Ugandan youth are faced with lots of challenges forcing them to leave the country for safety or greener pastures.
Standing at Entebbe International Airport, one wonders what an exodus is hitting Uganda!
However, it seems the government is also too happy to be relieved of the pressure from the growing problematic youth in the country.
On top of insecurity, unemployment, violent political activism caused by the restless youthful population, the government is concerned about growing anti-social behaviours such as drug abuse and sexual deviations. Uganda is one of the countries with the youngest population in the world, only second to Niger, in Africa.
Whereas the government has found a way of diverting unemployed youth to the Middle East where they find jobs ranging from housekeepers to security guards in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, when it comes to youth who seek more political or social freedoms, they don’t know what to do, but come up with stringent laws such as the public order management, the anti-homosexuality Act or the anti-pornography Act.
It is however stories by people such as Caroline Atuhaire that puts the puzzle together.
Atuhaire’s story has been making rounds on social media. She is one of the people who have sought safer custody in Europe or USA where they believe their freedoms can be safeguarded.
As one of the increasing liberal Ugandans, Atuhaire found herself caught up in the ring of sexual minorities in a country that is still very sensitive to the issue. She became an outlaw.
Atuhaire says she became gay during her O’ Level while studying in an only girls’s secondary school in Eastern Uganda.
“The school would provide us with entertainment particularly discos’ because of this exposure to same sex, l became so comfortable with girls as opposed to males. My roommate who was called Brenda (not real name)became my best friend. We danced together and after the dance we would go back to our room and refresh our minds about what transpired. I crushed on her and we literally became an item,” Atuhaire recalls.
The 26-year-old says when they went back to school after the holidays, it was business as usual. The couple went ahead to recruit more two girls who also became part of the secret lesbian team.
When she completed her O’ Level, Atuhairwe reveals that she met many other girls predominantly from single schools in the ‘business’ and she confesses that it was during that time that the behaviour switched from being a habit to becoming a way of life for her and colleagues.
“During one of our escapades with Brenda, Sandra found us using toys. She was indeed surprised and we besieged her not to report us to our grandmother since I would be punished terribly. I promised her some money and she didn’t report. From that time Sandra became interested in what we were doing. We added her to our team and in our private meetings, we would include her,” she notes.
In 2009, her father enrolled her in a mixed gender school for her A-Level education, an idea she never liked because she was leaving her love Brenda, and other girlfriends behind.
She says for the two years she spent in high school, she turned down a number of advances from boys because she never had feelings for them.
“After my vacation, I joined one of Kampala’s Institutes for a Diploma in Hotel Management but still carried on with my desire of being attracted to girls but as you may appreciate it is a taboo in Uganda to be gay, I opted to stay in a secret affair with Sandra. During that time I had lost communication with Brenda”.
Atuhairwe’s mother had a lucrative restaurant and outside catering business in town and during her holidays, she would assist her with business.
Unfortunately, her mother passed on thus leaving the business in her hands.
Atuhairwe says she had several relationships with some of her female employees. As the business prospered, she had a number of trips around the world where she met fellow lesbians. She disguised the travels as business trips.
All was moving on well until November, 2017 when she took a decision to fire her company’s accountant, a one Nakayima Faridah for misusing the restaurant’s funds.
Faridah had been one of Caroline’s first lovers.
“On one fateful day I called Nakayima to my office and showed her how she had run down our business and how l had been so lenient to her to the extent that l put up with her behaviours. Before she left, she reminded me of how she had given me good time without hesitation but I had forgotten all about that. She spitefully left but promised to pay back,” Atuhairwe recalls.
In December, 2017, Nakayima proved that she meant what she had promised Caroline. She sent messages to her relatives exposing her sexual habits, accusing her of recruiting young girls as well as her cousin Sandra into her lesbian club.
“While everyone in the family was not taking it serious, Sandra’s mum, referred to as Aunt Jane, did. She kept her ear on ground and made sure she got Nakayima to take her to where Sandra and l always met. On December 24, 2017 we were caught in the act at my place in Zana by Auntie Jane,” recalls Atuhairwe.
Atuhairwe claims that the next day, angry members of her family convened a meeting where they resolved to disown her. Some members wanted to lynch her but she escaped by a whisker. Her business also collapsed since there was no one to run it since she was always on a run.
“Days became months, my house was burnt beyond recognition and l lived in absolute fear. The business collapsed.” In the early 2018, Atuhairwe managed to find a way out of Uganda.
“I cannot go back to my home country due to fear for my life,” she says.
In Uganda homosexuality remains illegal and punishable by life imprisonment according to section 145 (a) of the Penal code act.