In commemoration of the nineth anniversary of the passing of David Kato, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) held a memorial service on Sunday 26th January 2020 to celebrate the life of the renowned LGBT+ activist and other LGBT+ identifying individuals that have lost their lives to homophobic attacks. The somber yet harmonious occasion attracted representatives and community members from a several organizations within Uganda's LGBT+ movement.
The day’s main celebrant, Pastor Simon Mpinga of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM), delivered an uplifting sermon where he encouraged attendees not to look at the old bit focus on the new. He condemned the recent homophobic attacks and unexplained deaths of some LGBT+ persons that took place last year. "About last year, I feel immense sorrow in my heart for those that left us mostly because of hatred that had risen against them for being who they were. We have witnessed our brethren die at the hands of mob justice, others have been burned to death," Ps Simon said as he criticized the moles and those with double standards within the community. Pr. Mpinga also called for reconciliation and begged the community to forgive past mistakes and injustices that have been inflicted on them.
Ms Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera who worked closely with the Late David Kato shared memories of her first encounter with the iconic activist. She described David Kato as persistent, tenacious, intelligent and courageous which made her fall in love with him, leading to a powerful friendship that contributed to the foundation of Uganda's LGBT movement.
Using one memorable quote by David Kato; "Until it knocks on your door", Kasha compelled the congregants not to relax and wait for violence or death of our very own to fight for human rights for all. She credited spiritual leaders like Ps Simon and Rev Ssenyonjo who have beaten the odds and embraced sexual and gender minorities in their places of worship. "There are so many of us who want worship but we have no worship places to go to due to homophobic preaching by these pastors. And yet, people are still learning how to reconcile their sexuality with their faith," Kasha noted.
It was also announced that after consultations with major key players within Uganda’s LGBT+ community, 26th January (the day David Kati was murdered) was declared the annual Kuchu Memorial Day. "Let's not forget that there are more of our beloved that have been victimized and died besides David Kato. We need to remember them," Ms Nabagesera stressed.
In his closing remarks, Mr Sam Ganafa, the Executive Director of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives eulogized David Kato as one who had a mission that laid the foundation for SMUG's vision- To have a liberated LGBTI+ community in Uganda. "Even though we are not there yet, there are victories that we have overcome," Mr Ganafa added. He further acknowledged David Kato as a human rights activist that was so passionate about issues of security for all LGBTI+ persons. He also cautioned attendees to be more responsible for their safety and encouraged them to embrace their faiths as this will enable them secure a place in the afterlife.
The first ever Kuchu Memorial Day of Uganda was crowned by holy communion and a candle lighting ceremony with a moment of silence in remembrance of all comrades that we have lost along the way.