Friday, November 23, 2007

Ready for CHOGM

It has sneaked up on me. Chogm.
It’s funny how the world moves even when we are still. I have been very concerned with ‘Kuchu’ affairs. What is happening, what we plan to happen, what the campaign has been doing. I have taken off time to write in the blog my frustrations, desires and hopes. At the periphery of my consciousness has been the awareness that Chogm was coming. The roads in the city have been ripped up and mended. The buildings have been repainted. The few times that I have taken the time to notice what has been happening outside of me, I have noticed. But it seems not enough.
Chogm is the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting. It happens once in two years. It is political. It is a social occasion. Our president had this vision that it should happen in Uganda, and he has poured his energy into it. And it is happening. The Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, has landed, and Ugandans are ready.
I took a walk in the city, just to look at what has been done.
It is a lot. Yes, I am usually critical of the lack of planning that happens consistently. A lot of money has been poured into this meeting. And it has been poured into Kampala, the capital. It is ridiculous thing that little has happened of government programs outside the capital for months. The Treasury is effectively bankrupt, till the next financial year.
But Kampala has been prettied up. And it shows.
We are ready for Chogm. That was the rallying call. To get ready for Chogm. And the populace, at least in Kampala, have taken note of it. Today most decided to stay safely at home. The traffic in the last few days has been horrible. But today, it has been light. Very light.
The streets are clean. That is amazing for this city. The roads are shining with the newly installed lights. Ugandans love window dressing. We have a huge problem with an insufficiency of electric power. We have scheduled blackouts, regularly. But not during Chogm. And we have added onto the grid a lot of new street lights, into every nook and corner. It looks beautiful, I must say.
Yet it is wasteful. This is going to cause more strain on the electric grid. Means more scheduled power cuts, after Chogm.
People are happy. 3 holidays declared in the middle of a working week. (Apparently so that we can sit back at home and watch the festivities on TV. Actually to rid the city of cars that had gridlocked roads the last few days.) And down town looks prettier than I have ever seen it in my life. A flower in bloom, well tended, and it is during the next few days that it is going to be at its most alluring.
We have planned a lot for it. Freedom is when we can take it. And who is going to abuse us when we talk about our sexuality at the People’s Forum? So, we shall.
And we have published books, to give to the Delegates. ‘Homosexuality; Perspectives from Uganda’ edited by Dr Sylvia Tamale. Feminist, human rights activist, and of course, by her detractors, the leading proponent of homosexuality in Uganda.
And we used the cover of this meeting to blow our own closet wide open.
Has it been worth it?
I must say, for the LGBTI community in Uganda, we have been ready for CHOGM. We have challenged the status quo, and despite the deafening roar from the rest of the community for us to shut the hell up, we have managed to have our voice heard.
Viva to all the Kuchus in Uganda.
And I hope you attend the People’s forum at Hotel Africana.


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