Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A letter to Rebecca Kadaga – from a supportive gay Ugandan

By Richard Sebagala Madam Speaker, the right Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, Member of Parliament (MP) for the Kamuli District Women’s Constituency since 1989. You are on a roll! Over the last three weeks you have managed to hog the media spotlight almost exclusively, relegating Uganda’s president to a parenthesis. That makes you something of a wonder woman. It takes chutzpah to push Uganda’s president to the inside pages and you must be congratulated for stepping up in such a bold way. First of all, Madam Speaker, welcome back from Canada. You were absolutely right to stand up to John Baird when he upbraided you in public about the murder of David Kato. That case had nothing to do with you and you were never part of the court case that eventually convicted Kato’s lover for that heinous crime. So, you did what you had to do for yourself and, indeed, for Uganda’s pride. John Baird would never speak to the Saudis or Kuwaitis in that manner – yet those countries have far more glaring gay and women’s rights abuses than Uganda. But as with everything, Madam Speaker, please remember that hubris is a terrible vice in politics. By hubris, I mean an excess of pride, ambition or self-confidence. More often than not, it leads politicians to overreach. Take your current involvement with failed politicians like James Nsaba-Buturo and convicted felons like Martin Ssempa and Michael Kyazze. While you have every right to listen to whoever wishes you to lend them an audience, as the Speaker of the House you represent the entire Parliament as well as the country. You thus cannot be seen to be siding with any one constituency even when their cause might further your own political ambitions. Speakers of the House have to be seen to be non-partisan, non-aligned, neutral. But of course you know this already. Madam Speaker, this gay man wants you to encourage Uganda’s Parliament to debate and pass the bill. My reasons for this are detailed here. In short, this bill has hung over our heads like a cloud for three years now and it is time to resolve the issues surrounding it once and for all. If you support the bill because you feel it is against our culture, so be it. But the facts don’t bear you out. You are too smart not to be aware that Buganda’s Kabaka Mwanga was homosexual without any urging from colonialists. Uganda’s own president, the leader of your National Resistance Movement party agrees, and has admitted it publicly, that homosexuality has always been part of the African and Ugandan fabric. In fact, if you re-read your anthropology, you will find that homosexuality was tolerated before the white man came to Africa with his Bible – that foremost foreign import that our detractors love to subjectively, but liberally, quote from. I gather that you have no children of your own but it can’t be lost on you that all gay men and women in Uganda (500,000 and counting according to unofficial estimates) must have been begotten through heterosexual unions. I thus disagree with your interpretation of the historical facts but feel that the bill should nonetheless go ahead since Uganda has a parliamentary system of making laws and the Bahati [Nazi] Bill which seeks to turn mothers, doctors, counselors into informers has already been tabled before the House. Madam Speaker, allow me to take you back to Shakespeare and caution you against “vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, and falls on the other side.” Given what you must surely know befell Macbeth and his over-ambitious wife, a little more circumspection, forethought, moderation before you speak might not come amiss. Remember, too, the fable of Icarus who flew too close to the sun. Or that of Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse and his courtier named Damocles. You might be on a roll now, but there are all sorts of threats behind the glory you are seeking. A week is a very long time in politics but there are three more years to go to Uganda’s next presidential election – literally a lifetime. Madam Speaker: Hang on to your political ambitions. I would, however, presume to remind you that, as Speaker, you represent the entire country, including minorities – not just disgraced politicians, bigoted Parliamentarians or convicted religious prelates. Madam Speaker: Whether this bill is passed or not, you still have my support in your obvious quest to become the next president of Uganda – that is if I am not jailed and/or killed before 2016 by the legislation that you are so busy tying your colors to in which case my support will be moot. From a gay Ugandan, living in Uganda, that you seek to criminalize purely on account of who he is, but who nonetheless supports your presidential ambitions because he is totally fed up to the back teeth with this uncaring, bungling, corruption-ridden, thieving, tired, rusted, putrid dish of a government.

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