The danger of a single story (by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) 1

An excellent comment on what has gone wrong, and is still wrong, with the dynamics of Aid for ‘poor people’, one-dimensional activism that anoints itself to decide who needs to be helped, and the dangers that arise when listening is merely perfunctory. This, to my mind, is what is wrong with much of Western (white?) activism from the West – patronizing, insulting, racist, and very confidently so.

None of it is mine so I will relay it verbatim. I hope it is not copyrighted – it is simply too valuable a statement to have any kind of lock on it.

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The danger of a single story (by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie):

I’m a storyteller. And I would like to tell you a few personal stories about what I like to call “the danger of the single story.” I grew up on a university campus in eastern Nigeria. My mother says that I started reading at the age of two, although I think four is probably close to the truth. So I was an early reader, and what I read were British and American children’s books.

I was also an early writer, and when I began to write, at about the age of seven, stories in pencil with crayon illustrations that my poor mother was obligated to read, I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading: All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples, and they talked a lot about the weather, how lovely it was that the sun had come out. (Laughter) Now, this despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria. I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to.

My characters also drank a lot of ginger beer because the characters in the British books I read drank ginger beer. Never mind that I had no idea what ginger beer was. (Laughter) And for many years afterwards, I would have a desperate desire to taste ginger beer. But that is another story.

What this demonstrates, I think, is how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children. Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify. Things changed when I discovered African books. There weren’t many of them available, and they weren’t quite as easy to find as the foreign books.

But because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye I went through a mental shift in my perception of literature. I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature. I started to write about things I recognized.

Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature. So what the discovery of African writers did for me was this: It saved me from having a single story of what books are.

I come from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family. My father was a professor. My mother was an administrator. And so we had, as was the norm, live-in domestic help, who would often come from nearby rural villages. So the year I turned eight we got a new house boy. His name was Fide. The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was very poor. My mother sent yams and rice, and our old clothes, to his family. And when I didn’t finish my dinner my mother would say, “Finish your food! Don’t you know? People like Fide’s family have nothing.” So I felt enormous pity for Fide’s family.

Then one Saturday we went to his village to visit, and his mother showed us a beautifully patterned basket made of dyed raffia that his brother had made. I was startled. It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family could actually make something. All I had heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them.

Years later, I thought about this when I left Nigeria to go to university in the United States. I was 19. My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music,” and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey. (Laughter) She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove.

What struck me was this: She had felt sorry for me even before she saw me. Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity. My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.

I must say that before I went to the U.S. I didn’t consciously identify as African. But in the U.S. whenever Africa came up people turned to me. Never mind that I knew nothing about places like Namibia. But I did come to embrace this new identity, and in many ways I think of myself now as African. Although I still get quite irritable when Africa is referred to as a country, the most recent example being my otherwise wonderful flight from Lagos two days ago, in which there was an announcement on the Virgin flight about the charity work in “India, Africa and other countries.” (Laughter)

So after I had spent some years in the U.S. as an African, I began to understand my roommate’s response to me. If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner. I would see Africans in the same way that I, as a child, had seen Fide’s family.

This single story of Africa ultimately comes, I think, from Western literature. Now, here is a quote from the writing of a London merchant called John Locke, who sailed to west Africa in 1561 and kept a fascinating account of his voyage. After referring to the black Africans as “beasts who have no houses,” he writes, “They are also people without heads, having their mouth and eyes in their breasts.”

Now, I’ve laughed every time I’ve read this. And one must admire the imagination of John Locke. But what is important about his writing is that it represents the beginning of a tradition of telling African stories in the West: A tradition of Sub-Saharan Africa as a place of negatives, of difference, of darkness, of people who, in the words of the wonderful poet Rudyard Kipling, are “half devil, half child.”

And so I began to realize that my American roommate must have throughout her life seen and heard different versions of this single story, as had a professor, who once told me that my novel was not “authentically African.” Now, I was quite willing to contend that there were a number of things wrong with the novel, that it had failed in a number of places, but I had not quite imagined that it had failed at achieving something called African authenticity. In fact I did not know what African authenticity was. The professor told me that my characters were too much like him, an educated and middle-class man. My characters drove cars. They were not starving. Therefore they were not authentically African.

But I must quickly add that I too am just as guilty in the question of the single story. A few years ago, I visited Mexico from the U.S. The political climate in the U.S. at the time was tense, and there were debates going on about immigration. And, as often happens in America, immigration became synonymous with Mexicans. There were endless stories of Mexicans as people who were fleecing the healthcare system, sneaking across the border, being arrested at the border, that sort of thing.

I remember walking around on my first day in Guadalajara, watching the people going to work, rolling up tortillas in the marketplace, smoking, laughing. I remember first feeling slight surprise. And then I was overwhelmed with shame. I realized that I had been so immersed in the media coverage of Mexicans that they had become one thing in my mind, the abject immigrant. I had bought into the single story of Mexicans and I could not have been more ashamed of myself. So that is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.

It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is “nkali.” It’s a noun that loosely translates to “to be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.

Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, “secondly.” Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.

I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had just read a novel called American Psycho — (Laughter) — and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers. (Laughter) (Applause) Now, obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation. (Laughter)

But it would never have occurred to me to think that just because I had read a novel in which a character was a serial killer that he was somehow representative of all Americans. This is not because I am a better person than that student, but because of America’s cultural and economic power, I had many stories of America. I had read Tyler and Updike and Steinbeck and Gaitskill. I did not have a single story of America.

When I learned, some years ago, that writers were expected to have had really unhappy childhoods to be successful, I began to think about how I could invent horrible things my parents had done to me. (Laughter) But the truth is that I had a very happy childhood, full of laughter and love, in a very close-knit family.

But I also had grandfathers who died in refugee camps. My cousin Polle died because he could not get adequate healthcare. One of my closest friends, Okoloma, died in a plane crash because our fire trucks did not have water. I grew up under repressive military governments that devalued education, so that sometimes my parents were not paid their salaries. And so, as a child, I saw jam disappear from the breakfast table, then margarine disappeared, then bread became too expensive, then milk became rationed. And most of all, a kind of normalized political fear invaded our lives.

All of these stories make me who I am. But to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.

Of course, Africa is a continent full of catastrophes: There are immense ones, such as the horrific rapes in Congo and depressing ones, such as the fact that 5,000 people apply for one job vacancy in Nigeria. But there are other stories that are not about catastrophe, and it is very important, it is just as important, to talk about them.

I’ve always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.

So what if before my Mexican trip I had followed the immigration debate from both sides, the U.S. and the Mexican? What if my mother had told us that Fide’s family was poor and hardworking? What if we had an African television network that broadcast diverse African stories all over the world? What the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe calls “a balance of stories.”

What if my roommate knew about my Nigerian publisher, Mukta Bakaray, a remarkable man who left his job in a bank to follow his dream and start a publishing house? Now, the conventional wisdom was that Nigerians don’t read literature. He disagreed. He felt that people who could read, would read, if you made literature affordable and available to them.

Shortly after he published my first novel I went to a TV station in Lagos to do an interview, and a woman who worked there as a messenger came up to me and said, “I really liked your novel. I didn’t like the ending. Now you must write a sequel, and this is what will happen …” (Laughter) And she went on to tell me what to write in the sequel. I was not only charmed, I was very moved. Here was a woman, part of the ordinary masses of Nigerians, who were not supposed to be readers. She had not only read the book, but she had taken ownership of it and felt justified in telling me what to write in the sequel.

Now, what if my roommate knew about my friend Fumi Onda, a fearless woman who hosts a TV show in Lagos, and is determined to tell the stories that we prefer to forget? What if my roommate knew about the heart procedure that was performed in the Lagos hospital last week? What if my roommate knew about contemporary Nigerian music, talented people singing in English and Pidgin, and Igbo and Yoruba and Ijo, mixing influences from Jay-Z to Fela to Bob Marley to their grandfathers. What if my roommate knew about the female lawyer who recently went to court in Nigeria to challenge a ridiculous law that required women to get their husband’s consent before renewing their passports? What if my roommate knew about Nollywood, full of innovative people making films despite great technical odds, films so popular that they really are the best example of Nigerians consuming what they produce? What if my roommate knew about my wonderfully ambitious hair braider, who has just started her own business selling hair extensions? Or about the millions of other Nigerians who start businesses and sometimes fail, but continue to nurse ambition?

Every time I am home I am confronted with the usual sources of irritation for most Nigerians: our failed infrastructure, our failed government, but also by the incredible resilience of people who thrive despite the government, rather than because of it. I teach writing workshops in Lagos every summer, and it is amazing to me how many people apply, how many people are eager to write, to tell stories.

My Nigerian publisher and I have just started a non-profit called Farafina Trust, and we have big dreams of building libraries and refurbishing libraries that already exist and providing books for state schools that don’t have anything in their libraries, and also of organizing lots and lots of workshops, in reading and writing, for all the people who are eager to tell our many stories. Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.

The American writer Alice Walker wrote this about her Southern relatives who had moved to the North. She introduced them to a book about the Southern life that they had left behind: “They sat around, reading the book themselves, listening to me read the book, and a kind of paradise was regained.” I would like to end with this thought: That when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise. Thank you. (Applause)

These LGBT Americans are totally tone deaf! 5

If there is anything you eventually learn about far left or right leaning ideologues, it is that there is little point in talking to them. They have already made up their minds that they are correct, it is their God-given will to save the world, and no amount of talk will sway them from their divine mission.

And so it is, it seems, with the brigade of condescending American LGBT do-gooders who have elected themselves to fight Uganda’s (and Africa’s) gay battles whether we want them to or not.

It doesn’t matter if it is a gay African activist, someone on the ground living the gay life or angels from heaven blowing bugles beseeching them to shelve their cordite. These people will act as they please, damn it.

Their latest reckless salvo is aimed at Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni who is due in Texas around now. Reports suggest that his host hotel has canceled his reservation “over gay rights abuses.”

Really? Which gay rights abuses do they attribute to Yoweri Museveni, one would like to ask these [usually faceless] people? This gay man lives in Uganda and really doesn’t know of any.

To aim this sort of action at Uganda’s Museveni is pointless, militantly foolish, over-the-top and, totally counter-productive since, whether you believe it or not and his motivations notwithstanding, Museveni has been a godsend to the gay community in Uganda over the past 4 or so years. For starters, Museveni did NOT pass the anti-gay bill, Parliament did! Neither did he re-introduce it in Parliament after the courts annulled it!

This sort of ill-advised, patronizing, unilateral action (I bet you hard cash the gay community in Uganda didn’t sanction it) will simply play into the cynical politics of Uganda and Museveni can return home to show how ‘colonial’ Americans disrespected him over gays in Uganda, something the anti-gay chorus in Uganda will lap up as they strain at the lead in trying to pass the anti-gay bill again. This is thus a replay of the needless interference that Canada’s John Baird indulged in in 2012 which, likely, led to the signing of the bill after a four year chill.

There is thus nothing for it but for one to ask the Dallas Voice which seems to have started all this:

Which genocidal gay rights abuses, pray, do you attribute to Uganda’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni?

This gay man living in Uganda doesn’t know of any.

Over to you Dallas Voice. Or anyone with evidence of it.

Is that a deathly silence one hears?

Joan Rivers – loss of a real trouper 1

Joan Rivers' 'preferred' exit

According to lazy critiques, this is what Joan Rivers wanted for her exit

In this, the first week after Joan Rivers died, one doesn’t feel charitable at all. How could one?

Joan Rivers’ death is a tragedy so profound that most ordinary people will not understand its significance for at least another 25 years.

An astute observer of human nature, Joan Rivers represented the last of those cuttingly funny characters who, deeply aware that we are all here to play our role on stage for only a season, were willing to poke fun at human foibles and frailty, but who also were willing to make fun of themselves in equal measure.

In a world that has become too literal, Joan Rivers remained a wonderful epitome of bluntness – refusing to apologize for saying what was on her mind and, most importantly, refusing to allow herself to lay supine in the face of the relentless march of militant political correctness that now permeates every aspect of our existence.

Joan Rivers was apparently on Facebook, mostly peddling vanity merchandize to make a buck. She would, I am sure, not have been impressed by Facebook’s lack of a ‘dislike’ platform. Yours truly is on Facebook, too, and is struck by how much people on Facebook try to pretend that everyone in the world is nice, a wonderful parent, not jealous, mean or evil. Facebook then hands them the perfect camouflage by deliberately ensuring that you can only like what someone has said or done, and have to express your dislike in a more wordy manner which, of course, most people today aren’t schooled properly enough to manage.

In other words, Facebook perpetuates an Utopian world in which everyone gets along; the idyll of the Garden of Eden before the first murder – a world that doesn’t exist, has never existed anywhere.

Yet, if you have gone to school and actually got an education, three-quarters of the people you are going to meet in your existence will be dim, stupid, clueless, vapid space-fillers who you nonetheless have to suffer gladly, silently or otherwise. Joan Rivers refused to suffer the fools of her world gladly but was smart enough to figure out how to make a living by throwing their idiocy back in their faces.

She has thus gone out of this world as the master of sarcasm, satire and blunt witticism that the politically correct brigade is working round the clock to extinguish in all humanity. Joan Rivers fell repeatedly in the process of practicing her craft, but always rose again. She would thus have appreciated Lauren Bacal’s (now, there is another icon we have lost this year) clarion cry about the world not owing anyone a damn thing – yet another reality that today’s mourning ninnies are trying to banish and replace with an entitlement mentality that must be nurtured until the entire world is one giant pity party.

Alas, Rivers has left us in a world where the purveyors of pity are trying to sell it to the world that to offend anyone could herald the end of the world as we know it. A world where we are being cowed into letting children tell their parents how to raise them rather than the other way round. A world that asks schools to do as the parents wish rather than as the rules the parents knew about in the first place dictate. A world where to beat a woman up, apologize to her and she walks down the aisle with you a month later means you must lose your job if the beating ever becomes public. And yet it is the same world that exhorts us not to judge others because to be judgmental is … bad, offensive, hurtful, blah, blah, blah.

It is the sort of shrinking violet, mourning ninny, Pollyana-esque world that brought us Adolf Hitler and is now creating fertile ground for Russia’s Vladimir Putin. It’s a craven world that has allowed lawyers to flourish and profiteer from the foolishness, cowardice and lack of common sense that has us running to sue every time a neighbor looks at us in a way we don’t like, or whenever someone “puts their hands” on our belonging. After all, how can we, the wonderful children of God that He put on this earth to be happy, be offended, angered, violated, ridiculed by others?

In the spirit of the pretense to perfection that pervades all the lessons we are now exhorted to learn by the so-called “experts” who make money telling us how to live our lives, it is little wonder that the BBC and CNN chose to pretend that Joan Rivers got the funeral “she asked for.”

Risible!

It can’t have escaped the educated minds at the CNN and BBC that the statement  they based their claims on had very little to do with Rivers or her real end-of-story wishes, but why expend valuable time being analytical when it is so much more convenient to be literal?

Of course Joan Rivers knew that she would get a Hollywood send-off – that is what anyone today who has had 15 minutes of fame, let alone Rivers’ lifetime, gets. Hollywood works like that.

Rivers was really telling us that at the end of the day we all end up dead, so to be offended or self-absorbed, to take ourselves so seriously that we fail to laugh at ourselves or others is silly. She was telling us that are we are entitled to our  cosmetic make-believes, but that we should also accept it with grace and equanimity when others laugh at our efforts.

It’s in that light that she mentioned Beyonce’s pretend “hair” which requires air machines to make it look dramatic. Only a very brave person would put money on Beyonce’s husband ever having seen what her real hair looks like but it doesn’t matter. We should enjoy the illusion, or laugh at it, and move on.

In her inimitable way, Joan Rivers was telling us to enjoy the trappings of life – cosmetic enhancements, butt implants, horse-hair extensions, excellent cuisine, Valentino gowns, jewelry. We should also enjoy the pleasures that are brought into our lives by the incomparable talent of  artistic icons such as Meryl Streep because at the end of the day we will all end up dead.

End of story.

Bobi Wine: when it rains, it pours 1

Poor Bobi Wine!

Following on from the humiliation he endured when his scheduled appearances in England this month were cancelled by the venues, Bobi Wine (real name Robert Kyagulanyi) has suffered yet more embarrassment.

Now You Tube is not interested in his homophobic lyrics, and they pulled a homophobic song he uploaded there without it getting any air play.

Kyagulanyi's concert in a interested barely anyone

Kyagulanyi’s concert interested barely anyone

It doesn’t end there. A week after his infinitely more talented rival, Bebe Cool (Moses Ssali), staged a sell-out show at the extremely upmarket Kampala Serena Hotel, at which tickets were snapped up for anywhere over $100.00, Mr. Kyagulanyi  staged a show in Kampala at which hardly anyone showed up, making it one of the biggest flops in the history of Uganda’s entertainment industry.

It’s not the first time either that the struggling drum-machine assisted musician who regularly recycles one single tune has had to be confronted with his irrelevance. Reports show that he was forced to turn a planned cash-generating concert into a charity one upon realizing that no one was interested in paying to see him perform live. He elected to do the show for free rather than accept that audiences had found his faded talent out and weren’t interested in parting with their money to listen to one tune, albeit with different lyrics, over and over again.

Kyagulanyi’s best days as a singer are clearly behind him. It thus beggars understanding that he has chosen to alienate the gay community, some of whose members have no doubt been erstwhile fans of his.

Kyagulanyi has clearly never heard of the adage about not continuing to dig when you are in hole.

Tut, tut.

Gay Uganda calls the political tune 1

Museveni: after signing away his legacy

A dour-looking Museveni: after signing away a huge chunk of his campaign funding on February 24th 2014

Most of his supporters won’t get it just yet, but Yoweri Kaguta Museveni lost a huge chunk of his political credibility February 24, 2014.

In the same week that Museveni invited journalists and diplomats to his palatial State House to sign a bill he had lambasted and ridiculed in equal measure, 24-year-old Herbert Mpiima succumbed to a rare bone cancer which could have been caught and checked – had the president and Uganda’s Parliament had the presence of mind to focus their energies on Uganda’s moribund health care system as they did on fighting with themselves over the Bahati anti-gay bill, now a nullified law.

Ssemusota guli mu ntamu ... If you don't remove the snake gingerly, you break the pot. But if you don't break the pot, you won't remove the snake

Ssemusota guli mu ntamu … If you don’t remove the snake very gingerly, you break the pot.

The intellectual confusion, the naked politicking, the chasing of shadows and the shifting sands continue unabated – nearly seven months since the president signed the Anti-Gay-Bill into law. At this rate, one can be forgiven for assuming that homosexuals make up 32,670,000 souls of Uganda’s 34,000,000 people. Estimates however put the gay population at just 500,000 (1%) of Uganda’s population.

The latest public hand-wringing came two days ago when Uganda’s legislators were again summoned into the President’s presence to be lectured about the law recently killed by Uganda’s Constitution Court. Knowing that his previous tactics of bullying and arm-twisting wouldn’t do, the president this time opted for local wisdom, telling his Parliamentarians that legislating in haste against homosexuality had become like a snake in a clay cooking pot – if you clumsily tried to remove it, you would break the pot.

Ssemusota guli mu ntamu is a well-known adage from Buganda, the richest, largest, most populous part of the country, and it is used widely to refer to matters that are extremely delicate, which need to be handled very carefully.

Really? 99% of a people whose country is independent and proud have to walk on egg shells over a matter that concerns just 1% of the entire population?!

Frank Mugisha & Kasha Nabagesera

Frank Mugisha & Kasha Nabagesera

That’s where Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera and Frank Mugisha come in.

Yes, there have been others but Nabagesera and Mugisha are really the face of an international campaign so successful that Yoweri Museveni’s political fortunes are now the focus, rather than homosexuals or the Anti Homosexuality Bill/Law for that matter.

Can the president sign a law he already knows is foolish, formed in bad faith, enacted without a quorum, impossible to police and get away with it? The answer to that one has already been shown to be … no!

Can the president who is on record rubbishing an anti-gay bill, and chiding his own people for their blindness to the fact that homosexuality and homosexuals have always been an integral part of the African fabric, also turn around and tell homosexuals that they have lost the argument? The answer to that one is clearly … no!

Can a president who depends so heavily on western donor money for his political survival thumb his nose at those same donors in order to curry favor with his rebellious Parliamentary caucus? The answer to that has also already been answered in the negative.

So what is the president of this independent country that will not be dictated to by America or Britain to do? Well, it seems he will have to return to the donors, ask for Aid money not to be turned off while at the same time letting his minions argue that the country doesn’t need Aid money. Once the Aid money is turned back on, it can then be used to buy off Parliamentarians most of whom are deeply in debt to loan sharks who have the president’s phone number on speed dial.

Hopefully, pouring donor money at the problem will do the trick. If it doesn’t, Museveni’s political plans could be torn to tatters by the movement Nabagesera and Mugisha started. If it does, Nabagesera and Mugisha will have helped Museveni extend his stay in power.

They likely don’t know it yet, but Nabagesera and Mugisha have Yoweri Museveni’s political destiny and legacy in their hands – whichever way the homosexuality question is settled … with a little help from very influential friends abroad of course.

Where does all this leave Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law?

What anti-homosexuality law?

Uganda’s Constitutional Court nullifies anti-gay law 4

It’s going to have to be back to the drawing board for Uganda’s reliably dim legislators.

In a unanimous decision, the Constitutional Court of Uganda has nullified the anti-gay law passed by Parliament in December 2013 and signed into law February 2014.

Asked by petitioners to nullify the law because Parliament passed it without a quorum, the court agreed that it was passed without the required number of legislators in attendance and so couldn’t stand. The result today represents, yet again, a wonderful insight into the independence of Uganda’s judiciary.

This is the fourth time, in my recollection, the legal process in Uganda has favored the pro-gay side in the last 6 or so years. I am aware of only one ruling that has gone the side of the anti-gay side, recently when Minister Lokodo was sued for stopping a gay workshop. 4-1 is, however, a very healthy record that, no doubt, the pro-gay lobby in Uganda should relish.

What does it all really mean?

It was a very brave panel to scupper the proceedings at this stage, something I must admit I didn’t think the judges would do.

Why so?

This case is really about whether Parliament can single out a section of the population [gay people] to criminalize and stigmatize while implicitly and explicitly overlooking every other member of society [straight people] who are capable of committing the same actions the pilloried members of society have been criminalized for. That would be a violation of the constitutional right to equal protection and that is the area that the judges must eventually pronounce themselves on to kill off this law for good.

While that decision has now been put off, the judges must be doubly applauded because it cannot have been lost on them that the political implications of their decisions were stark. They have nonetheless throttled the law passed based on the flouting of Parliamentary rules, leaving Uganda’s Parliamentarians looking like the foolish, impetuous, thoughtless turncoats they have made a habit of being.

Rebecca Kadaga, the wannabe president of Uganda, who tried to use the Nazi bill to get one up on her rival for the presidency, Amama Mbabazi, has ended up with egg on her face, especially since she is a lawyer and has been embarrassed for her lack of legal acumen when she let the Nazi anti-gay bill through Parliament on her watch.

The president, Yoweri Museveni, will now argue that the law has been killed because of what he referred to in January as ‘abnormal, spinster’ Kadaga’s failure to cross her tees and dot her eyes. He gets to come out looking clean even though it will not be lost on perceptive minds that he excoriated Parliament for passing the bill without a quorum and then he went ahead to sign it anyway.

This Constitutional decision, however, does keep the door open for a new bill to be drafted and re-presented to Parliament so it doesn’t necessarily mean that the war has been won. No, it now remains to be seen if the losing side can regroup to fight another day. The odds for them, however, are getting longer and longer, with every legal defeat and they would know it if they were astute enough.

They likely are not, sadly.

If I were to put in my two pennies’ worth, lawyers now need to trawl through all the laws that have been passed without a quorum and lodge them with the Constitutional Court. By the time the learned judges got through all those, Uganda’s parliament would have no laws left on the books. And then we should see how important they feel their Nazi anti-gay crusade really is to their existence and that of the country that they would attempt to bring another kill-the-gays bill back in haste.

For now, it’s bottoms up possums. Your truly needs a chandelier to hang on to while singing “I am what I am …”

Good news! Uganda’s Bobi Wine axed from UK shows 13

With fading musical talent, Kyagulanyi also can't control his mouth

With fading musical talent, Kyagulanyi also struggles to  control his big mouth

If you have never heard of Bobi Wine, never mind. It’s best that way as he is not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to cutting his coat according to his cloth or controlling his mouth which, it must be said, usually arrives long before he does.

Bobi Wine (real name Robert Kyagulanyi) is about to savor the consequences of opening his mouth and letting whatever comes out come out.

Bobi Wine has been axed from performing in London and Birmingham because of his malevolent, ignorant, primitive, small-minded anti-gay views.

Why?

Well, while his more musically successful rival, Man of the Year 2013 Bebe Cool (Moses Ssali) preached tolerance and acceptance, Kyagulanyi lambasted gays in Uganda, supported the anti-homosexuality bill and the imprisoning for life of his fellow citizens purely on account of who they are – publicly. He got so arrogant that he once presumed to lecture Barack Obama about family and moral values.

bobi-wine-stitchIt will not be the first time Kyagulanyi’s loose tongue will have gotten him in trouble, but it should prove quite costly for his bank balance at a time when his musical prowess even in Uganda, where he is just a two-bit drum-machine reliant singer who hasn’t created a memorable hit in almost a decade, barely registers on the contemporary musical scene.

At the height of his vocal prowess, fifteen or so years ago, it might have made sense for Kyagulanyi to make controversial statements. Having gone to school, but clearly gotten hardly any education, he missed out on what happened to singers who failed to read the tea leaves such as Buju Banton and Beenie Man. Both paid a steep financial price for their outlandish kill-the gays lyrics and have never recovered from the foot-in-the-mouth afflictions that destroyed their nascent careers.

What on earth then made an even smaller third world musician like Kyagulanyi, who relies on village drunks and slum ignoramuses (admittedly Uganda has enough of these to keep Kyagulanyi thinking that he is relevant) for his livelihood, to think he could venture into similar territory and expect to be welcomed to sing on stage in the UK in 2014?

The mind boggles at his stupidity.

Anyhow, Kyagulanyi’s self-inflicted travails are hardly fodder for anyone with a life to spend too much time on. Suffice it to say that he now has plenty of time to take his foot out of his oversize mouth.

At leisure.

Away from the London and Birmingham stages he was due to appear at.

And fittingly so.

Next!

Africa can’t hide its intellectual incoherence 1

One of the presidents who deserves to go down in the annals of history as Africa’s most principled post-independence black leaders of all time is … drum roll please … Robert Mugabe!!

After more than 30 years in office, Mugabe is an ogre to his enemies and a shining light to Zimbabweans who keep on re-electing the 90-year-old relic who inherited a bread basket  and ran it into the ground in the guise of giving land back to dispossessed black citizens. Today, Zimbabwe boasts as the only country on the African continent (perhaps in the world) using more than five official currencies, none of them its own. The economy remains on its knees, Zimbabwe is a net importer of food and keeping the lights on, even in hospitals, is a lottery.

Mugabe, Biya, Museveni

Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Biya (Cameroon), Museveni (Uganda)

Despite all that, Mugabe stands tall when set against current and past African leaders, all of them men, due to one simple reason: his enemies and friends all know exactly what Mugabe means when he says and/or does it. Even when he crippled his country with ill-thought-out policies, leading to staggering rates of inflation, Mugabe remained defiant – lambasting white people and painting himself as a put-upon Shaka Zulu who would rise and rise with his black followers. But he was also astute enough to seek a local remedy for his political survival – which came in the form of the uninspiring, dull, clueless, politically inept and uncharismatic opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

The zeal with which Mugabe has driven  his land repossession policy and the astuteness with which he has outmaneuvered his political opponents are now stuff for legend. Uncle Bob is going to go to his grave in the way he has lived his presidency – without kowtowing to anyone, and with his views on everything he has bothered to take an interest in very clear. In comparison, literally every other leader of Mugabe’s generation is a lightweight pretend-pugilist, spending excessive amounts of time looking at themselves in the mirror when they are not speaking through both sides of their mouth.

The emperor's new clothes

The emperor’s new clothes

One might spend time analyzing all the other leaders in Africa if they wish. Other than Mugabe, they are all totally alike: spineless, incompetent ditherers whose thinking follows their actions.

Some examples:

Kenya’s Kenyatta cannot rid himself of his demons where the issue of Somali terrorists is concerned. Is he for deporting all Somalis, going after a select few, shutting down their base in the heart of Kenya’s capital, or what? His own people don’t know – how could they when their decider-in-chief  makes a different decision for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

His supporters will not admit it openly but Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni’s intellectual confusion has been most cruelly exposed by the homosexuality issue. He has, variously, been against homosexuality as he has been in support of gay men and women being left to their private business because homosexuality has always been a part of African culture. In 2010 he decided that homosexuality was a foreign policy matter (oh, not a cultural or religious one, after all?) that only he handled. He forced Parliament not to debate it on the floor of the House. By close of 2012, he was as against the Bahati Nazi homosexuality bill as he was for it. After the passing of the bill by Parliament late in 2013, Museveni angrily, and publicly lambasted the Speaker of the House as an abnormal childless spinster who perhaps also deserved to be jailed because of her own shortcomings.

Alas the vintage Mugabe-like bravado didn’t last because Museveni hadn’t reckoned with a critical piece of the political jigsaw – his own NRM party. Once his own people threatened to unseat him, Museveni changed his mind … then again, and then again till one’s head spun. Even on the day of signing the bill, one was still wondering whether the president was coming or going since he had asked for further advice from American scientists (his own scientists had told him that homosexuality was no different from heterosexuality) just days before, which advice he hadn’t yet received. The anti-homosexuality bill is now law in Uganda but the political writhing continues.

Clarifying yet another clarification

Clarifying yet another clarification

Homosexuals have lost the argument (Museveni, February 24 2014). Uganda can do without foreign aid (Museveni, February 2014). Uganda will instead seek foreign support from Russia and China who don’t meddle in other countries’ affairs (Museveni, February 2014). America and Obama can go hang with their aid dollars (June 2014). Uganda didn’t really intend to snub anyone, least of all its international aid partners with the signing of the anti-homosexuality bill after all (Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs July 2014).

We didn't mean to hurt you, Uganda now argues

We didn’t mean to hurt you, Uganda now argues

You have to catch your breath a couple of times while ploughing through the morass. Did the homosexuals lose the argument? If so, why keep on revisiting the subject? What has happened to Russia and China coming in to plug the holes left after Western donors withdrew their support? But didn’t you say Uganda could go it alone? If so, why even mention China or Russia as alternative avenues to go begging to?

And why should such an independent country hellbent on protecting its inviolable family and religious purity bother to keep explaining itself repeatedly over an issue that’s been settled, with the homosexuals losing the argument? It would seem then that when Uganda signed the anti-homosexuality bill in February 2014 to protect its independence as well as cultural and moral values, it didn’t really mean to do that. What did it mean to do then?

To ensure equal protection of all citizens.

Even those who would be pilloried, ostracized and arrested simply because of who they were? How would that ensure equal protection?

To stop the promotion and exhibition of homosexual practices of course!

Oh, but where exactly had these practices been exhibited and promoted? By crusading pastors perhaps? Or in church to stunned congregants? Is that a deafening silence one hears?

If this is all about Africa’s, rudderless, indecisive, opaque, but nonetheless bombastic leaders, why would anyone tar the entire Africa as intellectually incoherent? Quite simple really. Africa: you keep on electing and re-electing these people You are thus getting leaders who are a reflection of your own thinking …. or lack thereof.

Leaders you deserve!

America’s anti-gay “sanctions” have arrived – Uganda deal with it!

The United States of America has announced punitive measures in response to the signing of the Nazi anti-gay law by Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, February 24 2014.

Among the sanctions to be imposed are visa bans on those deemed responsible for human rights violations in Uganda, relocation of a health conference to South Africa, redirection of development funds from the government to non-governmental organizations and so on and so forth.

From a purely symbolic point of view, the steps America has taken are highly significant. It is America’s money to do as she pleases, but to come out and declare that a foreign government’s law is so heinous as to call for a public slap on the wrist is extremely embarrassing – for Uganda.

Ugandan officials will, of course, try to put a brave face on it, pretend that it doesn’t matter what America does. They will wax lyrical about Uganda turning to Russia or China, and how they must keep their culture and religious beliefs. It will be the usual piffle that ignores the fact that all Uganda’s major religions are foreign, and that, as Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly informed the people he leads, Ugandan tribes actually tolerated homosexuality before Biblical lore was imposed on them. But Uganda’s government has nonetheless been stung by the public dressing down from the United States which is part of the point of the sanctions. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t have lashed out in the manner that their spokesman, Ofwono Opondo did as soon as the punishment was announced.

Gaddafi intervened heavily in the NRA war that removed Obote from power

Libya’s Gaddafi intervened heavily in the NRA war that removed Obote from power

The United States is bluntly telling Uganda that it is a basket case which is free to reject American money if it wishes. As long as Uganda accepts US tax dollars, he who pays the piper will call the tune.  It’s not lost on anyone with a modicum of intelligence that Uganda’s administration is merely about hanging on for grim death and that its leader will sign anything, say anything, do anything however contradictory to stay at the helm of his party and, by extension, country. That’s why he signed the Nazi anti-gay bill that he had consistently spoken out against and had blocked from even being debated for three years. It was purely to stave off insurrection from his own ruling National Resistance Movement.

The French Revolution brought about permanent change to France

The French Revolution brought about permanent change to France

Revolutions tend to be permanent when they are fomented from within. For some examples, think of the French Revolution – a bloody series of events in 1789 that ousted the monarchy and gave rise to the French Republic. Then there is the American revolution that ousted British colonialism. Closer to home, there is the Mau Mau rebellion, a completely local internecine struggle that toppled British rule in Kenya.

On the other side of the coin, the Falklands Islands are still a property of Britain, thanks to a lot of help from Ronald Reagan to Margaret Thatcher in 1982. She asked for and got American logistical support to win that war. Uganda’s Idi Amin would have lasted longer than 1979 had it not been for a lot of help from Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and his Chama Cha Mapinduzi fighters. Indeed, we now also know that Museveni’s 1981-85 bush war which eventually got rid of Milton Obote was funded heavily by Gadhafi’s Libya.

So, contrary to what those who are ignorant about history might have you believe, there is a rich track record of revolutions that have been won, thanks to outside interference in other countries’ affairs, usually by invitation.

Nyerere (RIP) knew all too well about Uganda's begging ways

Nyerere (RIP) knew all too well about Uganda’s begging ways

Yours truly is of the view that the gay struggle in Uganda is one such struggle that must ask for and receive outside help. Here is a put-upon minority which would mind its own business if it were not for a pernicious, malicious cabal of religious and political leaders who are hellbent on using the lives of their fellow citizens to enrich themselves, if not to further their careers. They are cynically and blatantly feeding a poorly educated, ignorant, pliable populace with garbage and outrageous lies. Based on these lies, laws have been enacted to subjugate and even imprison for life citizens who have done nothing wrong other than be who they are.

The sanctions the United States has imposed  have been requested by the gay representatives living in Uganda. They are thus neither an imposition nor needless interference in Uganda’s politics as Ofwono Opondo is pretending; the gay community has asked for them and a sympathetic foreign government has, as Nyerere’s did in the 1970s, come to their aid.

It is thus right that Museveni’s government should be clipped around the ear like a recalcitrant child because, of course, Museveni’s government is nothing if not childish – relying on foreign handouts and then turning around and petulantly claiming that it doesn’t need America’s money even as it secretly lobbies for it not to be cut off.

Well, Uganda: America has laid down the gauntlet. If you don’t want American taxpayers dollars, fine. Reject the money or, better still, return, too, what has been given. As long as America’s policy is to help the downtrodden in countries which receive more money from America than they give, Barack Obama can decide to help the Ugandan gay community in any way they ask.

Over to you Mr. Yoweri Museveni. America under Barack Obama will not tolerate a banana republic, whose leadership relies on American money to stay in power, treating its gay citizens like vermin because American aid money is contributed by all Americans, including gay men and women.

You cannot thus have your cake and eat it, too; accepting money contributed by gay Americans among others, and then turning around and signing laws intended to maltreat your own gay people. Reject the aid. Even better, return what you have been given if you’re so righteous. Then go begging to your newly found friends in Russia and China who have such a wonderful track record of not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.

America has exercised its choices. Feel free to do the same, too.

And now to respond to Uganda’s Patrioticsm call

Today I am taking up the clarion call of Uganda’s politicians to be a patriot. I am not sure Uganda’s Parliament hasn’t already passed the Patriotic Law , but I will ride to the bugle sounds anyway because I have been riled by two snooty foreigners who have dared to publicly call out Kampala for its dusty streets.

Yours truly has been privileged to live in and/or visit more countries than a lot of people ever will; at least 30 when I lost count. The one thing I was sure not to do was insult those countries while I lived there because I was taught before I went to nursery school that it is ungrateful and rude to insult your hosts.

Having never been invited to any country – it has always been on my volition to visit – I simply left places I didn’t like never to return, taking my snotty fabulousness with me.

That is what any foreigner in Uganda should do. If you are too high-class or shi-shi for the dust, the potholes, yes even the Museveni Nazi Anti-Gay Law, pack your bags, get on a plane and go where you prefer to live. Ugandans get to poke public ridicule at their own country; it is theirs. You don’t have that privilege unless you can show that you were invited in the first place or that Uganda’s sun rises and sets on your existence.

Foreigners dears: Uganda owes you nothing; you  owe Uganda a debt of gratitude for providing you with a place to lay your head and, as is often the case, a livelihood far better than you would get in your own home country. Else, why would you live and/or keep returning to a dusty, pot-holed, vermin-infested city like Kampala, sometimes for years on end?

Come to think of it, this applies to foreigners wherever they are in the world.

Next!