Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paths to Personal Peace

Am I hot-headed?

Don't know. Maybe I am, maybe I am not. I know I do have obvious gifts, and constraints. And, I know that anger is one of those double edged swords that I hold by the blade in my arsenal of weapons.
Truth to tell, if it was not for that searing anger, I would not have the courage to do this blog. To write of raw emotion, to spill all of things that are pertinent. At least to me, at that particular moment.

But, with the heights of anger are matched the depths of depression. When, seemingly, I find myself moving against the tide. Fighting, fighting, fighting. Self pity?
Yes, that is a huge quicksand pit just before me. Always.

But, there is always the pride of knowing that, I can do something. And, that I can do it well, and do it mighty well.
I don't know whether it really gets better. But, I believe it does. So, I fight on.

Saw this article about the authorities in Malawi. You know, the country where that couple was arrested, charged, and sentenced to 14 years of hard labour for gay nuptials. Love condemned, punished. The President of the country pardoned them. But, what amazes me is this from the Vice President. And, this is ground breaking. Because, the pardon was definitely under coercion.
Blantyre (Malawi) - Malawian Vice President Joyce Banda, has called for tolerance towards homosexuality, at a meeting hosted by the Inter-Faith AIDS Association (MIAA) held in Blantyre, Malawi, on 29 September this year.
Banda made the call when she officially opened a Religious Leader’s Policy Advocacy Conference in Blantyre, stating that same sex practices are reality in Malawi and that religious leaders need be tolerant on such issues in order to fight HIV and AIDS.
“I am of the opinion that MIAA is strategically positioned to bring faith leaders together to debate how to respond to HIV and AIDS, find ways of repositioning in order to tackle the issue of homosexuality without necessarily compromising the moral integrity of faith institutions”, said Banda.
So, any good news in that? Gift Trapence goes ahead to kind of analyse the statement. It was the international attention that has brought the focus, and the change in mind. It is certainly welcome.
Gift Trapence Director of Centre for the Development of People in Malawi commended Banda’s statement stating that it is an indication that government is willing to engage on issues of homosexuality.
“This is indeed good news to the LGBT community. It sets an example for other countries to take precedent and allow Men having sex with Men (MSM) initiatives in their countries.”
Trapennce suspects that the positive statement was a result of the case of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga which rocked Malawi and attracted international attention and condemnation.
“Personally I think it could be attributed to the international pressure but nonetheless it is definitely a step forward for the LGBT community”, he said.
And, there is this from an influential former African leader. The former President of Botswana.
Botswana’s former president Festus Mogae yesterday said African governments and leaders must not enact laws that criminalise homosexuality and sex work, warning that such legislation would inhibit the fight against HIV/Aids.
Mr Mogae, who chairs a team dubbed ‘Champions of an HIV-Free Generation’ that comprise prominent African anti-Aids activists, told Zambian President Rupiah Banda at State House in Lusaka that homosexuals and sex workers were part of society and they should not be stigmatised or discriminated.
Mr Mogae said he had written to some African Presidents, without mentioning names, who wanted to pass laws to criminise homosexuality, advising them not to do so.
The former President, who explained that he is heterosexual, said in Botswana homosexuality was illegal but he had been engaging the government to repeal the law that criminalises homosexuality.
Due to his advocacy, Mr Mogae said “nobody has been prosecuted over the last three years” for being homosexual.

Just so that you dont get too exhilarated, at the same place, someone else, the President of Zambia, and churches, were blunter.... or, they spoke the usual.... which of course was not suprising
President Rupiah Banda says donors in Zambia glorify and preach to Zambian children that being gay is a human right.
President Banda was speaking to champions of an HIV-Free Generation, who include senior Africans like Kenneth Kaunda, fomer president of Botswana Festus Mogae and other individuals involved in the fight against AIDS...... 
But President Banda said it was difficult to listen to donors on the issue.
He said when the matter was presented by people like Mogae, ‘then you understand why we should not criminalise them, understand them and at the same time try and sensitize our children, young people.”
Of the donors, president said ‘they actually glorify it, they talk to our young people and making them believe that homosexuality is a human right and that if you appear to speak against it then you are a reactionary and you don’t understand the world etcetera etcetera,” .
But Bishop Joshua Banda, the chairperson of Zambia National AIDS Council (NAC) was very direct and said the Chmpions did not visit Zambia to promote homosexuality.
“We must be very be extremely careful on how we project this because we have not come here to promote that. Except that they are saying, ‘these are the areas where we really need to discuss’. It’s very strong on my side. We must be able to see the side of the church, how the church should respond to this. What the churches have done,”

Now, I get hot and burn, while debating people like Maazi here. But, I also get to acknowledge that we are moving, changing the world, our world and our communities, with our very presence. Us gay Africans. And, any society resists change. In obvious, and tough ways.

[They call us sell-outs. Well, they want to hang us, and expect us to go tamely. No way.]

When I started this post, I wanted to posit that, we gay people will always be hated. Kind of an easy conclusion to get to in a country like Uganda, where our country mates feel it is no big deal to ask for us to be hanged. In public, with not a blush or fear.
But, I did realise that it is the kind of negative thinking which precludes the fact that we are actually changing that. We may never know the kind of acceptance in Uganda that would allow me to come out with my lover as man and man. But, it is better than it was a few years ago. The fear is less, the fight, the focus is more. We are on a battle front, recognised or not. And, with sheer desperation, we are slowly changing our world.

Of course, there shall be, and will be casualties. But, as the video says, 'It gets Better'. Hopefully, even in Uganda, it will.

Cary Alan Johnson of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission describes the progress of African LGBT movements as astounding:
"Movements are more professionally run, politically smarter, more accountable and transparent, and more diverse. In almost every country, there are emerging organisations and political spaces for queer women, transpeople, those who want to be political, those whose interests are more social. Community centres and safe spaces are emerging continent-wide.
"In the face of much adversity and homophobia, it's actually quite a heady moment."

Here is the beautiful and personal, uplifting story from a Transgender Kenyan Woman.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe not as soon as I would love it in Uganda. But, I have to believe that, 'It gets better.'


1 comment:

paulocanning said...

V pleased you picked up on my Cif piece - and also v pleased 2c the reaction to yours.

Big Love


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