Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The "M"-word.

When Ugandan’s learn that I have a girlfriend, I am often offered a wife on the spot.

“You take a Mutooro woman! They are very beautiful. Take this one!”

When I decline, I must always be sure to inform the speaker that, “yes, Mutooro women are beautiful,” and “no, I have nothing against Ugandans/Africans.” Once that’s diffused, I am inevitably asked a series of questions about our relationship. Two in particular always bubble to the surface:

(1.) How can you know that she is true to you?

(2.) Don’t you get feelings?

I’ve discussed my answer to the first question in a previous post, but obviously, it boils down to trust. Trust is often best conveyed by using the word “faith” in its place.

“Well, how do you know there is a god that has a plan for your every daily choice and future?”

“Because I believe in him.”

“So you have faith in him?”

”Yes, faith. I have faith in my lord and savior.”

“Well, I have faith in my girlfriend. I have faith that she does not want to find another man.”

“That’s good… but don’t you ever get feelings?”

And there’s question number two.

Feelings of course mean “sexual feelings.”

“Yes. Of course I do.”

“Well,” they say, giving me a deeply questioning look that says What do you do about them?

That question, if posed to any American child from somewhere around middle school age and up, has an obvious answer. To most Ugandan’s, however, the solution is not so straightforward. While perusing the manual outlining the “Presidents Initiative on AIDS Strategy to the Youth” (PIACY, pronounced “Pee-Aww-See”), I stumbled upon the reason why.

The book uses a question and answer format:

“Is it wrong to practice masturbation?”

Answer: In Africa and in Uganda, it is socially, culturally and morally not accepted. Likewise, religious principles do not allow this sexual practice.”

Why doesn’t the word “masturbation” jump into a Ugandan’s head as a potential solution to “feelings”? Because to participate in the act is an affront their country, their continent and their religion.

Straight from the PIACY manual, incorrect grammar/spelling and all.

PIACY doesn’t stop there:

“Does masturbation protect one from HIV/AIDS?”

Answer: It does not provide you with effective protection from HIV/AIDS because you are likely to end up in penetrative sex. Penetration is the predominant approach to sex in Africa. Many young people who practice masturbation as a “safer sex practice” therefore end up being emotionally triggered into penetrative sex, which increases their risk to HIV.

How are marijuana and masturbation alike? It turns out they are both gateway drugs!

Fear not. PIACY gives young Ugandan’s the means to abstain this devious act:

“How can one resist pressures to masturbate?”


(1.) Do not let your mind dwell on thoughts, pictures and literature that influence sexual feelings.

(2.) Avoid watching or reading material which arouses your sexual feelings.

(3.) Avoid hanging out with people who say and do things which may arouse your feelings in that direction

(4.) Be assertive and speak out your stand regarding your values.

(5.) Develop Godly principles and honor them.

(6.) Keep close company with people and friends who share your values.

(7.) Find active ways of occupying your redundancy period such as sports, music, drama, reading positive literature.

[Note: The exercise of picking each of these points apart is left to the reader to be done in one of their “redundancy period[s].”]

"Masturbation is wrong.
Do everything to stop it.
Yes it is possible to stop it."
["With friends like these, who needs enemies?"]

Needless to say, the super-majority of Ugandans choose the lesser suggested and HIGHLY effective method of both resisting the urge to masturbate WHILE relieving sexual feelings. They…

(8.) Have A LOT SEX, UNPROTECTED and with a VARIETY of sexual partners.

…the results of which are catastrophic:

The population of Uganda is exploding. As of 2010, there were an estimated 33.8 million people (49% of which are under the age of 15) living in a space somewhere between that of Utah and Wyoming. Following current trends (3.4% /year) the projected populations for the years 2025 and 2050 are 53.5 and 91.3 million, respectively. (Source:

The percentage of people infected with HIV in Uganda is 6.5-7% (though many believe these to be very optimistic), and the number is climbing. In fact, Uganda is the only sub-Saharan recipient of The United States Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) money where the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has recently INCREASED. (Source:

So how do I handle the topic of “it” when it comes up in the conversation?

First, I tell my listener what PIACY suggests.

Then, I line those suggestions up against a wall and execute them with a quiet-rage reserved for a government who is systematically planting land-mines that will inevitably kill cities of innocents.

Finally, I dispel the myths (“No, you will not lose interest in wo/men.” “Yes, you will still be capable of producing children one day.” "No harry palms..." etc…), and I praise the benefits (“No HIV/AIDS!”, “No BABIES!”, “It’s FREE!” etc...).

Ultimately, we part. I’ve spoken. They’ve listened. But like a farmer who lays the seed, walks away and never returns: I’ll never know what’s grown.

And the weeds continue to strangle everything in their path.

Thanks for reading!

I love you all (but especially you, Michelle!).


P.S. These are old but no less relevant: Human Rights Watch, Success Story Unraveling


  1. Hello! You have an interesting website. It is nice to visit here.

  2. Good post. Astounding. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa seems overwhelming to me, and now I know why its so out of control (in part).