings are the ones you get when you arrive somewhere with a male friend or colleague; – ‘Oh, you are here with a new face!’

Finally, The Mundu [13] writes about what it feels like to be the product of three cultures:

A year ago, in a period of frustration, I sat down with a pencil and wrote down that I was the product of three distinct “cultures”, and accordingly I had three distinct personalities which I adopted and dropped at will. Or rather, I am the product, and I have three.

Obviously those are (and just imagine the cute little diagram I drew):
A third “Western”: ie, a Canadian teenager.
A third “TCK”: third culture person/missionary kid.
And a third Ugandan/African.

So I call myself “the mundu”, but avoid questions about Africa. I sing the Canadian anthem with pride and draw a Ugandan flag on my name tag. I lash out, vindictively, over someone’s careless comment, and then am silently blasé. They are so ignorant – I think – and fall prey to arrogance. Nobody understands me – but that’s escapist. I understand nobody – but that’s … an inferiority complex. I eagerly share anecdotes, but later feel bitter when all they cared about was lions and bugs.

I hide my identity or flaunt it.

I am chameleon.

But – *shrugs* – chameleons don't have a problem with being chameleons.