citizen journalism


Jana, marked an epic crossing of thresholds not only in my life but with youth leaders in mi hood, en warriors from (almost) all round de world, brought together by Rivers Through Time….najua I’ll be riding the magic of all de synergy abounding for de rest of mi maisha (life)

I have eaten. I am full…. It means I yam full inside for what we have shared. I feel good….When you truly see the Great Spirit in another, and then you may address the Spirit in thanks and celebration. So in this Great Spirit, I give thanks that we were brought together with sacred intentions and youth-led (in mentorship with honourable elders) organising at community arts festivals, na with (our own grassroots definitions of) Pride,

na (kwasababu wahenga walisema leo ni leo)

Today, I walked in spirit with Women’s Health in Women’s Hands, reflecting on the memories of all those honourable powahful teachers who continue to shape (not only) mi movements (but others) to fulfilling highest destinies. Nakumbuka all the times mi sistas en (gran) mamas saved so many of our lives, en held space for mi dreams to grow with their sage secrets of loving….warriors like Notisha Massaquoi. Alison Duke. Patricia Koine. Leleti Tamu. Yolisa Dalamba. Amai Kuda…..(dis litany of survival is for de powah of reclaiming memories in orality)

I recognise and acknowledge the mysterious reality of missing de festivities around Dyke March, de grand feast of a brunch at TRCC, de Christmas&NewYears-like reunion of growing chosen families and witnessing of so many others, missing all a dis as I continue taking mi health in own hands and honour the significant difference in mi ability to walk for long distances and withstand the assault of concrete on mi body.

But for a ‘mysterious’ accident, 4 moons (or 138 days) ago, I wouldn’t have been relearning mi ableism in de daily struggle of reconciling mi ritualised actions and patterns with the effects of being hit by a car as a pedestrian, systemically falling through the cracks of the system, yet constantly being saved & nourished by villages at the heart of what is Tdot renaissance

Tomorrow, will be de crowning of queer/trans pan-afrikan organising, right in de heart of pan-africanism in de diaspora, with our own Blockorama.

Mi cup is overflowing with de magic of malaikas (angels) who continue to advocate for, co-create, en share their gifs in abundance in sustaining our growing learning villages en communities.

These are what safe spaces na nyumbani (home) feels like, grown over years and centuries of lifetimes.

Afrika moja! Afrika Huru! Pamoja Tunafika!

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Check dis story of transformative justice: re/blogged from Behind The Mask

Uganda’s Justice Minister Kahinda Otafiire has said he has no problem with two consenting adults “being in a same sex relationship.

Otafiire, whose docket also includes Constitutional Affairs, said enforcing the infamous Anti Homosexuality Bill, which seeks the death penalty for gays, would be difficult.

The minister said he wondered how police would adduce evidence to get a conviction.

Otafiire told a meeting of Human Rights Defenders in Kampala on Thursday February 16 that while he “does not like gays, and gays do not like me, we can co-exist.”

The government owned New Vision newspaper reported that the minister said gays can coexist [with heterosexuals] but discouraged “marketing” and “seducing children into their ranks.”

It is not clear if Otafiire was giving his personal opinion on the bill, or whether he was speaking in his capacity as Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister. His comments come a few days after Simon

Lokodo, the Ethics and Integrity Minister forcefully closed a meeting of gay activists in Entebbe.

Uganda’s Cabinet Ministers continue making conflicting statements on the bill.

Information and National Guidance minister, Mary Karooro Okurut, the official government spokesperson told Behind the Mask recently that the “kill the gays bill” would not be re-tabled in Parliament, but two days later, the bill’s architect, David Bahati re-tabled his controversial lapsed bill for consideration in parliament.

Gay activists in Uganda, [na bredrin and sistren throughout Afrika en de diaspora] are closely following the developments.

[pamoja tunafika! deeply grateful for all the hard work, sacrifices & commitment to love of frontline activists/walimu/warriors/en kuchus on the ground…]

PRESS RELEASE: COALITION OF AFRICAN LESBIANS (CAL) CONDEMNS MINISTERS’S CLOSURE OF LGBT WORKSHOP IN KAMPALA

======================================================

Boksburg, South Africa

February 15, 2012

The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) Condemns the Ugandan Government Closing of an LGBT Capacity Building Workshop in Kampala, on February 13, 2012

**Human Rights Defenders Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera and Vanja Braathem Escape Arrest**

The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), a coalition of lesbians, bisexual women and trans-divers organizations and individuals, condemns the orders of the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Hon. Simon Lukodo to close an LGBT Leadership Training workshop on the morning of Tuesday, February 14, 2012.

Furthermore, the coalition condemns the outright intimidation by government officials of the two organizers of this workshop, Human Rights Defenders Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera and Vanja Braathem. The week-long workshop was due to end tomorrow, February 15, 2012.

Such actions are in direct contravention of the Constitution of Uganda, The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, amongst other international human rights instruments, all of which strongly promote and protect the rights to freedom of association, assembly, speech, expression and the right to information of all citizens and human beings, without discrimination.

In the middle of the Parliament review of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, The Coalition of African Lesbians strongly demands that the Government of Uganda protects all LGBT people in Uganda, particularly known and targeted LGBT Human Rights Defenders. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure safety for all who live within its borders.

Background:
Activists report that in the morning of February 14, 2012, a government official claiming to belong to the President’s Office walked into the workshop room and sat down. With concern, one of the organizers, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, asked him to move out as he was uninvited to the workshop. The official asked Kasha to follow him to a spot in the hotel. Upon entering that room with him, Kasha met with the Minister and his aides. The Minister demanded to know the purpose of the workshop and Kasha responded that it was about leadership. He further demanded to know what kind of leadership the workshop was addressing and again, Kasha responded to his inquiry. The Minister then asked Kasha to come with him to the workshop room where he began to speak to the participants directly. At that point, the Minister announced that the workshop was illegal and unethical and ordered its closure. There was resistance from the workshop organizers and participants and as a result, the Minister ordered for the arrest of Kasha. Fortunately, Kasha was able to sneak out and run. On reaching her room, the hotel staff called Kasha to inform her that the Minister and police were waiting for her at the hotel lobby. Kasha managed to sneak out of her room and escaped by jumping over the hotel fence. The hotel manager is reported to have been put under gun point to produce Kasha and the Minister left an order for both Kasha and Vanja to leave the country as they are not needed in Uganda. According to further reports from activists, Kasha was summoned by the office of the Minister yesterday afternoon to explain more about the purpose of the workshop which she declined to do for safety reasons. The rest of the participants checked out of their rooms, amidst officials searching for Kasha on every floor of the hotel, and returned safely to their homes. Eight days after the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been re-tabled, the general sense among LGBT people is that of fear and hopelessness.

For more information please contact;

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera
Executive Director
Freedom and Roam Uganda
Tel: +256 772 463161
Email: jnkasha@gmail.com

Moses Kimbugwe
Programs Coordinator
Spectrum Uganda Initiatives
Tel: +256 782 854 391
Email: manyagwa2000@yahoo.com

Victor Mukasa
Advocacy Adviser for East Africa
Coalition of African Lesbians
Tel: +27 11 918 2182
Mobile: +27 78 436 3635
Email: victor@cal.org.za

Pamoja Tutafika! Je, huu ni ungwana?

[ To the ‘Godfather’ of the KuchuLGBT movement in Uganda with infinite gratitude, kama sharing ni caring, then wot wealth we got to harvest in reclaiming indigenous ideas about mapacha?]

Background

The Njovu Clan is one of the 56 recognised clans of Buganda. Therefore, its traditions, customs and norms are not different from those of other clans. They are part and parcel of the culture and heritage of the Baganda people. The Clan has no culture peculiar to itself.

It must be pointed out that these traditions and customs exist in a traditional religious environment. They have been handed down from generation to generation for centuries, and they have become part and parcel of people’s lives. For this reason, the Baganda have been described as being notoriously religious…..

The birth of twins

The birth of twins in the family is regarded as a great blessing to that jamii. It is a wish that almost every woman entertains. It is an honour for a woman in Buganda to be called Nnalongo (mother of twins).
The additional child was not looked at as burden or challenge in the past. This is because the Baganda had a settled life and did not have to roam around with their families in harsh conditions. This situation still obtains today.
However, the birth of twins was and is still seen as an event out of the ordinary. Therefore, twins were and are still treated with fear and special care and respect. Children of such births were and are still believed to have special powers. There is still a belief that twins bring blessings to the family and community, but can be nasty and dangerous if not treated well.
Many beliefs, taboos, rituals and ceremonies are associated with twins. People fear them; and this fear is associated with the unusualness of their birth.

After birth 
On the birth of twins, special names are immediately given to the twins, their parents, and the children in the traditional family who come either before or after the twins. The twins are named: Wasswa or Babirye or Kato or Nakato, depending on their sex. The father is named Ssalongo, and the mother Nnalongo. The child who precedes the twins is named Kigongo. Children born in the extended family after the birth of twins are also given special names, as it will be seen later.

These special names become permanent identities for everyone concerned, but they are not clan names. The names given to the parents accord them special honour and respect and enhance their status in society.

Ssalongo (the father of the twins) has an obligation to deliver the news of the birth of twins in person to his parents and to the parents of his wife. Two things happen here:
1) Ssalongo is given a surrogate Ssalongo (Ssalongo omukulu=the ritual Ssalongo) from his family; and from the family of Nnalongo he gets a surrogate Nnalongo (Nnalongo omukulu=the ritual Nnalongo); and
2) all contact, between Ssalongo and his parents and between Nnalongo and her parents, is cut off until after the ceremony that is held for celebrating the birth of the twins. This ceremony is the equivalent to the naming ceremony for ordinary children, though the rituals involved are somehow different.

The surrogates play critical roles in the rituals associated with the twins. These two persons are minors. The significance of this is that the rituals in which they are going to participate are sacred; these persons need therefore to be people who are holy or at least people who have not yet engaged in sexual activity. Apart from acting as surrogates, and still innocent, they should be the natural people to care for the twins who are considered to be holy.

A variety of intricate and complex taboos, rituals, and ceremonies accompany the birth of twins. The rituals and ceremonies are intended to: put an end to the period of taboos which begun with the birth of the children; ensure the safety of the twins and that of the family; and establish the twins’ legitimacy as complete members of the clan and of society at large.
The rituals and ceremonies slightly differ in families. It is the responsibility of Ssalongo’s father, the grandfather of the twins, to make arrangements for the performance of the rituals and ceremonies in accordance with his family’s norms. However, characteristically, there are big ceremonies and festivals to mark the birth of twins.

There is, however, one big ceremony for celebrating the birth of twins (okumala abalongo; entujjo y’abalongo) which seems to be common. This ceremony is characterised by a lot of rejoicing, feasting and general merrymaking not only by the relatives concerned, but by also the surrounding community.

On the vigil of the appointed day for the ceremony, Ssalongo’s family, led by a clan elder, performs the child-confirmation and naming ceremony for the family’s children who have not yet undergone that ceremony.

On the appointed day, Nnalongo’s mother and her relatives prepare a one pulp of cooked matooke. Ssalongo’s side does the same. At the agreed hour, both Ssalongo and his relatives and Nnalongo’s people gather in the main house of Ssalongo’s father to share a common meal. The two separate pulps of food (emiwumbo gy’emmere) are meshed into one pulp.

Then, Nnalongo’s mother picks a morsel of this food and hands it directly to Ssalongo, her son-in-law (Maama wa Nnalongo akoleza mutabani we, Ssalongo, bba wa Nnalongo, ekitole ky’emmere n’akimukwaasa mu ngalo butereevu ye kennyini). Ssalongo’s father also picks a morsel of food and hands it directly to Nnalongo, his daughter-in-law. Relatives from both sides do the same to each other. As this is going on, omujjwa comes and steps in the food and carries away. This is followed by a ritual dance, similar to a bump dance, in which Nnalongo’s mother and Ssalongo dance together and Ssalongo’s father and Nnalongo do the same. The pinnacle of this dance is the coming into contact, through bumping, of Ssalongo’s rear and his mother-in-law’s rear and Nnalongo’s rear with her father-in-law’s rear. The relatives from both sides also engage in this bump dance.

This ceremony has special significance and meaning. The meshing of the two separate pulps of matooke into one big pulp which is shared by all present is a sign of unity and communion between the twins’ paternal and maternal families. It is also the meeting place of the dead, the living, and those not yet born but are in the loins of their parents.

Communication, cut off immediately after the birth of the twins, is re-established. The ceremony puts an end to the period of taboos which begun with the birth of the twins. It also ends for good all the sexual marriage taboos which are common with other people who are not parents of twins. Henceforth, there is no longer avoidance and the in-laws from the families affected by the birth of twins can meet and talk freely to each other (obuko buweddewo).

The action of the mujjwa of spoiling the food symbolises the wiping away of any evils and problems that would otherwise normally have resulted from breaking sexual and marriage taboos.
After the big celebrations (entujjo), the twins’ umbilical cords are not buried as it is the custom with normal children. Instead, they are firmly tied and made into a beautifully decorated necklace which is kept and adorned by Ssalongo at ceremonies and festivals of his household or of the traditional family……..
  
Modern Changes

A lot of changes have occurred to the way twins are treated in modern times. These changes have occurred as a result partly because of the spread of foreign universal religions, partly because of intermarriages, but mainly because of changed outlook and new lifestyles in urban settings.
Some parents have abandoned the twin culture as a result of the various intricate and quite complex activities accompanying the ceremonies and rituals. The activities are considered as wasteful and hard to fulfil; and this has forced them to opt for the less complicated and less expensive church services. In many cases, it is economic hardship which has probably forced people to abandon these customs.

However, the aura surrounding the twins still exists in the minds of many parents and their relatives. It is believed that twins should not be mistreated since many taboos are attached to them.
The special naming of close relatives of twins continues, but the naming in modern times is increasingly becoming restricted to the household of the twins’ parents. This is because of western education and influence where the family means only the small unit of husband, wife and children (if any). This is in sharp contrast to the traditional view of the wider or, in western eyes, the extended family which includes brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, etc. Under western education and influence, members of the traditional family are more or less regarded as outsiders.
In these cyber days, the Ssalongo informs both his parents and the parents of Nnalongo by telephone (sms). He therefore does not engage in certain rituals which were mandatory in the past. If at all his household is ready to get involved in traditional rituals pertaining to the twins, he asks for the surrogates on telephone (by sms again).

Whereas it was a strict requirement in the past that the surrogates be children who have not engaged in sexual activity, these days the surrogates are mature persons, often people who already have children, thus destroying the sense of sanctity that, in the past, was associated with the birth of twins.
Whereas in the past all channels of communication were cut off between Ssalongo and Nnalongo and their parents until they engaged in the ceremony celebrating the birth of twins, nowadays this is no longer the case. They meet freely and exchange ideas.

Some of the intricate and complex taboos, rituals, and ceremonies accompanying the birth of twins are dying out. Except in very remote communities, it is no longer possible for Ssalongo to drum for a whole month day and night. Also, gone are the days of wild rejoicing and feasting during which lewd songs were sung and irresponsible acts, including free sex, were committed.


In some families, the umbilical cords are not bundled and decorated. Neither does many a Ssalongo find the time to wear the umbilical cords as required by tradition.

Some non-Baganda wives dislike engaging in Kiganda traditional practices pertaining to twins, even although they very much love to be called Nnalongo.

However, some families nowadays combine the traditional and the modern under modified form. In some Christian families, the twin babies are baptised and then a small party for celebrating their birth is held at home.
These days, the tendency in many modern families is to treat twins as normal as any other children. These people do not see any reason to fear twins or regard them as having more power than other people………

Reblogged from http://www.njovu.org/traditions_customs.htm

[Words fail me. I’m deeply grateful others have them. Nashukuru pia realities kama RASCOM  – Afrika’s own communications satellite.]

The news of the killing of Colonel Gaddafi in the battle to take Sirte marked one more episode in this NATO war in Libya and North Africa. The killing has all of the hallmarks of a coordinated assassination, synchronized between NATO aircraft and forces on the ground. The reports are that Gaddaffi was attacked when he was attempting to leave Sirte in a convoy. The convoy was attacked from the air. The National Transitional Council has announced that the war is over but the very nature of this execution guarantees that this uprising will not end soon.

This execution comes one day after the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the United States openly called for the political assassination of Col Gaddafi, the Libyan leader. “We hope he can be captured or killed soon,” This statement guaranteed that although Gadhafi was captured alive he was killed while injured.

The very management of the news of this execution represented efforts to influence the continued political/military struggles within the divided forces. The hijacking of the body and its transportation to Misrata was one more indication of the internal struggles in the NTC and Libya.

It is still urgent that the African Union and the United Nations work for the demilitarization of Libya and for the work to organize an inclusive government in Libya. The execution of Gaddafi comes in a week of heightened military action in parts of Africa, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and the Horn.

This remilitarization of Africa and new deployment of Africom is a new stage of African politics. Remilitarization, killings, and death will not answer the cries for democracy, peace, and food in Africa and other areas of the world where the exploited and marginalized are raising their voices against oppression. A new revolutionary energy is sweeping the world manifest in the current general strike by workers in Greece and the massive occupy wall street movement with 900 manifestations all over the world last weekend.

In every case over several decades, examples of militarization and remilitarization have increased the anguish of those living on the margins of wealth and power. I am certain that careful investigation will expose the callous disregard for human life, what in NATO and Western Military language is called “collateral damage.” Given the cloud that hangs over this killing that it was most likely a coordinated execution – those of us who are on the side of peace and justice asks the following questions:

Why did the West want him dead?

Did they have something to hide?

The answers to these and other questions now lie with the corpse of a man who was more friendly to capital than to his people.

Peace and justice forces must work harder to end wars, plunder and western military interventions in Africa.

[asante Baba] * Horace Campbell is professor of African-American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He is the author of ‘Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA’. See horacecampbell.net, and a contributing author to African Awakening: The emerging revolutions. He is currently Visiting Professor, Department of International Relations, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

reposted from http://www.pambazuka.org

mo’ werd! sound! powah! to de repost

dis poem [has been shared many times] before,

was dubbed by D’bi Young.Anitafrika – another goddess we love, respekt en admire deeply so.

hii ni ukweli wa hadithi zetu,

by quentin vercetty

of pan-afreekan legends and our litanies of survival.

hadithi? hadithi? hadithi njoo…utamu kolea….

nipe mji? are you ready for tdot renaissance?

rivers and other blackness between us

who among us carry the sage-secrets of loving?

who among us carry the sage-secrets of loving?

what elders and children

walk with old-time knowledge

of a courageous love

an unapologetic love

an uncompromising love

a healing love

tell me who

and I will sit studently

by the rivers of their feet

washing away all the unknowing I have come to know

relearning a language of integrity honesty passion

scribed on our heart’s tongue

by the ancients

whom I have forgotten

somewhere between a dream and a time-less-ness

across di ocean waters

black sons and dawtahs

black moddahs and fadahs

black auntie uncle sistah and breddah

stretch love fabric

thick and thin

so now we trodding

trying to heal these scars

of broken fibre

that stick up inna wi like macka

who among us carry the sage-secrets of loving?

what elders and children

walk with old-time knowledge

of a compassionate love

an unapologetic love

an uncompromising love

a healing love

tell me who

and I will sit studently

by the rivers of their feet

washing away all the unknowing I have come to know

relearning a language of integrity honesty passion

scribed on our heart’s tongue

by the ancients

whom I have forgotten

forgive us for not having loved you relentlessly

in all cases fear has been our worst enemy

were fear not here

I would kiss you

and feed you food from my mouth

stop you from aching and share a smile

maybe even wait with you

by the roadside for a while

were fear not here

I would give name to these unnamed

spaces of accountability

and responsibility

that flow like rivers between us

sometimes silent but always deep

were fear not here

the full moon radiance of your

vulnerable warrior spirit

washing over me like the sun

bathed in blackness

could mirror and you would shine

and I would shine

and we all could shine brilliantly

who among us carry those sage-secrets of loving?

tell me

where are our elders

Bi Kidude

where are our children

who walk with the old-time knowledge

of a courageous love

an unapologetic love

an uncompromising love

a healing love

tell me who

and I will sit studently

by the rivers of their feet

I want to unknow all this unknowing that I have come to know

I want to relearn a language of honestu

a language of integrity

a language of compassion

these were scribed on my heart’s tongue

by ancient ancient ancient ones

who somehow I have surely forgotten

please forgive me for not having loved you relentlessly

in all cases fear has been my worst enemy

I cannot promise to love you fearlessly

but I will love you courageously

in spite of my fear

I will love you compassionately

honestly

and with integrity

this love is a healing love

re-branching herself like the iroko tree

roots reaching beyond

the wounds of yesterday

arms outstretched to the promise of tomorrow

you and I and we

the community

the people

we

can

choose

to

stand

firmly

in

love[upendo]

one love

[ase, ase, ase…..]

Children’s Peace Theatre Presents:

8th Annual

Peace Is Possible Parade

Friday July 22, 2011

Children and their companions

Proceeding on a path to peace!

The parade will culminate in the Peace Theatre’s natural amphitheater in TaylorCreek Park, where participants are invited to watch a preview performance of:

An original play created by the

participants of Peace Camp 2011!

Details

10:15 am: Meet atShopperWorldPlaza Parking Lot                     (3003 Danforth Ave)

11:00 am: Parade begins!

[call: peace is what we need

response: to be free, to be free]

1:00 pm: Performance of What Goes Around

Children’s Peace Theatre have been facilitating half-day workshops with Torontoartists for each participating day camp to prepare for the parade. Workshops run from July 4- 21

For more info, please contact

Dania Weinstein: 416-752-1550 dania@childrenspeacetheatre.org

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