Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Africa: The only Continent that embraced Bisexualism.

Towards the end of 1990s, there was an alleged gay wedding in a small barber shop in Wandegeya.  If I recall well, it was around 1998. Many media houses published the event and it took only a short time for the President of Uganda to react. He ordered his tigers to go out in Wandegeya Township to find these so called 'faggots' and lock them up.

I was a hawker by then and I knew nothing about sexuality. I was not in anyway an activist and never thought of it. I must say that at this time, I was homophobic. I had never met a gay person in my life, but I hated them so deeply, just as the President did.  My hatred towards GLBT people have got its roots in my religious background, but not because I really knew what it meant to be gay.

The publication of this event in Wandegeya forced me to go out there and read extensively about what it means to be gay. My research proved that people do not learn to be gay and that they had no choice about it.  It affirmed that some people are born that way and you can do nothing to change them. And that homosexualism is not a habit. The word gay itself had less meaning to me. I must add that ignorance really fueled my hate towards a group of people I knew nothing about, just like most of you.

The publication of this wedding kept on going and much hatred was out there. I wrote to the Daily Monitor newspaper. I do need to check my archives to know the date which my letter was published. One thing I must note is that by this time I saw no need to keep records, today I need to recall this email but I cannot see it. This is a lesson well learnt.

In that simple email that I wrote, I asked the President (he was out of the country  earlier  when activists in UK forced him to comment about his remarks towards the gay wedding), He replied that “there were no gays in Uganda”. So in my email, I asked the President, if you claimed that there are no gays in Uganda, what about the group called Homoactive Uganda?  Actually, there was no such group at the time, but it was just an attempt to see the reaction of both the political arena and from the communities. I knew so little that people read letters published in news.

I was overwhelmed by the replies I got. A big number of them were hard-hitting on me for responding to the  President  and who was I to respond to him?  In their view, no one could respond to the President’s remarks. He was final and fountain of honour in the land. Other emails were calling me a hero. Some emails called demeaning names and others were asking me directions to where homo active group located or met. But there was one man, Chris, who wrote to me and requested to meet me. I agreed, not knowing what exactly the person willing to meet me would discuss, this brought in some fears but I had already decided to go.   I wrote the email to the Daily Monitor NOT because I was gay; I simply wanted to see the reaction. And I met so many people in person which encouraged me to push for more freedoms, indeed some of them were homosexuals themselves although I have lost contact for over 90% of these people.

 We discussed equality and human rights issues for GLBT people with Chris and how best we can address the problem. In the following week, I met several pro-GLBT equality Government officials in their office, I was surprised to note this yet on the streets of Kampala, homophobia was blazing like wild fires. I recall one official pulled out a brand new book that am struggling to recall its author and title, it was about sexuality and he had destroyed the first pages of the book to be on a safe side just incase his boss get notice of it. This guy was kind and simple, Yes he was gay I think. (He never told me about his sexuality). I lost contact with him too; he contributed deeply to the equality struggle despite of him being in the closet.

Another official at Kampala Club pulled out two books of Bishop John Shelby Spong titled “Living in sin? A bishop rethinks Human sexuality”.  This is a must read book for all religious folks. This is the book that ended my homophobia. It’s a great book for all who want to know about views on human sexuality written by a churchman.

Chris is in Uganda and I met him few weeks ago after almost 12 years. Meeting him in 2001 was the beginning of what you now know as the GLBT movement in Uganda, although many people try to bury it and they have taken credit for defending GLBT rights other than me, my work will always exist--be it documented or not. The celebration of any small achievement by GLBT rights activist is a collective responsibility of so many silent heroes and heroines that we must always recognise their role.

The journey is too detailed for the purposes of this article.  Nonetheless, I wanted to briefly address the issue of homophobia in Africa. Of all continents, Africa is the only place where sex is natural and its essential significance. There was no homophobia before colonialists. And the only normal way of having natural sex in Africa was being bisexual. In Africa, many people had sex anywhere by anyone any time. And it was ok. Africans could have sex by both women and men and this makes the Africa the only sexually active bisexual continent. Bisexuality has existed in Africa since time immemorial.

To understand my opinion, you would need to talk to the foreign gays in Uganda. Talking to them will reveal so much more than what you may expect. I have been talking with Heaviside (not real name), a gay friend from Europe. He had lived in Uganda for over ten years and he told me he had got more sexual advances and enjoyment from married and straight people in Uganda. The men who are having sex with him are men and married, If a bigger percentage of Africans are bisexuals, then why the hatred towards gays? For this question, Heaviside has got an answer from his own observations.

Heaviside says that real straight men cannot be threatened by gays. It’s only bisexuals that are under threat. In Africa, people used to have sex with anybody in secrecy and there was no tags like gay, lesbian or bisexual. These tags were introduced by colonialists and religions. The introduction of these tags founded the threat towards the natural way of enjoying sex yet the inhabitants of Africans, wanted to keep their great sexual adventures under cover, and this can be proved by Heaviside who is facing so many homophobic people during day and evening, these are the very same people he do have sex with. From his point of view, a bigger percentage of people in Africa enjoy natural sexual adventurism and that’s bisexualism although he admits that there are those who are 100% gays and 100% heterosexuals and not attracted to bisexualism.

Heaviside noted that, as a result of white male obsession  in Uganda by Ugandans, many women are coming to him, and when he tells them that he loves Dick so deeply, they got to note that he is gay, for them being gay is all about anal sex, so some women had told him how they will walk an extra mile and offer what he wants most (according to them, that’s anal sex) and one beautiful lady asked him if he could bring out her brother for him. Whom she had no idea about his sexuality.

This is now puzzling; can we say these men and women were bisexuals? Or they saw Heaviside as a walking ATM machine that could bail them out of poverty? Should we think that Africans would put homophobic views aside when it comes for money especially when it's night time? The answer is yes.

Religions are the cause of all the hatred and hate speech against GLBT people in Africa. There were no tags on sexuality in Africa before the coming of colonialists and religious groups.  Indeed there are countries in Africa that didn’t have any legislation against homosexuality. Take an example of Rwanda, up to now, its laws are silent when it comes to homosexuality. Why don’t Africans return to their natural understanding sexuality and end homophobia?  After all, the colonial masters left 50 years ago and they made an extra-ordinary move on arrival to their respective countries.  Some countries have legalised same-sex marriage, others are still struggling with this issue.  But at least no First World country arrests and imprisons GLBT people.

However, the anti-gay religious bigots of those countries have come to Africa to foster hatred that cannot be done in more enlightened countries.  You can always count on religions to perpetuate hate, violence, social and political oppression.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Atheistic understanding of the book of Revelation in the Bible.

In 1996, I was still a street child wandering on the streets of Mityana Township like a stray dog. I had no one who loved me, life was very rough and no hope of ever making it in life. I ate from dustbins and nothing I could do by then to jump out of that horrible life.

As time went on, I found my way into the hands of someone one I have lost contact now for almost 20 years. He was called Kigozi.  He was working as a turn-boy on a lorries of Mityana businessmen. He was a very kind guy in his 20s who just started his life after years of struggling with life himself. He embraced me with his own arms and took me in his house that he had just rented on the out-skirts of Mityana just like a week earlier. He didn’t have a mattress, he had just a mat and a small grey blanket like that one, that your mum used to cover you when you were just five years. He had a basin for bathing and a 20 litre jerrycan for drawing water from a distance of almost 10 kilometres from that well which was based in the deep valley of Kigoogwa. There was also food and a charcoal stove.

The neighbourhood loved him because every time he went for safaris, he could come back with bunches of matooke, sweet potatoes and he sold this food for a cheaper price compared to the one in the market and this earned him respect within the community.

My first day in Kigozi’s house was warm. It felt livable to bath with a smooth, nice-smelling soap in clean water. I slept soundly and it’s still memorable as if it happened yesterday. In the morning as he was about to leave for work, he woke me up and introduced me to the neighbourhood as his brother. Kigozi was renting a mizigo (single rooms very common in slums of cities in developing centres and sometimes they could accommodate up to 20 or more families). Thus Kigozi was renting on a home that had a string of families that accommodated more than 40 families, all of them from various background. Some were educated and others were not, some came from good families and others not, some had wives and children and others didn’t.

There was electricity too, and this was my first time to sleep in a room with electricity. Kigozi had just inserted a 100-watt bulb and it used to consume much power. I do not know why I did this, but I could sometimes leave that bulb on all day long and it took just few days of doing it when our neighbors noticed and warned me about it, but I unintentionally did it over and over, something that put us on loggerheads within the community. Up to now, I do not know why I always forgot to switch off that bulb, but it forced me to face the music on a daily basis.

After a week at Kigozi’s home, he bought a huge six by six ft mattress. Royal foam brand. I couldn’t imagine how big it was. For the first time, I slept on a mattress. It was warm and soft.  In the morning, it felt like I did sleep in heaven, and I started envisioning a brighter future.

Everything was improving so rapidly. I started earning money by collecting water for the neighbourhood who knew me as Kigozi’s brother. I sold each 20 litre jerrycan of water at 150 UGX and I could collect 30 jerricans a day. Indeed life was sweatie and nothing could stop me from hitting the greater dreams that I had started envisioning.

I came to know many businessmen and women through Kigozi. He introduced me as a brother to almost to everybody he knew would matter to us one day or another. They loved him and they extended that warmth to me too.

Among the many people I met, there was a 60+ year old lady called Ms Mangarita Sserunkuma. She was beautiful and warm and indeed, she lived a happy life.  She was educated and had a good life from childhood until the time I met her. From my observations, it was like she lived all her dreams, She conceived 8 children who all died of AIDS/HIV earlier and this was the only thing that brought sorrow in her life. She was so kind and loving. Her late children left a number of offspring that inspired her to start what we now know as Mityana Orphanage Centre on Namukozi Road, a few metres from Mityana Cathedral.

One of her sons left a stationery shop in the Township and a home in Butega. Mangarita took possession of the shop to be able to support the offspring of her departed son. I befriended her and she welcomed me with open arms. Soon she started giving me casual jobs and employing me as a messenger between her stationery shop and orphanage centre. I became part of her workforce although I wasn’t a salaried employ. Each day, my friendship with her grew and grew strong, in that she introduced me to the house in Butega left by her son. I moved into that house to provide security and also take charge of the gardens. After my daily work in Butega, I could walk that 15 kilometres from Butega to the township of Mityana where I usually ate lunch with Mangarita. With time, after years of working in Mityana and have not earned any of the dreams I had, I chose to swift to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. I had worked harder in Mityana but life is just that, nothing was really being added on my life apart from living from hand to mouth.

After almost ten years in Kampala, I learnt that Mangarita died in 2010. I felt sad for not having attended her funeral. But that’s life. On 1st May 2012, as I slept, Mangarita came to my vision, I hate calling it a dream but I was half asleep I think. I started talking to her. She was lively as she used to be. We talked about so much more and ended up talking about her son’s property in Butega. In the vision, she was telling me how she has the land title and that she will be happy to sell the property to me. She was warm while talking to me, it was so close to being real. I jumped out of sleep and started asking myself how could this be? Why am I envisioning her in my sleep? What must have initiated this after years of not being close to that property? Why should I even think about this property yet cannot even buy it?

After so many questions, I started searching for answers why, of all people, I envisioned Mangarita. The real answer is that am struggling with accommodation now that my brains downplayed all the days I used to enjoy free housing and this became the source of that vision. My brains thought of good life in free housing.

Does this point us to what could have been with John who is being claimed to have written the book of Revelation? John must have been struggling with life and wanted to escape the challenges. And since he was promised the good things in heaven, every time of the difficulties in life, he envision free good life instead of focusing on solving the real challenges through logical thinking and hard work.

These kinds of visions are very common with religious folks who want free ride in life and fear to face reality. When they go to bed, they end up putting the challenges of the day and focus on imaginations that they reveal to their friends as visions and how their god was talking to them revealing so much more to them than what their reasoning capacity can handle.  Instead of waiting for the promise of Heaven, religious people strive to cheat and enslave others so that they can get rich and enjoy this promised Heaven on earth.  In other words: unregulated capitalism vs socialism.

The fact that Mangarita (who used to accommodate me for free) came in my minds after years of being with no connection proves how tired am getting with struggle and now I just want anything to happen out of nothing--call them (miracles). When we look closely at people with these religious visions, we would be surprised to know how deeply they are struggling, with their lives full of wishful thinking that cannot solve any problem in reality.

I saw Mangarita standing up to go and bring the title of the property to me, and when I woke up, she wasn’t there. I immediately started exploring all my brain corners, why have I visioned her? I have lost so many of my great friends to early death, but why are they not coming in my visions as I sleep? The answer is, they were poor like me by the time they died, so no way they could have influenced my life.  That’s why my brains cannot flashback to them during the tough times.