Keko Speaks to the Media. Photo from Autostraddle.com
The Ugandan rapper and icon Keko raised eyebrows in an interview she gave with PRI during 2017in which she announced that she was queer. This notably garnered international attention as at the same time the crackdown on the queer community by president Museveni was gathering international headlines. This led many to question if Keko, and the other courageous members of the Queer community in Uganda were safe to remain in the country.
This concern only grew when it was made public that multiple members of the Uganda queer community sought asylum in Kenya after facing threats do to their sexuality. Naturally, many of Keko’s fans, especially those in the Queer community worried about the fate such a high profile queer individual would face at the hands of the government or Yoweri Musveni who has time and again demonstrated his contempt for both emcees who engage in activism and the queer community.
Yet, all fear that people may have had for Keko’s safety and well being were abolished in a single tweet in the fall of 2017. Specifically, she tweeted:
“Thank you Canada for giving me a new home…I feel free like a new person it was a burden to live in a box and walk on egg shells”
In this tweet, Keko made clear that she is now a Canadian citizen and no longer has to worry about the repercussions of being a Queer advocate in Uganda. However, in an admirable manner Keko has not allowed her relocation to Canada to stop her activism in Uganda.
In fact, Keko still remains one of the foremost emcees in the country, and while she is no longer physically located there, she continues to engage with audiences in the country through social media and other platforms. Additionally, she has continued her activism for the Queer community in Uganda, and her work was recognized by the Human Rights Campaign.
Keko’s move to Canada is representative of the challenges that both emcees and the Queer community in Uganda face at the hands of the government. Yet, she did not allow this move to silence her and she continues to be on the forefront of both Ugandan music and activism.
Max Bone is a student of International Politics and African Studies at the George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @maxbone55