Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni has said that homosexuality is part of the heritage of black African societies but that sexual matters were traditionally private. The president was speaking to European Union ambassadors accredited to Uganda
Local media reported that Museveni told the Head of the European Union delegation to Uganda, Dr Roberto Ridolfi at State House in Entebbe that “many years ago there were four prominent homosexuals, three of them chiefs and one who did great work for the country.”
It is not clear if he was referring to the historical Buganda King (Kabaka) Daniel Mwanga (1884 -1897) who is widely believed in most historical circles as having been a gay man. Mwanga is the grandfather of the current Kabaka of Buganda, one of the most influential regions in Uganda, both political and economically.
Mwanga is widely known for having killed 22 early converts to Christianity in Buganda in 1886, near the current Ugandan capital Kampala, accusing them of usurping his power. The executed Christians have since come to be known as Uganda Martyrs.
The current Kabaka, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II commands high esteem among his subjects and anti-gay forces have in the past pressured the Kingdom to condemn the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 with no success.
“Those people (homosexuals) were not killed, not discriminated against and not persecuted,” he said. The President explained that black Africans have always kept their sexual matters confidential. I have been married to a beautiful lady called Janet for 38 years, but I have never kissed her in public or in front of my children. Sexual matters, heterosexual or homosexual, must be confidential,” Museveni said.
Museveni’s stand on gay history echoes similar findings in a new documentary by gay activists group UhspaUganda which has profiled traces of gay communities in pre-colonial African Societies due for premiering in Kampala in June this year.
In the documentary, ancient prisons in Buganda dug in the ground never incarcerated homosexuals for who they are. Buganda kingdom, one of the most powerful in the Great Lakes region never persecuted homosexuals nor killed them either.
Simon Lokodo, the minister of Ethics and Integrity who has been dragged to court for raiding and forcing a gay rights conference in Entebbe close last year was also at the meeting. He defended his actions by claiming that the meeting was aimed at promoting and luring young people into the practice of homosexuality.
The delegation was led by the Head of Delegation of the European Union, Dr Roberto Ridolfi and included the Ambassador of Belgium, Marc Gedopt, the Ambassador of Denmark, Nathalia Feinberg, Ambassador of Germany, Klaus Dieter Duxmann, and that of Ireland, Anne Webster.
Also present were the Ambassador of Italy, Stefano Antonia Dejak; the Ambassador of France, Aline Kuster-Menager; Ambassador of Netherlands, Jeroen Verhaul; Ambassador of Sweden, Urban Andersson; the United Kingdom Deputy High Commissioner, Phillip Mani; and Austria’s Simone Knapp.
The Ugandan government has since distanced itself from the recently re-tabled of the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009, although government officials continue to send mixed signals such as Lokodo’s raid.