Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The ‘Dialogue’

It was this afternoon.

Sure, and I did attend. Kind of funny that I was there, and, of course it was interesting. On my part, to learn what the ‘other’ side thinks. And, of course, to see reason weighed down by the burden of unthinking emotion.

Afterwards, a friend commented that, in a way it was frightening. That, 2-300 years ago, that was how a ‘court’ judged summarily a witch. And, afterwards, they would go ahead and burn her. I didn’t dare point out to my friend that, just last year, in one part of Uganda, three people were accused of being witches by a village court. They were found guilty, and the sentence of death was quickly and immediately carried out. That was in modern day Uganda.
Oh, the sentence was carried out by the Biblical method of ‘beating/stoning’ to death. Here it is.

The dialogue had the atmosphere of a kangaroo court. True, and, the issue had already been judged. The judges came in well aware of what the judgement was to be. Sadly, for them, the sentence was not to be carried out. Because this was a dialogue. Not a debate. A ‘kimeeza’ in the local parlace.

Time check 1300 hours. That is when the debate was supposed to begin. There was only a handful of people inside. Mainly people from outside the campus….! And, of course the debate was not supposed to start at that time.

Time check 1345 hours. That is when the dialogue was supposed to start. Auditorium was about half to two thirds full.

Time check 1400 hours. The ‘moderator’ comes and gives us the oldest African excuse. We are tardy. We don’t know time. So, because the moderators wanted the debate to start at around 1400, and knowing the time keeping habits of their audience, they had put the ‘official’ time forward by a fantastic hour. A full hour….!
But, even then, the discussants were not yet in.

Time check 1430 hours. Dr Tamale has been seated for a while at the front bench. So has Major Rubaramila. The room is now overflowing. Standing room at the doors. We are beginning to murmur that they should have chosen a bigger venue.
But, of Mr. Bahati, there was no sign. We were told, some ten minutes ago, that he was some two-three minutes away. (I call them 3 African minutes…, bite me, I am African, and I do know how elastic time is here.)

Time check 1440 hours. MP Bahati in the house. And, the crowd settles down, for what is to happen.

NB. The fourth ‘discussant’ was found not to be the Provincial Secretary of the Church of Uganda, as had been put in the billing. It was Stephen Langa. The organizer of the 3 day anti-gay seminar. Earlier on this year.

Why the change? I don’t know. We were not told. Of course, I am able to speculate freely. The Church of Uganda is still seriously studying the bill, and has no ‘official’ position.
And, the Church of Uganda cannot have the official Church spokesperson giving the as yet unmade church position as he has done more than three, four times ago.

Sad. I was really waiting to see what the good Reverend was going to say! More nails in the coffin.

MP Bahati gave the first presentation. On why the Bill is necessary.
He is a young man. Said he has one kid, who he is very fearful that he can be ‘recruited’ into being a homosexual. He is an accountant by profession. A chartered accountant, I think that is the word? And he is of course also an MP. Of the ruling party. And the public face of the ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill’

He gave the usual reasons. Why the bill is necessary. You know them. Homosexuality un-natural, abnormal, un-African. The threat from outside the country. The imposition of ‘outside values’, etc, etc. They have been well laid out in the bill.

And, he goes on about the threats that he has been receiving. Didn’t say from where.

He is a politician. And dull, as a speaker. Didn’t impress me with his intelligence. I mean, he just seems to be the guy who decided to be the ‘fall guy’. Anyway, he was what he is.

Anyway, then came Stephen Langa. Odd, he is an Electrical Engineer, from the University of Nairobi.
Then followed the most hopelessly illogical and inconsistent reasoning that I have ever listened to. No, I am not a stellar logician. But, I am a person who knows the consistency of logic when a person is presenting it.
Langa presented a conspiration theory. The ‘Gay Agenda’. The support from outside. The ‘recruitment’ (maybe it was him whispering into the Presidential ear? You know, recruiting European Homosexuals). A conspiracy theory which begins by trying to upset the opposition point of view. Listen well, they are going to lie, they are going to cry, they are going to say they are human. It was sad. And scaring.
The audience lapped it up. It was his. Yeah, he is also a Pastor, I am told. Yes, a pastor, in the Ugandan, evangelical sense. He talked of science, but showing the most unscientific evidence. Gosh, it was so bad. Morality taught as a science. Dr Tamale had to jab at him that, he was, as a pastor, had a right to believe and talk as he was talking. But, he was not supposed to make us believe that what he was saying was right.

Fear mongering. I have heard of the term. Never really seen someone do it, so effectively. And, he was quoting The Pink Swastika. By none other than Scott Lively. It is a matter of fact that we are going to feel the after effects of his preaching for long afterwards. God bless you, dear Lively

In the middle of the Langa presentation, Pastor Martin Ssempa made a grand entrance. The audience clapped, drowning out the speaker. He swaggered up the auditorium, to where the most noise was being made. His brown shirts were all seated together. It was his place, his crowd. And they showed it.

Oh, this will be too long.

And I don’t need to say much more, do I?

The Major is a well intentioned individual who is fighting a war without knowing the crowd. But, he is a soldier. He scored his points.

Last came Associate Prof. Sylvia Tamale.
Well, the lady did it. Taking the bill apart in a few concise words. She gave the same arguments as she wrote in the article. But this time had the time to open up on what she meant. And, the lady is damned good.

End of it all, her recommendation to the Honourable MP? He should either withdraw the bill as an embarrassment to the Country Uganda. Or, it should be let to die quietly in committee.

I will post her speech. Well, I will get it. It was fantastic. Don’t have it now, but will.

Then came the mess of the Q&A.

I was embarrassed. This is supposed to be the premier university of Uganda. Most of the people present, and peeping in through the windows, were students. Yes they were.
But, the clear logic of Tamale had not been any impression. They commented. And commented, and showed their ignorance.

I am a Ugandan. Yes, of course I am gay. But, I was acutely embarrassed at the reasoning capacity, the logic behind what people were commenting. Because it was too illogical.
These university students were ready to take in the ‘here is the information, believe it’ preaching of the preachers. Logic was left behind. And, it was extremely, well, village meetingish.

A University dialogue in the Faculty of Law was no more than a village meeting. I am Ugandan enough to be acutely displeased. And worried.
Yes, there is a big problem, if those we call our bright future are no more than ‘believers’ in some illogic.

Maybe I was an Egyptian in a long gone life…! Hey, I have to blow my own horn, (trumpet for you.)
I was complaining about that and someone told me, smugly, that I am gay. That means that I am logical, and, I come from a long line of super inventors. I claim the sexuality of Leornardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Alan Turing, and many others. Hey, I am gay, and have to look at the brighter side of life!

Anyway, the dialogue ended at well past five. As scheduled!

And I made my way out. Cause I had to congratulate the people of the minority opinion. MP Bahati was very encouraged by the positive crowd. And, he was having all these people congratulating him and giving him hugs. To them, he had definitely won the day.

Well, my opinion was different. But then, I am gay, aint I?

Someone, Kaybie, has surprised me by having made a comment about the dialogue. He or she was there, and their impressions are here. They are interesting. Do check them out here.

Dialogue? No, it certainly wasn’t a dialogue. It was a kangaroo court. But, I was impressed by the logic, and illogic, of the sides. Very interesting. Maybe the fact that I am gay, and Ugandan, makes me more susceptible to being critical?



Leonard said...

Thanks for the would seem logical that the steam of hysterics would capture the moment...your comment about the judgement already having been made seems likely...reading this stuff from afar is like watching a boxing match between Lions and LGBT´s in the´s the blood they are after, but we´ve come to know that already.

Thanks for going and listening and reporting (be interesting to see if there is any press coverage).

Anonymous said...

It really irritates me when people argue that homosexuality is a form of neocolonialism, and then quote the Bible--as if they're completely unaware of the irony. Isn't it a bit late to complain about Europeans "imposing" their values on Africans, when they have already abandoned "African traditions" for Christianity (Europe's largest export)?

Anonymous said...

I was there at the auditorium and was hugely disappointed. I know my Kenyan history and I know that many of the intellectuals in our independence struggle studied at Makerere; where they learned to think for themselves and recognise oppression and fight it. I was so sad to watch those students of Makerere swallow the hogwash preached by Bahati, Ssempa and Langaand then listen to them spew it out verbatim. I knew then that African has lost it's capacity to nurture revolutionaries

debate popular said...

Interesting, did not know that Uganda would be concerned about discussing these issues but knowing me very happy to know.

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