Bobi Wine: when it rains, it pours Reply

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!

Sam Kuteesa as 69th UN President: a tempest in a tea cup 1

Milton Allimadi has penned a caustic anti-Kuteesa incendiary in the Huffington Post. So has the Times of England.

Egged on, no doubt, by the usual human rights hand-wringing fraternity, there is a groundswell of opinion trying to lobby for Sam Kuteesa, Uganda’s minister of Foreign Affairs, not to be made president of the UN General Assembly despite being nominated by the African Union.

Allimadi, The Times and all those crying into their handkerchiefs should be listened to respectfully, and then Kuteesa should be slotted into the post.

Why?

Sam Kuteesa, Uganda's Minister of Foreign Affairs

Sam Kuteesa, Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs

Kuteesa is a cabinet member in a government that is on record opposing the passing of the Bahati Bill, now a law. There were ministers who publicly supported the jailing of homosexuals – mostly foolish, boorish men who are easily seen for what they are when they open their mouths. Kuteesa has never been one of them.

The Bahati bill was eventually made law in a bid for Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni to hang on to power come 2016 – it had nothing to do with what was right or what Museveni believed in since he had consistently spoken out against the bill and blocked it for years until his presidency was threatened by his own party.

Sam Kuteesa supported Parliament’s right to pass laws such as this one and he is right about that; Parliaments have a right to pass laws since that’s what they are there for. That some of the laws might be foolish and ridiculous (such as the anti-gay one) is beside the point. No one will cite any instance where Kuteesa has said that he personally supports the anti-gay law. Even if he did, that wouldn’t be enough to bar him from being President of the UN General Assembly.

The presidency of the UN General Assembly isn’t really as important as the naysayers are trying to portray it. The decisions that matter are made elsewhere by the USA, the UK, China, France and Russia. If this post was even symbolically significant (it isn’t)  Qatar and Libya shouldn’t have held it in 2011 and 2009 respectively. The human rights records of those countries could hardly be held up as paragons of virtue then or today.

Kuteesa should thus be allowed to be the school prefect of the UN General Assembly; the headmasters will not lose any sleep over it and neither will the world. The time away from Uganda might actually help Kuteesa learn something about standing up for one’s views regardless of the consequences, something his office has prevented him from being able to do freely. Who knows, by the time he returns to Uganda, he might have learned a thing or two about dissenting publicly and might very well have gotten the courage to join the presidential fray for 2016.

And then his personal and political record can be scrutinized properly – at home where it really matters. Right now he is too much of an unknown quantity for his tenure at the UN to matter much.

The enigma that is Uganda’s James Onen 21

88.5 radio presenter, James Onen

88.5fm radio presenter, James Onen

Three weeks or so ago, I was informed that I had been un-friended and blocked on Facebook by a gentleman called James Onen.

Huh? I had visited Facebook numerous times without noticing that Onen had blocked me. What had I done to bring such an indignity on myself?

“Well,” the friend who gave me the news explained, “Onen posted something about you irritating him and then told his followers that he had blocked you.” So much then for his claims that he is tolerant,” we both distractedly agreed and the conversation drifted to our perennial topic; the scarcity of eligible gay men in Uganda.

But that conversation has led me to think about James Onen the person. The idea of psycho-analyzing  him had gnawed at me for about  a year but I have now been able to focus on it after what could very well turn out to be the life-devastating news of my banishment from Onen’s Facebook world.

Who really is James Onen?

I have met Onen twice in the flesh, once when I gave him and his friend a ride, and a second time in a social setting whose location isn’t important. Contrary to the impression he gives, Onen doesn’t come across as comfortable around strangers – except perhaps at night. With merely average looks, a wardrobe that doesn’t look like too much attention has gone into it, Onen is someone you would bypass without a second glance if you weren’t told that he works in radio.

Some of the basic things about the man can be surmised in about 10 minutes of listening to him: he is employed on the morning show of  Uganda’s 88.5 88.2 Sanyu FM as a presenter. He is single, 4o years old (give or take one or two years), a self-avowed ex-Christian/atheist/freethinker, and a hedonist who needs no lessons on how to burn the night candle from both ends, preferably with a bevy of scantily clad women hanging around him.

There are other things, too, that don’t need a deep thinker to figure out. For instance, James Onen has opinions on almost everything under the sun and likely has not uttered the words I don’t know to any question in the last ten years.

It is also well-known that  Onen supports gay rights, loses himself in video games and movies to an extent hardly anyone over 18, or with a family and/or a 9-5 job will find time to identify with. He also spends an inordinate amount of time on Facebook. The latter makes professional sense because he has a daily radio show to plug and will need inspiration and/or fodder from somewhere. Facebook helps him shake the tree of his ideas to see what falls out. That is when he is not scouring the internet for ideas to provoke his audience with. It’s a nice  living if you can get it.

Holding some sort of certification in Philosophy, Onen is an incisive thinker and observer of human nature. He especially has a knack for articulating what you have thought of, but wouldn’t have found the words if you had tried.

And so, Onen will liberally tell his audience how stupid anyone is to believe in God and make a perfectly logical case. From there he will be off to assure everyone that feminists are desperate shrews who contradict themselves simply by opening their mouths about women’s fights for equality. When he lambasts marriage – he consistently argues that it is an institution designed to enrich women at the expense of men – he has rich divorce statistics to pick from, many of them from pillars of entertainment and government in yonder climes.

For a sample of Onen’s faire, here is an excerpt of one of his Facebook offerings from a couple of weeks ago:

The reason why black people cry racism all the time is because they spend their lives wanting to be liked rather than respected. They also are under the mistaken assumption that respect is a thing to be demanded, rather than earned. They bitch and whine 24-7 and wonder why no one respects them, generally speaking. You know who else bitches and whines 24-7 demanding respect and attention? Toddlers. … It is therefore not something blacks will be eager to relinquish anytime soon. Why should they, when they can guilt trip the rest of the world with it and be coddled like babies as and when it’s convenient? Showing agency is too much work, right? No hope, no change, for blacks.

Which black people? Maya Angelou perhaps who has now taken her message of either changing what you don’t like or changing your attitude to the grave? The Mau Mau who chose to die rather than stay shackled to British colonialism? Nelson Mandela who chose to forgive and move on after 27 years of incarceration at the hands of white Boers? Bill Cosby who regularly speaks out against the glorification of  black ghetto culture? Barack Obama who has braved the wrath of black American demagogues and publicly told black fathers that they can do better? Or Whoopi Goldberg who has publicly refused to call herself African American because she is American and not African?

In Luganda there is a proverb that, loosely translated, says that losing your mother doesn’t mean you must forever lay yourself on her grave. You put the body in the ground, amidst all the keening you can muster, and then move on. But there is plenty of evidence that large sections of black America have refused to leave the grave-site up to and including blindly calling themselves African-Americans when they don’t even know that Africa is not one country. They have thus thrown their real-time American history in with a narrative that is not theirs, but identifying with which gives them a nebulous umbilical cord to a continent that doesn’t know them, has no propensity to understand them and wouldn’t want them back, even as the same hankering after “Africanness” also alienates them from their own country.

So, Onen has a point on this issue of racism and a people he barely knows,  a country he doesn’t seem to have ever visited, let alone lived in.

But as tends to happen with people who have a lot of media time to fill to make a living,  Onen is also a master at lurching on to a theory, masticating it in his mind and pronouncing himself on it as if he has just graduated with a PhD in it. And then he repeats it till you are sick of it.

It’s with that superciliousness that he pronounces himself on how bad for everyone marriage is. Yes, he has a point in that far too many marriages predictably end up on the rocks these days, often with the men on the receiving end of a financial fleecing. But how does he know that marriage is bad for everyone or  that the soaring divorce rates  are not merely a  sign of individuals failing to make the right choices? He didn’t answer that one, I don’t think. What about all those people, mostly in the third world who seem to keep their marriages till death do them part? Silence on that one, too.

Loud-mouthed right wing commentator with  huge following: Rush Limbaugh

Loud-mouthed right wing commentator with a huge angry following: Rush Limbaugh

James Onen is thus the Rush Limbaugh of Uganda: he initially sounds erudite and thoughtful but the more he puts out statements on everything under the sun, the more you realize that  there’s no one who can know everything about everything and so some of what he is saying must be borne out of conjecture couched as intellectual uniqueness. And once you take a closer look at who his avid followers are, rather many of them seem to be disgruntled, embittered people a part of whose lives has gone awry, thanks to what they perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be the sins of others. So, they need James Onen to assure them that they are perfect; it is their tormentors that aren’t.

Ironically, therefore, James Onen has spawned a legion of  followers who agree with his every word because they feel they are victims of the situations Onen rants about daily: shrewd women who have married and divorced for money, broken marriages that never should have happened, gays marginalized by their sexuality, cheating spouses spreading harm and hurt, women who lose themselves in feminism at the expense of blending in, white Americans dying to hear that black people are not victims and never have been, single men who must go it alone (men going their own way or MGTW they call themselves) and not commit to any one woman,  and so on and so forth. It of course makes for a negative grocery list but who is counting?

As anyone who has followed this blog will tell you, there is a lot in what Onen says that I agree makes sense. It seems, however that you disagree with Onen in a voice as loud as his at your peril.

For instance, while he is right about the victim mentality of a lot of Black Americans, what exactly does a radio personality on a small morning program in sub-Saharan Africa hope to achieve by parroting that message ad nauseum without advocating a single solution? First of all, it is really none of his business; it is black America’s. Secondly, if he hopes to educate his following, what is the message he wants them to take away in order to better their own lives if not that of the black people he scornfully lumps into one cesspool of self-pity.

Why does it seem that Onen is more interested in being right than in showing others how they could better their lives? Why are his views more valid than everyone else’s  on every subject he visits? And if he is intellectually so omnipotent, how come a civil war raged in his homeland of Northern Uganda for two decades but you will struggle to find a single thoughtful statement that Onen has uttered about the horror that Joseph Kony perpetrated on the people there?

The last question is especially pertinent because, during one of Onen’s incessant Facebook submissions, he let it out that he had not visited his motherland, in Northern Uganda, in 20 years. It was as startling as it was revealing. For, how can someone who has shown scant interest in the people from his own home, just 400 kilometers away, take so much interest in the plight of  Black Americans on a continent 6,000 miles away?

More to the point, what does it say about a radio personality from Northern Uganda who hardly says anything about his own roots, who adopts a British or American accent depending on where he is at in a sentence, and whose list of core virtues includes playing juvenile video games, using women merely as sex objects, heaping contumely on practically every facet of humanity (marriage, religion, politics, friendship, schooling, education, family, love etc) that most people around the globe would think holds some meaning to social cohesion and order?

The answer(s) wouldn’t matter if Onen didn’t also live in a country where most of the people, even those who have gone to school, don’t think for themselves (he is right when he says this) and so follow the few individuals like James Onen and Uganda’s execrable politicians who carry themselves as though they know it all, but who mainly open their mouths for the sake of it, when it is not to sate their egos.

It doesn’t for an erudite, thoughtful, challenging, independent free thinkers’ forum make but there you have it.

 

******* This item was edited after the first posting of May 30 ********

Entebbe; dead as a door-nail, dull as dishwater

Yours truly is in this sleepy little town called Entebbe for a couple of weeks – on assignment.

That means that he doesn’t get to go home as regularly as he used to, so it is not at all a bad thing that I am staying where the “assignment” is.

There is just one problem; Entebbe is a collection of little villages and mostly colonial-style dwellings on the shores of Lake Victoria that could have been picturesque had Ugandans known how to create paradise by the lake which they don’t. The rents in Entebbe nonetheless go for anything over $800 a month, thanks in large measure to the massive United Nations (UN) contingency that has settled here. To put the ridiculous rental prices in perspective, I rented a nice 2-bedroom, two and a half bath apartment in a respectable part of Kampala, Uganda’s capital, for years until two months ago at $350 a month.

Everyone who learned what I was paying screamed in horror because it was on the higher end of the scale Kampala’s blue-collar rentals go for. In Entebbe $350 might get you a one-room in a shared house in a bland neighborhood with questionable security – if you search high and low. The best places have all been taken up … by the UN for their staff.

But it is not about a place to live that one’s medulla oblongata is being exercised. No, my gripe with Entebbe is all together of a different albeit related nature – what to do with oneself once the sun sets.

There is absolutely nothing to do in Entebbe other than to go out to the few bars, most of which cater to … yes, you guessed it … UN [read mostly white people] types.

So, the bars serve up very expensive tipple, the food is equally ridiculously priced and any remotely respectable watering hole comes complete with a disproportionate share of female prostitutes, all of whom quickly ingratiate themselves on you, breathing down your neck while, all the while, trying to figure out how to pilfer your drink if they can’t sink their grubby talons into your wallet which most of them haven’t the class or guile to manage.

Don’t get me wrong, if a girl wishes to make money off her belonging, all power to her. It’s just that in our day money girls (women?) spoke in soft, sultry, cultured tones, seemed effortlessly ageless, held their heads regally high, and carried themselves in a way that, to quote from Absolutely Fabulous’ Patsy Stone, gave their business a whole air of respectability. Yet they could seduce the Pope faster than he could say “Holy Father” and many of them amassed cars, properties and children that didn’t resemble each other which was usually the giveaway about their shady sexual activities. But it was all mostly done quietly, with dignity.

The whores of yonder years also knew how to keep their mouths shut about the tricks they were turning and we still talk about their exploits in amazement without, however, knowing exactly how they managed to juggle so many women’s husbands at a time when everyone literally knew everyone else and it would have been nigh on impossible for so many men to have been ensnared into these women’s bosoms without it becoming the talk of the town, let alone agreeing to part with tracts of land, businesses and upkeep for bastard children they thought were theirs but were usually not. 

Today’s whores are diseased-looking, hungry floosies with terrible weaves,  incompetently applied make-up, knock-off shoes that are too high for their spindly legs, and with barely-there-frocks that reveal too much nether stuff that makes you struggle to keep your lunch down. They are trashy, cantankerous harridans who get into ugly confrontations with potential customers and with themselves at the drop of a hat. But they are as ubiquitous in Entebbe’s bars as lake flies, thanks in part to … the UN factor.

A drowning man grasps at straws so yours truly has over the past few days been visiting this bar that seems reasonably popular with both local and UN types, a mixed crowd you could call it. The whores here, on top of being all the other nasty things already mentioned, try too hard to speak English, making you cringe in embarrassment at their risible efforts. Even when you try to save them from biting themselves as they try to fashion a coherent sentence, they muscle you back into English, perhaps on the assumption that if you don’t speak English you don’t have what it takes to pay their way.

That is another difference between the whores of yonder years and those of today; the madams of the 70s and 80s said little, no doubt relying on their womanly wiles and deep understanding of men. The night madams of our time were no doubt an all together better raised lot than today’s hustling hussies, of that you can be sure.

But this was really supposed to be about the stifling ennui that threatens to engulf and suffocate me in this drowsy place called Entebbe that someone recently referred to, rather too flatteringly if you ask me, as the gateway to Uganda. 

Surely there must be a place where the locals [read black people] go to for their evening tipple and social well-being! But maybe this was indeed about whores after all and I just got muddled in trying to decide whether Entebbe is dull despite the ghetto-fabulous trollops or because of them.

Hmm …

Even as I prepare to leave this place, hoping not to return to live too quickly, it’s safe to say that unless you are a retiree or geriatric ready to exit this existence mentally, physically or both, Entebbe is best taken in very light doses – quickly – in what the Americans dubbed the ‘whistle-stop tour’ during Harry Truman’s time.

Then you leave as quickly as possible to go and find a world that still has a pulse.