The Monitor (Kampala)

1 November 2007

Uganda: Don't Impose Circumcision On Natives!

opinion

So interesting and laughable, I first dismissed it as Mickey Mouse. Never did I expect circumcision to become a national policy, leave alone an 'international arsenal' in the war against HIV/Aids. Modern scientific research risks losing relevance through half-measures and conflicting theories.

It's now part and parcel of President Bush's politics and weapons of mass deception. Instead of focusing on a cure, authorities are tagging African men to undergo rituals once reserved for Muslims and few ethnicities after "rediscovering circumcision." It's obvious, nothing short of a cure will only lead to the proliferation of HIV.

But why get rid of the virus now when there's so much money to be made? I'm blowing the whistle on this mundane conspiracy theory as Uganda, my country of birth, considered as having a "rosy" Aids record qualifies for President Bush's $15b anti-Aids fund to make circumcision readily available.

President Museveni deserves accolades for prevailing over all his rivals and hanging on for over 20 years, but as a champion in the war against Aids? Forget! Whose soldiers spread HIV like bushfire all over the Great Lakes? Who's notorious for stigmatising people with HIV/Aids, recently blasting victims as "treasonous"? It's a golden handshake to a fellow "Warrior President" and his mercenary elites who have hitched their wagon to the U.S "global war on terror."

Two of Uganda's health ministers charged with embezzling millions meant for immunising children are allowed to laugh all the way to the bank while millions burn in poverty. President Museveni was merely posing as a champion of the war on corruption in order to placate the Queen who had threatened to cancel a royal appearance at the forthcoming Commonwealth summit this month due to "growing corruption."

Not only that, the president is apparently curry-flavouring with donors, eyes set on even bigger proceeds, America's $10.4b anti-corruption money under the Millennium Account. In what's reminiscent of The River Between, neighbouring Kenya has jumped in with such zeal that uncircumcised students were barred from school.

Like Uganda, scavenging politicians competing for American patronage are in the final stages of developing a circumcision policy. I'm warning against the imposition of a tradition many consider alien.

To the Acholi and other Nilotic groups, circumcision arouses bitter resentment and reminds them of slavery, ethnic cleansing and forced Islamisation. A circumcised phallus, according my people, resembles somebody donning a red fez or tarboush headgear, an indirect reference to Nubian agents who operated in ways resembling today's Janjaweed (1860s-80s), ravaging Equatoria Province, covering southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Idi Amin opened the old wounds, but nobody will beat Joseph Kony, though a kinsman, armed by Khartoum Islamic government to counter Museveni/Bush's support for the SPLA.

People like Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, chairman of the "prostituted" parliamentary committee on HIV/Aids, who's supposed to know better, are tagging even small children. Is he aware that even advanced countries like Canada are backtracking on what was once compulsory at birth, to give infants freedom to decide as adults? Child Circumcision is a form of child-abuse, much like Female Genital Mutilation as research has proved that newborns suffer more pain than adults.

Soon ignoramuses will be jumping up and down with euphoria: "They're now immune to HIV because they've shed blood. Gullible ones who believe that the latter have an edge over the uncircumcised, beware: Circumcision isn't worth the pain. After visiting Uganda in 2003, I too fell into circumcision mindset and decided to defy tradition.

Back in Toronto, I approached my doctor who stopped me in my tracks: Circumcision doesn't increase sensation; quite the opposite. The myth that the low rate of HIV/Aids infection and death in the Islamic world is due to circumcision is beyond naiveté. Are the Bagisu, the Kikuyu, and homosexuals faring any better? It's Islamic austerity and discipline. While others have stood up bravely in the clash of cultures, Western lifestyles ride roughshod over our cultures and traditions.

Egypt, once known as "the flesh-pot," has cut back on bourgeois decadence, African pros keep a high-profile African using skin lighteners, preferring Whites who give them freedom to flirt, drink and smoke even bhang. There are some Egyptian mistresses with trademark mobiles trying to make ends meet.

So ignorant, they throw condom in your face, "What's this?" Though a desert, Egypt is able to take care of its population, unlike "black" Africa where mosquitoes feast mercilessly on bodies wrecked by alcohol and malnutrition. Accidents, another major African killer, are a rarity in the land of pharaohs despite thundering traffic (or mild) as drivers are sober).

Whatever its merits, circumcision alone, without tackling corruption of the mind, body and soul, is a roadmap to more trouble. The new "discovery" is a tsunami that will spread, not counter HIV/Aids. It will also roll back Museveni's "rosy record" on HIV/Aids, as simple-minded Africans will throw caution to the wind.

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