Why the African LGBTI community should be concerned over US policy in Africa and AFRICOM
Something momentous happened this past week in Uganda – the first ever PRIDE celebration [organised by ] which included the showing of the film “Call Me Kuchu” and a march through the streets of Entebbe. It was truly a proud defining moment for all African LGBTI people. If Ugandan Kuchus could march through the streets then so could we all – Nigerians, Liberians, Cameroonians and well the whole continent!
The risk taken by everyone present and their courage cannot be underestimated given the history of continuous raids on LGBTI workshops and events by the police. At the PRIDE event the police once again stormed the venue arresting the organizer Kasha Jacqueline] the director of Freedom and Roam Uganda -FARUG, Jay Abang; the programs manager of FARUG; Ms. Stella Nyanzi; a Human Rights Defender; Sandra Ntebi and Julie; Lerato a South African on media team, Rachael Adams and visitors from other counties. As Jay Abang pointed out in a press statement the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has not yet been passed but still…
I feel like our rights have been trampled upon. It is becoming a habit of police to interrupt our gatherings. It is as if a section of Ugandans do not deserve certain rights. The laws and bills have not been passed but police is already enforcing them”
As inspiring and important as the Ugandan Pride event was there are deeper issues bound up with our freedoms as I pointed out in a comment on the US organised Pride event in Nairobi last June.
as well as the presence and role of AFRICOM which is closely tied with various Anti-Terrorist legislations and increased US surveillance across the continent . As Beth Tuckey shows“it is not the militarisation of Africa that will guarantee security for [Africa] or the US but justice and equitable trade”. It is highly disappointing that some African LGBTI activists are comfortable with the US and it’s poor human rights record. This speaks, to some degree, to the professionalisation of social justice whereby funds are provided by US and European non-profits to service work that under the guise of being apolitical, seeks to maintain existing local and international power structures
In his article “Why African LGBTI communities should say NO! to US Imperialism” [See also Statement against the US organised Pride event in Kenya] Kenne Mwikya raised serious concerns over aid and trade conditionality….
Topping the list is the requirement that the beneficiary promote “a market-based economy that protects private property rights… and minimises government interference in the economy through such measures as price controls, subsidies, and government ownership of economic assets.” In addition — and here’s the big one — the beneficiary must make progress toward “the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment.”
Shortly before the strategy paper’s launch, the Washington Post revealed that the US has set up networks of secret bases across the continent, to use surveillance technology and Special Forces incursions against alleged terrorists and other undesirables. Special training for African militaries is part of the package. So, too, are murders:Why should LGBTI activists care? Well, Hillary Clinton is, with quite genuineÃ©lan, promoting the liberties of LGBTI folk on the continent. The right hand is on your side. But US military policy is propping up exactly the regimes – in Uganda, the DRC, Ethiopia,and elsewhere – that relish your oppression. The left hand doesn’t give a damn about you. For how can there possibly be any benign result to all this: secret US aid to train secret African military forces in secret strategies of murder and oppression? What can this conceivably achieve but to prop up dictatorships, and threaten even democratic governments with armed coups and dictatorial control?
Since the 1990s, Washington has viewed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s government as a key regional ally against the Sudanese government during Khartoum’s wars in South Sudan and Darfur, the “terrorist” threat of the L.R.A., and most recently Al Shabab in Somalia. Washington’s political, military and economic aid to Uganda has propped up Museveni’s regime and strengthened the role of the armed forces in everyday politics.
“Their principle interest is to protect their own perceived interest of what American interests are the military has been used and other forces have been used to ensure that American interests are protected. They dont care a damn about the interests of African citizens . They dont care a damn about developing anything of the productive forces of Africa – only in so far as it benefits the US corporations and international finance institutions. So you have a really destructive period. I think we are entering a period where we will see an increasing militarisation taking place.”