TITLE OF ART WORK:  “REMEMBRANCE”

ARTIST:                            KIRABO

 

Year after year, tragedy upon tragedy befell the worldwide LGBTI community. Sadly, the Human rights violations that this minority has had to endure have gone unanswered for. “Why?” You may ask, one word, one verb “Homophobia”.

One day, a man so brave stood up to the world and demanded justice. The world must remember what it had done; it must know what it is still doing. For he had a dream, that one day all men under the sun would be equal. His name is Louis-Georges Tin and because of him we now celebrate IDAHOT day every 13Th of May. On this day, we reflect on the past, we celebrate the brave, we remember our fallen and renew our courage, for we must be the strong. The fight for our Human Rights presses on.

 

A fierce revolutionary, a humble, spiritual, inspiration, an ancestor like many who pointed the way to freedom, acceptance, equality and peace. His name is Victor Mukasa. He was the first man to have the courage, to step up on live television and declare to the world, “I am Mr. Victor Mukasa”. How the nation went wild. The “end” was surely upon us, they believed.

Like him, into the diaspora many a Kuchu have fled, in search of peace, love and understanding, fleeing this bleak homophobic den. VAL, NAOME, NIKKI , LONG JONES, JUNIQUE ,GERALD and so many, many, more. WE REMEMBER YOU! WE SALUTE YOU!  WE MISS YOU.                                                  Day and night for many a year, this great monster named Homophobia has terrorized us, our ancestors torn away like babes from their mothers’ bosom, eroding many to myth. Only a handful stand firm, ever brave sentinels, battle hard and tested, united in our defense. Only the gods know how heavy a burden they place on their mortal creations, for this great labour takes them far from us whom they love, many leagues they journey, from warring they never rest. A great sacrifice to keep us safe.                                                                                                                                                       Now,                                                                                                                                        There is a cry,

Do you hear it?                                                                                                                                                       A cry so piercing

Will you answer?                                                                                                                                            The wisdom imparted by the experienced is the elixir our future generation needs to win this fine fight                                                                                                                                             We are ready,                                                                                                                                               Will you guide us?

 

Sitting ducks is what many a fool has been called, but, rubber duckys is what our elite are.  Every year, the great factory of Makerere University churns out brainless, zombified, automatons oozing homophobia. But guess what, enrollment in this compulsory class begins in grade 1. Everyone who goes through the education system will be programmed to hate homosexuals.

 

2016 ASFA awards live from the Red carpet. Wait a minute! Whom do we see? Live and in living color; the bold, the dashing, “Bad Black”. The pictures went viral. Social media was jam packed as picture after picture was shared, Who would have guessed, We have our very own Trans-woman. Our very own Conchitta made flesh. Rocking a goatee and a gorgeous peach ensemble, unafraid and battle ready, she stood tall, staving off wave after wave of homophobic attacks. We celebrate every Trans- person. They are very brave.

 

“Rolling Stone”9th October 2010, Headline : 100 PICTURES OF UGANDA’S TOP HOMOS LEAK “Hang them”. This magazine sold out, this propaganda promoting magazine beseeching Ugandans to kill, sold out. The myth had been uncovered as newspaper stand after stand was flocked by citizens desperate for the “truth” about these pagan-like creatures. To them, the enemy had arrived. “They want our children” they hysterically cried, “I heard they want to abolish families” they whispered. “These are pagan acts, it is un-african, they go against the very order of nature!” they chanted. “They eat the pupu!” the pastor exclaimed, and Ugandans, enraged, frightened and disgusted brandished their pitchforks. To protect the sanctity of its people, the leaders tabled the “KILL THE GAYS” Bill. (The Anti- Homosexuality Bill)

 

AHB – The Anti- Homosexuality Bill has been tabled in parliament repeatedly. Thing is, it’s a shitty bill. Walking into a bathroom to take a leak, three persons named “A”, “H” and “B” went about the business of relieving themselves. On walking out, it became clear to them all; they all peeked in the mirror.                                         The bill is like that bathroom mirror. It forces EVERYONE to look deep into their souls, to question anything and everyone you hold dear. It’s a double edged sword. If this bill was ever to pass unrevised, everyone would be under threat of the guillotine.

 

Many a time, we are reminded that everyone in this struggle is an activist. The little things everyone does to advance the fine fight matter. Thus, the creation of a “Wall of Tribute”,  a little something to recognize the valiant efforts of several activists big and small. This will become tradition. We will remember everyone.

 

A tragic day befell our movement as into the ground we lowered our fallen brethren. Viciously slain in his home by a ruthless, hate filled murderer. This has been our most extreme recorded homophobic attack but he will receive justice. He did not die in vain.

Forever we will remember you,

Rest in Peace

David Kato.                                                                                                                                  c.1964 – 26/01/2011

 

RED pepper, 25th February 2014, salacious tabloid headline number two: EXPOSED! UGANDA’S 200 TOP HOMOS NAMED. What was going on? How were they getting their information, the names, and the pictures? One conclusion, we had a rat, a rat that was probably doing it for a little cheese, just like it’s always been since men (and womyn) discovered they could assemble and fight for a good cause. This only meant one of two things, run and hide deeper in your closet or stand firm and fight, always remembering caution and safety come first. “A dead activist is no activist”.

 

Remembering is not only a national act, its global, what happens here affects everyone. We are linked. On the day we lost our compatriot David Kato, many travelled hundreds and thousands of miles to pay their respects. If we remember, A Luta Continua, vitoria e certa!

 

Zealots, Nazi-like in their devotion, religious leaders have taken a firm grip and rooted a great seed of hatred in the hearts of millions of devotees worldwide. In Uganda, we have had two notable minions, one foreign and one domestic by the names of Pastor Scott Lively and Pastor Martin Ssempa respectively. So fierce and relentless they were that they amassed a cult-like following. Other minions sprouted up, the likes of Hon. Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, Ethics minister Father Simon Lokodo, State Minister of Finance for Planning David Bahati, Pastor Solomon Male, Moslem clerics and so many more. Just like Nazi soldiers, they preach hate and eradication of all who do not fit their standard of ethics. But, the question we all do not seem to be asking is “Is there a puppeteer, the mysterious ‘JK’?”

 

PRIDE Time to party, time to remember. Why and what are we celebrating? We are here, raid all you like, we are going nowhere. It’s a political statement. Where better to have a party than at the beach, sun on skin, cocktail in hand, feet pattering away on the sands, lovers taking romantic strolls across the shoreline, adults giggling like merry children, splashing away in the waters.

 

Chills run down my spine, “What are they doing on television?” I ask myself. I can’t seem to tear my eyes away from the screen. Mother walks in; I must pretend to be disinterested, “Why are they hiding their faces if they are so proud of what they are doing?” she bellowed disgustedly. A great fear filled me, she must never find out.

This is what many LGBTI Ugandans are still going through. Many still hide in their own way, in their own closets because they are afraid. Even though some are silent, their watchful eyes gaze upon humanity’s depravity, Others burn with a fiery anger in their eye. But still, we are afraid.

 

IDAHOT: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

A brilliant idea I do believe. I thought I would create a little symbol of what it means to me. I have the letter “I” bowing and uniting the letters “D, A, H, O and T” in a global circle of remembrance. It takes only one to make a change, Together, we can change the world.

 

TUK. Many a “Kuchu” have been known for their vast talents. A few have had the chance of showcasing their talents and skills in the aptly named band Talented Ugandan Kuchus (TUK group).  It was home to so many and still is to some under a new name but same management, TUK band. They are musical activists. For what is culture without the civilising refineries of art in all its forms? Is music not the wellspring of emotion? A siren’s call that binds and unites us?

 

We are not fighting this battle alone. Many non- LGBTI persons and organizations have also taken up the mantle and fight beside us for all of humanity. Sadly, some have paid greatly for their sacrifice. One such individual is Mr David Cecil. He was imprisoned and later deported for collaborating with and staging a play discussing homosexual issues. We appreciate him and all other like-minded and spirited persons and organizations. We remember you.

 

SAPPHO ISLAND. It was always time to drink and be merry. A place where you could leave your masks at the door; A place where many a Kuchu fell in love, there were match makers too. It was the first LGBTI owned and non-LGBTI friendly watering hole in town. When you looked up, that signpost was a symbol beckoning all who recognised the rainbow flag. They did not discriminate, straight friends were welcome too. Sadly, this fine establishment was shut down by homophobic landlords and neighbours. But, we remember. We made plenty a memory there.

 

 

RAM bar and restaurant. A dark and musty venue that transformed every Sunday night into “Kuchu paradise”. With flashing neon lights and gyrating divas, Sunday mass was a must. It was church. Come Sunday, you could go and take a load off, party with friends and family. But, you had to keep many a hand out of your pockets. Sadly, this place too was shut down, the reasons, still unclear. But, we remember. Hopefully, another of these classic “joints “ will spring up so that once again we can have a place we can be ourselves.

 

Many of our brothers, sisters and others have fallen victim to many human rights violations that sometimes go unpunished. I listed a few of these (but it must be noted that they are many more) recurring problems:- Unemployment, corrective rape, false imprisonment and so many more.

These shameless homophobic acts need to be illuminated. Humanity must know that we too bleed red.

 

In order to sensitise people and  curb the spread of this disease known as Homophobia, several programs have been initiated by the LGBTI community: The Hate No More Campaign, The Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Campaign, taking human rights violators to court; Kato, Kasha, Pepe Vs. Rolling Stone, SMUG Vs. Uganda Registration Services Bureau, SMUG Vs. Lively, community outreach programmes such as; Women’s day 2016, FARUG in partnership with Queer Youth visited Luzira maximum penitentiary and so many more.

 

President Donald Trump. A naughty chimp brandishing “finger guns”. How could he be possibly be entrusted with the oval office? And yet, with a stretch of his lips, he has damned the entire world.

The leader of the free world is the very pharaoh wielding the whip, undoing every good and right thing his predecessors fought for. He does not remember. His arm is far reaching for even we in this backwater savannah land have heard of the nightmare, Donald Trump.