Disclaimer: I don’t like the guy. I dislike him, intensely. You see, I am a gay Ugandan. He is a Ugandan who has made it his life mission to be anti-gay, and use all his skill and gifts to persecute me.
So I am hardly likely to write any good of him.
Yet, in a funny way, I think this is a story to be written, for posterity. For a different view of the man, Martin, check out his website. And he does have a blog... Also, some people positively swoon to praise him. Check this out; the Martin Ssempa News blog. I think that is enough...!
Last night, after listening to this talk show, I was very thoughtful. Whenever Ssempa speaks, I am struck by his character. It is kind of abrasive, and out there. Like a chess player who, after some time knows his opponent, I seem to be able to predict what he will say and do in certain circumstances. So, why not put down my surmises on a sheet of paper? And post it out there? Premise is that, because I dislike what he does, I don’t think I am so off in an analysis of his character.
I am a gay man living and working in
Who is Ssempa?
The pastor and founder of Makerere University Community Church,.. or something like that. Church for students at
Physically, he is of average height (bah, Ugandans are short!). Light skinned, he is starting to lose his trim build and is getting a confortable, smooth skinned mid-age spread. Good feeding. He is married (to a white woman), and has two or three kids from previous, err, liaisons. He tends to have a variable accent (depending on the audience). He speaks Ugandanese usually, but, when he wants to impress, the accent becomes distinctly American. And with youths, the hip crowd, it is gangsta American.
That is enough of an introduction, isn’t it? This is supposed to be dirty and nasty, don’t know why am going so soft on the man. Too analytic? Well, I know I don’t know too much about him, but from an intense scrutiny of his public profile.
Ssempa is a charismatic preacher. He has this connection with his audience, especially youths and can inspire them to huge dreams. And they do like him. He is a person that our ‘hip’ crowd aspires to be like. When he speaks, they listen. And they listen hard. They believe in him. Yet there is a disconnect.
Older people seem not to warm to him.
I believe this is because he is a conman, and it is easy to see through him. Too easily, and that limits his charisma. Talk to any older person, and they see a self serving, populist and political stuntsman. And, the funny thing is that he is all of these things. Some of the things which define him include these. (Remember, my perception of the man is not likely to endear me to him. Bite me, I don’t intend to be blind to my own limitations.)
He is intensely anti-homosexual.
Why is this? I don’t know. He is obsessed with homosexuality. The fascination and drive to do something about homosexuality defines his life like no other thing. Long before it was an issue in
In his belief system, there is absolutely nothing that a gay human being is good for. And there is no war, or crusade more important than the fight against homosexuality. And it is important that ALL the church recognizes and follows this crusade. It is bigger than the church, it is a national, an International problem. He tells lies about homosexuals, in the name of the cause. He advocates violence against homosexuals. Yes, he does. I stood near him as he egged members of his church on while police threatened to beat up gay activists at the People’s Space during CHOGM. He has spun conspiracy theories which I doubt he believes, but he preaches as truth.
He is shallow.
Fact. I have said that the guy is stupid. Maybe it is a strong word, too strong. But he doesn’t seem to be well acquinted with logic. Simple, believable logic. I know he is supposed to have an MSc, and a PhD. But I have a suspicion they are the kind Notredame awarded and UNM refused to award to Obama. Honorary. And, yes, they are from American Universities. In anyway, he isn’t a stellar example of any university…! Ok, if you don’t believe me, remember this. Despite the many things that he brought back from
Ssempa is a populist.
And a politician. The charisma, the out-spokenness, the militancy. When
Does Ssempa believe in the Christian god?
I am sorry, of course that comes off too strong. He is a Pentecostal movement pastor, so of course he must believe? But I was once a believer. And I did believe. Fact is, Ssempa seems to be more into his moral ideals and programmes than into preaching the ‘Word of God’. When he talks, like with most evangelizing Christians, the issue is accepting their point of view. But there is a big difference with Ssempa. Most other evangelizing Christians want you to accept and believe in their version of god. Listen to Ssempa talk, and you will understand that the most important thing is not that you believe in Christ. No. The most important thing that you believe how bad homosexuals are. The most important thing is that you believe that Abstinence and being faithful are the way forward in HIV prevention. In the background is Ssempa the man. And, lip service is given to ‘loving homosexuals’. And Christ comes off a distant nth place.
Case in point, is the Kayanja saga. The gay witch-hunt in the Pentecostal churches in
Ssempa is positively combative.
He goes out of his way to look for 'enemies'. Definition, anyone who believes differently from him. I was suprised, and not suprised by his personal attack on Major Rubaramira. Surely, surely, a person who is not HIV positive would not attack another one who is like that? But that is the man, Ssempa. He glories in taking on 'heavy weights'. No, homosexuals tend to be minors, which begs the question why we came to be so much in his gun sights. But from Pastor Kayanja through attacking USAID and PSI for marketing condoms, his is a fundamentalist view. There is no middle ground. Either you are with him, or you are not. And if you are not, then beware. You are apostate. A homosexual, or a homosexual sympathiser. One of his beefs about Kayanja was that he had never gone to Ssempa's demonstrations against homosexuality. Sometimes I wonder why this need for outrageous statements....! Another Lukyamuzi characteristic.
So, why have I written this?
Sometimes, life’s a chess game. I am bearding the lion, in his den. I can guess what he would try to do in the face of my epistle. Thing is, will he do it? Oh, I know he is petty and vindictive. His question to Major Rubaramira was full of that core spite.