Our success story is not very different from the stories of most of the other Ugandan Asians that arrived in Canada. The collective success of Ugandan Asians is in fact as much a success of Canada and Canadians, in doing everything that was necessary in an expedited way, to meet the needs of time, with an open heart, with compassion and with humanity.
In the Luo language, John Lacambel says, "Hello! This is Lacambel here at 102 Mega FM. It is Thursday and the time is now 10 p.m. This is Come Back Home." During the height of the 20-year-long brutal war with the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda, Lacambel was broadcasting Come Back Home up to three times a week to counter LRA propaganda. During the height of the 20-year-long brutal war with the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda, Lacambel was broadcasting Come Back Home up to three times a week to counter LRA propaganda.
Human Rights Watch's LGBT Director Graeme Reid has characterized the bill as "an official incitement to commit violence" against those even suspected as being lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or trans-gendered. Amend these adjectives to "Tutsi" and you have a familiar precedent for the spirit of the present campaign, if on a smaller scale.
Have you ever watched a TV commercial for international aid and wondered how people's donations work in developing countries? Before I travelled to northern Uganda as part of a team of volunteers with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), I did. But on that trip I met many Ugandans whose lives are being improved with the help of generous Canadians, and my outlook was forever changed.
This coming Saturday, the Ugandan Canadian community is organizing a public protest to highlight the shortcomings of a new government policy in Uganda. Henry Luyombya and Morris Komakech reflect with me why they believe Canada and Canadians should be alarmed and concerned about what is happening in their native land.
At a time when LGBT communities face frightening and growing prejudice from governments overseas, Canada's Bill C-279 serves as a stark moral contrast with the likes of Uganda, Russia, and numerous undemocratic regimes across the Middle East. It is often overlooked that the "T" in LGBT refers to the transgender community, members of which continue to face serious discrimination in some quarters. In supporting C-279 and calling on Parliament to enshrine greater protection for transgender Canadians, I am proud that we continue the legacy today.
Before we left Kampala, Uganda's capital, it was a daily occurrence for me as a young child to see dead bodies in the street and to fall asleep to the sounds of machine guns and screams. And when my father failed to come home, I always thought that his voice was one of those screams I heard in the night.
To those of us who immigrated to Canada in the 1990s, Namugenyi "Nam" Kiwanuka was our introduction to Canada. She was a smart and engaging celebrity MuchMusic VJ. As if being a new mother is not occupying much of her time, the Ugandan native has used whatever time she has left fulfilling the promise of her Canadian citizenship by bringing attention to worthy causes all around the world.
David Okidi is a journalist in Northern Uganda and was the station manager at Mega FM, a radio station in the northern Ugandan region of Gulu. He recently joined the board of directors of Farm Radio International. Farm Radio International (FRI) helps African radio broadcasters meet the needs of local small-scale farmers and their families in rural communities. I met him for lunch.
On an official visit to Canada last week, Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of Uganda's parliament, found herself in a bit of a tiff with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Speaker Kadaga protested Minister Baird's "arrogance" and "promoting homosexuality." She declared, "We are not a colony of Canada." But Canada will not be any better off if Uganda stops threatening its gays. Minister Baird called out Speaker Kadaga because today, in the community of nations, where we all theoretically equal, it is anathema to the concept of human dignity that a state should sanction the persecution of a group of its own citizens for no reason other than who they are. Standing up against that is not colonialism; it's decency.
The opening of the UN General Assembly is taking place before us. Unfortunately, with one particular group of world leaders, in an area where they desperately need a makeover, one will probably not be forthcoming. Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon will not have the courage to stand up before his fellow African heads of state and proclaim that state-sanctioned bigotry and persecution of gays throughout Africa must become a relic of the past. Nor will Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda. But this is a time to give a voice to the voiceless.
The issue of age recently exploded in the Ugandan media when a 19-year-old woman won a by-election in Usuk, Uganda. How could someone so young, so inexperienced, adequately represent her constituents? In Uganda, as in Canada, the youth are the ones bearing the brunt of the global economic crisis, and yet are facing constant criticism for being entitled for wanting a good education and decent jobs. They have a right to be represented and heard.
I was thinking about the old saying, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." I realized that probably it's a bad idea to teach people to fish. Probably it's better to ask them how they can solve the problem of feeding their families, then lend them the money to help them implement their own solutions. FINCA empowers the poor and allows them to develop small businesses as they see fit, through microfinancing.
In Nyamata, a small, dusty town in southern Rwanda, there lies a tidy, red brick church. Its walls are riddled with bullet holes. The interior holds bloody smears on the floor, torn clothing neatly piled on benches, and rows of bones. But Idi Amin's torture chambers are something different altogether.