Uganda: Statement of FNUR conductor ‘Katende Sam’

This is a text of a heavily redacted statement released by Friends New Underground Railroad (FNUR) on Sept. 2, 2014, as evidence supporting its report of stonings in rural Uganda in early August.

Redacted words are displayed here as “xxxxxx.” The subheads and images are added to make the statement easier to read; they are not in the original statement.

See the blog post “Ugandan murder mystery: New evidence, still no clarity”  for a discussion of the value of this statement as evidence of stonings in rural Uganda in early August.

Statement of a FNUR Conductor, xxxxx aka “Katende Sam (Mr.)

31st August 2014 at Kigali [Rwanda]

First page of the redacted statement by Sam Katende.
First page of the redacted statement by “Katende Sam.”

I was born on the 4th July 1971 to xxxxx and xxxxxxx xxxxxxxx, I come from a polygamous, my father xxxxx had 5 wives and countless mistresses. He father 18 children (at least those are the ones know to us) I attended zzzzzz boys Primary school before going to St. Charles Lwanga Kasasa for both my O and A Level education.

My growing up was full of challenges, domestic violence was the order of the day and sometimes I stayed out of school because of lack of school fees. My mother an illiterate pushed so that such that I can have some good education, she always admired those who spoke and wrote English.

My family comes from Nakabogo Village in the 1950s my grandfather moved from Luuka to xxxxx where he re-married and gave birth to my father. In 1990 I joined Makerere University Kampala, where I was granted a government scholarship to a bachelors in xxxxx Management and later majored in xxxxx Management. I met [wife’s name], who has been my best from for the last 22 years in 1992 at the University.

My love and passion for issues of human rights, started in my earlier days seeing my father battling and abusing my mother and the step mothers, his way of thinking was different, he thought women were not human enough, he denied all my sisters and sisters any chance to get any sort of education. He forced them into marriage as soon as they reached age of 14 and he always demanded a big bribe price.

This shaped my thinking that when I grow up, I want to make some changes, little did I know that it wasn’t going to be easy like I thought. After finishing my primary education at xxxxx boys primary school was admitted at St. Charles Lwanga S. S. School.

First experiences with gay youths

This is where I came to meet big boys who used to practice homosexuality (kasabuni like we used to call it at high school — Kasabuni means a piece of Soap and the boys used to soap as a lubricant) — having anal sex with fellow boys. I became a close friend of one such boys xxxxxxx) though he was practicing kasabuni he never at any one time tried to ask me into joining, this way he won my respect. Later I realized these guys were just different from me and I came to appreciate them that way anyways. As I grew in age and in classes I learnt that these boys were gay (though some had anal sex just for fun) Learning that other people can be totally different made me even more curious and I befriend more and more of such boys and even realized that there are some girls in a similar situation.

During one of the school breaks while I was in the advanced level at School, I came to realize that I had a step sister who was a tomboy lesbian and our father thought she was a disgrace to the family and always plotted on how to get rid of her, somehow she survived in the family despite always being detained and locked up. isgrace to the family and always plotted on how to get rid of her, somehow she survived in the family despite always being detained and locked up. When I reached the University, I came across several gays and lesbians and now I also learnt of the trans, whom other students used to call the “wrong body housing” there was a lot differences and fights within the university settings. Somehow both the straight and gays always survived in one way or another.

This shaped the way I started looking the gays, I always saw how they were being mistreated, abused, ignored, denied opportunities and always afraid of the law. Having a step sister at home in a similar situation made me feel bad and I wanted to do something but I felt so helpless and hopeless, also [wife’s name] now my wife wasn’t always bothered by my closeness to the gay people.

All I thought I could offer to the gays was friendship and love, as I knew I can’t change some things, I accepted my situation and made peace with my soul that I can’t change some things but giving them love, respect and a helping where I can was equally comforting. With that on my mind, I decided to focus on my studies, after graduating I was lucky enough to be employed by thexxxxx district in the environmental department, while my wife worked with xxxxx Hospital after many years of job hunting. Later on early 2000s [wife’s name] and I decided to officially and culturally get married and we had our first son in 2003 he is a stubborn boy called xxxx xxxxxxx, we now have 3 children.

Opposition to the Bahati bill

David Bahati (Photo courtesy of NTV)
Ugandan member of parliament David Bahati, who first proposed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2009. (Photo courtesy of NTV)

In 2009 Hon. Member of Parliament David Bahati introduced a private member’s bill in parliament called the AHB, I was doing a post graduate diploma while it was introduced, I immediately jumped back into action and while presenting a totally different paper to my fellow student at UMI I publically criticized the AHB and this didn’t go well with the School’s administration and since I was being sponsored by the district, my funding for this diploma was canceled and I had to drop out of School, good I was allowed to back to my job.

I studied the proposed law and wrote an open letter to the parliament, addressing it to the speaker and reminding her how Uganda was a signatory to several international treaties and that it’s a social responsibility of the government to protect all people without questions , I defended my self that am a fully married man but I care about other humans. This letter draw a lot of attention from my work place, family and established organizations in Kampala who questioned my actions, as to why me, a straight man is interested in the AHB. [wife’s name] wasn’t also impressed while other organizations told me, that I was supposed to write such a letter through them. Well I never received any reply from the Parliament.

When I got an opportunity I used to visit our local fm radio in xxxxx to discuss human rights matters and decampaign AHB. The incloset gays in xxxxx, they realized that am a straight ally and they start looking out for me for advise, support here and there. I loved helping them whenever I could and this brought me so much joy and peace at heart, though [wife’s name] insisted that this was too much risk to take especially in our small town. I got an opportunity I used to visit our local fm radio in xxxxx to discuss human rights matters and decampaign AHB.

Helping endangered LGBT people leave Uganda

The incloset gays in xxxxx, they realized that am a straight ally and they start looking out for me for advise, support here and there. I loved helping them whenever I could and this brought me so much joy and peace at heart, though [wife’s name] insisted that this was too much risk to take especially in our small town. This went on for years, until the AHB was finally signed into law, I couldn’t stay still. I had fears that my sister was going to be killed and my hard hearted father finally had an excuse to get ride of my sister (xxxxxx xxxxxxx) without consulting [wife’s name], I sold of my aging Toyota and single handedly I sponsored Angela out of Uganda.

When she finally settled in Germany, she started calling me and telling me how she is finally her self, for the first time she sounded happy and health and free, this was encouragement and I was like if I did this for her, I can do it for other people. The events which followed the 14th of Feb 2014 saw me start housing gays and lesbians in our xxxxx house and always helping them out of Uganda. With no or little support networks within xxxxx I always did it on my own and gave me a lot of joy inside my heart.

First contact with Friends New Underground Railroad

Logo of the Friends New Underground Railroad
Logo of the Friends New Underground Railroad

I bless facebook, I was able to connect with a stranger, and stranger who was more than I thought, a fellow straight ally who has worked in Africa for years and with vast experience and also a member of the secret movement the Quakers. We connected so well and with more talking and checking me out, xxxx started helping me through the FNUR to support gays and lesbians at extreme risk and danger to escape out of Uganda.

I enjoyed working with them and by mid Aug/14 we had worked as a team to help over 85 gays and lesbians escape out of Uganda. The operations were always risk and costly. Before the escapees reach their final destination they had always to go to another country, I smile when I can proudly say that on the 85 passengers almost 60 have reached their final destination some in Rwanda, South, Germany, France, Norway, Denmark, Canada etc.

In the line of duty I increased my risk and exposed my self, to the hateful and homophobic Muslims and Catholics in xxxxx our small town, this was very criminal and I deserved to be killed, so they decided to target my wife and children. It was time to run and hide.

I had to leave the country and as I speak now, am slowly settling in another East African country. I bless the Lord that this country is welcoming. Despite the several international pressure, things are not any better for the gays and lesbians.

The life in Uganda is kinda different, to the urban connected and established gays and lesbians in the cities the risk and safety problems aren’t such a big issue as they have access to the resources, however to the rural gays and lesbians in the villages living in communities where the locals take matters in their own hands, even to an extent of instituting local clan village courts, things are much more hard, deadly and bloody.

Little or no news can easily make it to media and when such news gets out, depending on how its received, little is always done and when the police picks interests also depending on how it will damage the image of Uganda abroad, they are always happy to cover it up. ake it to media and when such news gets out, depending on how its received, little is always done and when the police picks interests also depending on how it will damage the image of Uganda abroad, they are always happy to cover it up.

Events in Buyende

Before I left Uganda, what happened in Buyende will forever haunt me. xxxxx xxxxx a xxxxx trader from xxxxx who usually goes to Buyende Animal market to purchase xxxxx and xxxxx from sell gave me a call ([man’s name] like we call him is an incloset bisexual hard working young man). He had gone to do his business with his long truck to bring animals to sell to meat dealers. He was also worried for his own life as he thought maybe they knew.

Christians had raised and were rounding up suspected gay people (not that they knew and were 100% sure that they are gay — you may realize that some of those suspected are just business competitors)

[man’s name] thought I had the authority and connections to put this office, I advised him to call police which he said he can’t because he had his own fears. Some days later, I heard from a local fm radio station that 6 suspected gay people had been killed with so much brutality in Itukira village in Buyenda.

Also other radio stations including KBS started talking about. As soon as the news broke, immediately some people started changing the story, not to damage the image of Buyenda or somebody else wasn’t just doing his or her job.

Depsite what has been said I stand by the fact that those 6 were killed and justice won’t be served because facts and details have been played around with to the excitement of the haters. I want to thank the Quakers, who have helped me escape the plight in Uganda and unless things settle down in Uganda, this will be my home, to raise my children and rebuild my life. I don’t wana cry that I was forced to flee; this is all part of the struggle. I loved my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. God bless you all

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