An outwardly innocent parody music video that was produced by an American charity organization based in Jinja to “make you laugh” has touched off a furious outrage on social media.
A section of commentators are furious that the video, which is a redo of Justin Timberlake’s song Sexy Back appears to degrade the cultural setting of Uganda and its people.
The video was made by Luket Ministries (an organization run by an American couple Adam and Natasha Perryman), and posted briefly on their Facebook page before it was taken down.
The video according scanty responses so far obtained (supposedly) from the organization; was only created to share the experience of foreign volunteers working and living around Uganda’s disadvantaged communities.
In the video, a number of white women donning Gomesis dance and sing about their day to day chores, their diet experiences, the unfriendly environs, the hot days and mosquitoes.
“I am bringing Missions back; You best de-worm or get your money back. Put up your net mosquitoes will attack,” goes some of the lines in the song.
While this might be expected of most of foreigners who visit Uganda, the video seemed to rub the wrong side of some critics when the gorgeous looking white ladies unleashed some youthful dance moves, grabbed pangas to slash a bushy yard before leaping onto a truck, while donning what is still considered a highly respected and culturally symbolic attire especially in Buganda – the Gomesi.
One of the commentators, Arao Ameny was quick to cite the “arrogant and condescending attitude of white-led NGOS in Uganda that have no respect whatsoever for the people they are claiming to serve.”
“I want Ugandans and Africans to see what we are allowing and what we are accepting to happen in our own country, in our continent. Why are our communities allowing organizations like this to exist and thrive? Why are we allowing our children to take part in music videos that belittle their identities? “
Another Ruth Mbabazi butted in, “I find parts of this video stupid, especially when one of those women jumps on the lorry and dances like crazy, in a gomesi. Those women should take a minute and learn to respect the cultures of the people they pretend to be doing helpful work for….a gomesi is a traditional wear that should be respected enough…it is meant to be elegant, presentable, and a sign of respect for women here.”
Deborah Kashungi commented, “There is no doubt that there are many, many people doing great missionary work everywhere. But when offensive, disrespectful, things like this video lands on your Facebook wall, it is hard not to be suspicious of everyone who packs their bags to go to “Africa” to help. Uganda’s toddlers are being used as props in this video, a dress that is worn by many Ugandan cultures – a dress that commands respect and is worn with pride is being disrespected in this video with the vulgar dance moves that the women in the video are happy to exhibit. I don’t find this funny at all. I think Luket Ministries owes Ugandans a public apology about this video.”
Luket Ministries claim they were being creative and that that no children, bodabodas and gomesis (or Gomez as their disclaimer at the start of the video says) were harmed in its creation.
They say the video was “created to share the joy we experience serving overseas on the mission field. The sole purpose of this video is to make you laugh. It’s no way meant to harm the country of Uganda or disrespect its people.”
Natasha Perryman, the Administrative Director and co founder of the ministry was yet to respond to our request for comments.
But Ms Ameny who claims to have spoken to her, says her response was dismissive; Our dance video came in a dream from God, the author of every creative thing…”Everything posted is indeed controversial these days. We had our Ugandan pastors and staff view and edit before sharing to be respectful and promote missions. Please feel free to remove it from your feed”.
Most of the comments on the video were largely negative, with some calling for more government regulation on such foreign organizations.
“This is beyond shameful and utterly offensive. Just a practical question: if they are so committed to “mission,” how did they ever find the time to create such a professional-looking video? Aren’t they too busy saving lives?” commented Facebook user How Matters.