Like many young LGBTIQ identifying Ugandans, Criton Atuhwera 'Trinidad' fled his homeland for Nairobi after suffering discrimination and harassment from his community and loved ones. The father of one hoped to create a better life for himself and never dreamt that this pursuit of happiness and acceptance would only lead to his demise.
According to Gilbert Kagarura the main spokesperson for BLOCK 13 Kakuma (which mainly houses LGBTIQ refugees), Criton became actively involved in advocacy at the beginning of 2020 and especially used poetry to highlight several issues within the LGBTIQ refugee community.
His vocal nature quickly made him stand out as a promising and exceptional activist. However, this also made him an easy target and he was attacked on more than one occasion. The last incident left him bedridden after his dwelling was set ablaze. The arson incident in which he attained severe burns on his body left him hospitalized.
According to our sources in Kakuma, the homophobia grew even deeper as the doctor that attended to him labelled him mentally ill. “They gave him more than the necessary doses of sedation medication that he remained unconscious for two days. The doctor said, “You want to f**k people behind, I have f**cked you harder.” The assessment report by the same doctor indicated that the burns were not the issue but his mental state, because otherwise why would he be interested in men?”, our source narrated the heartbreaking details that followed CrIton’s hospital admission.
The community leaders, dissatisfied with the report appealed this decision and the hospital issued another diagnosis- tuberculosis. This is also listed as the official cause of Criton’s death although he was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit due to the extensive burns he had suffered from the fire in March.
Criton is described as a jolly and social young man who did everything in his power to make a difference in the lives of the LGBTIQ refugees in Kakuma. Asked how he would love Criton to be remembered, Kagarura said, “As gay man who eventually embraced who he was and died advocating for freedoms of the marginalized LGBTIQA+ persons. He believed that it was possible for LGBTQIA to live in a safe environment where they their fundamental rights and freedoms could be observed. Most importantly he could have been saved had his message been taken seriously.”
Currently, memorial services are being organized both in Kakuma camp and Nairobi to pay final respects to the deceased. Efforts to repatriate his remains back to Uganda for his final sendoff are also underway; any contribution to the repatriation process will be highly appreciated and can be remitted to 254768359383 registered to Gilbert Kagarura and +1 (443) 622-3863 Victor Mukasa.
As we mourn the passing of a dedicated young man, we share one of his poems as a farewell
I'm only thirty years but have seen some life,
A far cry from the worst and yet so close to it
I know the pain,
Of getting heart broken and the honour,
Of being entrusted with handsome boy's virginity.
I know how it feels to score,
One hundred percent in an exam and how it feels to score,
Zero percent in the same exact subject just a few years ago,
I know how it means to transition from being a golden son to being a family embarrassment
I know how it feels about suicide and romantacize about it,
To actually consider it and finally try it out,
And I know what it means to spend the rest of your life waiting,
For something you do not understand ...I know the narrow path.
I know first hand about depression, anxiety and PTSD,
And I know how enough time might heal those wounds,
And I know how how to have a mountain moving faith and how you can lose it,
And I know the intensity of the grief you experience when you lose loved one
If I ever say that I need to know how it feels to pass the gift of life,
Please do not ask me why
Because I do not have any idea how to answer such a question
Below is a statement shared by BLOCK 13