Sunday, September 12, 2010

One Love

I was having coffee today with a Ugandan friend and we started discussing the 'One Love' campaign in Uganda.The "One love" campaign has got the country talking about fidelity within relationships. We started talking about if people were more likely to have affairs here; (I can only use Uganda in my discussion as I live here) or if it is the same problem all around the world.

Our discussion became heated and he suggested I write something about this in my blog; I am still not sure whether I will be able to do this debate justice, but I will share some thoughts.
The 'One Love' campaign encourages people to "Get Off the Sexual Network" , in very simple and straightforward language, aiming to reach a wide audience in the country. It is blunt and provocative; Get off or die ; being a phrase used in local newspapers. One advert shows a dying man, ill, having "eaten his side dish" (!), a euphemism for a relationship outside a marriage.
So why is moral campaign needed here?
Statistically 1 in 4 men in Uganda will have slept with the same woman.
Scary stuff. So....
Is this unusually high or the norm for every part of the world?

Well- I really don't know that answer to this. I did try to search the Internet; you usually find all the answers there...but funnily enough 'infedility statistics" didn't come up with many results!
I think it seems that more people are unfaithful in Uganda. There are many reasons for this:

One is that Kampala is a bit of a fish bowl, so everyone knows everything; there are no secrets or hiding places. Maybe people are better at hiding their secrets in other parts of the world! What is the saying..."don't pee in your own backgarden"-very appropriate for here!
Another reason is the rising disposable income in Uganda. It is joked that here that the more money a man has, the more erections he gets. Quite a thought!
And the other, more controversial reason, is because it is more "acceptable" here to have "side dishes".

I don't want to generalise, but this is what I have seen here..and this is my blog! I am speaking of male/female relationships because... this is Uganda after all. I have spoken to Ugandan friends of mine, males and females, and for many it is just the norm that the male in the "relationship" will have other partners. This is just part of life. It may not be what the female would like to happen, but is accepted and part of the deal. Men and women are not equals in life or in the relationship. I can't even say that it is because of lack of respect, as I really don't think that that would be true, it is just the way it is.

Maybe I am naive and this happens all over the world, but I don't think it happens to the extent that it happens here in Uganda. I can't think of any morality campaigns that I have seen in the UK, encouraging fidelity. The 'One Love' campaign is not about encouraging the use of condoms but encouraging serial monogamy. The sexual health campaigns in UK are generally based on giving young people information about protecting themselves. In Scotland at the moment they are encouraging you try the 'beer goggles' test, to see things which are not obvious at first. The fight against HIV in Uganda is a world success story, but there are (a high estimate of) 1.1 million people living with HIV in Uganda; teenage girls are more worried about getting pregnant than catching STDs. Perhaps Ugandan should start a different type of campaign.

Is there an answer? Well-I can't remember the question..can you!!??

Is this a problem every country faces? I think the idelity campaign "One Love" just makes you more aware of what is going on around you.Maybe Ugandan needs a new sexual health campaign; one that doesn't give men (sorry-men!) the idea of having "side-dishes". Just like when you teach, you don't say, "now don't eat the play dough" -duhhh, now they will eat it!!

Some say the campaign is not working because it has been oversimplified. It has been successful getting people talking though!

What do you think?

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