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Hostile spaces and places; the case of the Kenyan gay activist Mwangi Mukami

By David Monda | June 30th 2015

Mwangi Mukami is a Kenyan gay man living in San Francisco, California. He was recently in the media “coming out of the closet” to highlight the fact that he is gay yet fathered a child with a woman.

Mr. Mukami exhibited rear courage to come out and  speak openly about his struggles with his sexuality. Specifically, his depression after his family’s rejection. Mr. Mukami’s situation highlights the challenges facing  Kenyan gay men in the United States and within. In Kenya in particular, the notion of inclusivity of difference is shunned on cultural and religious grounds.

My point in writing this article is to highlight the reality that homosexuality in Kenya today and no amount of pretense will change that. It appears to me to be a good time to openly confront this uncomfortable subject in the political and social arena.

Lack of understanding of gay issues is one of the biggest public policy challenges facing Kenya today. This is has been obvious in the highest levels of leadership during the recent parliamentary confirmation hearing of Dr. Patrick Njoroge (as Central Bank Governor) and Dr. Willy Mutunga (as Chief Justice) a while back. Members of parliament were more concerned with the sexual orientation of these single men than their competence to do their jobs.

At a regional level in East Africa, a regional discourse also needs to be pursued to establish a governmental policy framework to address the needs of gay minority populations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

Over the past fifty years of independence, Kenya has struggled coming to terms with the reality that the gay population is present and growing in the country. 

An honest, frank and sober discussion of the issue will aid a transition on social approaches towards this stigmatized minority in Kenya.

A professor at National University - California.  

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