Friday, April 3, 2009

Burundi: Interesting take on what is happening there

For the past month or so, this tiny country long forgotten by most of the world has been in the spotlight for the one thing people may have never suspected ” a mirage-legislature rising up against both the president and the allies ” the missionary churches dotted throughout the country.

There are few things as unpopular in Africa as homosexuality. It is seen as a particularly virulent and sinister strain of the West’s unwelcome foray around here. To be gay is to be evil, criminal, and un-African. You can lose your family, livelihood, and sometimes your life.

There just happens to be no law against it in Burundi. It hadn’t made much of a difference until one was proposed by the president and defeated by his senate. It was a blow to the president, and a temporary confidence-booster for people who live in secrecy and fear.

An article in an amendment to the national penal code that would have made homosexual acts punishable by up to two years in prison was pulled out by the Senate on February 24. It was a shock to the system in Burundi, where legislatures more often than not are rubber stamps of the head of state. President Pierre Nkurunziza took it as a slap in the face.

The president’s power is weakening, said Pancrace Cimpaye, chairman of the opposition party and member of senate. We must take advantage.


Burundians are deeply religious. The church and the Word of God are transcendent. That includes President Nkurunziza, who attends the local Church on the Rock in Bujumbura. Though founded in Texas, much of the Church on the Rock operates abroad, in places like Burundi, Third World states where fates and livelihood still hinge on the mercies of nature. From Rwanda to Brazil to the Philippines, these modern-day missionaries have found converts and a powerful voice.

So, in the past weeks, the government, together with this and other churches, has gone on an all-out campaign to reverse the Senate’s decision.

Just the other day, roughly 15,000 people marched in protests led by factions of the government against the senate’s decision.

If we love our country, if we love our culture, we must ban this practice that will draw only misfortune, said the chairman of Burundi’s ruling party, Jeremie Ngendakumana. The protests were organised using radio advertisements and cellphone text messaging.

This was a huge manipulation of the people, said Mr Cimpaye. It was demagogic.

The albinos wanted a protest last week because they are being killed. They wanted to have a demonstration, but the government refused, saying it would take away from the working day, said an anonymous NGO worker in Bujumbura. But when 15,000 march against gays on a working day, it’s okay.

Being albino may be one of the unluckiest things in this part of the world, where people are hunted for their skins, sought for magical protection by bush-doctors. To be one of Burundi’s approximately 400 gays isn’t much better.


We have so many children who have been rejected by their family because of being gay or lesbian, and many of them are forced to work as sex slaves to make money, says George Kanuma, co-ordinator for ARDHO, Burundi’s only gay advocacy group. This law would make it all the worse for them.

But a fighting spirit remains. Use my name, says Kanuma. To see it in the newspapers is protection for us. That’s exactly where those names have been. Since the protests, homosexuality has been on the tip of tongues of the country.

Parliament, which received the amended legislation from the senate, swiftly put the article criminalising homosexuality back into place.

Churches and non-governmental organisation have held press conferences, radio shows, and television programmes on the issue.

It is political propaganda ahead of the 2010 elections, says Christian Rumu, vice-president of Burundi’s gay association.

In the National Assembly, a heated debated rages on, with opposition leaders calling for a national referendum on the issue. According to the constitution, if the two sides cannot come to agreement, it will be parliament that makes the decision. Few here believe the president will allow the law to pass without criminalising homosexuality.

As the story makes larger waves around both the region and world, the government’s forces are clamping down on journalists. Although one newspaper editor was released recently, two more journalists were arrested.

We are in danger, and must work in secret, says a stringer in Burundi for the international press. The government does not want reporting on the homosexuality. We are supposed to write only good things.


Christian said...

Since you dodged my previous question, let me just go ahead and ask you another one. Do you intend to have kids of YOUR OWN in future...say 5 years from now? I am not talking about ADOPTING someone elses child.YOUR OWN flesh and blood.You do realise that putting your sperms in another mans ass or him putting into yours wont get you or him pregnant and therefore no child for you. Sorry man. Thats reality. God made it like that. Maybe you can report him to the Human Rights commision for discrimination (sarcasm)

spiralx said...

Christian, not everyone wants children. Given our population crisis, and scarcity of resources,esp. here in Africa, that should be a good thing. Not a bad one.

Anal sex is not something every homosexual does, or likes. So that's not what homosexuality is all about. Though it may be part of it, for some.

And - many heterosexuals also like anal sex. You may like to try it sometime!

Christian said...

Spiralx, if you say that you DONT want to have any children of your own, then I rest my case.I guess that is settled then. Anal in that case should work well for you, and no thank you I will not be trying it out or even thinking about it anytime soon. Why struggle to go through a smelly, dinghy back alley door when I can walk through an open shiny and smooth front door?

gayuganda said...

Dear Christian,

of course I dodge your questions. They are very un-Christian.

Do I intend to have children of my own? I would love it. No, I dont intend to sue him at the Human Rights Commission. I am pretty happy with what I am.
I guess it is you who should sue him because I am not what you expect me to be. I think god is pretty confortable with what I am, afterall, he did make me, didnt he?

Dont see why you are riled at Spiralx. He just gave you a fact. We homosexuals are so few, that it is a matter of fact that heterosexuals have more anal sex than we homosexuals.

Christian, you remember the story about taking the huge log out of your eye before you try to tackle the splinter in my eye? It so applies to you that I am not suprised you are blind.

You dont know anything about homosexuals. What you know is your 'repugnance' to anal sex, and you equate it to what a human being is, because they are homosexual.

It is tough, but then, I cannot educate you... You will have to educate yourself, if you are christian enough. Otherwise, I continue patronising you as one poor Christian. Which you are at this particular moment.

See, I know love when I see it. You are so prejudiced that love is hate in your eyes... And you call yourself Christian. God, how blind can you get????

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