This year’s Philly Lutaaya Memorial Lecture, a special event organised by the Uganda AIDS Commission to precede the International World AIDS Day commemoration since its inception in 2019, was today, in collaboration with other stakeholders, held at the Office of the President (Auditorium) in Kampala.
The lecture, UAC states, is an opportune moment for high level stakeholders with global and national perspectives to discuss critical HIV topics in order to inform judicious decisions and policy for sustaining the HIV /AIDS response in Uganda post 2020.
Addressing attendees during the memorial lecture, Ms Tezra Lutaaya, daughter to the Late Philly Lutaaya, spoke of him as a great father that one would ever have and “my hero to date, for disclosing his HIV status without fear.”
Tezra, who now runs the Philly Lutaaya Cares- a Community Based Organisation, commended her late father for putting aside his fame and all that came with it and utilizing his last times to preach against stigma and discrimination against the people living with HIV/AIDS.
“He was a proud man but this did not stop him and his HIV status from telling the world what he thought. Due to his great heart, he became a voice of the voiceless,” she said.
On December 15, 1989, the country was saddened by the loss of a legendary musician and activist, Philly Bongole Lutaaya at the age of 38, leaving three minors aged 13, 12 and 8.
The late Philly Bongore Lutaaya, in the late 1980s, came out to declare his HIV status and went ahead to preach ending stigma using his huge platform as an artist. Today, his song, ‘Alone and Frightened’ remains Uganda’s anthem for HIV/AIDS and a hope for the people living with HIV.
In his last words, Tezra revealed, Lutaaya wanted people to keep on the fight, even when the hope of healing, then, was nowhere close to sight.
“My work here is done, but many years after I am gone, people will continue to fight. The end is not in sight”-Philly Lutaaya.
Tezra pointed out stigma as an obstacle which has slowed down the fight against AIDS in Uganda. She also cautioned that the fight against the scourge is more of an individual responsibility that everyone should take on.
“Unlike when my father came out, today we have all the tools to fight AIDs. I urge all the citizens to take responsibility and do their part; get tested and if positive, use all the tools and medication. I think my father would be alive if we had all these interventions,” she added.
She urged the public and other stake holders to continue empowering the young positives.
“We have a young Uganda, with a big population of young people; under 30. Many of them were borne with HIV. There is need to create a world for these young people where they can openly share their status without feeling like they are mere outcasts,” Tezra said.
Gloria Nawaganya, an HIV advocate from National Forum of People Living with HIV Network in Uganda (NAFOPHANU) revealed that the young people living with HIV are discriminated against and stigmatised due to their HIV status.
She said that in most cases, when these young people take their concerns to big offices, they are taken as “threats and young people who do not know what they are talking about.”
She, however, called upon the young positives to follow their dreams regardless of the stigma.
“I encourage young people out there not to give up on their dreams as having HIV is not the end of their lives. I also urge people to stop stigma and discrimination because the reason as to why the late Philly came out, is to fight stigma. If stigmatization is still happening, then his activism is not appreciated,” she said.