After Kato: A Year Later


Six months ago, to the day, my friend, Amil, and I did a convo over email where we tried to situate David Kato’s life in our individual thoughts, personal beliefs and our sense of activisms extending to the general activist culture in East Africa at the time of his death and a while after that. The convo remains a reference point for me in many ways, especially because I have found it difficult to write about anything over the past few months.

So, what has changed? For starters, we submitted our conversation to an ongoing compilation of perspectives by activists and academics on the life of David Kato to be published by the Makerere University, hopefully. There has also been set up a David Kato Vision & Voice Award which seeks to award “an individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, particularly in environments where these individuals face continued rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution.”  While I am inclined to see this as another way in which NGOs reward themselves, pat their back and hustle for more grants, one also has to deal with the structured ways in which commemoration and remembrance and hagiography take place within modern societies. This is to say that, to some, this a perfectly good way of mourning and reflecting on the life of the individual, in formalized ways where money flows and leadership and courage are conflated together. To many others, remembering Kato on a specific day in a specific way (though the award website doesn’t seem to have anything up about the importance of this day) provides an access point that is less taxing, possibly less taxing than a reflection on his life and work and death (here, I invoke a recent post by Keguro on ghosts).

The New York Times has a video about Kato for the one year anniversary of his death. I wanted to write a bigger post that would include the news that his alleged killer was sentenced to 30 years in jail for the murder, other stuff about a documetary about his life but I have to stop there. Sokari told me she didn’t have any plans for today, maybe stroll in the beach thinking about things, reflecting about Kato’s life, about revealing moments of character, about friendships and intimate attachments against the grain of hegemonic discourse.

UPDATE: Sokari actually ended up writing a very nice post about this anniversary, beautifully written, reflective and probably the best thing I have read so far concerning the one year anniversary about Kato’s death.

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