Deafening Silence

Why the deafening silence from African artists and musicians following the murder of gay activist David Kato?

David Kato.

This Is Africa points out that musicians are usually the first to speak out on behalf of the underdog. But not if you are lesbian or gay, apparently. Media houses are usually the first to complain when they’re the subject of censorship. Again, with the media it seems freedom of speech is a value that is only sometimes worth protecting. The Ugandan newspapers, “The East African” and “Monitor” have refused to run an advertisement paying tribute to David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay man and at the head of many of the gay rights struggles there before he was murdered on January 26th, 2011. The ad in The East African and The Monitor was to be paid for by my colleagues at Open Society Institute of Eastern Africa. The publishing houses wanted some of the text “toned down,” which OSIEA refused to do.

Kudos then to British-born R&B singer, Marsha Ambrosius, for her recent video against homophobia.

It tells the story of a black gay couple who are socially shunned, and jointly commit suicide. Congratulations to Ambrosius for speaking out (see the props here from Colorlines).

The messaging, however, is a little clumsy. For one, it did not need the monologue by Ambrosius at the end. The song and the video stand on their own. Neither is the reference by Ambrosius to “alternative lifestyles” helpful. Finally, since the video clearly has a social message, surely it would have been smarter to depict a couple overcoming prejudice rather than succumbing to it in such a stylish manner?

Further Reading

Edson in Accra

It happened in 1969. But just how did he world’s greatest, richest and most sought-after footballer at the time, end up in Ghana?

The dreamer

As Africa’s first filmmakers made their unique steps in Africanizing cinema, few were as bold as Djibril Diop Mambéty who employed cinema to service his dreams.

Socialismo pink

A solidariedade socialista na Angola e Moçambique pós-coloniais tornou as pessoas queer invisíveis. Revisitar esse apagamento nos ajuda a reinventar a libertação de forma legítima.