By Diana Awino
Technology has made the world a global village. Social media has made every one’s opinion count and, for us ladies, gossip juicers! Every day I thank God for being a millennial. Perusing through the family album often makes my mother’s eyes fill with tears; memories of her long lost friends come flooding back, many of whom she encountered in her youth and have never heard from again – neighbours she left behind when she changed locations, people she couldn’t get in get in touch with even if she wanted to because social media eluded the larger part of their generation.
Because of technology I am in touch with the brilliant class of 2001 to 2006 of Mt. St. Mary’s College, Namagunga, through a Whats App group. These ladies are the true definition of diversity and colour. Through them I relive my teenage years and school escapades, though more often than not I am reminded of adulthood and responsibility. This group got me back on my feet after I hit a record low in my mid-twenties, I will forever be grateful to them. Hot topics ranging from women and men, how to raise children, African elections and violence, marriage proposals, dynamics of the female body, beauty, entrepreneurship, religion and LGBT issues have been heatedly discussed in our group. Today I add my voice to the gay debate.
I do not think a man sleeping with a man or a woman sleeping on top of a fellow woman should give me sleepless nights. As Africans we have bigger problems to worry about. I know of a woman who died giving birth because the midwife hurriedly aided in bringing the baby out, after which she rushed off to the Sub County to attend a workshop where she was paid a safari day allowance of Ugshs. 17,000. She left this mother to bleed to death, despite being alerted that the mother was bleeding profusely. All she had to do was refer this mother to another midwife on duty – but I don’t blame her, the remuneration for health workers in this country is wanting.
My trade is health records and the district health information system has zero maternal deaths. As a district we boast of these figures with pride, no mother has died while giving birth in our care – but you and I live in a larger community where birthing complications and fatalities are more common. I have lost three of my cousins in the deliberation to give life, not long ago a colleague wept on my shoulder as we lay his wife and child to rest. Cause of death? She was giving birth to their fourth child and the couples’ only son. A mother died on her way to the regional referral Hospital 64 kms away in another town, following a referral from the most remote part of the district; if only we had a doctor in the district, or an ambulance, or just better roads – perhaps this mother would be cuddling her bundle of joy in her arms. I could go on and on…all these mothers were not recorded in the Ugandan Health statistics because they died on the way during a referral, or at home, or even at the health centre, and the midwife pretended it never happened for fear of reprimand. Reducing maternal and new born deaths is just one of the issues I believe the government and the people of Uganda should prioritize and brain storm around, instead of spitting fire on the Gay community. There should be efforts in place to ensure the safety and care of these mothers and babies, whether these babies grow up and identify as LGBT later on is a debate for another day.
I subscribe to the popular opinion that LGBT is spreading like wild bush fire because of poverty. I could be wrong, but for now I will base my argument on the testimonies I have read of “ the Run Aways”, they all confess they did it for money. Even the families who have sold their children to LGBT did it because they were desperate for some cash. Why don’t African Governments acknowledge that modernization has caught up with us and is here to stay? The youth, the largest demographic to convert to LGBT, desire the “good life” and have no alternatives. Our governments have made a pact with the devil to keep these young people jobless till kingdom come. They are tempted by the fast cash because”sweet luxuries” are a thing of our generation.
Instead of us pretending that LGBT is an illusion, and putting strong laws in place to hang whoever is guilty of it, why don’t we direct our efforts on battles we can win? What if we accepted the lifestyles of these individuals and let them be, as long as they are not recruiting our children. I do not believe movies, novels, stories or cartoons with gay characters are intended to recruit our babies. I think they are pointing at the bigger picture, showing us that these people are a part of our society, whether we deny it or not. I have not encountered a person who identifies as LGBT, the only LGBT people I know are from stories I’ve read of school boys having sex with each other in toilets or school boys adding anal lotions in their back-to-school shopping lists, or sodomy scandals in Ugandan sports, or testimonies of “Run Aways” who drive around with potties in their cars. Could it be because it is forbidden in my country? Could it be because the state wants their heads and they have gone into hiding? Deny it all you want but rumour has it that even in the Gay community HIV/AIDS is rampant and, like all people, they also need safe-sex options.
For the human mind, forbidding an action makes it more desirable, telling people “do not” translates into “do”. From creation, forbidding is what got our ancestors thrown out of Eden, child birth and toiling for a living are crude reminders. We always want to experience what is on the other side, rather than to be told not to. What if we ignored the whole issue and concentrated on what truly affects us i.e. matters of life and death, than to apportion our energy to someone’s sexual preferences? To forbid someone is to arouse their curiosity, it’s like telling them do it!