Lutaaya Philly

The Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) in partnership with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have launched Philly Lutaaya awards, aimed at celebrating courage, fierce fight against stigma and exceptional leadership. The awarding ceremony is slated for 30th November 2021

Lutaaya was a Ugandan musician who was the first prominent Ugandan to give a human face to HIV/AIDS. He became a national hero because he was the first Ugandan to declare that he was HIV – positive in 1988, when HIV still carried a lot of stigma. Before dying of AIDS, Lutaaya spent his remaining time writing songs about his battle with AIDS, releasing his last album Alone and Frightened.

Every Year, UAC under the office of the president mobilises stakeholder’s country wide to commemorate Philly Lutaaya day. This year’s memorial lecture focuses on ending HIV stigma, promoting resilient Communities. As such we remember and recognise all those who pioneered to give Aids a human face amidst stigma, discrimination, denial and ignorance but also recognises those who are upcoming plus the institutions that continue to lead in HIV related service delivery.

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Speaking at the launch Dora Kiconco, the executive director of Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) said celebrating leadership comes at a time when Uganda has just launched policy guidance on ending HIV stigma. The policy seeks to provide an enabling environment for the elimination of all forms of HIV and Aids related stigma and discrimination in Uganda.

“It is such that we want to recognise all those that have exceptionally walked the footsteps of Philly Lutaaya in challenging stigma and discrimination,” she said adding that, “We have launched Philly Lutaaya awards website (w.w.w.PhillyLutaayaawards.org) where nominations and voting will be taking place.”

 The categories include; Philly Lutaaya personality of the year, upcoming Philly Lutaaya personalities and Institutions challenging stigma. The CSOs urged communities of people living with HIV, leaders in the struggle to nominate themselves or any other person who has walked in Philly Lutaaya’s footsteps.

Bulooba Florence, an advocate for people living with HIV/Aids said Stigma is the devil within a person living with HIV or not. “It makes a person look down. Let’s stop stigmatizing people. It has a far reaching impact,” she said.

Lilian Mworeko who works with the International Community of Women Living with HIV in Eastern Africa (ICWEA) said it is several years but we are still experiencing stigma and discrimination even when the situation has changed.

“When they talk about Philly Lutaaya, I think about what his family went through in the community, his children at school. I imagine it was worse for all. This is the time to reclaim space and put him where he deserves to be.  He gave everything to the world but what have we given back, we can do better, and we shall do better than the last 40 years,” she said.

Kyakunzire Lora Angel, who works with UGANET as Advocacy and Communication Associate said being an identity of Stigma and discrimination as a person living with HIV, is a big setback. “Lutaaya being at the forefront then though there was no medicine is a big inspiration to many of us.”

Show host Edwin Katamba aka MC Kats said: “I have lived with this disease, people have talked ill about me, when I was in London, and I wanted to commit suicide but later figured out that who will look at my children.”

“The new media wrote about me saying that I infected Fille Mutoni with HIV but that has not dragged me back. Taking drugs every day, lack of appetite, makes you psychologically sick throughout the day though you can take your drugs and live like any other person,” MC Kats said adding that, “Everything in Life happens for a reason, you have purpose in life. No matter what situation you in.”