Bahati: a man moved by a passion to give back where he got from

When David Bahati fronted the Anti Gay Bill in Parliament last year, he caused uproar both at home and abroad that has seen him propelled into the limelight. Behind the vocal legislator however, is a dedicated family man with humble beginnings, writes Mike Ssegawa

Sunday August 22 2010

Bahati was into athletics when younger

Bahati was into athletics when younger but exercises in health clubs to keep him in shape because he now has less time on his hands.  

By Mike Ssegawa

“That is how I met my other siblings because Grace knew where they were,” he says wistfully. At Kigezi High School, Bahati managed to finish his studies because he had a kind and understanding headmaster. “He would tolerate us and during holidays, we would stay at school doing manual jobs like slashing the compound to earn school fees.”

Friends and family
Like the Spanish proverb, “Life without a friend is like death without a witness”, Bahati believes in developing relationships and looking at common grounds of groups and community. He does not believe that one should have few friends…in fact; he said if he was to list his friends, this article would not be enough. According to him, the more friends one has, the more social support and comfort they have. However, he points out one special friend - Juliet, his wife. “She’s my special friend.”

Juliet and David met at a Christian TV station. He wanted to start a talk show that focused on family values and needed sponsors. Juliet, being an administrator at the station, advised him on what to do. However, the talk show dream never came to pass - but Bahati had met the mother of his children.

“She is caring and loving,” he says. Their children are; David, seven, Daniel, five and five-month-old Joy. “It is a great privilege to have them. I grew up without my parents and having children is something fulfilling. I love children.”

“I value my family because it is the foundation for everything that I do. I try to be there for them just as they are there for me. Being a father reminds me every single day of the responsibility of providing leadership in the home,” he says emotionally.

“Due to the services we do politically,” he says, “I have an even bigger family. These are good people who believe in our cause and this binds us.”

Why fight gays?
Bahati says he has a passion for service and trying to make a difference in people’s lives and also, fighting for what he believes is right. In his words, “One of the things I do is fight for the future of our children. And that is why I fight homosexuality.” Bahati accuses the rich for trying to influence the world with their homosexuality agenda, which he calls a great threat to society and the future generation.

“This habit is learned and can be unlearned,” he adds, quoting the Bible: “Homosexuality is an abomination punishable by death.” When I asked him how, as a Christian, he can advocate for a death penalty, he replied, “It is in Leviticus. Go and read – the penalty for homosexuality is death.”

However, he says the Bill has not been passed yet and whoever is concerned about the death clause should change it, but believes there is nothing more important than keeping Ugandan children morally upright.

Sometime back, there were reports that Bahati would be denied visas to some countries if the bill passed. But the legislator says he has heard no such thing. “I don’t know – but if that is the price I have to pay, I would rather stay here and keep our children safe, for I am comfortable and happy to be involved in this cause.”

“I am prepared to do anything God asks me to,” he says. Bahati grew up without an ambition, though he always wanted to work with a bank. Now a chartered accountant and business man, the legislator says he will not push his children into any career because he believes one should prepare for whatever God wants them to do.
Bahati says life for him is the same whether gays love or hate him. “I only hope something better comes tomorrow.”

I ask him whether his family is not threatened in any way because of his “hate” for gays and vice versa, and he replies, “I don’t hate gays. But it’s a sacrifice I am willing to pay for the good of our youth.” “Something that affects me affects my family too,” he adds, “And my wife supports me.”

What you did not know about Bahati

  • Interests and hobbies
    Bahati enjoys doing charity work and creating an organised community. He mainly supports Christian charity causes like raising support for orphans and poor children who cannot go to school because of lack of school fees; he pays school fees for about 100 children in his constituency. This, he says, is among other things like ensuring there is running water, health centres and roads in Ndorwa West.
  • A man of the book
    His other interests include reading. And because he is a Christian, he says his favourite book is the Bible. Of late, he has been intrigued by Tommy Franks’ American Soldier. The biographical book details the strategies of Americans in Iraq and the enduring spirit of a freedom fighter that involves careful planning, strategy and patience.
    “I love strategy and every book about strategy fascinates me,” he intimates. “Another book that has won my heart is Becoming a Millionaire God’s Way by Thomas Anderson. It teaches how to make money the godly way,” he adds.
  • Love for music
    The Ndorwa West MP loves music. However, for him music means gospel and he does not hide his admiration for Judith Babirye and Wilson Bugembe, two of Uganda’s gospel la crème artistes. Bugembe’s Mukama Njagala Kumanya is his favourite song. However, Bahati has no time to watch movies and on TV, he watches the news and development programmes on NTV.
  • His heroes
    Having met Bahati on Heroes Day - June 8, I asked him why he did not go to Nakaseke to celebrate with his colleagues in NRM; he told me his heroes list is topped by Jesus, who did everything to save humankind. I realised the criterion Bahati uses to choose his heroes is based on people involved in fighting for freedom or inspiring others through charitable means.
    Bahati is inspired by Nelson Mandela, who was exemplary in terms of reconciliation and conflict resolution. “Mandela showed that it is humanly possible to forgive and forget.” He also said President Museveni inspires him, as does Julius Nyerere. He tells me that more importantly, he likes the works of Mother Theresa, who dedicated her life to taking care of the destitute.
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