Reflections on David Kato

Mixed news is coming from Uganda on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill [AHB] David fought so hard against. On the one hand its been said the Bill is dead and on the other it will still be debated in Parliament.

It is very possible that the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill will be shelved once and for all. Frank Mugisha of SMUG wrote

Anti homosexuality bill should not be discussed, not needed redundant and unnecessary says Ugandan Government…. “the bill is shelved…the govt has stopped it.”

The Ugandan Minister of Information also said the Bill would be shelved, saying it is unnecessary and should not be considered and will not be supported by government.

However even if the AHB is abandoned, a new Bill, the Sexual Offences Bill [OB] is likely to include similar anti-homosexuality legislation so the struggle very much continues.

African Perspectives invited me to talk about the life and work of Uganda, LGBTI activist, David Kato who was murdered on 26th January 2011. It was a very personal interview and I speak for no one but myself. I was very nervous doing the interview. I was not sure I was the “right” person; would say the “right” things – whatever they are; I was grieving and my confidence was at a low. So I asked Kagendo Murungi whose work I respect and love. I asked her to be objective and frank. I expected a couple of lines at the most but she gave far more and I thank her for this.

I just finished listening to your interview for a second time today and I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your voice. The information you shared and the analysis that you gave about the media’s treatment of David’s death was invaluable because it changes the experience of the events of the past weeks even in hindsight.

Your voice bridges the difference between our trusting that there are more complex voices on the situation in Uganda and in Africa and that there is a critical analysis of homophobic violence in a longer and more complex historical continental context AND witnessing that testament.

It was really saddening to hear about the exploitation of this tragedy in various ways because I was really shocked and appalled to hear about the fundraising scams!

I think there was obviously a lot of sadness in your voice but the way in which you framed your responses to the questions really created a tone of respect and a space for listeners to pause and reflect on a personal level on their own intentions, analysis and preconceived notions about what is happening in Uganda and throughout Africa.

I really felt that your interview humanized David in a whole different way than I’ve seen or heard. Perhaps its because your comments are not in a context that can be turned into a spectacle or exploited by any outside parties because it is a personal reflection from a friend and colleague as well as a voice from the inside-out.

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