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! Reply

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.

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.

Museveni’s Nazi Anti-Gay law leads to an online gay dating clamor 5

gaydar messgeThere is something remarkable happening to the “invisible” gay population of Uganda that will have the framers of the Bahati Nazi Gay Bill (now, Museveni Nazi Gay Law) choking on their breakfasts.

Thanks to the law signed February 24, 2014 in a blaze of publicity, there has been a commensurate and, dare one say it, encouraging stampede to join gay dating sites by Ugandans.

Museveni's Nazi law ignites online gay dating

Museveni’s Nazi law fuels online gay dating

Yours truly hasn’t been keeping track but here is some interesting tidbits he has noticed. In the past, you were lucky to find more than a handful of men on any gay dating site admitting to being Ugandan, over 30 or married .A cursory check on the three most visited sites now shows it littered with men admitting to being in their 30s and 40s, being bisexual, discreet (read ‘unhappily married to a woman’) and looking for anything from a one on one relationship to group sex.

While it is still early days to assess fully the impact of the passing of the Museveni Nazi Anti-Gay Law, February 24, 2014 will likely be looked back on by historians as the day when Uganda unwittingly emboldened even more gay men and women to boldly go where they feared to go before.

As they should, given how short our lives are to exist in unhappy marriages, when our thoughts and hearts are yearning for same-sex loving that is just a click or a mouse away if only we could get the guts to go for it.

Some of the “new” entrants to the dating sites will be up to no good; spies, mischief-makers,  that sort of thing. So one has to be very careful not to be lured into a gay honey trap that ends up splashed all over some tawdry tabloid’s front pages.

manjamStill, still, … hope springs eternal.

Ironically, Yoweri Museveni’s Nazi bill seems to have given the hitherto staid and jaded Ugandan gay dating scene a much-needed shot in the arm, adding yet another epaulette to the president’s already busy uniform – Gay Recruiter in Chief.

Facebook is very fertile ground for gay hookups

Facebook is very fertile ground for gay hookups

This kind of unintended consequences is nothing terribly new of course as watchers of history will attest. Everywhere draconian laws have been passed against human volition the net effect has always been the opposite of what was intended. That’s why the prohibition laws failed in the United States in the 1920s, why the war against marijuana has failed the world over, and why laws against consensual adult same-sex loving must fail.

No law can buck the human spirit.

None.

Dr. Spe lives up to her billing as UN Envoy, lambasts Museveni’s Nazi anti-gay law 5

If you are a Ugandan representative employed by any global/international body that espouses equal rights for all, be warned. You’d better walk the talk of equal rights or we’ve got you in our cross hairs.

“I am in full solidarity with the LGBT community across Africa." Spe Kazibwe

“I am in full solidarity with the LGBT community … across Africa.” Specioza Kazibwe

That’s what Uganda’s former Vice President, Specioza Wandira Kazibwe (Dr. Spe) discovered when she chose reticence over the Nazi anti-gay bill her former boss, Yoweri Museveni, signed February 24.

Before the awful bill was signed, Spe Kazibwe, Special Envoy to the United Nations on HIV/Aids in Africa was remarkably silent. She made some sort of vague allusion to human rights at a conference in South Africa but she might have been speaking about the right for women to wear mini-skirts, for such was her waffling.

Then the bill was signed. Silence from Dr. Spe!

Imagine then one’s astonishment when she came out, guns ablaze, against the bill and even went so far as to excoriate Yoweri Museveni for not listening to her private entreaties to him not to sign it.

“I am in full solidarity with the LGBT community and I will continue to defend their rights in Uganda and across Africa. Rest assured of my unwavering support and action for the realisation of the rights for every human being, which has been my struggle since childhood. I will not reverse my path. I will continue to engage with the Government of Uganda and civil society organisations on this important matter.”

Yours truly was truly surprised.  That is until it was revealed to him that she hadn’t picked up the mantle on her own, but had been pushed by none other than a pro-gay pressure group, called AIDS-Free World!

Indeed it turns out that she was prompted by a scathing letter that was written to the UN Secretary General by the Aids-Free World directors, in which they demanded that Dr. Spe be dismissed for her silence on the anti-gay bill. Clearly having heard about another Ugandan doctor, employed by the Global Fund, who found himself forced to turn in his employment badge because of views that were in contradiction to those he signed up to when he was hired, Dr. Spe chose to play to the international gallery.

And yours truly can only commend her for seeing sense  and talking loudly about it, too. Right in time – before the guillotine fell.

If you are a Ugandan representative employed by any global/international body that espouses equal rights for all, be warned. You’d better walk the talk of equal rights or we’ve got you in our cross hairs.

And that’s not a threat; it’s a promise!

Related articles:

1. Will Homosexuals bring down Museveni

Another “eviction letter” 9

One has to think twice about what would be achieved by posting eviction letters that have been initiated on account of the Nazi anti-gay bill Museveni signed February 24. In this case it seems useful to belabor the point since the letter (below) was initiated by a local council aficionado as the stamp and letterhead seem to suggest, and the eviction is clearly illegal even when you factor in the Nazi law that is used as the pretext.

Local government "eviction letter" of a gay man from a Kampala suburb

Local government “eviction letter” of a gay man from a Kampala suburb

Translation of the letter (by yours truly):

To

xxx xxx [name withheld)

I am writing to inform you that you have been evicted from the house you live in because of the stories [about your gay lifestyle] that appeared on Bukedde Television and in the print media. We can no longer live with someone like you. Therefore, vacate the premises before the 5th of May 2014

Secretary Kawooya (Namungoona-Kasubi LCI)

Nanyonjo H

Unless the secretary (Ms. Kawooya) is the landlord, she cannot initiate an eviction notice on a property that doesn’t belong to her. She also has no right to give a tenant just a couple of days’ notice to vacate a place of abode. But this is Uganda where all sorts of things will happen, however illegal, so who knows.

If the letter is real, and there is no reason to suggest is isn’t, we are looking, ladies and gentlemen, at government-inspired hounding of gay men and women out of their places of abode simply because of the perception about who they are, and not for anything they are confirmed to have done.

Once it became about Museveni, Western tactics became irrelevant 14

Elizabeth Ann Palchik has what I think is an excellent article commenting on how Barack Obama’s public fist-clenching was counter-productive because it forced Museveni into a corner, and into signing the anti-gay bill just to illustrate that he wasn’t going to be pushed around by America.

But then check out Lynne Featherstone (Minister at the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom) lamenting that taking a subtle approach didn’t work. 

Curiously perhaps, I agree with both Palchik and Featherstone.

How so?

The Bill, hatched in 2009, was kept in limbo for 3 years, despite clear Parliamentary backing, by Yoweri Museveni who made no pretense about why he didn’t want any part of it; it was a foreign policy matter that only he dealt with. In effect, he told his own National Resistance Movement (NRM) members of Parliament in early 2010 that he wouldn’t sign the bill because he needed donor money to fight the 2011 election and they retreated into their shells because they knew how important he was to their own political survival in a country where for the president to endorse you usually means you are a shoo-in for election or re-election and his displeasure with you is a sure kiss of death. Museveni collected the money he needed from the donors, $3bn according to some unofficial estimates, paid off the electorate and got re-elected in 2011.

John Baird's Quebec outburst revived the Bill and helped get it signed into law

John Baird’s Quebec outburst changed the political landscape in Uganda and helped get the bill signed

Come October 2012, the Canadian foreign minister revived the comatose bill when he publicly lambasted Rebecca Kadaga in Quebec about it. Sensing an opening for her 2016 presidential ambitions, Kadaga gleefully turned to the phalanx of cameras and gave as good as she got. The bill would be decided by Uganda which was not a colony or protectorate of Canada. She returned to Uganda to a rapturous welcome from the anti-gay lobby which had all but given up on finding their way past Museveni’s intransigence that the bill must not be even debated.

John Baird’s interference had, unwittingly, changed the political tone of Uganda’s politics and now the anti-gay side had a seemingly viable champion who could challenge Museveni in 2016. Rebecca Kadaga promised to deliver the bill for Christmas 2012 and set about campaigning for the presidency even as she also openly feuded with Amama Mbabazi, another contender for the 2016 presidency. Museveni managed to stall the passing of the bill that Christmas but he was hanging on by his political fingernails.

In 2013, the internecine political wranglings in the top echelons of the NRM escalated. Kadaga’s international stature grew with all the awards and posts she was racking up, and  she spent more time in Uganda’s regions and on the world stage than in Parliament – literally campaigning for the presidency even though she thinly disguised it as doing her job as Speaker of the House. We now know that Museveni’s Prime Minister was, with the help of his wife, also actively making his own presidential campaign preparations, albeit more surreptitiously than the Speaker of the House.

Slowly being humiliated by Museveni: Prime Minister Mbabazi

Slowly being humiliated by Museveni: Prime Minister Mbabazi

With the same secrecy that Mbabazi was using to set up his campaign stall, Parliament plotted to bring the anti-gay bill to the floor and Kadaga, all along conniving with a number of Parliamentarians on tactics, let them pass it shortly before Christmas 2013. Museveni and Mbabazi were both caught off guard, and Mbabazi could barely hide his chagrin at what he must have seen as his ambitions being pulled from under him by his political enemy, Rebecca Kadaga. He complained feebly in Parliament that the bill was being passed without the necessary votes needed but was totally ignored.

Usually composed and self-assured, the vote for the bill threw Museveni for a loop, forcing him to write an angry, personal attack against Rebecca Kadaga in which he inferred that she, too, was as “abnormal” as the homosexuals since she was childless and unmarried. He wouldn’t sign the bill.

But it was clear the ground was slipping from under His Excellency when the whispering became a cascade that if he didn’t sign the bill he would be abandoned by his party.

There was nothing for it but for Museveni to swing into action. He would now seek scientists’ views about homosexuality and make his mind up thereafter. In the meantime, he let it be known to his close supporters that he knew of his Prime Minister’s plotting and he allowed them to collect signatures at the ruling National Resistance Movement’s annual retreat in Kyankwanzi -all pledging allegiance to another 28 years of Museveni. That partly took care of Rebecca Kadaga who wasn’t even at the meeting to try to mount a rearguard action.

But what price had the NRM acolytes who signed allegiance to Museveni extracted? All was revealed when the scientists’ report was presented and Museveni claimed that it told him that being gay was a choice. Of course it told him no such thing but he was already prepared to spin it his way to keep his presidential hopes with his own party alive. He would now sign the bill.

By the time Barack Obama intervened publicly (I agree totally that he should have been more aware of the political dynamics on the ground and saved his breath), the die was cast. Museveni had, like Macbeth, waded in too deep, “stepped in so far that should [he] wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

Likely after some frantic phone calls from Washington, Museveni made a last gasp nod to Obama that he would ask for a second opinion from international scientists. But all that was just confused, desperate, flim-flam as he looked for a way to appease Washington while also keeping his political base in line. There was none and Museveni signed the bill February 24th without waiting for the extra scientists’ report he had announced only days before.

The gloves were off once the bill became about Yoweri Museveni's political survival

The West became irrelevant once the bill was about Yoweri Museveni’s political survival

Signing the bill finally erased the only electoral advantage Kadaga had mastered within the NRM and Museveni could now go after his other adversary, Amama Mbabazi. Thanks to a phone tapping bill that Prime Minister Mbabazi had supported in Parliament, Museveni had voice transcripts of conversations that confirmed that his own Prime Minister was secretly plotting to be president.Within days, he made public the recorded conversations in which Mbabazi’s people were heard to be canvassing for support, confirming pay-offs and denigrating Museveni as old, tired and out of touch.

As yours truly writes this, Mbabazi is in retreat, denying this and refusing to comment on that. He is best advised to come out boldly so that if he fails in his presidential bid, he at least goes out with honor. But that’s not how Uganda’s politics works so poor Mbabazi is going to keep on denying, even as he is openly stripped of power and influence, to be replaced by the very people he was using to plan his own presidential bid.

See why both Palchik and Featherstone are right?

Once it was apparent to Museveni, in 2012, that his office was under serious threat from within his own party, what the West did or didn’t do wasn’t going to work. The anti-gay bill happened to be the vehicle Rebecca Kadaga (who is personally not anti-gay at all) was riding so Museveni had to derail her by agreeing to sign it.

The bill became tangential, thanks to John Baird, in October 2012, because Baird helped change the discourse from being about homosexuality to one of Museveni’s political survival. In that sense you can argue that Baird’s intervention was counterproductive since it gave Rebecca Kadaga the opening she was looking for to look and sound presidential on an issue that she knew the entire country could rally behind – Uganda’s national pride. Even yours truly supported her response to Baird.

Last month, Obama should have known the futility of opening his mouth against the bill, and should have kept his powder dry as Britain’s Cameron did. Palchik is right on this. But, the subtle approach Featherstone is now frowning upon shouldn’t have been bothered with either once it became clear that the anti-gay bill was no longer about the gays in Uganda but about Museveni’s political survival.

The West should have shut up shop and gone home in November 2012 when Kadaga showed she was intent on using the bill as her Trojan Horse to the presidency and it was clear she had the political traction if Museveni remained obdurate about not passing it.

Their interjections, whether loud or subtle, were never going to make any difference as Museveni was going to do whatever it took to stay in power till he died – yes, up to and including signing a bill he didn’t like, had admitted was foolish and unworkable, and on which he had incontrovertible evidence from his own scientists telling him that homosexuality was NOT different to heterosexuality.

It is to give the West too much credit to argue that, after October 2012, there was anything they could have done to stave off the signing of this Nazi bill.

The shrill gay battle is over; time now for a quieter fight. 12

It is true that, as Museveni stated before he signed the bill February 24, gay activism in Uganda has lost a ferocious battle.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The war is not over yet even if it is time to move on from the hysteria surrounding the anti-gay bill, now a law.

Before we move on, it is important to give all due respect and gratitude for the motley crew of men and women who have nearly brought Uganda to its knees on account of their gay rights advocacy. They likely don’t know it yet but Uganda’s gay activists, fronted by Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera and Frank Mugisha, have conducted probably the most successful campaign for minority rights recognition Uganda has ever seen and is likely to see for a long time.

The tactics seemed simple enough – yell when you can, run when you can, knock on influential doors when you can, and hide when you can. It worked because that is what the fight needed at that time; for Uganda to wake up and realize that gay men and women existed and weren’t going anywhere.

Yours truly rates the height of Kasha’s and Mugisha’s success at what some might see as a frivolous event; a gay dance party, one evening, in Kampala last year that must have had at least 400 gay men and women there. Despite thinking I knew what was going on in the gay community, I couldn’t name more than 15 people in the crowd. All were young men and women I had never seen in my life and all were having the time of their lives … and deservedly so.

That was the cap, for me, of the success Mugisha and Nabagesera had achieved; getting so many young men and women to accept who they were and come out to celebrate it. For that every gay man and woman in Uganda must forever show these two people respect. The gay genie in Uganda is well and truly out of the bottle and no signature on a page will ever change that. Ever. In that respect, ignorance about homosexuals and homosexuality in Uganda has been soundly defeated. Even government ministers now quibble, after the bill became law, that as long as gays don’t flaunt it, they can do as they please.

With that pen Museveni put an end to the megaphone fight.

With that pen Museveni put an end to the megaphone diplomacy

Now that the bill has been signed, it is time for some introspection about the tactics and direction of the “struggle.”

First of all, the megaphone advocacy of ‘they are going to kill us,’ ‘stop the hate’ etc. needs to be put on ice if not shelved completely. It was tried and ultimately didn’t stop the bill, even though it might have impressed a handful of donors.

It is also time to accept that, with the bill signed, going on radio to engage Martin Ssempa or running around to talk to CNN and Reuters about how dangerous Uganda is, must be a waste of time. Museveni sealed Uganda’s reputation as not that different from Idi Amin’s time when he signed that bill and there is nothing more one can say to change the worldwide perception that Uganda is now as bad Hitler’s Germany.

What Museveni did with the stroke of that pen was to put a close, too, to the ignorant, uneducated, ill-bred street chatter, to the loud-mouth and empty mind Facebook vituperative, and to the asinine rhetoric from Parliament. All those empty tin Ugandans, and goodness does this country have its share of them, have had their day in the sun.

The next chapter will be a legal one; the bill must be challenged in Constitutional Court of course.

But that is a rather different environment where the power of your reasoning counts for far more than how freely you froth at the mouth.

A legal eagle friend told me this morning not to put too much stock in the constitutional challenge and I had to disagree for two reasons.

The first one is that precedent is on the side of the courts throwing this bill out. There have been three legal challenges brought by the pro-gay lobby in Uganda that I know of. The courts have sided with gay rights on all of them, and so trenchantly on all three occasions that the losers were left wincing in embarrassment. In fact, I am not aware of a single case where the pro-gay side has lost in Uganda’s courts of law in the last five years.

The second reason one must count on the courts is simple: there is simply nowhere else left to go. Barack Obama has crowed against the bill but he will turn back on the taps of aid, which will mostly end up in the pockets of ministers, in three or four weeks. That’s how things work. Britain’s Cameron has this time not even bothered to utter a word. He no longer sees the point. A number of Scandinavian countries have pulled the aid plug and the World Bank this morning made some noises about $90m to be suspended. They need to read Elizabeth Anne Palchik’s excellent analysis on why they are whistling in the dark, and then they should keep the aid coming in. Best to do that and not add even more ill-will towards homosexuals who will be made scapegoats when even more mothers die in childbirth and HIV/Aids medications run out. Uganda is a basket case that will go even deeper into the toilet if the aid is stopped – but the Ugandan homosexuals will go down with it.

The internecine trench warfare is over, and the gay community has lost. With the loss, many of the activists whose livelihood was derived solely from campaigning against the bill need to turn off the lights, go home and find something else to do. The gay rights advocacy now needs to focus on health and wellness programs – on ensuring that gay men and women have condoms, lubricant, access to medical information to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and on self-empowerment projects that will help all these young gay bums who, like preying mantises, make a living off stealing from their sexual partners or selling pictures and information to The Red Pepper. Gay advocacy should now shift to teaching these emerging homosexuals how to avoid catching expensive STDs, the value of getting tested regularly, and how to humble themselves, work hard and earn their own money.

The next national battle will be in the courts and it requires a different type of advocacy. It is for lawyers, and other legal minds and it should not be anywhere near the decibel levels we’ve seen over the past four years because it is more about high level critical thinking than being emotional.

Thank you activists all over the world for your shrill, hysterical contribution. As Palchik put it, a lot of it turned out to be counter-productive but, yours truly will admit that some of it was what was needed at the time to give publicity to the issues. There is thus no dishonor in the fact that it didn’t stop the bill from becoming law.

It’s time for pro-gay donors to accept that the battle to stave off the bill has been lost, and to channel their funding to the legal campaign which must follow as surely as day follows night. The legal fight must not be starved of cash even if much of it will end up in the lawyers’ wallets – that’s the way of the world.

And finally …

Dear foreign well-wishers … Unless the Ugandan lawyers specifically ask for your intellectual contribution, don’t give it.

Please.

A tale of three presidents 17

Once upon a time, in a far off land where a lot of people of different ethnic origins, dispositions and mannerisms lived, there was a man who took it upon himself to find out why all these differences existed, and how to eliminate them.

So, he had his scientists conduct experiments to prove that a perfect human race could be achieved, with the guinea pigs totally unwilling participants. Some of the experiments were so successful that, for instance,  contemporary knowledge concerning the manner in which the human body reacts to freezing is based almost exclusively on some of those experiments.

Adolf Hitler Saluting, 1934That man was Adolf Hitler.

Hitler’s determination to rid the world of all the races he couldn’t understand was so successful that, almost 70 years after his demise, his doctrine of achieving racial purity still has committed followers all over the world.

In another land, in another generation, there was a man who had a dream. In his dream he saw a perfect country with black natives owning property, land and untold riches. In the same dream he saw how the Utopia of black abundance and success could be achieved at a stroke. So he issued a decree.

Within 72 days all people of Asian extraction had to vacate his country.

Idi AminThat man was General Idi Amin Dada.

Idi Amin’s clarion call to rid his country of all ‘coolies’ was so successful that more than 90% of his people sang his praises for years. In fact they sang so well, and for so long, that many of them were still singing when their relatives and friends started disappearing, never to be seen again.

In yet another generation, there lived a man who took it upon himself to determine whether or not it was possible for anyone to be born gay. He commissioned his country’s scientists to advise him on how he could rid his country of homosexuals, and they duly told him that, just like heterosexuality, being gay was involuntary and couldn’t be eradicated from any part of the world.

The venerable gentleman, however, decided to interpret his scientists’ report in a way that assured him that being gay was a choice. So, he picked up a pen, in a blaze of fanfare, and signed a law making all gay men and women in his country criminals.

mu77426554ff096That man was Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Museveni was cheered to the rafters by a frothing, ecstatic public, in scenes  reminiscent of the Shakespearean plebeians at Julius Caesar’s eulogization, who praised him for restoring their cultural and religious pride.

In 1938, Adolf Hitler asked himself how to make a perfect race. He answered it – to ringing sounds of “Heil Hitler” and “Sieg Heil” from his people.In 1972 Idi Amin asked himself the question about what to do with the Indians in Uganda who had known no other way of life. He answered it – to giddy chants of “Idi Amin Oyee!” from his people.In 2014  Yoweri Kaguta Museveni asked himself what to do with the gay community in his country. He answered it – to ululations from his people guaranteeing him the presidency in 2016.

Which is what it was what it was all about for all these three men: staying in office till they died, by whatever means possible, regardless of which one of their citizens they trampled underfoot along their way.

Yoweri Museveni stakes his legacy on defying his own scientists 13

Never in my [ahem] 39 years of existence have I ever seen a scientific report turned on its head, deliberately misinterpreted and used for political gain in the way it is about to happen in Uganda.

Never!

I have read about it in dreadful stories about how Adolf Hitler commissioned scientific reports to tell him that Jews, blacks and homosexuals were vermin. But to think I would live to witness it?

Never.

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni commissioned scientists to tell him whether gays were normal or not. Then he would decide whether or not to sign the anti-gay bill his Parliament had passed like thieves in the dead of night.

Well, the scientists from Museveni’s own Ministry of Health came back and told him that homosexuality was genetic, was NOT abnormal and has always been around in Africa and elsewhere since time immemorial. They also told him that homosexuals were tolerated in Africa until the white colonialists arrived with their Bible morality.

The scientists told Museveni all the things he knew already and has repeatedly spoken about publicly.

You have to thus wonder how he came to the conclusion that because gay men and women in Uganda are normal, their homosexuality genetic and/or a product of their environment, they should be imprisoned.

Yours truly thinks that Museveni didn’t read this report; that he relied on the interpretations of his [mostly obtuse] assistants. Why so? The report is telling him to do exactly the opposite of what he has told the world he is going to do!!

There is absolutely no way, no way, anyone who can read the English language can interpret the report Uganda’s scientists produced as an endorsement of the anti-gay bill.

None.

But this is Uganda where students routinely graduate from high school barely able to read or write. And it is such people who, having failed at everything else, end up as presidential advisers and state house administrators, usually because they have learned to sing sycophantic political stichomythia or they are from the right tribe.

Museveni can go ahead and sign the bill.  In fact he will probably sign it because he has waded in too deep to turn around.

But the science around homosexuality has been established once and for all in Uganda, by Ugandan scientists:

a) There is no definitive gene responsible for homosexuality

b) Homosexuality is not a disease

c) Homosexuality is not an abnormality

d) In every society, there is a small number of people with homosexual tendencies

e) Homosexuality can be influenced by environmental factors (e.g culture, religion, information, peer pressure)

Museveni will forever be seen as the intellectually confused president who went against exactly what the very scientists whose opinions he sought told him not to do. History will judge him as that dithering president who changed his mind like a wind vane and couldn’t take the trouble to read or decipher for himself what a simple scientific document from his own country was telling him about protecting a section of his own people, namely that homosexuality needs to be treated exactly the same as heterosexuality.

And rightly so.

The last chapter to Uganda’s anti-gay bill is yet to be written … and all because so many Ugandans can’t or won’t read!