PHOTO: Outgoing COMESA chairman Yoweri Museveni hands over the organization's flag to incoming chair Joseph Kabila
That Africa is segueing backwards into the 21th century was evident this mid-morning in Kinshasa when Uganda's homophobic president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, right at midpoint in his opening keynote address as outgoing chair of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), chose to tell an insipidly unfunny gay joke.
After, among other things, bemoaning the fact that despite COMESA, trade between members was still negligible; priding his chairmanship for insisting on regional programs to boost infrastructure; and boasting about the anti-imperial stance of Uganda in forcing oil companies to build refineries in his country; Museveni, in a goofing mood, then expressed the wish that in the upcoming encounters between COMESA and American, western and other Africa's global partners--though the continent wouldn't necessarily see eye-to-eye on many issues with those stakeholders--there will still be areas of common interest, as in the development of infrastructure and energy.
For, Museveni went on to add with mirth, even Africa's western partners would agree that homosexuals need electricity too!
By the way, I was watching the event unfolds live on TV; I still need to read the actual transcript of the speech. Though it seemed that Museveni had ad-libbed this gay joke, he had to repeat the sentence after he was interrupted by cheerful guffaws from many among audience members for whom gay-bashing sallies are part of benign inside jokes.
For some of us watching on TV, however, this wasn't a joke; it was a cruel antijoke!
PHOTO CREDITS: Photo by John Bompengo via radiookapi.net