In October 2012, the speaker of parliament then, Rebecca Kadaga, trended across local and global news headlines following a spat with the Canadian foreign minister over gay rights at the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The Canadian minister had attacked Uganda’s human rights record, alleging persecution of the gay community.
In response, Kadaga rapped him, “…If homosexuality is a value for the people of Canada, they should not seek to force Uganda to embrace it. We are not a colony or a protectorate of Canada.”
Back home, Kadaga was hailed for standing up to the big boys seeing how much we, the colonized, relish any opportunity to stick it up to the foreign powers. Kadaga declared she would ensure the passing of anti-homosexuality legislation as a Christmas present to Ugandans. She argued that parliament had to safeguard the country’s values. It was a heady time for Uganda on the global news scene as the international community gnashed its teeth over the anti-homosexuality bill.
President Yoweri Museveni did us absolutely no favours with his infamous ‘the mouth is for eating’ speech. In August 2014, the judiciary, in a bewitching show of independence, struck down the anti-homosexuality law; therefore, resetting Uganda’s relationship with the international community to factory settings. They went back to aiding and abetting Museveni’s decades-long rule having secured the morality of gay rights.
Last week, the current speaker of parliament, Anita Among seemed to take many aback when she positioned herself as the latest defender of Uganda’s morality. She denounced the annual music festival, Nyege Nyege, as a sewer of moral filth endangering our children.
While Kadaga received flowery accolades for her anti-homosexuality stance, Among received a massive backlash that had even regime apologists against her. Maybe the key to success is that vexatious word, ‘homosexuality.’
The executive went head-to-head with parliament as each institution dug in on its position. Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja countered that the festival would proceed albeit with guidelines to ensure premium morality. Nabbanja further argued against banning the festival because foreigners in their thousands are already flying to Uganda for the event. Perhaps, the foreigners’ morality will keep our Ugandan immorality in check.
We know our morality is under siege. We joke that our national motto, ‘For God and My Country’ translates to ‘For God and my stomach’ because we know ourselves. We are a predominantly Christian country with mainstream churches blooming alongside pseudo-pastors caning their flock, defiling their flock, sponging off their flock like parasitic leeches. Church leaders worry Christians are practicing more witchcraft than Christianity.
Recently, Muslim leaders decried the sale of pork muchomo near Muslim burials while Christian leaders bemoaned the increasing immorality surrounding the Martyrs’ day events. Shall we ban the Martyrs’ day commemoration? Meanwhile, HIV trends show that HIV is raging amongst the married people - whispering that monogamous fidelity is not our strong point.
On social media, some netizens cheekily warned that if Speaker Among banned Nyege Nyege, they would expose the male parliamentarians who message them privately soliciting sex. When donors talk at us about morality, we pontificate about our virtuous sovereignty and quickly remind them of their corrupting influence. Yes, we unfailingly receive their donor money but refuse their self-righteous morality of human rights. We praise China for staying out of our morality as we become more and more indebted to China. However, money is nice and we like nice things.
When our own privileged politicians preach morality to us, we descend upon them like a leopard whose nini has been poked. Unleashing violence upon them, we troll our politicians for their mollycoddling of corruption, torture, unlawful imprisonment, nepotism and other ills ailing Uganda.
In the biblical story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53—8:11), the leaders dragged the woman to Jesus demanding she had to be punished in accordance with their law. Death by stoning. The leaders baying for her blood believed they had Jesus in a tight spot. Jesus, nonchalantly, responded, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
At this, the leaders caught out, dropped the stones, walked away one by one, as if miraculously having overcome the bloodlust for punishing that most awful sinner.
In April, the parliamentary budget committee rubbished a request from the ministry of Ethics and Integrity for funding towards instilling morals and enacting polices to end corruption in Uganda, according to the Daily Monitor newspaper. One of the parliamentarians, Rachel Magoola, criticized the request, arguing that parents play the biggest role in shaping of morals.
She added, “The idea that you can teach morals needs to be scrapped from the budget. Morals are something that are developed at a very early stage. Morals can’t be worn like a jacket. That is a bottomless pit, you can’t train anyone to be morally upright, you develop the character from a young age.”
Magoola is onto something - the speaker, the Ethics ministry and all ye sinners would do well to heed Magoola’s words.
The writer is a tayaad muzzukulu.