Facing the Mediterranean

Posted on 27/07/2015
By Commonwealth Foundation
Credit: Darlyne Komukama

Credit: Darlyne Komukama

Photo credit: Darlyne Komukama

For the last five decades, Kenya and Uganda have had an unofficial pact of providing a passageway for each other’s escapees.  This started with the 1971 Idi Amin overthrow of Milton Obote, which saw a mass exodus of Ugandans into Kenya and elsewhere in the world. The other mass exodus happened in 1986. The second Milton Obote government was overthrown by Brigadier Bazilio Olara-Okello and General Tito Okello. Following the post–coup chaos, the Yoweri Museveni–led National Resistance Army (NRA) seized power. Some say that back then all it took for a Langi or an Acholi – the two communities perceived to be Obote’s main supporters – to be granted asylum in the United Kingdom was their ability to afford an air ticket to London. Kenyan opposition figures have also always sneaked into Uganda when things got heated, an example being Raila Odinga, who fled to Norway through Uganda.

The story is different in 2015.

There is no military takeover in Uganda and Kampala has not fallen. Yet today there are growing numbers of Ugandan refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya. The shift in circumstance is that these particular Ugandans, mainly in their 20s, say they are running away from home because of their sexuality and whom they choose to love.

Part 1 - Like the Weather
Part 2 - Can't Go Back
Part 3 - Facing the Mediterranean
Isaac Otidi Amuke

Isaac Otidi AmukeIsaac Otidi Amuke lives and writes in Nairobi, Kenya. He was part of the 2014 Commonwealth Writers creative non-fiction workshop in Kampala, Uganda, and received the 2013 Jean Jacques Rousseau Fellowship from the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany.

(Photo by Msingi Sasis)