Do something good for your country…

A Lonely Planet slogan says “Do something great for your country: Leave”.  Is it a clichéd idea, to talk about the importance of getting to know cultures other than one’s own, breaking bread with a family in the Andes, learning at the feet of a tribe of monks in the Himalayas…? What was I talking about? I think I got carried away on my around-the-world-in-50 stereotypes trip.

Clichés, they exist because they are true, and there is something to be said about the narrow-minded nature of a society whose inhabitants “defend” their own religion by burning others’ holy books and protesting their prayer rooms. Small-mindedness doesn’t apply only to American religious fundamentalists, I would say the same  to Ugandan girls who think that dating a whiteboy is somehow the key to wealth, health and future happiness.

Small-minded behaviour does not have to be a big-ticket, shit-on-my-rainbow-parade item. It can be as simple as the American waitress who corrected me after she finally understood my drink order; “Oh! You mean Waaahder”, or asking the new international student what the African National Anthem is (if you see nothing wrong with that statement please stop reading immediately and go back to licking windows).

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We are young Kampalans. We like to go out and meet other like-minded, good-looking young people.

We like to dance, on rugby pitches or sweaty back rooms with a bottle in one hand and the other around someone’s waist.

We like to have well-lubricated conversations about religion, sex, politics and football, about the way things were and the way things should be.

We like to laugh.

We love to laugh but we are also here for each other when we have to cry.

We respect and value life, partly because we understand that not everyone thinks the same way. Not everyone has to live the way we say they should just because we think it’s the best way to live.

Kampala is our city, and we love it because we have always felt safe to be ourselves, regardless of whether it pisses off some religious fundamentalists.

Now we are hurt, we are scared, but we are not about to let some cartoon villain dictate through fear, the way we should feel and live in our home. This is our home.

This is our home

This is our home.