Payback time for sleazy Uganda tabloid in war of words

Stella Nyanzi (Photo courtesy of Twitter)
Stella Nyanzi (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

When the journalists at the Hello tabloid of Uganda published the latest article in a hateful tradition of forced outings of alleged and actual LGBT citizens, they couldn’t know that they themselves would become the targets of a much more imaginative and enjoyable writer — Ugandan anthropology researcher Stella Nyanzi.  As a straight ally of LGBTI Ugandans, she was named in the Hello article, as were trans and lesbian activists Sandra Ntebi and Kasha Jacqueline along with many people who had not publicized their personal lives and who now are at risk of violence and discrimination after being listed in the tabloid.

“There is nothing as desperately foul as a struggling shoddy sleazy mediocre local tabloid,”  Nyanzi wrote on Facebook — and she was just getting started with that description of Hello. Here is her full tirade against Hello and her appreciation of members of the LGBTIQ community in Uganda, reprinted with permission:

By Stella Nyanzi

Cover of Hello tabloid on May 29, 2015.
Cover of Hello tabloid of Uganda on May 29, 2015.

There is nothing as desperately foul as a struggling shoddy sleazy mediocre local tabloid trying to make a bit of money from selling sensationalized sensationalist stories full of shitty lies and badly researched information compounded by bad grammar, punctuation mistakes, factual errors and outright blatant unprofessional character-tainting. The cheap stench of sensationalist tabloidia that oozes from the so-called ‘Hello Uganda’ newspaper makes the paper worth for only cleaning the bums after the toilet. That is how pedestrian the repetitive sensationalism imbued with heavy doses of bad sexual innuendos within this paper is.

So, the shareholders, owners, editors, sub-editors, journalists and freelance writers of ‘Hello Uganda’ think it is cool to continuously out and ridicule same-sex loving people living in Uganda. This is soooooo yesterday. And it is only foolish amateurs such as the extinct ‘Rolling Stones’ tabloid who still base their profiteering strategies on homophobic exposure of people perceived to be homosexual.

Front page of Rolling Stone in October 2010.
Front page of the now-defunct Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone in October 2010.

Ask Giles Achebe Muhame. The LGBTIQ community in Uganda sued his homophobic publishing house for unethically outing same-sex loving Ugandans and imploring the country to hang homosexuals. Rolling Stones lost the case, were sentenced to pay heavy monetary fines, and rolled up their business into extinction.

It is unethical journalism to expose the private lives of minority populations. It is criminal to publish factual errors about a group of individuals. It is unjust. Homophobia is soooooo stone-age and barbaric. Only empty-brained goons would want to be associated with such putrid unprofessionalism.

‘Hello Uganda’ disgusts me! I even wonder who has the time and is brainless enough to buy a tabloid as empty and trashy as ‘Hello Uganda’!

I should not have given this stupidity my time and attention, but these acts of tomfoolery by the public press really get to me. Freedom of expression does not give the right to tell lies, fabricate tales and combine being unethical with being impudent and foolish. Outing gay men and lesbians does not detract from their homosexuality. Outing allies is even more thick-headed!

Sometimes I wish I was a lesbian so that I could be outed correctly. There is nothing wrong with being an ally of the LGBTIQ community. There is nothing wrong with being very close to Sandra Ntebi. Sandra is a transgender man, a lesbian and a human rights defender focusing on the rights of sexual minorities, women, transgender people, intersex children, sex workers, refugees and un-registered non-citizens. Sandra loves Uganda, is an ardent supporter of the NRM [the National Resistance Movement, Uganda’s leading political party] and a national leader in the local constituency of Makindye [neighborhood in Kampala, the capital of Uganda]. Sandra is a great social science researcher and colleague whose support made my own academic research flourish in several ways. Sandra is an amazing lover to the women lucky to have his love, a loving father to the children that s/he has adopted, a serious business investor in several businesses in Kampala, Entebbe and Mukono.

Sandra is an amazing, amusing friend whose strength of character and stamina is a rare gem. Sandra is a loyal bestie who stood with me through many shocking events of my life. Sandra and Bombastic Kasha were the very first people to come to my house and support me, my sisters and my children the night we received the shocking news of losing my father. These lesbians are soft-hearted, tender human beings who weep with those who weep.

‘Hello Uganda’ did me a great honour to publicize my great friendship with Sandra Ntebi. I love you, Sandra Ntebi. Gwekiluma agende yetugire kumu nyaanya!

[That last line is an Lugandan adage that can be translated as “If anyone is offended by this, they should go and hang themselves from a tomato tree!”]

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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