David Kato was bludgeoned to death on January 26th 2011 in his home in Kampala Uganda. He was an out gay Ugandan LGBTI activist and human rights defender and security officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda [SMUG]. I knew him personally for just over one short but intense year and in that time I came to love him dearly.
Its been one year and one day since your last email which turned out to be your final words. You wrote you had a new email as someone had been tampering with yours. For weeks I wondered whether there was a connection with the tampering and your murder. The man who brought death has been tried and sentenced to prison. He pleaded guilty and tried to soil your name in the process but we know this to be untrue. Honestly I don’t even think of him, I don’t know his name and don’t want to. He is nothing. The courts said it was not a homophobic crime trying to avoid any connection to the AHB and all the incessant cruel homophobia you and others in the family have faced. Many were angry with the decision. They want you to be a hero and your death to stand for something. But your status as a hero is not dependent on the reasons behind your murder. You are hero because you were a good friend and because you were 100% committed to the struggle and never ever wavered, whatever the obstacles or disappointments and even in the very short time I knew you, there were many.
David, you missed so much in 2011 – the last 12 months have been good to our beloved continent. Revolutions and uprisings, like flowers in spring, have risen up across the lands and continue now into 2012. Gaddafi is gone, Mubarak and Ben Ali too. Even Ugandans rebelled for a brief moment in a “Walk to Work” campaign against election fraud. Sadly Mugabe, Museveni and the Ugandan AHB gang remain like stagnant water. The really good news for Uganda is that the AHB has once again disappeared but no one is foolish to imagine it will not rear it’s ugly head sometime in the future. We, [Nigerians] have a new President, yet another incompetent fool. I wonder why no one asks why Nigerians keep electing incompetent fools as leaders?. Just when we thought it had been filed away in the dusty cabinets of some politicians office, the Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Bill, was tabled and passed by the Senate. And speaking of uprisings, Nigerians have finally stopped complaining and talking. YES my friend, we are in the midst of an almighty uprising and Nigerians find themselves overcome with pride and will never again suffer in silence.
You would be shocked to read the millions of words people have been writing about you since you left us. People you never knew, saddened and outraged by your death and its manner. As you know the LGBT / Human Rights world is full of awards well my friend now there is a “David Kato” Award. As I write those words I see your face light up with the big mischievous smile and await your slamming one liner! Jokes aside, the thing with dying is that quite often when you are alive you can’t get anything or anyone to listen to you. Then when you’re dead everyone is fighting to get a piece of you till there is nothing left. It reminds me of a cousin of mine whose aged mother could have received better care when she was alive. When she died he installed air conditioning in her bedroom to keep her body cool during the wake and spent lavishly on her funeral which went on for days. How screwed up is that?
But things are changing David – people are no longer silent over injustices and stupidity. In Nigeria there were many more voices against the SSMB than before – people spoke out at the injustice of it all. The other day Thabo Mbeki paid a visit to Kampala and slammed Bahati and co over their homophobia and “anti-gay” legislation. And in Malawi women staged protests against attacks on trouser wearing women by youths. Across the continent millions and millions of people from Tunis to Dakar to Kampala and Durban have taken to the streets, occupied public spaces and stood against corruption and repression. Surely David you would have loved to see all these splendid outbreaks of revolutionary love. We still have a long way to go before LGBTIQ people are wholly included in these uprisings, but you know, I believe there is more hope today than yesterday.
Dear David Kisule Kato – we miss you, we miss you but your spirit is strong enough for us not to forget. Rest In Peace Always!