Art, Pride and a Pandemic: Celebrating Unity in Uganda

Herbert Ayesiga Sept. 30, 2020

Today, when you walk into the offices at Ice Breakers Uganda on Salaama Road, you are greeted by a large mural, painted by Fatuma Hassan (@FatishArts).

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What was once an aging brown wall of brick and cracking concrete has been rejuvenated by bright beautiful colors of yellow, reds, blue and black.

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Started in June 2020, the commissioned artwork was completed in the last week of August and took three days. A collaboration partnership between ELESmode Productions, Kayko Project and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), this mural was part of the activities to celebrate Pride 2020.

The mural is of two colorful rainbow hands forming the symbol of a heart, sprayed over a black background, with multicoloured structure at the base. The partners and creators of this project say the painting represents themes that are relevant this year; Pride, love, Black Lives Matter movement and Unity”.

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Black people around the globe continue to be discriminated against, African Americans still face racism after over 400 years of slavery, LGBT communities and people living with HIV/AIDS continue to suffer stigma, discrimination and human rights abuse. This mural is designed to remind human-kind, especially in Uganda and other countries criminalising LGBTs - that we ought to unite as the human race, or else we shall continue to cramp in the face of challenges like this coronavirus pandemic, that has devastated the globe.

“This wall for me represents renewal. It reminds me that even when the world seems to be coming to an end, there is a glimmer of hope, and indeed that is what the community here relies upon, hope. Hope that one day Uganda shall see that we too are beautiful bright humans who deserve to be treated equally. ” a member of ELESmode Productions said, while examining the painting.

The idea to use art as a form of communication, empowerment and non-confrontation discourse was started by Elvis, Triana and Douglas, whose work in arts advocacy, communication and social work supported the planning process for this year’s virtual pride.

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“Art is meant to empower, enlighten and heal” said Douglas from ELESmode, “we ought to put aside our prejudices this year and remember that we are all human, dealing with the same challenges regardless of color, gender, age or race. The pandemic has been a leveler in 2020 and it has affected the globe in the same way, killing millions, affecting thousands in the same exact way, because one thing unites us all, human nature. And this mural in one way, shape or form represents that.”

For many, art generates a feel-good enzyme, and has been used in psychotherapy for people suffering depression, alzheimer’s disease and other mental health related illnesses. “Our hope is that this mural apart from celebrating what brings us together as a community, shall provide healing members of the community who has been violated, mistreated owing to discrimination. I hope it can be therapeutic.” Said Triana of Kayko Project.

According to “Art therapy integrates psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process to improve mental health and well-being. The American Art Therapy Association characterizes art therapy as an approach to mental health that utilizes the process of creating art to improve mental, physical, and emotional wellness.”

Owing to meagre resources and the Corona outbreak, we needed to find creative ways to celebrate Pride this year. Our goal was to empower the community through art. We were able to pull a few out of pocket resources to get the work done, said the partners. Also, due to limited movement because of the pandemic, most people have only seen the painting over the internet. The space is however open to those who want to view the work to take in the full physical power of the work.

Please contact the artist Fatuma Hassan via twitter (@fatisharts), facebook (Fatish arts) or email ( for any inquiries.