There are many countries in Africa where the majority of the populace share an anti–homosexual stance, but it seems like Uganda’s hatred for homosexuals is in a class by itself.
Some feel like Uganda hit a new anti-homosexual low with the “Kill The Gays” bill that was introduced in 2009.
Then the world was shocked when a local Ugandan newspaper “Rolling Stone” released the names and photographs of 100 homosexuals under the headline ‘100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak’. Featured on the front page was Gay Activist David Kato, who was later killed on January 26, 2011.
Ugandan homosexual hatred was featured in the eye opening BBC documentary “The World’s Worst Place To Be Gay“. The anti-homosexual attitudes expressed in the film were unbearable and deplorable. The local “facts” about homosexuality would have been laughable if it wasn’t so disheartening.
I often wonder how it got to be this bad in many parts of Africa. For a continent that is deep in history, it appears as though many of today’s Christianized Africans are not aware of Africa’s fluid sexual past. They are not aware of the bisexuality and homosexuality that has existed there for thousands of years. Many Africans view homosexuality as a “Western” or “European” import that is attempting to pollute their pure way of life. For them homosexuality is un-African.
Is this type of thinking an educational issue, a pride issue, a colonization issue, or a religious issue?
As an avid documentary watcher and lover of history, I was shocked to learn that a former Uganda Kabaka (King) Mwanga II Basammula Ekkere was bisexual.
See in 1877 there was religious struggle for political control of the Buganda royal court. The Church Missionary Society in London had sent Protestant missionaries to the royal court, followed two years later by the French Catholic White Fathers. These religious factions were also competing with the Zanzibar Muslim traders for converts and influence.
In the 1880’s European powers began rushing to obtain “unclaimed” territories of interest in Africa. The United Kingdom placed Uganda under the charter of the British East Africa Company in 1888. Even though Ugandans have been living in the area for thousands of years; it didn’t matter because the Ugandans and especially their land and resources were not “claimed” yet.
(Let me digress…Many believe this was the conquering strategy of Europe. Either you take land or a country by force and make the native population submit to your religion and ideals or you send in European missionaries first to convert the natives. This makes them more subservient for the coming occupation. The end results were always the same. Europe pillaged the resources of the land or the country colonized and made the native population their work force to gather the obtained resources.)
By the mid-1880s, many members of the Buganda royal court had converted and become surrogates for the religious and nationalist conflict being played out.
The British missionaries felt that the Ugandans (specifically the kingdom of Buganda) and their religion (belief in Katonda and Balubaale) was not a true and sufficient religion and proceeded to convert the pages in King Mwanga II’s royal court.
The missionaries advised the male pages about the evil sins of sodomy and homosexuality. They convinced them that they were no longer to have sex with their king because they would face god’s wrath and be condemned to hell.
King Mwanga II had already had his fill of outside missionaries attempting to overthrow the regions culture and traditions. He had already scoffed at Muslims (who were there for years) who had attempted to convert his subjects to Islam. He wanted no part in the religion in part due to their practice of circumcision (genital mutilation). Now he was dealing with religious evangelicals preaching on how sodomy was immoral.
Twenty-two of the converts were Roman Catholics and were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 18, 1964. A holiday for the converts that were killed was created and is known as Martyrs’ Day, which is celebrated every year in Uganda on June 3rd.
As I stated earlier, many Ugandans today have a stance that homosexuality is a “Western” or “European” deviant behavior imported to Africa.
BUT WAIT A MINUTE…
Isn’t Christianity an “import” to Uganda? Isn’t Catholicism an import to Uganda? Isn’t any religion that is currently practiced but doesn’t have roots to Uganda religion pre-1877 un-Ugandan?
Why are these imports not viewed as Western or European cultures and traditions afflicting the pure and native traditions of Uganda?
Recently over 1,300 people gathered at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda to hear American Evangelical hate Pastor Lou Engle preach at a rally and prayer service against “homosexuality, witchcraft, and corruption.”
Engle’s involvement in organizing the anti-gay rally, added fuel to the fire with his violent rhetoric within an already intolerant country. Engle has preached that homosexuality is a “spirit of lawlessness” and called for “martyrs” to become “God’s Avengers of Blood” to stop the “homosexual agenda” at all cost.
Is the import of Christianity the real reason some Ugandans went from simply not condoning homosexuality to wanting to murder homosexuals or feeling all homosexuals need to be put to death?
What if in Uganda, the thousands that attend Pastor Engle’s anti-gay sermons would instead take a trip to Zimbabwe? There they could visit the ancient rock paintings of the San Bushman people that date back to over 8000 years, which show male to male sexual acts. Would they think of their African ancestors as abominations?
What if in Uganda, homosexuals didn’t have to worry about imprisonment, violence and murder on daily basis, but instead (like gays in the United States) had the luxury of worrying about non-life threatening concerns like joining the Boy Scouts and eating at Chick-Fil-A?
What if in Uganda?