Why the silence from African artists and musicians about the murder of David Kato?

Has there been a deafening silence from African artists and musicians following the murder of gay activist David Kato? This Is Africa seems to think so, and I can find nothing to contradict them. As that blog points out, musicians are usually the first to speak out on behalf of the underdog. But not if you’re lesbian or gay, apparently.

Joining the musicians are some media houses – usually the first to complain when they’re the subject of censorship.

Again, it seems freedom of speech is a value only sometimes worth protecting. The Ugandan newspapers, “The East African” and “Monitor” refused to run an advertisement paying tribute to David Kato, which was to be paid for by my colleagues at the Open Society Institute of Eastern Africa. The publishing house wanted some of the text “toned down,” which OSIEA refused to do.

Kudos then to British muso Marsha Ambrosius for her recent video against homophobia.

It tells the story of a black gay couple who are socially shunned, and commit joint 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

This is Congo

A long-awaited documentary takes a look at the state of politics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and highlights those who are working to build a new future.