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The national condition through the sex-life of Ugandan-Indians

I was at The Independent newspaper in 2008 when we did a story about massage parlours in Kampala. 

This story was part of series vaguely coded “difficult professions,” in which despite their hectic nature of work, remuneration was terribly miniscule. Among other professions lined up for profiling included factory workers, traffic police, and strangely, medical doctors.

At one massage parlour, a female worker informed our reporters that their parlour painstakingly doubled as a brothel. Uninitiated, our reporters thought these distressing hideouts hosted no clients in the early morning hours.

But the masseuse noted with emphasis, that Indian clients were more regular in the very morning hours coming specifically for a quick erotic fix. She added that they were terrible lovemakers: rough, dirty, disrespectful and too machismo.

Surely, many men – of all colour and creed – visit these parlours for both massage and sex. But emphasising the Indian-ness of her clients, the good masseuse sought to underscore a demographic imbalance of a certain type of clients – who seem to have specific prompters.

Years later, an Indian friend of mine who owned a forex bureau in town explained this condition to me that massage parlours offered the most secretive space for Indians for sexual indulgence with Kampala’s adorably feminine damsels. Prostitutes were an option, but heavily stigmatised.

Our conversation with this Indian friend – who employed many dark-skinned handsome women – started by a lament about how his family would kill him if he became intimate with any of them.  He noted that many Indian men in Uganda have trouble fulfilling their sexual urges.

This is not because there aren’t enough women for a night out, but because their families are so concerned about “mixing bloods” – even in the age of condoms. At this rate, intimate relationships are simply a no-go affair. 

For marriage, many have to send money to India or personally travel back to find a wife. Novelist Ulysses Chuka Kibuuka has written about an Indian girl who was murdered by her family after “embarrassing them” by falling in love with a native Ugandan. [Chuka confirmed to me that he was the native dude in this affair].

I recalled these massage parlour and Indian racist sex stories while reading an interview in which educationist Fagil Mandy painfully notes to have seen his Indian father only in photographs. The postman [no pun, intended – Mandy’s father was a postman] after a night of ecstasy with a Mutooro belle in Fort Portal, never cared a cent about the products of his labours.

Fagil Mandy was born. His father, was culturally – not religiously – embarrassed to be known as having a child with a black woman, never cared after “excreting” his semen. Not too long ago, evangelist Martin Ssempa revealed that his mother had to brave pressure from the family of her Indian sex-partner who insisted that she aborts the child.

This child is the loquacious Pastor Ssempa. He narrated that his “mother endured shame of rejection by the Indian family” he “was called many shameful names when I was a kid.”

In sum, our Indian compatriots make love to Ugandan women, just the way one eases his existence breaking wind in a market square. After years of being in Uganda, we still talk about Ugandans of Indian ethnic as the other. 

Surely, this has more to do with Indians themselves than native Ugandans: by own design, they love to belong here – and do enjoy sexual encounters with the natives – but do not feel they really belong.

In truth, Indians are not the othered here, they are the ones othering natives. Not too long, Uganda’s national newspaper, New Vision with funds from the Indian community, had a newspaper within its newspaper [not an ordinary pull-out] specific for Indians.

The racist and parochial nature of Indi-Vision was that it emphasised the Indianness of Uganda’s Indians. It was pitched as “a platform for the Indian community to discuss and showcase their uniqueness [sic] within the context of Uganda.”

Indeed, with a few exceptions, Uganda-Indians continue to shop at Indian-only shops; attend Indian-only schools, Indian-only nightclubs, fraternise in Indian-only circles. They even have Indian-only boda boda riders!

No wonder, in 2014, the niggling and irksome Indian academic at Makerere University, Mahmood Mamdani, told a gathering discussing Indian integration in Ugandan that marriage was not important for national integration.

Before I am accused of indulging in ethnic talk, let me note that there are many Ugandan-Indians who do not fit into the description above: former Observer editor, Firoz Khan is one example, and a lady friend of mine was rightfully and respectfully married to an Indian.

There are certainly some more [not many] unknown to me. But the persistence of “Abayindi” as a loathsome and sort of alien category of people in Uganda is recipe for disaster. I will return with Part II on lessons from the Mabira protests of 2007.

yusufkajura@gmail.com

The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.

Comments   

+1 #1 Julius Chama 2019-08-14 10:50
This is a well thought out piece.
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+2 #2 Lakwena 2019-08-14 14:42
In other words Yusuf, after a number of "Close encounters" and observation, I mentioned herein before that "most" Indians come directly from hell; hence their coldness and nasty attitude towards Africans.

Eish!
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+1 #3 WADADA roger 2019-08-14 20:32
Of all human beings, an Inidan should be the last person to front a character similar to machismo.

machismo has been defined as a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributes or concomitants of masculinity.

I think the right word is fear, many of these Indian guys are not endowed by nature and therefore have a low self esteem towards African women who adore size.
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+1 #4 Ndowooza 2019-08-15 21:58
You are great writer,only 2nd to KABULETA.Write more!!
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+1 #5 Ndowooza 2019-08-15 22:03
I think it is a greatly engrained culture.

But they are like that worldwide...even in Europe....they even hardly marry 'Bazungu'. Of course their cast system makes it worse for those darker in skin.

They are still far even in their treatment of women.MWESUNEKKO those born in Uganda
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-1 #6 Lysol 2019-08-15 23:16
Why not worry about your own sex life (Erectile Dysfunction) I dated an Indian lady for a few years before I could bed her.

Sex is a subject matter .Yusuf, be patient you will get that Indian lady you're spending your money on and day dreaming about.

By the way this article was no t even necessary. Write something better next time.
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-2 #7 Winnie 2019-08-20 02:20
This is offensive. You generalize. People are free to choose who they want to associate with.

Mamdani is a Ugandan. He is not an Indian. There are many people of Indian ancestry who do not fit your cheap stereotypes.

You are spreading very dangerous ideas. You are fishing in a pit latrine for inspiration these days.
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+2 #8 Zaitun 2019-08-20 09:43
Calla a spade a spade but not a big spoon!

These guys are indeed racist, one of the reasons they were expelled from Uganda in 1973.

You like or not, they are here for economic colonization and take the country for themselves, hence turning Ugandans to handy workers tomorrow.

If they call themselves Ugandans, why can they not get married to Ugandan girls other than running home to bring more Indians as wives in disguise?

We Ugandans have become so bewitched that we refuse to look at our political and economic problems in the face, thinking that foreigners will get us solutions.

After Musevenis's war, every govt. office has become their personal property, many Rwandese left their country to take over what Ugandans had. Problem, many Ugandans have lost their face value.

The future generation will not have kind words for those who support a lunatic in disguise to take over power from Ugandans.
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+2 #9 Willy 2019-08-20 10:43
Quoting Winnie:
This is offensive. You generalize. People are free to choose who they want to associate with.

Mamdani is a Ugandan. He is not an Indian. There are many people of Indian ancestry who do not fit your cheap stereotypes.

You are spreading very dangerous ideas. You are fishing in a pit latrine for inspiration these days.


What is your surname and what is your tribe? Muganda, Mutooro or Munyarwanda?

Mamdani, Madvani, Metta etc, are Bahiindi - Ugandans of Indian origin, just as you may be a Mukiga or Munyarwanda in Uganda.

Go and live in India and claim to be an Indian, and we see whether they will not call you 'African' or 'Ugandan'.
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-2 #10 Winnie 2019-08-20 19:21
Willy, Indian is a nationality. Anybody born in Uganda is a Ugandan national. That is what the constitution days.

Mamdani, Mehta, Madhvanu, and many others have done more for Uganda than the idiot who penned this lurid garbage. Obama is an American. Stop your primitive nonsense. Next you will say Banyarwanda are not Ugandans. Who made you judge?
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