By: Tlotliso May for ACTIVATE! Change Drivers
In today’s world, a group of people are struggling with this or that issue, which ranges from issues of racism to issues of gender inequality. The aforementioned struggles are often individually felt but can be traced to a group effect wherein a group of people are discriminated against. In the past, we have seen a worldwide outrage of activism, wherein a lot of black people took to the streets and vocalized that the lives of black people mattered in the midst of institutional racism and other forms of racism that included police brutality on black bodies. Recently, the queer community of Uganda has found itself under threat after the passing of the anti-queer law, which does not only prohibit same-gender relationships but strictly prohibits the depiction and advocacy of such relationships.
The announcement that same-sex relationships in Uganda would not only be banned but punishable by extremes such as death came at a time when the world at large has come to terms with the fact that LGBQIA+ rights are human rights that are vital to the entire human race and very much integral. In a video of an interview, the President of Uganda, Mr. Yoweri Museveni, rejects the intervention of western countries in rejecting his and his country’s stance on homosexuality and urges presidents of western societies to focus on their own countries and leave Africans to embrace their own values and choices. The president further says that homosexuals are “disgusting.” In a continent in need of economic development, one may even wonder if the leadership of the country has any pressing issues to attend to that could benefit the country and Africa at large rather than police and punish people’s sexual identities and choices. The nature of activists worldwide is to be in unity with the struggles of other people, even if they are not directly affected by the problem. The attitude of the world’s activists toward issues such as the one Uganda’s queer people are facing is that an injury to one is an injury to all because, at the end of the day, the world is a global community.
International communities responded with shame towards the government and urged action from those who have the power to effect change. This of course also caught the attention of big organizations such as Human Rights Watch and international media. The international community does not only need to pledge alliance but also work towards projects and initiatives that discourage such awful laws that endanger the lives of our fellow Africans. An example that comes to mind is the march taken and coordinated by the EFF, wherein the President of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, took to the streets and handed a memorandum registering their dissatisfaction and disgust with the stance taken by the Ugandan counterpart. “Gay rights are human rights,” says Julius Malema. There is a need for stakeholders all over the world to come together in order to win the fight against such laws.
A lot of political leaders often quote that out of some obscurity we ought to discover our generational mission and, having done that, fulfill it or betray it. I believe our generational mission as 21st century African activists is to steer away from the kind of Africa that further puts the lives of Africans in shame when the entire world looks at us with a lot of disgust. We ought to have the kind of attitude that is influenced by the values of freedom and not the kind where even merely standing up for the rights of others or one’s own rights might get a person killed, despite not posing any direct or indirect danger to anyone.
About the Author:
Tlotliso Innocent May is the founder of Changed men, Change men foundation, a Free State-born 2017 Activator who is passionate about people and the alleviation of people from the dire conditions they find themselves in.
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