The international media today picked up comments from Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, saying that Uganda’s tourism industry should rival that of Spain’s.
His comments, made in Uganda’s ‘New Vision’ newspaper were then picked up by Agence France-Presse (AFP) and published in global news platforms such as The Guardian.
After reading The Guardian article I did something I very rarely do – I read the comments section.
The first comment came from one Herman Lategan and said:
Other early commenters followed a similar theme in their comments:
Whilst I find the hateful and widely misinterpreted rhetoric of anti-homosexuality in Uganda deeply worrying I equally find it sad to see a country lumped with such a characteristic as its one defining feature.
Equally, I am not convinced that by choosing to not visit Uganda (let alone leaving comments under Guardian articles) you are doing anything to help alter this hateful and misunderstood rhetoric that is a much larger than just Uganda.
What I do know though is that Uganda faces a huge image problem in ‘the west’ and these comments, at least in part, are a symptom of this.
This image problem is one exasperated by painfully fictitious portrayals in the media such as the one in Series 2 of the Newsroom that I have just finished watching (other than the lyrics of Band Aid 30 I struggle to think of anything recent that is so crass).
Or, closer to home, try searching Uganda on the Guardian’s home page. All you will find are articles about the anti-homosexuality bill, the hunt for war-lord Josef Kony or bizarre novelty pieces quoting some supposedly hilarious thing an official once said.
Whilst all legitimate issues to cover they are, by themselves, playing into a mainly false perception of what Uganda is like.
In short, it’s crass, it’s unhelpful and it represents a form of low level journalism that I dislike. And importantly it’s all people in the UK (my home country, the place I love most), hears about Uganda (my home, the place that is pushing for that top spot in my heart).
I find that really fucking sad.
I was about to write something along those lines in the comments section when this well-intentioned comment, one which many in Uganda would see as a balanced response but many in the UK will read like trolling, popped up.
I wasn’t sure I had the stomach to ever enter into the comments section of The Guardian let alone on a subject like this and so I headed back here to the safe shores of Hynd’s Blog.
Sane and respectful comments welcomed!