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US missionaries apologise for 'hurtful' Ugandan dance video

By Daniel Finnan

An American missionary group has apologised for a “disrespectful” dance video which created a “mockery” of Ugandan culture. The video, produced by Luket Ministries in Jinja, was set to Justin Timberlake’s hit song Sexy Back and depicted American missionaries carrying jerry-cans on their heads, washing their feet, using machetes to cut grass, eating traditional Ugandan food and riding on Boda Boda motorcycle taxis. The ‘dancing missionaries’ video carried a disclaimer stating that the video was intended to “make you laugh” and was not “meant to harm the country of Uganda”. However, it outraged some Ugandans who saw it as ridiculing traditional dress and making light of deworming and mosquito nets.

Ida Horner, Founder, Ethnic Supplies & Chairperson, Let Them Help Themselves

Ida Horner on 'dancing missionaries' video

“What I found offensive is the manner in which all of these items or aspects of Ugandan life were put together - the women dressed in the Gomesi is something that we treat as almost sacred. And if they’re there to serve the people in the community, they would have understood the importance of this item of clothing. It’s about a women’s modesty, it’s about our identity, and if you’re dressed in a Gomesi you’re expected to be graceful. But not withstanding that, they’ve understood the hardship of the day-to-day life of an African woman, a Ugandan woman in particular, and they’ve gone about mocking it.”

Arao Ameny, Founder, Association of African Journalists & Writers

Arao Ameny on 'dancing missionaries' video

“It’s disrespectful for development organisations to go to developing countries and make a mockery of the people they’re supposed to be serving. Not just the culture, but the struggle of ordinary Ugandans, of Africans. The video emphases this narrative about missionaries and that the locals are just there to be helped, to be saved. I think that’s a very dangerous narrative because it continues that myth of ‘the white saviour’. It again makes Africans and Ugandans look like recipients of help, that’s just something that’s so steeped in colonialism.”

Adam & Natasha Perryman, Founders, Luket Ministeries

“It is our absolute joy to serve throughout the world. We respect and honour all cultures within our ministry and family. We apologise for promoting any view that would show otherwise. We specifically apologise to any Ugandan that was offended by our ministry dance video.”

'Dancing missionaries' video

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