“…Christian-Europeans…had their eyes on the African prize…shortly therein…Islamic…Semite Arabs began their mass descent…enthralled as well…they whittled away at …African’s …traditional …values—co opting shortsighted, weak kings…”
“…Afro-American religious…just as disconnected from (and indifferent to) continued colonial pillaging of Africa—duplicating the stance held toward a U.S. Civil Rights involvement—should be lost on no one.”
Trouble In Black Paradise Chapter 2: A View From The Cradle Of Civilization, page 39; & Chapter 20: A Field Of Freshly Fueled Awakening Warriors, page 446.
Greetings heart filled readers!
Trouble in Black Paradise sees gays in Uganda under attack—& fighting for their lives.
Richard Lusimbo is fighting for his life & the lives of Uganda’s gay spectrum as their Civil Rights are under deadly fire. An Anti-Homosexuality Act titled “Kill The Gays” was initiated in 2009, unleashing a murderous witch hunt. The activist is on tour telling his story.
The event touchingly titled “From Uganda With Love” took place at San Francisco’s GLBT History Museum last Nov. 16th in the Castro. Jeff Cotter’s Rainbow World Fund (Cotter addresses the event below) the National Center for Lesbian Rights & the History Museum were cosponsors. A full crowd seen below awaited an update on Uganda’s disturbing situation.
I first covered this development in 2010 when Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo came to SF raising awareness & rallying support, sponsored by Integrity USA on a worldwide tour. In appearances at two SF venues Bishop Senyonjo painted a horrendous picture of unfolding madness, where terrorizing harassment reminiscent of Blacks brutalized in the Jim Crow South was shattering LGBTQ lives.
Senyonjo (bottom right with me at SF’s African American Art & Culture Complex) was 78, retired & in Washington D.C. when Uganda’s proposed “Kill The Gays” bill exploded on the 2009 scene, but ended retirement & rushed home with his wife to join the battle. Awaiting the Bishop the Episcopal Church revoked his pension for this decision & forbid him to preach in the Mother Sanctuary—leaving his situation tenuous & vulnerable.
We learned then that Caucasian right-winged evangelical preachers from the U.S.—led by Scott Lively—had set it all in motion. For Lively the U.S. is now far too soft on persecuting gays, where he says Africa is perfectly ripe. And many of them now spread this hate campaign to other African countries; atrocities already erupting elsewhere—white ministers heavily cashing-in.
Senyonjo is aligned with gay liberation group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). SMUG leads a coalition of LGBTQ organizations offering social sanctuary, medical & legal assistance to victims of the witch hunt.
Lusimbo, 29, is SMUG’s research & documentations officer. He’s also a chief witness in SMUG v. Lively. Cleverly its legal team discovered a U.S. constitutional clause: the Alien Tort Statute allows foreigners to sue U.S. citizens for crimes against humanity committed on foreign soil.
See specifics about Lusimbo’s background & violent assaults on gays whom SMUG rallies support for right here (& the end of this blog article will have Senyonjo’s entire 2010 SF event republished from my then examiner.com post, giving readers more thorough—& woefully disgusting—insight on these white missionary’s heinous tactics).
Coverage by U.S. corporate media of Uganda’s gay rights battleground is neglectful at best, so progress reports come far & in-between. Peter Teague would interview Lusimbo (the more recent warrior in this vanguard) & I was anxious to get his fresh-eye view from Africa’s frontlines—a view that promised to be hard knocks personal.
Teague jumped right in evoking modern “gay circle” tradition—where one making a vital presentation to the community first shares their own “coming out” story. Lusimbo’s response cut right to the shocking chase: “I never got to have a coming out story!” he was literally thrown into the fray in 2013 quite unexpectedly—a total novice at investigating his own homosexual conundrum.
“Coming out” in the somewhat ideal sense (such an awkward term here) was usurped: it’s where a person—after finally coming to grips with their own “gayness”—then faces the world’s response to their brave self-revelation, but at their own pace. The “crushing-blow” styled public attack (known so well in America as being “outed”) is what set Lusimbo’s fate in motion.
Red Pepper, a sensational national magazine splashed his face on their front cover after he had cautiously attended his very first gay support meeting.
Such flurrying tumult set the grounds on which a then 26-year-old man had to simultaneously do the unthinkable:
Suddenly “own” his essential homosexuality (in the heat of suffocating revilement); figure out its “mystery” (or, legitimate relationship to human legacy); discover how likeminded folk “lived” (if they gathered, survived & flourished at home & in the greater world); then defiantly “protect” his own self-interest (joining others, dismissing anti gay friends & family while rejecting a dangerous government’s demands).
In 3 short years leading up to now Lusimbo did all that, plus became a major multifaceted organizer; he’s fled the country twice due to death threats & has bravely returned home to resume the resistance call.
Asked about the impact of being ostracized & how people under attack are fairing the answers were familiar.
Half of Lusimbo’s family & friends outright rejected him (childhood friends being most painful) but gaining so many more supportive kindred so unexpectedly has been astounding! And to now be so absolutely “out,” not having to hide or pretend in such an adverse, unsure climate, is a liberation “gift” we in that room knew well—it’s indescribable!
But another Uganda citizen here with Lusimbo shared a striking contrast—not allowing obscurity on grim reality. The young man’s major family & support loss rocked him deeply. Fear remained highly palpable as he almost desperately asked to not be visually published—pleading repeatedly to remain anonymous (while still a warrior behind the scenes).
And something additional had a piercing presence here:
It’s always extraordinary to witness the depth of poise, dignity, humility, calm & sense of hospitality threading the demeanor of traditionalist Africans—even in the face of calamity. Given the tenseness from such chilling subject matter Lusimbo’s disposition captured just that—tinged even, with a slight stately air.
It brought home the event’s title, “From Uganda With Love,” & most noticeably when this envoy was asked if LGBTQ citizen’s hopes remained high. The answer even offered a bit of “reverse consolation” for our souls—the rawness of our wounds & assaulted feelings still fresh & laid so bare, pungent emotions searing psyches throughout the room.
Local activist Cleve Jones had spoken earlier describing the tone of today’s gay U.S. circles, his own shock & dismay vivid, unshakable, reeling from the previous week’s presidential election. It caused Jones (seen below) to question his chosen political tactic—so effective in pioneer organizing days, wondering if the same would work today—being so unsure about exactly what could.
“Please know that the world has closely watched this event & feels just as wounded by the outcome as you do,” Lusimbo said. “We are with you & know that this threatens us all!” The soothing effect was immediate, his keen following of our events & knowledge of U.S. political players obvious—stroking me & the room; such irony when most here undoubtedly wouldn’t even know the words Yoweri Museveni—the president of Uganda’s name.
And about Africa’s battle & hope:
Lusimbo said, “If you in the U.S. have come this far only 47 years after the Stonewall riots, we are confident we can do the same.” Signs in his country give gay citizens & advocates there encouragement: the “hate bill’s” death penalty was reduced to life in prison by the time Museveni signed it in 2014; plus the bill was soon struck down by the Constitutional Court of Uganda on a procedural matter.
And, SMUG has won the first legal round in the U.S. case of SMUG v. Lively.
I was glad to hear that Bishop Senyonjo is doing well & still in the fight, being about 85 now & a critical senior resource. But in the brief, busy Q & A period no chance to know if progress means he’s recovered his stripped pension & Church status.
I did get to mention a critical piece in this equation, Senyonjo had clearly verified in 2010:
“Traditionalist” Ugandans (in the field) affirm that a clan’s or kingdom’s central spiritual leader was known as a “Two Spirit”—a homosexual priest—being profoundly revered shamans; the glue binding social survival & advancement “integrity” (launched out of humanity’s dawn). Like elsewhere on earth sex & its stratum wasn’t an “issue” (shamed & under attack) until British, or European rule.
Lusimbo verified he knew this & that the more Westernized towns had lost the “ancient view.” He told the story of when the shift happened, about the late 1800’s when Protestant, Catholic & Islamic treasure seekers viciously battled to wrest control of the country—winning over African leaders & citizens in religious “conversion therapy” campaigns.
Long story short Uganda’s King Kabaka Mwanga II (seen below) executed 23 Anglican & 22 Catholic converts (Afro leaders & citizens) having assassinated Anglican Bishop James Hannington (sent from England to shore up its “conversions”). Christian powers had blatantly sowed internal descent (for an easy take-over). They also disrupted homosexual traditions—ones the king had enjoyed. Mwanga hoped to thwart both threats.
The result: religious outsider’s 3-way attack eventually conquered Uganda, leaving British Protestants on top, Swahili Islamists on the bottom & indigenous African religion all but eliminated. Those executed converts were made Afro Christian martyrs—homosexuality demonized in the process—with African minds (& wealth) rerouted to support filling Europe’s coffers.
This same historical outcome all over the Motherland is what keeps her ripe for emotional & material plundering by Western interests (especially the U.S.) to this day.
One thing I didn’t get to bring up though, is our own post Stonewall challenges (& footholds we now evidently take for granted)—gays here (echoing Euro invaded Uganda & slowly advancing Afro-America) now seem to be stalling & stagnating—internally.
America’s gay people of color spectrum is still marginalized in the white gay mainstream; we still deal with cold stoic indifference & racist acts there (micro levels & blatant assaults racing right along); & U.S. gays lose the allegiance to homosexual “plight,” blindly mesmerized by straight movie entertainment & anti gay “pop culture.”
This room’s seats were full (as seen below) but in this spacey Castro facility there was tons of room where an anxious, concerned crowd should have overflowed!
A thing though is not lost on Uganda’s gay activists. They are warriors! Africa’s LGBTQ folks are in an all out “war” with the enemy: against white U.S. evangelicals; the government; society blindly joining the witch hunt; & families that would readily sacrifice gay lives for colonial European religious principles.
And these enemies blare brazen horns: Uganda’s legislators & white U.S. evangelicals vow to revive that bill & get it passed—fully enforced & more!
Again it’s a startling contrast to the tone now so pervasive in our country. And here, I’ll make more tangible what Jones merely touched on above:
Although the same cadre of U.S. enemies trumpets their eternal war on America’s homosexuals innumerable white gays after our election totally fumble on the warrior front. Convoluted social privilege has complacent whites crippled by the thought they are at “war.”
Absolutely stunned that blatant “racist,” anti gay friends & family so easily threw them under the political bus (people they “broke bread” with regardless) hardcore reality barges in. Their so-called loved ones rocked them, fiercely choosing a disgraceful, distasteful President elect over them. Then those hateful loved ones posture & cry foul themselves, still expecting a “proper” tea & crumpets approval of their in-your-face family bigotry—which these rejected gays (who had until then turned a blind eye) did teach them to morally “expect.”
For us veterans our being outright rejected by loved ones, when there was no progress cushion for our “openness,” confirmed we had to cut all pretense with them—painful as it was we couldn’t stomach that tasteless charade in our face; we wouldn’t be set-up for obvious future catastrophic let-downs—we forced folks to actually “walk-the-walk.”
For gay novices it’s a hard lesson that’s hopefully not too late to learn.
Importantly for gay Ugandans they now have key foothold items bolstering hope for long & short term progress—the kind that can’t easily be shaken off:
They’re getting a clearer knowledge of homosexuality & its special place in pre colonial human history; what it means (or looks like) to have viable gay community building in a now colonially ruled world; & most important: they are now connected to a global LGBTQ network (not isolated) that now “sees,” monitors & connects with them.
Because many African countries are now under the same profiteering religious attack SMUG’s legal groundwork could set a powerful precedent: white anti gay preachers hoping to exploit & cash in on vulnerable societies elsewhere, could be sued for their crimes against humanity.
I’ll have to wait for future connections (maybe Facebook) to follow-up with Lusimbo & co. (notably about avoiding America’s pitfalls). And yet another hat he wears is documentarian. A new film “And Still We Rise” is one I must see. Not yet released the production highlights gay Uganda’s resilience, an effort I’d love to discuss with him—and review.
Lusimbo excitedly accepted my book Trouble In Black Paradise:
It’s my own LGBTQ based chronicle for posterity of history’s extraordinary, mostly unsung social revolution heroes & their remarkably common “blueprint”—threading an incredible cluster of events down from the dawn of human time. The same “blueprint” motif shaped my consciousness in the fiery 1960’s & 70’s, demanding honesty about my own multiple conundrums; it launched me into pioneer work, joining others creating communities for numerous endangered underdog groups I shared—the cutting edge segment overlapping all my “camps” being the Black lesbian & gay spectrum.
My book’s central push absolutely discredits Black U.S. preacher’s Biblical justification to pummel homosexuals—in a rollicking historical ride—using the “blueprint’s” scholarly power. For Ugandans & other country’s fledgling gay system builders—at obvious war with colonialism’s deadly “radicalized” Christians—accessing this “torch” of universal Elders is essential.
Our explosively homophobic Black preachers say nothing about missionaries raining disaster all over Africa (let alone injustices at home) or our government’s material driven crimes against humanity there. Being so clutched arm-in-arm with white imperialist, racist evangelicals crystallizes a thing: Black U.S. preachers make strange bedfellows reinforcing white power fanatics who wreak havoc at home—and pillage Afro ancestral lands abroad.
With such an international cloud ringing alarms over our heads, how marvelous to leave that event gaining unexpected hope…
“From Uganda With Love.”
Learn more about Rainbow World Fund here: https://rainbowfund.org/
Make Uganda “gay support” donations thru RWF here: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1210623
All photos (at locales in both series) are by Fundi.
See Bishop Senyonjo’s 2010 San Francisco visit below.
Uganda Bishop Christopher Senyonjo’s May, 2010 San Francisco visit.
“…it would behoove Black Christians…to follow Dr. King’s and Bishop Senyonjo’s brave progressive example…truer benevolence attacked the practice of wasting and throwing away precious leadership…found within…Black lesbians and gays…”
Trouble In Black Paradise Chapter 20: A Field Of Freshly Fueled Awakening Warriors, page 446.
Author’s note: Starting in 2010 in my examiner.com blog titled San Francisco Religion & Society I wrote about local stories & events over a 2 year period. I covered Ugandan Bishop Senyonjo’s visit here in May of 2010 where he addressed audiences at the African American Art and Culture Complex & the Charles M. Holmes Campus of The Center (the LGBTQ Center) over 2 nights. That entire series is reposted below, giving a far more detailed account of how Uganda’s Kill The Gays Act was initiated, the deplorable tactics used by white U.S. evangelicals to push it & the African legislators who back it. Readers also get a glimpse of Uganda’s founding indigenous populaces, its foreign takeover by unscrupulous Christian & Islamic forces (constantly embroiled in bloody battles for absolute control) and a totally conquered Africa’s ruinous 20th century aftermath.
Parts 1-5 summarize intimate round table talks at the Culture Complex. Parts 6-10 cover The Center’s event.
Undaunted bishop bravely opposing Uganda’s deadly anti gay bill visits San Francisco
Episcopal Bishop Christopher Senyonjo who openly defies life threatening persecution—undauntedly supporting Uganda’s LGBT citizens—is in San Francisco. Last night a group gathered at the African American Art and Culture Complex in the historic Western Addition for an intimate communal welcoming reception. Bishop Senyonjo (above center) is on a world-wind U.S. tour to bring much greater attention to the cause and raise critical pro-gay funds for Integrity USA.
Cosponsoring Senyonjo’s S.F. visit are the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, the S.F. LGBT Community Center, Equality California and last night’s hosts. Moderating tonight’s public forum (at the LGBT Center from 6:30-8:00 pm) is the Rev. Roland Stringfellow of the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations.
Andrea Shorter (above at left) introduced Senyonjo to a more than enthusiastic Culture Complex gathering. Small in stature but brimming with gargantuan life the 78 year old grandfather (trained in “humanist” marriage counseling) has been married for 30 years and had retired in 1998 after 24 years of Episcopal service. The bishop wasted no time in plunging into the matter.
Apparently Senyonjo had been in Washington DC six months when discovering Uganda’s proposed “Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009” and was instantly compelled to return home. The bill calls for gays to be imprisoned for life with mandatory HIV testing attached—those declared “positive” would be put to death. Senyonjo’s wife, fearful of his “gay inclusive” ministry, was initially against his stand; soon though, his compassionate plea won her courageous support.
Uganda’s Episcopal forces instantly attacked: the bishop lost his pension and was forbidden to preach in the main church. It would not sway his momentum. Senyonjo (below with Dr. Kenneth Monteiro) has received “emotional” support in the responding global outcry: although autonomous Uganda presides under Britain’s parliament—which condemns the bill; President Obama and Secretary Clinton also join worldwide condemnation. Certain “outside sources” though, actually spawned this draconian law.
In 2009 US ministers representing The Family, an extreme “right winged” religious group consisting of congressmen, corporate leaders, etc…, converged upon a Ugandan conference and set their diabolical campaign into motion (Current TV’s Vanguard exposes this in its season opener “Missionaries Of Hate” on May 26th at 8:00pm Pacific time). Already historically pillaged and spiritually raped by Colonial Christian ideology (and still reeling in a corrupt dictatorship’s aftermath) Uganda was ripe for the “experiment.”
City congregants (being more deeply groomed by colonial forces than rural) instantly ran with the extreme holier-than-thou gay “hate-bait”—frenzied Christian mobs screamed that homosexuality had no African “roots!”
Senyonjo’s rural village interviews though, revealed the total opposite.
To be continued…
Pt. 2: Foreign culprits
An intimate group enthusiastically awaited Bishop Christopher Senyonjo’s communal styled reception in the Western Addition. The African American Art and Culture Complex provided a colorful ethnic setting for this ambassador’s critical “mission”—representing an African Motherland ruthlessly targeted by ambitious white U.S. evangelicals. Individuals could now make personal exchanges, receiving priceless one-on-one dialogue opportunities. All got busy in a round table discussion.
Given the specifics of Uganda’s proposed “kill the gays” bill (laid out earlier) we learned that the country’s previous climate showed a far less urgency for LGBT citizens & advocates. Senyonjo’s crucial point hit home immediately: extremist “right winged” U.S. evangelicals spearheaded this campaign and totally support consequences for “assumed” homosexuality—“life in prison and death.”
Led by religious provocateur Scott Lively two others had rushed to a March 2009 Kampala workshop to create a furor over what they called the “gay agenda”: Caleb Lee Brundidge (a professed “reformed” homosexual) and Exodus International’s Don Schmierer. Their guise was keeping “cohesion” within the African family (after these white missionaries had gained the populace’s trust, ironically assisting communities devastated by AIDS). Controversial pastor Rick Warren is another who has influentially “shaped policies” not only in Uganda, but Nigeria, Rwanda and Kenya as well—apparently though, he renounced Uganda’s “bill” calling it “un-Christian.”
Ugandan Parliament member David Bahati ran with the “gay agenda” hate bait spewed in Kampala’s workshop, then went further: he submitted a private member’s bill actually toughening repercussions for gay support. Local pastor Martin Ssempa (a former affiliate of Warren’s) scooped-up verbatim the outrageous fabrication of “gay dangers” (child recruitment, molestation, bestiality) then did the unspeakable. In a fanatical act to inflame crowds Seempa actually played extremist, hardcore underground “gay porn” in his packed Sunday church service—women & children witnessing as well.
U.S. evangelicals admit that they are especially targeting Africa (and other Third World communities) because they are “losing ground” in the war against gays at home. Africa is declared ripe for their “experiment.” Militant Christian forerunners had definitely expected their European heirs to recognize Africa’s ripeness (following their centuries-old plundering of hearts, minds & riches). And the impact transcending borders is immediate: an alleged “gay couple” was recently sentenced to 14 years hard labor in Malawi.
Africa is the seat of a revived U.S. McCarthyism: enraged mobs spill into the streets spewing condemnation; a spying climate intensifies as people merely accused of harboring—or being gay—suffer the same deadly risks; and panic causes vast refugee numbers to swell.
Critics also say this: the result of people being forced underground (where heterosexual HIV infections overwhelmingly dominate) will escalate monumental catastrophe.
Many Culture Complex attendees totally relate to how colonial devastation could make Africans so ripe for intellectual exploitation—like Afro-Americans the Motherland’s populace was broken and made totally “susceptible” because of losing their true history.
To be continued…
Pt. 3: “Unsung” historical truths
Rising Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa inflamed his agitated congregation with murderous sentiment towards its homosexual citizenry—he and his Anglican swayed masses accepted U.S. evangelical lies lock, stock and barrel. Spearheaded by Scott Lively (and The Family USA) Puritan religious condemnation is sewn throughout continental Africa—it’s sprouted as Uganda’s deadly 2009 “Kill The Gays” bill.
Such is the message of Bishop Christopher Senyonjo while in San Francisco at the Culture Complex above, as an envoy of Integrity USA. Senyonjo daringly defies the Anglican establishment’s stance; his counseling persists with giving LGBT clients a life saving, “God qualifying,” spiritual backing for their sexual nature—paying a heavy price as swift Church retribution take a huge toll.
Ssempa floods Kampala streets with blindly enraged mobs, screaming the message that Africa has no cultural history of providing a legitimate place for gays. Senyonjo at SF’s African American Art and Culture Complex indicated antagonists may fabricate this theory in “the cities,” but conversations with the more independent tribal communities reveal a striking contrast.
Research strongly backs the answers Seyonjo (below with members of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition) received from Uganda’s “traditional” outposts—being far less Anglican influenced. Homosexuality historically did exist, was well known and definitely not persecuted—or made shameful. Sex itself was not taboo & homosexuality was on par in the spectrum. So, unlike in the West there was no distinction—or separation word—called “gay.” Private is another relative word here, which also applies to many interpersonal aspects; and this aside from choosing selective “intimates” to share personal things.
Something key though also stands out here: “world evidence” shows that before Judeo Christians had thoroughly run over humanity, replacing indigenous edicts with perverse Puritan ideals, a tribal spiritual leader commonly had same sex partners themselves—people the French called a Berdache.
Traditionalists say it makes total sense that a “spiritual leader”—so representative of humanity’s tie with the profound (and severe) environment in which we live—would reflect a “duo gender” reality. Shamans are a conduit for the “spirit world” with all the spectral possibilities therein.
Elder “spiritual trainers” watched for special signs that hint of a child’s inherent mission as a future healer: the child’s animated affinity for “cross dressing,” or preference for overall cross gender connection tops the list. Spiritual graduates were powerful new mentors, with formidable abilities that often bested top warriors—as this specialized guide helped navigate intricate & complicated life.
And for some a shocker: “same sex” couples could be married, contradicting falsified “fundamentalist propaganda” about history.
Seyonjo agrees modern Uganda had long been ruthlessly made ripe. Here, a glimpse of “colonial infiltration” in African antiquity does prove quite revealing.
To be continued…
Author’s note: Parts 4 & 5 give the reader an expanded view of Uganda’s ancient indigenous settlers, leading up to the arrival of Islamic & Christian forces. We reach the mid 19th century setting where Buganda King Kabaka Mwanga II executed Anglican & Catholic African converts—who were eventually made Saints—illustrating what was also told to us recently by Richard Lusimbo.
Pt. 4: Ancient “Bantu” splendor
Anglican Ugandans angrily claim that homosexuality found no social reality within theirs, or any African nation’s history. But Bishop Christopher Senyonjo at SF’s Culture Complex had a striking rebuff: interviews at more traditional—less Westernized outposts—blatantly contradict that asserted propaganda.
Round table attendees discussed Africa’s huge loss of historical knowledge along the ruthless colonial way—a common result afflicting Europe’s “conquered” prey (Black America sees the same massive loss). Curiosity about Uganda’s early religious takeover stirred in the room. A brief glimpse into her past before colonial arrival is revealing:
Uganda is situated in East Africa’s Great Lakes, or “Interlacustrine Region,” an area hemmed in by natural land barriers which made it one of the last to receive European contact. Entrance is easier through the south. Other modern states there are Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Today’s dominant “Bantu speaking” group (over a hundred unrelated societies inhabit this region) slipped up from the south at about 500-600 AD and now preside over multiple ethnicities. Others though, predated their arrival: ancestral Pygmies still dot the areas of Southern Uganda, Rwanda (which also is Watutsi country) and Eastern Zaire (to the west); Khoisan territory ran from South Africa up to Ethiopia’s highlands (at the east); and tall Cushites roamed Ethiopia’s Great Rift.
Between 1000-1300 AD Bantu “Chwezi” kings had established multiple kingdoms (as “new” Islamic Arabs had begun plaguing Ethiopia from 700-1600 AD) and two major, splendid dynastic kingdoms emerged: 1. Buganda; and 2. dominant Bunyoro—the formidable empire capable of absorbing the tall non Bantu Nilotic “Bito clan” (who overran from the Central North). A king of Bunyoro is seen seated center in the photo at right. At 1600 feisty Buganda wrested its own independence and by 1800—galvanizing a greatly expanded territory—she finally ruled.
In 1800 Buganda for the first time “ever” allowed outside trade: the proficient Swahili merchants (long inundated by Islam) sat spread across Kenya’s and Tanzania’s coasts; now Uganda’s ivory, gold and “slaves” (human spoils from internal wars) left the interior, exchanged for guns, weapons, tools and cloths—coming from Islamic “Arabia.” By 1850 Swahili agents are allowed their first stations “inside” Uganda’s border—this will soon prove to be a huge mistake.
Europe’s first arrival in the 1860’s found Britain bringing Protestant missionaries; Catholic France was hot on her heels—both starved for converted “souls” and their riches. These explorers were astounded by the sophisticated “traditional” African magnificence they’d behold. Immediately though, European revulsion about a social/spiritual custom provided Anglican justification for a much sought, ruthless, united future take-over: non-shameful “homosexual practices” among natives.
To be continued…
Pt. 5: A tragic Colonial finale
San Francisco glimpsed an inspiring evolution—that which set retired Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (in his Anglican apprentice years) miles apart from the rest: fascinated by diverse humanity he took progressive “sexuality” courses during sabbaticals.
“Humanist” based training had apparently triggered an epiphany. Senyonjo divinely rejected dangerous convention to believe the opposite: human sexuality’s spectrum—being homosexually inclusive—is humanity’s “gift from God.”
African American Art and Culture Complex attendees were stricken by another revelation. Senyonjo’s rural talks with “traditional” Ugandans (less co-opted by the West) were fascinating: Homosexuality had existed un-attacked and in a “non-shameful” way. Here, further exploring Uganda’s settlement history and its final social outcome brings eye-opening tidbits—putting Senyonjo’s rural interviews in greater perspective:
By the 1850’s Buganda’s “Kabaka” (king) Mutessa I had also allowed the 1st Christian (Protestant and Catholic) missionaries in, who quickly set-up competitive camps against the Muslims. Blinded African nobles altruistically led thousands of Africans into “Christian conversions,” conducted at right by a member of the White Fathers (to offset growing Islamic power)—her second major mistake. Two violently adversarial “foreign religious parties” now dominate: the Protestant “Inglesa” and Catholic “Fransa”; a small Islamic (Swahili) group that 50 years earlier established foreign trade had now gotten bullied to the peripheral—but still nervously monitors.
Colonial Christians (gaining an upper hand) and shocked at what “they” called abomination—Africa’s spiritualized homosexual “relations”—religiously justified the “Interlacustrine’s” now predictable outcome: total conquering that leads to environmental plundering, European enslavement policies and repackaging minds for malicious “ideological” transformation.
16-year-old Kabaka Mwanga II (in the photo’s forefront below) succeeded his father in 1884, shocking foreign enterprise by being a staunch African “traditionalist”—hostile to outsider interests. But by this time local and neighboring African nobility was now outright undemocratically Christian and the African elder’s democratic “checks and balances” council was disarmed—ruinous policy was being handily “steered” by European interests; Protestant and Catholic “parties” again temporarily set-aside murderous differences to insure the “Islamic” toehold remained impotent.
With “vision” (that eluded gullible neighboring Kings) Mwanga sought to thwart and dismantle foreign gains: he executed 45 Christians deemed as spies (Anglican and Catholic) after assassinating Bishop James Hannington (who Britain had sent to bolster its interests). Shortly therein the 3 foreign competitors joined forces and successfully ousted Mwanga. A subsequent Muslim coup then put Islam back on top.
Soon Germany (announcing bold claim on East Africa) audaciously hammers an 1890 accord dividing African territory with Britain: she receives Rwanda, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and Burundi; Britain desires Kenya, Zanzibar and her ultimate “prize” Buganda—all of course without “indigenous” input.
Britain works feverously to bring Buganda under its (parliamentary) protectorate and in the 1890’s gets a dastardly chance. Mwanga enlists British might to subordinate still powerful Bunyoro—a desperate last ditch attempt to restore his power (and salvage African rule). Bunyoro is smashed (while Islam is again ousted) and Mwanga regains his “position.” Powerful Britain actually rules though—renaming the acquired area “Uganda”: the Kabaka is now reduced to being just an autonomous constitutional “monarch”—two thirds of the country though, still rejected Bugandan authority.
Mwanga secretly plots galvanizing the country’s resistance groups—he gains temporary victory—but Britain’s interests now hold the dominant forces and soon permanently topple him. In 1899 he was exiled to the British Seychelles Islands and broken (baptized by Anglicans and renamed “Daniel”). Mwanga died in 1903 at the ripe age of 35.
From 1900 up to the 1960’s (under one Kabaka “puppet” after another) natives slowly “saw thin light”—discontent with Britain escalated as subordinated factions had never ceased unrest (disgruntled and jealous of Buganda’s gained favoritism).
Uganda’s 1963 independence saw a technical shift back to a long awaited self-governing, but with mostly “unaltered dynamics:” a new Black president stripped and exiled Kabaka Mutesa II (seen at right)—all while vicious Protestant/Catholic wars remained intact. A tragic finale shaped by the still domineering colonial era unleashed treacherous results—in 1971 the likes of notorious dictator Idi Amin could now leap into global daylight.
To be continued…
Pt. 6: Missionaries of hate
The Charles M. Holmes Campus of San Francisco’s LGBT Center (in photos above and below) hosted a second gathering for Uganda’s embattled Bishop Christopher Senyonjo. After a brief stint at City Hall where Supervisors delivered a proclamation for his selfless humanitarian work (highlighting risky opposition to Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill) he arrived to the applause of a robust crowd seen above.
Timing for this event offered subtle irony. A one hour documentary exposé about the bill (and the U.S. missionaries who sparked it) was primed for a May 26th national TV debut. Mariana van Zeller of Current TV’s “Vanguard” took a crew into Uganda’s social/religious battleground for interviews—this is the same outlet cofounded by Al Gore which was spotlighted with the arrest of Laura Ling and Euna Lee by North Korean forces.
The disturbing result is a powerful piece titled, “Missionaries of Hate.” Senyonjo is not in the feature, but his vibrant S.F. presence and insightful candor gives the television report a palpable dimensional texture.
“Long Johns” (a local guide) assists van Zeller with random public interviews and reactions are overwhelmingly similar: they say homosexuals should be violently murdered. None though, sense this guide’s ultimate “discretion”—he is gay himself.
Privately he is jolted by the deadly climate; later, his own tales become revealing.
Reporter van Zeller attends and records the services of a major culprit behind this bill, Pastor Martin Ssempa. With bloodthirsty zest Ssempa literally spearheads its passage, inspiring Parliament member David Bahati to author it. Viewing Ssempa’s inflammatory anti gay tactics in church explains exactly why urban attendees adopt explosive “lynch mob” mentalities.
During services (women and children fully present) we see Ssempa actually flooding congregations with aired “hard core” subterranean homosexual porn, emphasizing “oral sexual” variations—which he (as if in a sexually self-gratifying trance) meticulously details with his own “self-scripted” narration. Preached is the notion that “all” gay men and women uniformly indulge extremist sexual practices. And he compounds this with another vile accusation: recruiting children to become personal gay sex slaves.
In this documentary we see a church’s response that is predictable: gags and guffaws ripple across the crowd. Ssempa then punctuates his sermons with an idea that homosexuality has no African origin—“it is a construct of the West” he pontificates, blaming its modern presence on wealthy Swedish and American tourists—alleging that African children are targeted by them.
A beleaguered LGBT group says previous anti gay laws existed, but were far less vicious. They say a totally different Western incursion set Uganda’s family destruction in motion—rigorous campaigns from wealthy U.S. anti gay “missionaries.”
To be continued…
Pt. 7: Religious mega profiteers
At the opening of “Missionaries of Hate” antagonistic pastor Martin Ssempa (literally the “face” of Uganda’s anti gay movement) rains virulent, anti homosexual propaganda down upon the masses. A packed crowd reminiscent of many fundamentalist Black American congregations, hoops and wails their fervent support. Uganda (as seen in Pt. 5 above) was made ripe for colonial Christian conquest and “mental” ravaging by insidious 19th century campaigns.
Immediately we see how devious modern U.S. evangelicals mine this set-up (they’ve inherited from ruthless white Christian forbearers) with astronomical financial reaping: Joel Olsteen and Joyce Meyers (the latter with practically nonstop television airing) have bestselling books; Rick Warren (Ssempa’s former “mentor”) is the most popular—his books are handed out in churches; and Californian Benny Hinn sells out stadiums at fifty dollars a pop—more than the average Ugandan’s monthly wage.
Many address a troubling trend here: foreign pillagers are mostly aggressive U.S. “right winged” Caucasians. And of the three evangelicals attending the 2009 conference (along with a so-called therapeutically converted homosexual) one conveniently appears to be African-American.
At S.F.’s LGBT Center pro gay Bishop Senyonjo (offering sentiments in the top photo and interviewed by Rev. Roland Stringfellow above) perfectly echoed those of SMUG Sexual Minorities Uganda in the film: “Ugandans look up to powerful American personas…they are believed”; throngs in the African populace are seen parading U.S. apparel labeled with corporate, sports and metropolitan American symbols. Constant harassment and vandalism has forced SMUG to frequently change locations—fearing for their lives they are constantly on the move.
Long Johns (reporter Mariana van Zeller’s guide) sees neighborhood pressures escalating and laments that for years he tearfully prayed for God to “shake that feeling.” Eventually he finally accepted a painful “epiphany”: God’s blessing specifically made him “who he is”; condemnation comes from people pushing corrupted religious “ideology”—not God. Still, informants got him arrested which cost hundreds of dollars for bail.
U.S. missionaries aren’t the only ones capitalizing on this campaign: Ssempa notably is Uganda’s “rising star” and has skyrocketed to celebrity status.
In light of the “Kill The Gays” bill most foreign evangelicals have somewhat distanced themselves; Ssempa’s own mentor Rick Warren was pushed to respond and finally renounced it—causing their rift. Angrily accusing the U.S. right wing of suddenly “caving in” to liberal pro gay pressures Ssempa now calls them “wimpy and flaky.”
Others though, defy the distancing stance: California’s Lou Engle (a major Prop. 8 advocate) starred at a recent Ugandan “pro bill” rally; and Scott Lively’s “extremist rationale” of course leads the charge.
To be continued…
Pt. 8: New despotic “stars”
Early history reveals that Uganda’s modern upheaval explodes in the wake of methodical Western encroachment. 19th century African royalty blindly trusted Europe’s colonial conquering machine. The populace fell prey to ruthless Christian “conversion therapies,” then watched her nation collapse under a British protectorate—all while a conspiring West totally divvyed up African “bodies” and lands.
Still reeling from the chaos hurling out a line-up of socially ruinous despots (fashioning themselves upon imperialist thug role models) Uganda now seeks to impress: she presents a “makeover” image to the world—one of a nation bent on polishing up its brutal path with humanitarian reforms. More “interests” being properly convinced has significantly puffed the economy—a full 3rd now comes from “foreign aid.”
Current President Yoweri Museveni’s platform—once associated with a new generation of African leaders—is credited with kick-starting a human rights reformist air, reviving the appeal to reengage from foreign backers of democracy. But a nasty item now rearing its head (among many) causes those same interests to highly question Museveni’s portrayal as a reformist: his support for Uganda’s notorious “Kill The Gays” bill.
At S.F.’s LGBT Center Bishop Senyonjo at the mic in the photo above (next to Stringfellow) addressed direct inquiries about disturbing points made in the documentary “Missionaries of Hate”: U.S. evangelicals mine Uganda’s emotionally primed state to make more than a “financial killing.” To do so these imported campaigners spawned a murderous bill bent on attacking homosexuals—now modern targets for a religious inquisition’s “conversion therapies.”
Foreign “zealots” aren’t the only ones capitalizing here: Anglican pastor Ssempa rallies maniacal anti gay fervor—literally skyrocketing himself to a lucrative celebrity status; and parliamentarian David Bahati who rushed to craft the bill (his very first) was a previously unknown “novice”—but is now a social/political “star.” Both ironically echo a still frighteningly fresh tradition, threatening to unravel Uganda’s “sanitized” image—that of bloodthirsty despots.
Museveni has feigned distancing himself from the bill, undoubtedly to preserve “foreign aid,” but has said he believes Uganda’s homosexuality has “Western influence.” Officials (who may be caving to pressure) could change the death penalty to “life in prison.” Ssempa though, decrys any bill modifications; he blames U.S. billionaire George Soros and Swedish “tourist” money for gay recruitment. Highly irate Sweden (also a massive Ugandan “economic” contributor) now threatens to pullout.
Not all U.S. evangelicals display distance: Scott Lively expectantly calls Ssempa a “good man.” Lively gloats about Uganda being absolutely “ripe,” saying it’s now “more Christian than America.” Asked by Marianna van Zeller if he supported the bill Lively paused, then stuttered: he’s against the death penalty—but called the bill a “lesser of two evils.”
To be continued…
Pt. 9: Peril waiting at home
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo’s whirlwind trip brought local human rights activism a shot of inspiration. Supportive attendees at S.F.’s LGBT Center found weary spirits brightened just a bit—the soaring demeanor of this one warrior defiantly holds his sacred ground—staring down the “Kill The Gays” bill.
What’s being rebuffed is a system that’s been historically ruthless and yet is now so willing (and with such ease) to slip back into grossly barbaric habits: carrying out brazen wide scale “genocidal” onslaughts. This time though, blind rampaging fury is fed by the religious anti gay fanaticism of U.S. evangelicals—who happen to be predominantly white.
Rev. Roland Stringfellow (director of the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations) held an enlightening conversation seen above with Senyonjo at the Center’s event. A sobering reality lit the room with Stringfellow’s dire concern: the bishop faces an uncertain future when returning to Uganda—imprisonment and “life threatening” circumstances loom with frightening possibility.
Uganda’s ominous social climate is driven by McCarthy-like operations: Red Pepper tabloid sadistically “outs” individuals (publishing their names, photos and resident addresses); and Parliament members seem to be jockeying to skyrocket their own individual status (maybe they can be that hate movement’s new bastion of morality enforcement). Here, shameless legislators (with eyes on the “rock star” prize) give Holy Roller like testament to a shocker: if their own children “came out” gay they would personally flick the execution switch (or hand down prison life sentences) themselves.
A doggedly adversarial Ssempa keeps hate emotions raw, constantly featuring (on parade) a so-called female “victim”: in “Missionaries of Hate” he claims that at age 16 she was “snared” with Western based money and gifts by lesbian recruiters. Pro gay institutions wryly say they would love to find these alleged “sponsors” (beleaguered gay centers are desperately in need of these imaginary “gifts”) as critical donations from anxious Western sources somehow continue to elude them.
Stringfellow kept his finger on what was on everyone’s mind: if Senyonjo was worried and still planning to literally go back, striding toward the prosecutorial demon’s mouth. The 78-year-old retired Senyonjo, sitting back in a peaceful repose, gracefully smiled and simply said—“yes.”
The previous night during the Culture Complex roundtable activist Bill Doggett raised a curious situation. Doggett noticed that only two S.F. venues had provided “stages” to promote Uganda’s critical plight; he noted that the Bay Area has a multitude of “human rights” oriented enclaves, “gay based” groups and especially Protestant African-American congregations. Senyonjo was asked whether sponsorships by them would have been desirable.
Again, the bishop simply said “yes” with a humble smile.
To be continued…
Conclusion: Afro-American silence
The Bay Area is a reputed hotbed of cultural activism and human rights enclaves, launching the very events that tested the veracity of a national treasure called free speech. Integrity U.S.A. launched Bishop Senyonjo on a whirlwind “global” trip—he bravely risks life (and livelihood) to sound the alarm about Uganda’s pending legislation. Locally though, only two venues provided platforms to bring constituents “face to face” with looming African genocide.
Three groups sponsored the local forums: Equality California, the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition and S.F.’s LGBT Center. Bill Doggett’s inquiry was confirmed: Senyonjo would love to have had a much broader pool of venues on his local itinerary.
The East Bay is especially rife with Afro-American religious bases and multicultural social clubs—both hetero and gay. Whether Senyonjo’s limited engagements resulted from rejected solicitations or lack of awareness about potential hosts was not revealed. At a glance one thing seems for certain: our national Black media outlet and Afro Christian institutional silence around white evangelical greed and terror crashing in on Uganda remains “deafening.”
Other American Christian groups have coalesced to sign a statement condemning the “Kill The Gays” bill, co organized by Faith in Public Life and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Signers do include “social justice” ministers Jim Wallis (of Sojourners) and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez (of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference)—but no mention though, of a national Black Protestant coalition (or the heralded Bishop T.D. Jakes who has publicly derided gays) being on the list.
Critics say this is no surprise:
While disenfranchised Third World societies supposedly favor adopting America’s moral compass ideal—“democratic humanitarian action”—a seemingly sedate Black Church at home only wavers. Here, soaring irony shows Afro-Americans sharing Uganda’s same end result: spirits and minds being utterly broken by white colonial religious forces—where Black allegiance to African legacy (at home and abroad) is shattered.
It’s why Black preachers fail to aggressively reproach the lineage of colonial Western transgressions—instead, their staunch allegiance is to barbarous, archaic, European social/religious dogma. Hence Black Americans have also turned a blind eye to this string of tragic events: the Tutsi/Hutu genocide (also Uganda related); Arab induced massacres in Darfur; West African diamond mine “killing fields”; the absolutely lagging response to “Apartheid”; etc…
Few expect a concerted outcry from these same Blacks (who still languish silently while “religious zealots” assassinate President Obama’s character) regarding this added dastardly item: the lucrative “right wing” white evangelical industry (whose opportunists pillage souls all across the African Diaspora).
And some speculate a maniacal pastor Ssempa may revise his attack “direction” when he admits this: sheer numbers have innumerably more heterosexuals engaged in extremist underground sex practices and recorded in those “sexual videos” (he so publicly details) than gays—AIDS itself in Africa has stricken predominantly heterosexuals.
Many wonder if he’ll then murderously strong-arm the entire hetero populace with Anglican justification—unabashedly having followed (and revived) a familiar line:
“Stars” dazzled by the hunger for despotic insanity.