Did President Museveni sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill for “mercenary reasons”?

26 02 2014

Over the past few weeks President Museveni has made headlines in both local and international news to the extent that he attracted the attention of President Obama, which ended into a mini-cold-war of a sort.

Even though Museveni agrees that he knows (so) little about (the cause of) homosexuality, he puts it very bluntly that homosexuals are NOT normal, that homosexuality is a product of the western culture and that it has no place in Africa. Well, this is an opinion that many Ugandans (or should I say Africans) share.

After a long contentious debate, President Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law yesterday. The President made it clear that he wanted the whole world to witness this; most of the world’s popular media houses witnessed the occasion.

The international community has expressed its disappointment in Museveni and Uganda in general. In fact a number of countries have threatened to cut aid to the Uganda government.

“The United States is deeply disappointed in the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights. Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law. Via Aljazeera

Some people say that Museveni only signed the bill because “Obama dared him”. Obama warns Uganda over anti-gay law – Reuters.

Museveni responded to Obama with no kind words. “Countries and Societies should relate with each other on the basis of mutual respect and independence in decision making,” Museveni said in a statement. – New Vision

Apparently, Museveni wanted to put the leaders of the west in their place, to show them that they don’t have power or control over sovereign African states.

But what would have happened if Obama had NOT “dared” Museveni? Maybe things would have turn out differently? I don’t think so. I am sure that Museveni has been looking for an opportune moment to hit the west where it hurts most – to show them that he is the ONLY person who has power and control over Uganda.  This is why he wanted the signing of the bill to be covered widely.

And this is where I suspect that there is more to the signing of the Anti-Gay Bill than meets the eyes. It’s not just about “our culture” or homosexuality, it is about power, control and ego.

A friend of mine wrote on Facebook “Obama was only 24 years when Museveni came to power. How can he caution him?”

Why are African Presidents feeling threatened?

Over the past few months we have seen African leaders ganging up against their counterparts in the west – saying that the west is remotely controlling Africa. That African Presidents are being still overlooked and treated unfairly. A key example is the recent trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta at International Criminal Court (ICC).

African leaders reached a compromise – to boycott the ICC. The leaders agreed that African problems should be solved by Africans. Since then, African Presidents have upped their hostility towards the ICC and leaders from the west.

President Museveni is one of the political “giants” on the African continent – not because he has been in power for almost 3 decades – no! Because, over those years he has proven to be an asset to other leaders (or rulers like some people prefer to call him) of his caliber. Hence he is deeply respected in those circles.

Personally, I have this feeling that African Presidents are secretly executing a project – the “Anti-West Influence/ Control” project. And they are always looking for an opportunity to rub it in the faces of leaders like President Obama.

Therefore wonder whether Museveni might have signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill for “mercenary” reasons.

  1. Did President Museveni sign the bill to “mark his territory”? There has been increasing speculation in Uganda that if anyone is to save Ugandans from Museveni’s regime, it will come at the might of Obama (administration). Today, Museveni is trying to demystify such speculations.
  2. Museveni has also made it clear that he is going to contest in the 2016 Presidential elections and he knew that by enacting this law, he would win the hearts of many Ugandans who share his opinions on issues of homosexuality. He is basically hitting two birds with the same stone.

After all has been said and done, many LGBTI rights activists still have hope that this law can still be nullified through the court. But the question remains, what’s Museveni’s agenda (if he has any)?

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“The nurse who injected a child with HIV blood”: Media propaganda in Uganda

10 02 2014

You have probably seen or heard the story of “the nurse who injected a child with blood”. Yes? Well the nurse’s name is Namubiru. I saw this story on NTV Akawungeezi – the Luganda version at seven in the evening. See the video clip below.

My first reaction was irritation and deep inside I was wondering, how could a nurse who is over 50 (judging from her looks) be so heartless? At the same time I was reflecting on a post I wrote on the recent World AIDS Day – Are we “Getting to Zero”?: The HIV/AIDS blame game in Uganda.

This story really bothered me, the thought that a nurse could do such (to a child), made me sick in the stomach. Since then, I have followed the developments on this story. Once in a while I could catch a news byte to update myself on the case.

As I continued to follow the story I learned that there were actually two different narratives and both of them were victimizing the nurse. One said that “the nurse used the same syringe she had used on her self to give a child a shot yet she was aware that she is HIV positive” while the other said that “the nurse had injected the child with HIV positive blood”.

Mid last week I was listening to Sanyu FM’s news and the nurse’s case was mentioned again “the trial of the HIV positive nurse who injected a child with blood is set for Friday this week….. After the incident, the child was tested and found HIV positive yet the parents of the child are both HIV negative..”

The other day I met some people who are following this nurse’s case. They mentioned that they were from court and that the nurse had been denied bail. They asked whether I knew anything about that case.

I told them what I knew – basically the narrative that the media was spreading wildly; that the nurse injected a child with blood and infected her with HIV. Little did I know that this was far from the truth.

This is how I learned the other story, one that is not known to many. According to the people who have interacted with the nurse and the parents of the child, the nurse did not actually inject the child with blood.

What happened is that the child was on treatment and this nurse was supposed to administer a shot. Of course the nurse had a syringe in her hand. But we all know how much children fear pricking. So the child tried to resist and in the process the nurse pricked her (index) finger.

The mistake the nurse did is going ahead to use the syringe that had pricked her on the child – why she didn’t do this, you and I will probably never know but she (the nurse) insists that she didn’t have any ill intentions against the child.

The other thing I learned is, even though the nurse is HIV positive, apparently the child has been tested for HIV at least twice since the incident and she has tested negative on both occasions. If this is true, why does the Urban TV report – “Baby infected with HIV“?

What does this kind of reporting mean for the child in question. If the child is HIV negative, how will the narrative be reversed? Of course normally the media will rush into reporting without thinking about the damage this could cause to this child, her family or even the nurse who now seems to be a public enemy.

The media has succeeded in telling us just what we want to hear. Human nature is characterized with complaining, victimizing and well, hypocrisy; the media uses those same characteristics to tell us a story that we can identify with, a story that will win our hearts. The New Vision picture below shows a picture of the nurse, Namubiru looking terrified.terrified-Namubiru

Once the media has set the ground with all their propaganda, the nurse story becomes of no relevance, even if she tells her story, how many people will be interested in listening to it? And this is where the danger of a single story comes in.

In the end, media houses have nothing to lose. People enjoy reading these unbalance because they are easier to understand and easy for the journalists to compile in a short time.

Here are some of the headlines from some of the most popular media houses in Uganda.

Nurse Who Injected Child With HIV Blood Denied Bail – Red Pepper

Woman arrested for injecting baby with HIV infected blood – New Vision

How a nurse injected baby with HIV blood – The Observer

Baby infected with HIV – Urban TV

Lack of professionalism  or Ignorance?

When I see stories like this in the media only one thing comes to my mind – that after many decades of reporting on HIV/AIDS, journalists and editors have learned nothing, nothing at all. Many journalists have failed to understand that they have a role to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS and that their role is not to spread the gospel of discrimination but to educate people through telling true and balanced stories.

“Our health reporting is really lacking, we need training to help us understand those scientific terms and jargon language….” I have seen journalists front this excuse on several occasions. Well, I am NOT buying that no more! We are talking about the basics here, if you cant tell a simple story as it is, without fabricating the facts, am afraid even training on health reporting won’t benefit you much.

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When I look at how the media has portrayed this nurse’s story, I feel hopeless. I learned that this nurse has a daughter. With this kind of reporting, the nurse becomes a public enemy even before the public knows verdict.

However, I still have faith that when the media and journalism is dies (if its not dead already), there are still people who are willing to tell and hear the balanced story, not to victimize or discriminate but to seek justice and make the world a better place.