horror, in pictures

My strongest support goes to my friend Katherine Roubos, whose courageous coverage of the GLBT community in Uganda has garnered this:

I went to the rally to be a part of a team of white female decoys (Katherine’s editor sent her to cover it, which theoretically gave her some sort of journalistic immunity, but the purpose of the rally already nullified that. Better safe than sorry, not so?) and to exercise my own curiousity: the event was organized by Martin Ssempa, a conservative Ugandan religious activist with whom I recently exchanged words.

Wow. Martin Ssempa is undeniably charismatic. He is also undeniably creepy. For all you Lawrencians: imagine Fred Phelps shaking your hand. I came home and took a very long shower.

P.S. Aga Khan, if you fire her, that’s it. We’re done.

welcome to the fold

I got an e-mail today that I wanted to share with you all:

Hello there

I was searching for Aga Khan online and came across your website.

Forget Google Page Rank and Technorati — this is the true measure of blogebrity.

Let me introduce myself, my name is [redacted: I’m going to call him JoeBob] and I will be marrying an Ismaili woman come May 2007. I have courted her for over 7 years now.

JoeBob, I’m impressed. That right there is what we AgaKhanoholics call determination.

In that time, I have been witness (not personally, but heard) to many of the rituals that her family participate in their “jamat khana.”

I have had so many of my questions unanswered when I display a passing interest in the religion and Aga Khan in particular.

My questions mainly pertain to the money that is collected from all these “activities.” They have donation drives, and something called a partnership walk and many other “festivities” that I am undoubtedly unaware of.

The Ismailis get goosebumps whenever the Aga Khan’s name is mentioned.

So do I, my friend, so do I.

I just don’t get it. How can a “white” guy living in palaces in France be considered a Saviour of these predominantly Indian, Pakistani and African Ismaillis??

Islam forbids gambling on one hand and this Aga Khan has one of the worlds best collection of race horses. Isn’t that strange??

This and many other things, my inquisitive little darling.

Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your blog. I have bookmarked it and will read all your articles (specially ones on “Aggie” as you call him … funny as heck) with great interest.


You see, Internet?? This is what the “Aga Khan” does to “people” like me and JoeBob. We’re put in such a “state” of consternation that we start throwing punctuation around like it’s undoubtably “candy.” Why, Aggie, why?? When are you going to stop stroking your studs, move out of your French palaces and answer some of our many, many questions??

JoeBob, good luck with your upcoming marriage. If you ever want to guestblog about attempts to sneak into the jamat khana, let me know.

2007: Jackfruity predictions

George Bush will out Aga Khan as a terrorist mastermind and commence war against Pakistan and Tajikistan. Turkmenistan will be thrown in for good measure. Shortly thereafter, the Washington Post will reveal that what were thought to be terrorist training camps in northern Pakistan were actually just schools for poor shepherds, and CNN will begin featuring “Stangate” on the nightly news. Fox News will insist wool from the sheep in question contained suspicious traces of plutonium, thereby justifying the attack. Ronald Gates will resign, and in an unprecedented violation of the Constitution, Dick Cheney will take over his role. American voters, disturbed by the thought of radioactive sheep, will be too busy lobbying against imported lamb to notice.

Yoweri Museveni will die of gout. Obote’s wife will take over under the title Obote III, followed within two months by a military coup led by Salim Saleh in collaboration with Aga Khan (who, in sly retaliation for the Stangate debacle, will force Saleh to charge Americans double the nightly rate at the Kampala Serena Hotel — all under the pretense of development work, naturally).

The Red Pepper will discover Salim Saleh’s previously well-hidden penchant for American hip-hop after a house servant chances upon his closet shrine to Jay-Z. To shield himself from embarrassment, the new leader of Uganda will invite the eminent artist to the country and crown him Kabaka of the Buganda. The former Kabaka’s body will be packed in concrete and sealed into the Bujugali Dam, the building of which will proceed expediently due to the Saleh-Khan partnership. Jay-Z’s next album will feature a remix of “Oh My God,” in which he changes the line “got crowned king down in Africa” to “just became the new Kabaka.” Fans will urge him to retire; “For real this time” will be the headline of Slate’s disgusted review.

In November, sources close to Aga Khan will reveal that he actually is a terrorist, and that he’s been funneling foreign aid to Uganda and revenue from the Serena network into nuclear projects in the Federated States of Micronesia. Jackfruity will be awarded the 2007 Best of Blogs award for her hard-hitting, tireless reporting on the so-called philanthropist. She will then be taken in by the CIA for questioning as to the exact nature of her interest in the latest Greatest Threat to National Security. This site will languish forlornly in the blogosphere until one of Aga Khan’s aids discovers it. Selections will be compiled into a Mein-Kampf-esque Life of the Aga Khan IV, and Jackfruity will become a bestselling author. Unfortunately, she will be unavailable for a booksigning tour, as she will be locked in Guantanamo Bay.

The bungling of Bujagali

On Tuesday the New Vision reported that Bujagali Energy finished their environmental feasibility study for the construction of a new dam at Bujagali Falls.

The proposed dam — a $530 million collaboration between the Sithe Global LLC (based in the U.S.) and Industrial Promotion Services (based in Kenya and owned by Aga Khan) — is an attempt to ease Uganda’s energy crisis. Estimates made in 2005 by Power Technology, a web site that aggregates power industry data, claim that, if construction goes as planned, Uganda’s electricity supply would exceed demand for the first time in years.

Though Uganda’s electricity deficit has been called “the single greatest obstacle to the country’s economic growth,” many local and international groups have raised concerns as to whether the dam is the best choice for development. An independent study conducted by the Prayas Energy Group of India found that the project would cost the nation up to $132 million annually — money that the government has considered taking from the World Bank (which agreed, then refused to sponsor the project), from an infrastructure development bond and from the National Social Security Fund. All of these options would place an enormous strain upon the citizens of Uganda, miring the country even deeper in debt.

Furthermore, official discourse on the dam has thus far ignored the losses Uganda would sustain as a result of the project. The National Association of Professional Environmentalists released a list of major concerns, including the submersion of both the falls and the surrounding islands (which would cost $675,000 annually in lost agricultural revenue), the extinction of several rare species of plants and birds, and the extirpation of regional tourism. Tourism is Uganda’s second-largest industry after coffee, and sightseeing and whitewater rafting at Bujagali contribute between $600,000 and $1 million to this every year.

Despite the dam’s excessive costs, the government is charging on towards its completion, actively working to lessen the falls’ international attraction. In 2000 Uganda refused to host the Camel Whitewater Challenge, a rafting competition that would have brought over 1000 participants and spectators to the country for two weeks and cemented the nation as a leading adventure tourism destination. Writing for the International Rivers Network, an organization that opposes the dam, Stephen Linaweaver claims, “Tony Hansen, the CWWC Director, was specifically told by a Ugandan government official that Uganda would not host the Challenge because it did not want to broadcast the popularity and success of rafting or the beauty of Bujagali Falls, for fear that it would spread opposition to the Bujagali Falls Dam.”

The government’s handling of this project is appalling. The drive to proceed with the dam in the face of so many clear counterindicators to its success rings eerily of the October declaration that all IDP camps would be closed by the end of the year: it’s a flashy, economically dangerous move that has the potential to harm not only those who live and work near Bujagali but the wellbeing of the country as a whole.

Aga Khan, I’m disappointed in you.

aga khan is watching you, part II

Several weeks ago I was discussing my interest in Aga Khan with a friend of mine over a couple of rounds of waragi-and-tonic. This friend works for the Daily Monitor, the more independent of Uganda’s two main newspapers. He informed me, somewhat conspiratorially, that Aga Khan owns the paper.

I filed this piece of information away somewhere in the back of my brain with the waragi and let it sit there until yesterday, when I decided to see if it was true.

First resort: Google, the Omniscient God of Search Engines. I typed in “aga khan daily monitor” and was shocked/thrilled/somewhat disappointed to see that, aside from a couple of news articles about Aggie’s recent publicity stunts, the first result listed was none other than yours truly.

Hello, I’m Jackfruity, and I’m an Aga Khanoholic.

Even more determined to demystify the connection between Aggie and the Monitor, I did a little more research. It turns out the paper is part of the Nation Media Group, a conglomerate that owns a variety of newspapers, magazines and radio and television stations throughout East Africa. It was founded in 1960 by (surprise!) our friend, the Aga Khan Foundation for Economic Development, and His Highness the Aga Khan now owns 43% of the company’s share.

This knowledge forces a choice between Museveni’s biases and Aga Khan’s. There’s really only one way to make such a monumental decision. Allow me to present the Official Jackfruity Aga Khan/Museveni Comparison:

Category Museveni Aga Khan Winner
Headgear tie
Parentage cattle herder Shia playboy Aga Khan
Public endorsement Joseph Kony Kurmanbek Bakiev Aga Khan
(lesser of two evils)

Aga Khan it is. Glad that’s settled.