Life has many faces: making strides towards recovery; stories by same sex attracted persons from Eastern Africa countries.


INTRODUCTION:

I research and write for 4 blogs on a variety of topics. This morning I met Louis who is Puerto-Rican and we took the same bus. The temperature outside is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, this is a few degrees less the body temperature! It is therefore very welcome when one does not wait long for a bus. Indeed it came on time and we rushed into the welcoming cooler inside.  Louis is a gay male chef renowned for his culinary delicacies. He introduced me to his partner who is from Africa. The African partner is also manager of a very famous African dishes restaurant in Boston. They both chose to take the bus because both their cars have flat tires due to the heat and needed to be at the restaurant because today was also Mandela Day. They are booked fully and need to satisfy their market (okay markets’ stomachs!). I looked at Louis and the African lover. I remembered my research notes of this very story. I plan to make these stories enjoyable keeping in mind the need to capture different experiences which become the issues faced by same sex loving persons.

Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and off to USA:

There is food today, but I do not know if it will be available tomorrow. We were told the camp had gone so low on food rations. That was in 2008-2009 in Mtabila camp in Kigoma, Tanzania where we stayed until 2009 before I came to USA. My parents gave birth to me in Nyarugusu camp.  I am a girl of 20 years from Bubanza in Burundi; I made friends with two Burundian girls from Ngozi and Gitega. One girl, the Ngozi girl is now 20 years and the other, the Gitega girl is 21 years. The Gitega girl introduced us to her lover another girl from Rwanda’s capital Kigali who is now 22 years. This Kigali girl had lived in Nyamagabe camp in Rwanda. She was very adept in English, French, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Swahili and Luganda. She later came to help in Bwagiriza camp. This is how we met. She helped us move to Mtabila camp. Way back, I had feelings of same sex attraction but suppressed all the time. The constant movement, hunger, the sheer numbers of people and the large sea of blue UNHCR tarpaulins used for makeshift shelters and the constant murmurs in various camps we moved through put me off my sexual exploration. My first experience of warmth as we exchanged our first kiss with another girl from Rumonge (a small town next to Bujumbura) was in Mtabila Camp in 2009, the same year we were separated. I came to USA and she left for UK.

Somalia, Kenya and off to Italy:

My names are Abdukadhir Mohamed Sualeh, 33 years and originally from Somalia. My father was a Kenyan from Kikuyu and my mother was from Somalia. Am a dark skinned Somali and because of this I was discriminated against. I studied so well with the help of Italian missionaries and became an administrator and head teacher. During the war our facility was attacked and bombarded. We fled to Italy where am living with my boyfriend with whom we have been in a same sex relation for 7 years.

Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and off to Israel:

Khalifa is Eritrean and Sultan is his male- lover. Both are 30 years. They escaped from Eritrea in 2007, after joining the Eritrean armed forces. While there, the commanding officer did not intervene in a series of ridicule towards them and others who were effeminate. After gaining self defense and survival skills, they escaped over the Sinai Desert. They were captured by the Bedouins but again managed to escape from them and were able to cross the Sinai from Egypt to Israel side destined for Tel Aviv. They escaped when the Rashaida group came one night to re-capture the young girls and men earlier taken from Shagarab Camp Complex on Sudan/Eritrea border and had sold to the Bedouins earlier in the week. In the frenzy of fighting, Khalifa and Sultan were able to escape with a group of men and girls with whom they reached the Israel border.  They now live in Tel Aviv in apartments with other Africans.  They continue to hope that Israel will be their final destination and hope to live peacefully and work without being disturbed. They hope Israel will enact laws that make life fulfilled for refugees in Israel.


South Sudan and Sudan:

Kek Lual is my name from Jonglei state in South Sudan. Our village compound and that of my friends with whom we were given the facial markings were burnt down by Yau-Yau’s rebels. I have friends from the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes. We have had sexual relations amongst ourselves even if we were all boys. We are well bonded but am afraid the present day rebelliousness is going to cause us more problems. We recently seceded from Sudan in 2011. I thought this independence would also be celebrated even by those of us who are same sex attracted and are willing to continue this way. Am afraid this may not be the case. Am sure there will be a lot of displacements.

Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Angola and off to Australia:

My country is DR Congo and I first got into a refugee camp at Mbadaka when I was 3 years. I am a Tshiluba and my mother is Lingala.  I have since lost knowledge of the whereabouts of all my parents and siblings. I last heard they had left for Dongo, Impfondo or Buburu UNHCR Camps or they remained in Kinshasa in the DRC. I last saw them before I had left for Brazzaville on the Republic of Congo side. The continued civil strife and unrest held me back for a very long time. I met a friend from Angola and we became lovers. We decided to immigrate to Australia and currently advocate for peace in Africa through democratization and tolerance through our organization.

Kenya and off to USA:

I left Kenya in 2009 and now live in North Carolina, USA with my white male partner. I enjoy my life in USA because as a same sex loving person this is a very different country from Kenya where same sex attraction is looked at as a crime. We are both HIV positive and we are working so hard to advocate for proper treatment for all persons living with HIV. I was gang-raped during the Kibaki-Odinga 2008 campaigns, with four other boys in Kisumu and this is when I got HIV. A rival group found us in our hotel room and there subjected us to humiliation, verbal abuses and eventual rape. They did this in turns without any protection or lubrication. I could not share this story with my family although I was gay and this was not the first time I was experiencing anal sex. But it was the first time I was experiencing un-protected multiple partner concurrent anal sex.


LESSONS LEARNT:

In compiling this story, I tried as much as possible to keep the cases short but incisive. This enables the leader to read deeper into the trends. If leaders or stewards do appropriate interventions they remain relevant. This is what will address pressing needs faced by many today. I do thank all my social network fans. I hope to build a bigger and better organized fan base through these write ups.


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