Tag Archives: uganda blog
It’s never been so easy to drive across town in Kampala. The combination of some people laying low as a precaution against elections violence, and thousands of people heading back to their villages for the weekend to vote has left … Continue reading
It’s hard to keep things in perspective when you are human. Everything in our lives feels monumental, and when we have a bad day we are convinced that “the world is going to hell in a handbasket.” Our own, individual experience gets transferred to the whole planet.
There are monumental things happening right now on a human scale. Protesters in Bahrain are being gunned down by their government, Egypt and Sudan will never be the same, and South Africa just parked a gunship off the coast of Cote D’ivoire. It’s even monumental that for the first time in recent history, the world’s eyes seem to all be on Africa.
But I think it is important and humbling to remember that not everything happens at the human scale. This aggrandized sense of our own importance is what makes a dictator willing to kill a hundred more protestors to stay in office long enough to skim a few more billion dollars. It leads people to rig votes to stay in power and can lead to murder when our feeling are hurt or our egos are bruised.
But we are a blip in the history of this planet. There are trees on this planet that are 6,000 years old. Mountains date back millions of years.
Uganda is going to the polls today. It might be peaceful, it might now. But let’s just try to remember, when all is said and done, the sun will still rise in the morning, the tides will still ebb and flow, and what really matters is how we treat each other every day. Continue reading
A large majority of the Ugandan population is under 30. To reach these voters, the National Democratic Institute partnered with popular local musician Bobi Wine to release a video encouraging youth to avoid election violence, and to encourage them to report any election irregularities to UgandaWatch2011. With the election day upon us tomorrow, I think it is worth returning to this video that was released last July.[embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdhJGUx6SuQ&feature=player_detailpage[/embed]
The chorus of the song, in English, is:
So if it is voting, let’s go and vote but votes should not separate us,
Let’s stop feuding ‘cause of those contesting,
Votes should not separate us.
As we’re feuding, they’re in agreement.
Votes should not separate us.
Voting comes to an end but we still stay
Votes should not separate us
Let’s all hope for a peaceful election day tomorrow. For up-to-the-moment Twitter updates, go to #UgandaVotes.
Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala Continue reading
According to a Valentines Day article in The East African, Ugandans won’t be feeling the love for at least three years as the government tries to recover financially from the incumbent party’s looting of the treasury to fund their campaigns. Continue reading
I want to share this story from the most recent BeadforLife newsletter (full disclosure – my wife is a co-founder of BeadforLife).
The reason I want to share it is that it is an inspiring story that shows the power of a little bit of seed capital in the right hands. This woman didn’t receive a hand-out, she received an opportunity and worked hard to save the money that allowed her to slowly start and expand her businesses. Continue reading
A recent article in the Associate Foreign Press states that, according to the opposition here, Uganda is Ripe for an Egypt-Style Uprising.
I’m afraid that this is just a bit of wishful thinking on the part of Kizza Besigye, the main opposition candidate. Maybe I will be totally surprised by a tsunami of discontent that will surge after the election but, at this point, I just don’t buy it.
Here are the 5 reasons why I don’t think Uganda is ripe for any type of popular uprising: Continue reading
Originally Posted On Global Voices Online:
Ugandan gay-rights advocate, David Kato, was slain on January 26, 2011. He was bludgeoned in his home with an iron bar 22 days after he won an injunction against the Rolling Stone newspaper that printed his name, along with the names of 99 other Ugandan homosexuals, under a banner stating “Hang Them.”
David’s activism was boldly courageous in a country where homosexuality is illegal, and debate continues on a bill that would provide the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”
Despite the timing and the very visible role David played within the LGBT community in Uganda, Ugandan police refuse to consider this a hate crime.
His death has brought out the voices of friends and foes alike. Continue reading
I have asked many Ugandans why there is such strong homophobia in this country. Nearly every answer I get is some variation on “it isn’t part of our culture. It was brought here by Europeans, and they are trying to recruit young people to become gay.”
The irony is that homosexuality existed here long before Europeans had ever set foot on the African continent and it is, in fact, Christianity, a true European import, that has demonized homosexuals.
An article in the Guardian titled African myths about homosexuality, written by a man from Zimbabwe, cites pre-colonial homosexual activity in present-day Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina-Faso, Camaroon, Angola, and Benin. In fact, he points out that in Angola, homosexuality was common until the Portugese criminalized it.
Homosexuality was not brought here by Europeans. Christianity, and its attendant moral code, was.
The Christian Church is the new colonial power in sub-Saharan Africa. The European national powers laid the original and important groundwork for the advances of the church into all facets of life here. They taught Africans to feel ashamed of their cultures and traditional religions, and left a vacuum when local people did not reap the financial benefits of secular “development.” It was then very easy for the church to step in and fill the void. The control of the church here is far more powerful and complete than that of any of the European powers of the 19th and 20th centuries because it has been welcomed with open arms. There is no “opposition” or “underground movement” against it.
So here are my questions:
* Why are Africans so quick to renounce their traditional cultures and accept a European-introduced religion that strictly defines how they should live and who they should hate, even while the worst thing people can say here about homosexuality is that it was “brought here by Europeans?”
* Why the fear around homosexuality? What is the basis for someone to feel personally threatened by the existence of gay people? It is one thing to not like the fact that some people are gay – there are lots of people in the world that I don’t like, too – but what pushes it over the edge to make it seem ok to kill somebody just because you don’t like how they live their lives?
* How can anyone who is even mildly intelligent believe that people in the West are sending money over here to “recruit” people to become gay? Are you serious?!? The only money coming over here is coming from American Christian evangelicals to promote anti-gay hatred. OK – so maybe that was more an opinion than a question, but it seems that lots of people actually believe this, and I really don’t understand it. Continue reading
Many of the international organizations doing charity and relief work in Africa are faith-based. On the positive side, one can see this as driven by the injunction in many religions to commit our lives to those less fortunate than ourselves. The darker side is represented by a comment made by an American Christian missionary here in Uganda to my in-laws. He said he works here because “the souls are cheap.” In other words, the per-conversion investment, in dollars, is much less than it is in countries with more robust economies.
I like to believe that most of the people working here for religious reasons are motivated by the first drive rather than the second, and many charities of all religions dispense their services without regard to the faith of the recipient. There are, however, a number of organizations that require recipients to convert or proclaim a certain faith before they will help them.
Excuse me for my bluntness, but that’s just dumb.
Can you Buy Souls?
A recent article makes my point here without even going beyond the title: “Several Christians Hastily Convert to Islam for Clothes.”
A group of Christians has suddenly converted to Islam in order to receive free items donated by a Dubai-based company and the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent.
This comes after Muslim landslide victims from Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda (locally called Baduda) who were relocated by the government to the western Ugandan district of Kiryandongo received items donated by a Dubai-based company called Al Crownfolest and the Red Crescent society of United Arab Emirates.
The donated items, worth over $500,000, and solicited by a Ugandan-based local NGO called Iganga Islamic Development Association were distributed last Thursday. Among the items donated were over 3,000 new pairs of trousers, 1,000 copies of the Islamic holy Koran, 500 T-shirts, 2,000 belts and thousands of skirts. The items included no Bibles.
That’s some good stuff, if your home just got washed away by a landslide and you have nothing left.
[As an aside, notice the Christian bias of the writer. If you read an article about World Vision distributing Bibles, would you ever expect to see a mention of the fact that “the items included no Korans?” It wouldn’t even warrant a mention.]
The article goes on to quote one of the converts, Isaac Kule, who says he “converted to Islam because of two reasons. One, so that I get some of the donated items, and two, because ministry of health encourages us to get circumcised as one of the ways of reducing on the risk of getting infected by HIV-AIDS.”
I have to wonder, though, if it “counts” as a conversion if you are doing it because of the goods you may receive rather than because of the God you may receive.
Who Should God be Mad At?
If I were God, or Allah, or Zoroaster or whoever (and I’m not, by the way), I wouldn’t be mad at the people who converted. I’d be proud of their resourcefulness. The people I’d be pissed at are the people who withheld services from those in need because of their faith.
Again, while this example happens to be Muslims only providing services to Muslims, it could just as easily be a Christian or Jewish aid group doing the same. Is it really just about the numbers? Is it really doing “God’s Work” to add names to a tally sheet regardless of what it took to get them there?
Professing a certain faith shouldn’t be a prerequisite for receiving services, it should be a result of it.
Walk. Then Talk.
Since you asked, here’s what I would like to see. I would like to see missionaries of all faiths live such inspiring lives, rooted in the values taught to them through their Holy Books, that people come to them asking what drives them in life. You shouldn’t have to go out of your way to tell people about your faith – it should be evident in your every action. And if you live this way, you will get far more “real” conversions than any “faith for services” program you might have set up.
Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala
This is a big milestone. To celebrate, I thought I’d share some of the highlights from the year, and then re-post the very first entry from 21 January, 2010.
First the highlights:
* Over 15,000 hits – not bad for a first year, starting from scratch
* 110 posts
* Featured once on Freshly Pressed
* Post Talking About Race With Kids published in Elephant Journal
* Switched from Wordpress.com to Wordpress.org and created new site with a new domain (still hoping to get my old readers back!)
* Ranked a Top Uganda Blog by GoOverseas
* Recently invited to be an author for Global Voices Online – stay tuned for more on that
* I’ve met some very interesting people through the blog
* I’ve learned a lot
* I’ve had a lot of fun
This blog truly was one of my highlights from 2010 and I look forward to expanding its reach in 2011.
Now for a trip through memory lane. The inaugural post: Continue reading