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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

What Are Our Priorities?

The recent spate of articles about gays in Malawi and Uganda make me wonder about what African priorities are.  Personally I think it is a human right for people to choose to express their sexual orientation how they will in the privacy of their own homes, without the the interference of others.  What others do is none of my business, just as what I do is none of theirs. And they should be able to walk proud in public, love is something to be celebrated not shunned. The interest in what people do behind closed doors of course is nothing new, with all eyes currently on Tiger Woods and  beforehand Clinton's behaviour while in office.  These instances have had global attention, just as the Ugandan and Malawian cases.  However, my question is: What do any of these instances of sexual practice have to do with the state and its ability to govern its people?

Of course in the case of Clinton, there were power and workplace conduct issues entangled that blurred the line between whether it was a private or public matter, but the rest of these instances are to do with celebrities or lay-people who are given more power than is warranted. However, did Clinton's behaviour alter his ability to lead?  Is being able to stand on the perceived moral pedastal a prerequisite to govern?  I now know way to much about what Tiger Woods does behind closed doors, things that really have nothing to do with his preternatural talent and golfing abilities. These stories then take up time on the news and valuable print space, bumping other stories about the state of our countries and the world, that have more far reaching ramifications.  Does President Obama really need to be commenting on what celebrities do in their spare time?

We do not need to be spending time searching out gay people as they would have us do in Uganda. Governments have got better things to do than to worry about a minority, whose actions do not have anything to do with how the state functions just as heterosexual practices do not.  It seems as if gay issues are the latest smoke screen to blind the masses from the fact that states are failing to solve inherent problems of poverty, reliance on aid and bringing countrymen together to forge a better future in African countries. We as citizens, no matter what our preferences are, have better things to do like live our lives, feed our children, pay our bills and try to make a difference in the world when we can than going out on witch-hunts!  Police have better things to do than to be arresting people for what they do behind closed door unless the couple themselves file a complaint.  Resources and time that courts cannot afford to waste are being squandered.

It makes me sad that persecution continues, especially in the name of others and that we are worrying ourselves with people's relationships when we should be concentrating on our own and those close to us.  Instead of asking others to be the morally sound (whatever that means) people we want to be, we should be doing it ourselves.  Let us not get sucked into the quagmire of moral politics, which only stagnates rather than fosters cohesion.  This is just one battle in a long cycle that has been used by politicians the world over to distract.  Let us come together despite our differences by concentrating on the similarities we share, one of which is wanting a better future for ourselves and those who will come after us.

If you are interested in a very good documentary about the Ugandan situation, here is the Vanguard Documentary from Current TV "Missionaries of Hate".  Bar the leading title, I think all sides of the story are presented well.

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