By Monday Akol Amazima
The Ugandan parliament chaired by the all powerful Speaker, the Rt Hon Anita Annet Among aka AAA passed the anti homosexuality bill. In a very sensational way the Honourable Members of Parliament including though not limited to a Rev father explained how women are sweet and that nothing is sweeter to men than women and vice versa. The rush, pomp and urgency with which the bill was tabled discussed and passed portrayed the 11th parliament as ‘hard working’. But if the very energy, zeal and commitment they used to pass this bill was used in fighting corruption and misuse of public office, then Uganda would be on cloud nine. Uganda would actually not be chocking on foreign debts and the country would be thriving with less donor support.
Homosexuality is not a new phenomenon in Africa and more so Uganda; actually we have had kings that were known for this practice. Our ancestors knew how well to handle this practice and also how to engage people that were involved. How one chooses to go about their sexuality is a bedroom matter. For example how the Baganda prepare girls for sex and or marriage (okukyalira ensiko) is not the same way some other tribes do it. How the Bagisu and the Bakonzo (embalu and eriya elhusumba respectively) prepare their boys for sex lives is not the same as that of the Banyankole. In fact when the culture state minister Hon Peace Mutuzo tried to demonise the aforementioned practices, she got a backlash and backed off.
Like Andrew Mwenda has said, since we are living in a global village, certainly there are certain practices that are not necessarily our practices but which are accepted by other people and for that matter we should not legislate in a way that pushes away such people. Such a move isolates the continent and particularly Uganda from her development partners. It is important for us to endeavour to know why certain people behave the way they do and therefore seek to counsel them rather than condemn them.
The homosexuality debate has succeeded in inciting the public against certain people. A good example is a one Bwambale Vincent from Mundongo Bwera of Kasese District that was recently arrested in Ntoroko district. Bwambale has always made his fortune through plaiting women and selling their lotion. Therefore he had always had his hair plaited. He is a married man with two wives. So in Ntoroko he was taken for a homosexual and the arrest by police only saved him from the angry mob. If luck was not on his side he would either be dead or nursing injuries.
Ugandan’s biggest problem is impunity by those that hold power on our behalf. Our memories are still fresh with some of the senior mothers of this nation that decided to divide the iron sheets meant for the vulnerable people of Karamoja among them. And this is the vice we should all fight and legislate against. So many funds and projects meant for the common person don’t reach because of this theft with impunity. Ghost schools, teachers, soldiers and workers are some of the many scandals that we have witnessed. All these scandals have a huge bearing on the welfare of the common man and the tax payer.
A small country like Uganda with a population of less than 50 million people having a parliament of over 500 legislators, having over 100 districts as administrative units of local government is a huge burden to the tax payers. We have a penal code that requires to be changed for most of its provisions have outlived their usefulness but you will not see our honourable members planning to have it fixed.
Finally, all we need is to have our country fixed in many aspects. The issue of one’s sexual orientation is a moral issue and the moral institutions including though not limited to families should actually be able to address that. As a country our leaders should not isolate us from the development partners and therefore should focus on legislation that ensures proper utilisation of our scarce resources.
The writer is a journalist, teacher, author and Pan African based in Sweden.