Monday, 12 May 2014

From the Other Side

(A short story)
They said there would be no guilt, no regrets and no remorse. They lied, for what I feel now cannot be described by any word with a meaning different from those three. They said that we were soldiers for Allah, that ours was a justified war. That too was a lie, for nothing is justified in taking someone else’s life, without giving them a chance to fight for it… and we have taken the lives of many. They said we would have a great reward when all this was over, that we would live all eternity in the bosom of the Most Merciful. I don’t believe that any more.

There is no way we can fight for the Most Merciful, yet show no mercy to those he has put with us on the earth. He cannot show us mercy for showing none in our time.
I don’t seek sympathy. My sins are now way beyond that. And I chose to commit them. There was a day when I had a chance to turn from this path. I could have turned away from this path. But I didn’t, and that day, the story of my iniquities began.
“Come home, Shaaban,” mum said that day. “We love you, we do. Please come home.” I swallowed hard, but said nothing in reply. Then, when she didn’t say anything more – I think she was waiting for me to reply – I slowly brought the phone from my ear. She started to speak again. I listened to her electronic voice beseeching me from miles away. After a few more seconds, I calmly opened the back cover of the phone, removed the battery and pushed out the SIM card. In its place, I put another.
That day I started on this road. Now here I am, staring down the end of it. It has been two days now, and the end is close. I remember the moment the others came in, the shooting that ushered them into the mall. We were waiting for them. Our moment had come. We opened fire on the people from the inside, squeezed them between our two flanks, so that they had nowhere to run.
This, what we are now doing, has been in the plans for some time now. One day, the commission said they wanted to deal a major blow to the kaffir who had dared invade their land. They wanted to perform a large-scale attack in the heart of their capital city. That day, in a cave whose location I cannot remember, around the unsteady glow of a kerosene lamp, I brought up this idea. Before I joined them, I was living in Nairobi with my parents. I knew all parts of the green city in the sun, and I knew how vulnerable the malls in it were, and how ideal they would be for an attack.
Now we are inside the mall they chose; Westgate. I told the commission that it was owned by the Jews, the worst of the infidels. I told them that western people shopped there, including the Americans and Brits. They chose it at once, before even hearing what I had to say about the other malls. They started planning that day, and the culmination of their plans was two days ago, when we took the mall, guns blazing and grenades exploding, and desecrated one of the most powerful symbols of Kenyan prosperity.
It was supposed to be exhilarating all the way to the end. It was a suicide mission after all. But now the others are gone. They said their time had not yet come, that Allah wanted to use them for other attacks still. So they left us to keep the mall, and made their way out through the tunnel we showed them in the building plans. The excitement lasted only a few minutes. Then came the waiting, endless hours of it, tense but boring. It gave us too much time to think.
Now I am convinced they meant to sacrifice us. They didn’t want to die, but they wanted this act carried out. They used us, the five of us who have been holding the building. I now feel it was all in vain. I feel betrayed. We were meant to be martyrs, and shed our blood for the jihad. But now they are gone, and the prospect of dying that now faces us isn’t as appealing as it was when we planned this thing, and when we felled innocent people in the first minutes of our assault. Now I see that we have been pawns all along, useful but dispensable.
I wonder what my parents would think if they knew I was here, and not as one of the hostages or soldiers. They must now be in the sitting room, huddled together on the sofa, watching on television as the Kenyan forces try to get us out of the mall. I can see the footage on the screen I have here with me. My mother’s hands must be covering her mouth, while her head rests on my dad’s large chest. And to think that Naima missed this by just a few minutes…
Naima, my only sister. I could not let her die. She was here. She was alone. Her belly was large. She was expecting a child. Before I left home two years ago, she had been planning her wedding to Omar. I saw her walking into Nakumatt, handbag limply hanging from her elbow. I tried to deny it, the pang of longing that hit me the moment I saw her. But I just couldn’t let her die. I looked at my watch. The others were due to arrive in the next ten minutes. I looked back at my companions in the bookshop the commission rented a few months ago. They were busy going over the plans at a table, pretending to be discussing the contents of a book. I slipped out and pulled my hood over my head.
She was lucky indeed. The moment I saw the back of her car disappearing around the corner, the others texted that they had arrived, and were in the parking lot. I calmed my breath, walked back to the bookshop, shed the hooded sweater, and took my battle gear; a chain of bullets, a bag of grenades plus some other explosives and, of course, the AK 47 which was to claim several lives in a few minutes of ecstatic murder. She must now be wondering who it was that warned her, and why his voice must have sounded familiar. She might never know. In fact, I don’t intend for her to know.
My four companions, with whom I was left to hold the mall, are on the other side of the door, watching over the hostages. They are still convinced that they are fighting for Allah, are still enthusiastic about facing the Kenyan army, and dying as martyrs. I hold nothing against them. They have been in this longer than I have, their consciences have been totally muted by it since childhood, unlike me who has been in for only two years. They haven’t seen it yet, can’t see it, how the others used us, how they lied to us and left us to our doom, while they took credit for the wound we have inflicted on the Kenyan nation.
I am supposed to be praying. We have been taking turns to do it, so it hasn’t been as regular as the namaz are supposed to be. But now I can’t pray now. My bag of grenades and explosives, which is still quite full – I didn’t use it as much as the others – is leaning against the door. My gun is on top of it, the barrel pointing towards the roof. I am kneeling on the rug I placed on the floor when I got in.
The past two years have been the folly of my life. It all started with a girl. Her name was Joanne, and I loved her with my life. We were planning to get married. I was only twenty two. Then I took her to meet my parents. And my dad, all six feet of him, rose from the chair and thundered. “My son will not marry a Christian!” My mom tried to calm him down, but the Air Force Captain could have none of it. He came close to hitting me that day. By that time, Joanne had scampered out of the house in tears. My dad threatened he would banish me from his family if I followed her. Still, I followed her, not hesitating to ponder the implications of what I was doing. And so I got banished from home.
I followed Joanne to her home, where she went into the house and locked herself in, and me out. I stood there for a long time, waiting for her to come out. When she finally managed to show her face, she called me, grabbed me and kissed me hard at the door. Then she tossed my few belongings – which had somehow made their way into her home over the short past we’d had – onto the porch where I was standing. While I tried to comprehend the meaning of it all, she said, “We just can’t be. You have to go now.” I opened my mouth to protest, to tell her that I loved her. But she slammed the door in my face. I heard her footsteps running away, receding into the house. I don’t know how many times I paced outside the house that day. All I know is that at some point, when the moon had risen over the sleeping city, when the cold had started blanketing the air, and when my voice had become hoarse from begging and beseeching, I finally skulked away, never to step on the soil of Nairobi again until one week ago.
The past two years have been a blur. A few months after I arrived in Somalia, the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) rolled in with their tanks and weapons, ready to boot out the organization I had joined, the Al Shabab. Definitely, none of us liked it, and our leaders immediately devised small retaliatory strategies, while we planned this, the crowning piece of our defiance.
My friend Samir led me here. That evening, after Joanne had discarded me in that most unceremonious way, I left feeling bitter at the betrayals I had had to go through. On the one hand, my father telling me who I could love and who I couldn’t, and on the other, Joanne proving him right. I wasn’t about to go home and tell my dad that he had been right all along, that now I knew the true colour of Christians. I hated him for starting the whole thing off. But I didn’t know where to go. I had been banished from home when I had walked out after Joanne. For him, I must have ceased to exist. And that’s when Samir appeared into the scene. As I staggered and stumbled away from Joanne’s place, car headlights turned the corner of the street. I shielded my eyes and squinted at it. It rolled to a stop in front of me and the door locks clicked open. A familiar voice came from inside. “Nasty night, huh?”
Samir died on the day we took the mall. I can’t forget the way he went down. He took a shot in his left arm, and his gun dropped. He extracted his pistol as he fell, and I emerged from behind the pillar where I was hiding, and put out my hand to pull him away from danger. He looked up and said one word. “Go!” Then he looked in the direction of his shooters and raised his pistol. I looked too. And the bullet that finished him off came with a loud crack. I sprayed the shooters, Kenyan policemen, with my own bullets as I fled, and they shredded Samir’s body in return.
I rise to my feet and check that the door is still locked. Then I begin doing what I have been intending to do since the others left and I started thinking about what I was doing.
I cannot believe that I could have descended this low, ever came to commune with these people. I cannot see how I ever became involved with this organization. I might say that my friend Samir convinced me. But I can’t escape from the nagging voice at the back of my mind that I let my emotions cloud my judgment, and when I could see more objectively, when I could have ended this, I lied to my conscience. I told myself that sympathy for the enemy was a greater enemy in itself. I refused to define who the real enemy was. I lied to myself. Now it has landed me here, and I am contemplating something I never thought I would ever contemplate, something I always thought was the choice of cowards. Now it doesn’t seem so cowardly. I start unpacking my bag.
Joanne. These past two days have given me time to think several times about her, about what happened between us. How she hurt me. Why didn’t I see it, that she was just human, that my dad had scared her? Yes, I was right in judging that her love for me should have withstood that test. It would have, had I but given her time, had I been insistent. I should never have walked away from her house. I should have stayed there one minute longer, an hour… a day even, as long as would have been fruitful. She would have come around, in the end, to facing up to the challenge we had been saddled with by my father’s rashness. But what did I do instead? After one unsuccessful stab at regaining her, I lost hope. I sold my soul to the devil, and ended up with the blood of innocents on my hands, all the time allowing myself to be cheated that I was doing the work of Allah. I wonder how she would react if she knew that I am among these fanatics, that it all started on the night she slammed the door on my face. I wonder what she did with my clothes, which I left on her porch that day. Why on earth didn’t I just stay on outside her door that night?
But the time is gone now for all regrets. I deserve punishment, and of that the Kenyan soldiers will not hand to me as much as I deserve and as fast. And that is why I am setting up explosives on all over the walls and floor of the corner stall. People will count it as one of the explosions that have ripped through the mall since we took it. They will not guess its significance. That is how I intend to leave this world, a world I have rewarded with wickedness for the all goodness it gave me… not as a glorious martyr, for I can no longer be one.
It is now silent on the other side of the main door. It is the stillness that comes before the storm, for just when I realize that the silence has come, I hear orders being barked, guns being fired. My companions were supposed to leave the room a few minutes after I started praying. They must have left already, for the voices outside don’t belong to them. These are Kenyan soldiers on the other side. But what are they shooting at? I stay still for a moment, and hear one say, harshly, “Where are the others?” A painful grunt follows, and then a few sputtering coughs. I now realize that one of my companions stayed behind to guard the room while I was praying. What zeal. I wonder who it is. Is it Alas, the young kid of eighteen, who was bubbling with joy when he was told he would be bringing the jihad to Kenya? Or is it Sadam, the one who took charge when the others left? Perhaps it is Ishmail, the one who pulled me up the stairs when the Kenyan soldiers killed Samir. I cannot discern who it is. The cry of pain is universal among us men. Whoever it is, he was ready to sacrifice his life for one who deserves not such sacrifice. The gunshot that ends the sputtering sends me back to action, putting the final touches to my plans.
“Check the toilets,” I hear one of the soldiers say, in Swahili. I am not afraid. I am done now. They won’t get anything here when they manage to break the door. My hand lingers above the detonator. Then the same voice comes up again. “And you, put those pieces of jewelry in that bag.” I hear the sound of canvas falling onto the floor. The bag has been tossed. I try to understand this. Are they taking things out of the store in which we were hiding? Why? I don’t think they intend to find the owner, and hand over the things to him. Momentarily I choke with contempt and disgust. These soldiers are supposed to be fighting us, kicking us out of the building and saving the property of the Kenyans, yet here they are taking property that doesn’t belong to them. Now I understand why we’ve been able to keep the mall so long. They want to take out what they want first, before they declare the building secured. But then, my contempt and disgust pales in the shadow of my own transgressions.
There is a loud thump against the door. A kick, that was. They are here now. My time has come. Long gone are the chances I had of turning away from this. Long gone are the times I could have walked away from this fate. The juggernaut I built for myself is now hurtling, getting closer to the precipice. I deserve no more time on this planet which, impetuously, I have defiled so much with my existence. Now even if I wanted to stop, I wouldn’t be able to. The Kenyan soldiers have just proved that they are just as vile as we have been. They don’t deserve to punish me. So I will punish myself. There are now more kicks on the door. They have now suspected that something is hidden here, perhaps someone heard them. They cannot bear that happening. But now I am beyond emotion. Let them come. The door gives a sharp crack, then another.
I am now ready, ready for the punishment Allah will mete out upon me. These, my writings, will burn with me. This is the last phrase I will write.

(This story is dedicated to all who perished in, or were affected by, the attack on Westgate Mall in September, 2013)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Lamentations of an Ego Deflated by Bureaucracy

You arrive at an office in ‘The’ University, with a quick errand and an impatient heart. You behold two secretaries and wonder for a fleeting moment what need one official has for two, but then you think: the better for me, at least I have two to serve me. All this while, you are only beginning to notice that they are engaged in deep conversation, with many a punctuating laugh and flashing of eyes.
Your impatience creeps back over you and, as we say in the Common Speech, you ‘scratch your voice’, seeking their attention. Of course they don’t notice the first time you do this, and you have to repeat step one above at least three times before the conversation dies off with some sputters and impatient glances at you. You make your request after a hardly acknowledged greeting.
They look at you. You look at them. They look at each other. Then the one with fair skin and big eyes like a Tolkienian Elf turns to you and tells you the official isn’t in. And even if she were in, your issue still couldn’t have been attended to here. But, she suggests, you can see the other official, who presides over another office a kilometer and half away. Before you have time to seek clarification, the conversation has resumed as though it never stopped.
Begrudged, you look at the two damsels and anger flows through you. Suddenly, they seem the ugliest beings you ever saw, and you loth to behold them. You walk out and, though your errand was quick, you have others to attend to. So you decide to lay off the current and run it tomorrow, and instead take care of the others so you have a clean day tomorrow just for it.
But that is just the beginning. You wake up tomorrow with fire in your belly and determination in your brow. Your needs have to be attended to, or you will blow down the walls of the institution with your rage. Quick, you hurry to see the other official to whom you were referred. You arrive at his office earlier than him though, you suppose, he should have been there long before your footsteps drew close with your woes. After a few hopelessly hopeful knocks, you sit at the nice waiting chair outside the office and await his advent.
Of course, the wait lasts ‘some’ minutes. By this time, the fire in your belly is now stoked and fanned by the hunger you are beginning to feel. You despise your haste in the early morning, and the breakfast that sits in your room calls for you. But your determination wants only to be satiated before your body seeks its sustenance.
After the ‘some’ minutes are over, a middle-aged woman, kindly looking and in much contrast to the ladies you met yesterday, saunters towards you, pulls out a bunch of keys and unlocks the office. You are right behind her heels the moment she steps over the threshold. Yet, you become aware of the fact that the fire in your belly has died down, and you can only now feel emptiness in there. This form of your enemy you didn’t reckon you would meet.
The moment she is behind your desk, you, now motivated by your hunger, state your errand to her while she seems not to hear you. You wait. Then, when you are convinced she didn’t hear and want to repeat to her your seemingly rehearsed words, she turns and tells you how rude you are, not thinking even of hailing her and reminding her how good the morning is. Of course, your morning hasn’t started as ‘good’ as she tells you, but you try to mend fences by a hasty salutation. She looks like to your mother’s age, and you wouldn’t want to start lecturing her on how to judge the goodness of mornings.
A few more words. And then she tells you the official won’t be in the office the whole day. But, she conveniently adds, your issue can be dealt with by another official, back in the general area you were yesterday. You look at her, anger again stirring in your empty belly, but sense tells you her many years won’t bear well a verbal outpouring of your wrath. You walk out, loathing how weak you are, who never let a day pass without thought given to your might.
You force yourself to forget your hunger and saunter the kilometer and half back to where you were yesterday. You are mingled with the common folk, as it were, and the dignity of your might is trampled upon by their seeming indifference to your plight. Finally, you arrive at the other office, not the one you were at yesterday. You are now so hungry, you can’t breathe fire even if you wanted to.
Here again, you meet two secretaries, middle aged like the one you left at the other office. You approach one of them and, for once, you are treated with courtesy. She tells you to leave the matter you want attended to in the in-tray, sign your name in a certain book, and come back at four in the afternoon. Despite the haste you feel your matter should be dealt with, you realize that any effort on your part will be counter-productive. You acquiesce and walk out, sure that your issue will at least be dealt with.
You come back at four, and now only one secretary is in, the one you didn’t talk to in the morning. She tells you, in a curt fashion, to check the out the out-tray. Your heart tingling with long-delayed delight, you reach out, and your piece of paper is right at the top of the pile. Your fingers, excited, pull it out. You look at the space which required the signature and stamp. For a moment, you think you see the two there, then the space becomes blank again, just as it was when you delivered it in the morning.
Confused, you turn to the secretary and ask what that means. She asks you what time you left the sheet of paper there. You tell her. Then she refers you to the noticeboard, to a yellow notice which has all the markings (or lack of them) of being new. “(’The Official’) will not be around till this date (twelve days after today). See (another office).” Puzzled, you as what this means, since the notice wasn’t there when you came in the morning. Curtly, in her stride, she tells you that it means you have to go to another office. Further enquiry, which isn’t met with increasing tolerance, reveals that you have been to the said office before, in fact, yesterday.
Welcome to institutional bureaucracy at ‘The’ University. This, this is just the beginning. The matter will be dealt with after you have trod the cumulative of many miles. All for a signature.
(Oh, don't think I forgot my promise to reveal more about the Crimean tango between Russia and Ukraine. I just realised that such information was too widely available for me to think you couldn't find it out on your own)

PS - Leave a comment and share.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Ukrainian Spring

The EU wanted to sign a deal with Ukraine (or was it the other way round?). Anyway, this was a deal which would have brought the former Soviet Socialist republic very close to the fold of the West and thus farther from its perennial self-imposed patron, Russia. Well, not expecting to be beaten very close to its backyard, Mother Russia came in to woo the Ukrainians back with some goodies. And that’s when the problem began.
The Ukrainians were tired of being constantly at the behest of Russia. They felt as though Russia wanted too many fingers in the pie. They had realized that their relationship with the country that had controlled them for so long had left them impoverished. In comparison to many former communist countries which had turned to the West, Ukraine is a poor country. Its per capita income is one of the lowest in Europe, comparable to developing nations.
They overwhelmingly petitioned the government to sign the deal with the EU. But the government of President Viktor Yanukovitvh was pro-Russian. They put the deal with the EU on hold, which effectively closed the chapter about getting closer to the West. They obviously preferred the Russian deal. But that’s where another problem came up.
The people didn’t want to snug up to Russia anymore. They reacted in a way reminiscent of the beginning of the Arab Spring. But the government didn’t pay too much attention to this, thinking that this was just another of those short-lived fireworks of rage. The people would get tired of making noise on the streets and go back to their houses and focus on bettering their fare. Then they could sign the deal in some quiet way and Mother Russia would have her way again. So they sent a few policemen to break the riots. But here was a third problem.
This wasn’t an ordinary protest. This was a Ukrainian Spring. Ukrainians had had enough of it all; disregard for human rights, a sluggish economy, poor distribution of wealth, being left far behind by their neighbours, a government constantly swaying to the beat of Russia at the expense of the demands of its citizens. They had had enough. This was it. The spark that lit the first tire on the street was also the spark which set the whole of Ukraine aflame.
Unrestrained rage on the streets across Ukraine. Riot police in full gear. Fires. Dark smoke spiraling above the cities. Blocked roads. Empty houses. Running battles. Blows. Clubs on flesh. Stones and rocks. Sweat in the middle of winter. Blood.  Anger. Emotion. Determination. Worldwide attention. Bullets. Death.
The people weren’t going to relent in their demands. They wanted the Western deal. That much was clear, at least to those of us watching keenly from the outside. But the two governments in the middle of this were still determined to have their way. So the protests went on, growing larger and gaining some high profile approvals. People like Vitali Klitschko, world renown boxing champion, rallied behind the protesters.
The government of Ukraine started falling apart when it realized this was no ordinary outburst. That icon of Ukrainian human rights activists, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, was released from prison. This was an explicit attempt to calm down the people, give them some hope. New elections were conveniently arranged. But then there was Yulia, on a wheelchair, a darling, saying she wouldn’t contest any election. Another fix. She wasn’t offering the Ukrainians another option that could have hidden the intrigues behind the government’s dalliance with Russia. The government had to face it off with the people. There would be no hiding of issues behind a good face anymore.
Yanukovych had to bolt in the end. Of course he fled to Russsia. But for Russians, all wasn’t lost yet. Still determined to end up with a piece of Ukraine, a plan was set in motion that was meant to give Russia a piece of Ukraine, literally.
Crimea is a peninsular on the south-eastern part of Ukraine, or was, because now it is part of Russia. When the Ukrainian president disappeared from the country and was replaced, Russia, whose Black Sea fleet has been stationed on the peninsular since the 18th century, put its forces on alert. A short while later they actually moved into the peninsular under the pretext of protecting the interests of ethnic Russians. The motive was more sinister as the ensuing chain of events revealed.
On Tuesday, 18th March, President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed a treaty which enjoined Crimea to Russia. The peninsular is populated largely by ethnic Russians, and it was easy to get their approval in a referendum that was orchestrated from the Kremlin with little regard for the sovereignty of Ukraine. In a way, Crimea was literally grabbed from Ukraine.
The West has been protesting, threatening and seething, refusing to grant recognition of Russian actions in Ukraine. But Russia hasn’t given a hoot to their clamor to stand with Ukraine, and has bullied Ukraine in much the same fashion as it has since time immemorial. Fears abound that what has happened with the Crimea is about to be repeated elsewhere in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the relationship between Russia and the West has not been colder since before the Berlin Wall fell on communism.
Questions are now flying in all directions. What can be done to solve the quagmire the Ukrainian Spring has thrown the world into? Who has what rights in the fiasco? Is Putin expecting to get away with his act? Are we in the era that will witness a final squaring out of the war that was never fought between the Soviet Union and America – the Cold War? And what shall be done to those of us who have no say on such matters?
We have largely ignored this matter here in Africa. But it’s time we took attention, and a stand. Nations which can’t stand up for anything will develop into pawns to be used by the powerful. From a concerned student to his fellow Africans, these are my thoughts. Next week, I will be back with some information on Crimea and the historical events which have resulted in the dilemma we are in right now.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Scourge of Homosexuality

President Yoweri Museveni, when he was signing into law the controversial (at least in the West) Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, broke new ground on the homosexuality issue in Africa. The law was among the most prominent legislations to deal with the issue, granting hefty punishments for those engaging in queer activities.
But, apart from breaking new ground, the cow-herder from the Pearl of Africa did something else; he commissioned scientists to do some research into why somebody, in his right mind, would “leave something good for something really bad.” In doing this, he threw the gauntlet to the West, which has been arguing that homosexuals deserve to be given the freedom to pursue their queer mannerisms.
Of course, scientists cannot answer this without straying from their firm empirical ground. You see, as much as science tries to explain the causes of things, it can only explain the proximate, or secondary, causes of things, not their ultimate causes. To try to explain this would make a scientist to journey out of the realms of science, at which point he would cease to be a scientist, as that would involve some really subjective rationalization.
So, to save the scientists some trouble, I think I should contribute something to this debate. I will begin with something I know should be right at the forefront. When I was in primary school, I was taught that the family is the basic unit of society. As such, without the family, society cannot exist. That means, in extension, that all tiers of human interactions – villages, hamlets, towns, nations, international communities, wouldn’t exist normally if the family didn’t exist. Now, we all know that a society has rights, the most basic of which would be to protect itself from disappearing off the face of the earth.
A normal society, concerned with it survival, would understandably be allowed, or even expected, to do all it takes, without harming other societies in its turn, to keep out all elements which might undermine its integrity. One of these things is homosexuality. So Uganda shouldn’t be faulted by the West for the new law – it had every right to enact the legislation. A man who decides to have sexual relations with a fellow man does not do so in the best interest of society. Now, his intention might be just to get some pleasure, or to gain some affection. This is a morally neutral motive. But the method through which he goes about gaining such goods is intrinsically evil. As such, the protection of the family would be used as a very legitimate ground for passing legislation aimed at curbing homosexual practices.
But the protection of the family is not the only reason we have to curb homosexuality. Sexual orientation, much as self-labeled ‘liberal’ people would like to claim it’s a human right, is not something within the deciding range of a human. It is much like being born. You don’t get to decide where, when or how. You just know you were born, period. In the same way, there is only one sexual orientation, and that is to have sexual relations with only people of the opposite sex.
Trying to take into your own hands the matter of deciding that you are attracted (sexually, mind you) to persons of the same gender would be like trying to change such things as your race, age or first language. In these matters, the furthest you can go is to give a semblance of what you want to appear like, but not the intrinsic qualities which are part of you so long as you exist.
The trouble with the people who advocate for gay rights is that they do not grasp the full meaning of freedom, which is more than just having the leeway to do what one likes. To quote an old friend of mine, “freedom and independence are different… a train has to stay on its rails to be free.” If it leaves the rails, it might be independent, but not free to do its job, which is to travel from one place to another. In the same way, as long as a human being does what is in accord with human nature, that person is free. Once he goes out of his moral bounds, he loses his freedom. So a drunk man is not free, a person addicted to crack isn’t free, a man who has sex with another man isn’t free.
Yet the gay rights advocates claim that gays also have rights. Yes, they do. Even murderers have rights, thieves have rights, rapists have rights. But we don’t go around clamoring for them to be freed from jail so they can go on killing, stealing and raping. That’s because they don’t have more rights than the rest of us. The fact that one does something wrong does not make doing that thing a right. A person’s sexual orientation is not in his hands to decide. Otherwise it would even become normal to allow people to have sex with animals. One is called a man because women exist, and vice versa.
The next time somebody tries to tell you that a person is free to decide his sexual orientation, ask him this one question; why are you a man/woman? If we go around being complacent about this issue, it will only get worse. Museveni’s law might be too extreme, but things have to get worse before they get better.
And finally, to go back to the scientists – they haven’t been able to prove that homosexual dispositions are genetic. No, these are acquired habits, much like we come to love beer and tobacco, which are really dreadful at the first taking. The fact that they are acquired habits implies something, that they can be un-learned. Gays can stop engaging in their unnatural practices if they want to, and are ready to submit themselves to being helped. It might be tough, but it can be done. They just have to accept that they have a problem.
This is my voice, however small, on the gay issue. Till next time.