Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Should Bonang QUIT Uganda Gig in Solidarity With Her Gay Fans?


We reported that South Africa's tv personality Bonang Matheba will be hosting the red carpet coverage at the Uganda Entertainment Awards. Now questions are being asked if Bonang should decline the invitation to do the gig in solidarity with her huge gay fan base given that Uganda has one of the worst human rights violations against gays. 

In Uganda, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons have no specific legal protections. Being gay in that country is a crime punishable by the law. 

Under the Penal Code, "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" between two males carries a potential penalty of life imprisonment.

According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, 96 percent of Ugandan residents believe that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept, which was the fifth-highest rate of non-acceptance in the 45 countries surveyed.

In November 2012, the speaker of the Parliament of Uganda promised to enact a revised anti-homosexuality bill, providing for harsher penalties against suspected LGBT people and anyone who fails to report them to authorities, including long-term imprisonment and the death penalty for what the law terms "repeat offenders".



In light of these atrocious facts about Uganda, some people have asked if the one person in this continent who owes a lot to the support from the gay community should reciprocate in kind by declining to profit from a country that marginalise that community. 

Openly gay club DJ, DJ Olwee is among the few who dared to raise this issue. On his Twitter account, he asked
So Bonang who has a huge following of gays who are 1st to fight for her is hosting Ugandan Awards instead refusing in protest of their laws.
Firstly, I personally applaud Olwee for raising the issue. My thoughts on this are; while Bonang is under no obligation to do anything for the gay community nor does she owe anyone anything fr that matter, it is not an unfair expectation that she should take a stand to show some solidarity. 

Unfortunately, be it because of the economic disadvantage our local celebs have or simply not giving a damn, South African celebrities rarely stand for any political or social cause unless they are getting paid or it is benefiting their social media traction. 


I am not saying they don't support charities and such. I am saying they rarely go out of the chorus to support a cause that would put them at odds with anyone. 

Yes, it would be nice and send a powerful message to the continent and her fan base if Bonang were to take a stand and say she will not do the event to raise awareness against the inhumane treatment of the LGBT community in Uganda. But it won't happen. 

There is the issue of contractual obligation. She is contracted to E! so if the channel wants her to go shoot in Uganda, she is obligated to go. Though one can argue that she can challenge the assignment on moral grounds but I doubt she would go out of her way to challenge E! on this. 

Bonang is trying to build herself as an African brand. For her PR strategy, challenging the Ugandan government may not be such a smart business move. Yes Africa is a big continent and she can always conquer it without breaking bread with homophobes, but let's not kid ourselves here.

Only 11% of Ugandans oppose the legal ban on homosexuality. Most Ugandans don't mind locking up gays for life and they are not the only country with such views and laws. 


If Bonang is to make her mark on the continent, she can't go around flying the gay flag because South Africa stands alone in full support for gay rights. Majority of African countries view homosexuality as immoral and many of them have outright banned homosexuality on pain of death or long term imprisonment.

Expecting Bonang to forfeit her potential brand expansion into the continent by sparring with politicians is a big ask. Not totally out of the realm moral obligation — but a tad impractical for someone who is trying to build a career. Lawd knows it would endear her more and give her massive international coverage if she did decline but it also posts a risk for her brand. That's a fact. 

Yes headlines like, South African TV STAR WITHDRAWS FROM AWARDS SHOW IN PROTEST AGAINST UGANDAN GAY LAWS, would get her a lot of media attention. But I can guarantee that not all will be positive. 


For Bonang to do this, it would take a lot of courage and risk. It would forever make her a gay icon. But does she care to be one? We often assume that just because a celebrity has a lot of gay fans they are automatically pro-gay. 

I stand to be corrected but I have never read or heard Bonang openly offer her support for any gay initiative or cause. I am not aware of her ever attending Gay Pride anywhere in the country. I have yet to read or hear her talk about any legislations affecting the gay community.

The only association (I am aware of) that she has had with the gay community at large was around the  Feather Awards — and we all know those so-called gay awards have very little to do with the gay community. Plus I don't think she has attended the ceremony in the last couple of years. 

Having gay industry friends and colleagues does not make her Elizabeth Taylor. So, why expect her to loose money over this issue?

It is a tough one. I would hate to be faced with such a moral dilemma but I doubt Bonang is losing sleep over this. That does not make her a bad person but simply a star on a continent that still has a long way to go in changing attitudes around gay acceptance.

SIDE BAR ... we often forget how narcissistic the gays can be. I doubt majority of Bonang's gay fans would care or be bothered if she did this or not. Hell, I doubt many of them are even aware of what is going on in Uganda. I know, BIGGER PICTURE but I just thought I would throw that in there because it is true. 




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