Africa, Development, Uganda, Women

‘Do the science but it must be communicated’ – Dr. Florence Mutonyi D’ujanga on science and lessons from Stephen Hawking.

Uganda has made strides over years to increase access to education for all citizens. As of 2015, the adult literacy rate for Uganda stood at 73.8 %. Historic imbalances and cultural attitudes have long locked women and girls out of formal education. Measures like free primary education and awareness of importance of equal access to education opportunities for both girls and boys worked to improve enrolment at primary level. However the enrolment and retention of girls in school beyond primary school remains a challenge. Some reports show that only 22 out of the 100 girls aged 13 to 18 years access secondary education which leaves a wider gap even with the existence of the limited Universal Secondary Education.

The percentage of girls joining secondary is lower than that of boys and females without formal education double males.  To compound the kind of challenges still faced, recent figures from Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that 25 percent of adolescents age 15-19 in Uganda have begun childbearing.

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Politics, Uganda

Stella Nyanzi: Why our collective voices matter

This week I joined Uganda writers, editors, authors, bloggers, publishers, curators, literary activists, scholars and colleagues in the creative sector have called on the Government of Uganda, to drop charges against Stella Nyanzi, for the good of our literary culture and the country.

We are concerned that the imprisonment of Dr Stella Nyanzi, may open a floodgate for the criminalisation of creativity in Uganda.

Here is why our voices matter; attack on free speech and free thought is an attack on society and our ability to advance. You can also add your voice here

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Uganda, Uncategorized

Social Media Shutdowns and the rise of a securocratic Uganda

The Media Institute of Southern Africa’s (MISA) flagship publication, So This Is Democracy?: State of Media Freedom in southern Africa was an insightful read this week. The report notes that African governments are increasingly exploiting the “national security” discourse to introduce regressive interventions and that somehow we are in a new area of “contestation between the state and advocates for freedom of expression and access to information and media freedom.”

More and more governments are moving to regulate the internet, but worse are those governments like Uganda who are seeing blanket internet interruption and social media shutdowns a card to be used every few months.

Half way into 2016, Ugandans have so far dealt two social media shutdowns in the country where the President Yoweri Museveni won a controversial re-election to extend his rule beyond 30 years. Today the ability to bypass a cyber wall has become an essential skill to have as a Ugandan.

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Elections, Uganda, Uncategorized

Tensions high, heavy police and military deployement ahead Uganda vote declaration

Photo by NTVUganda

Which way Uganda?

On Thursday 18, many Ugandans woke up enthusiastic, ready to put months of campaigns behind them and choose a new president and a parliament. The voting was scheduled to begin at 7:00 am and end at 4:00 pm. So at dawn, many set out to line up and cast their vote in an election recent opinion polls had projected to be the closest since President Yoweri Museveni took over power in 1986.

But before the poll opening hour, most of Uganda was locked out of Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp in a move the government regulatory body and the Ugandan Army Spokesperson came to defend as a response to ‘security threat.’ Over 7 million people use Internet daily in Uganda and WhatsApp is the fastest way of sharing information, cheaply around the country. Cutting these channels off sparked alarms on the intentions of state security and the Electoral Commission. Also Mobile Money services were taken down, leaving some Ugandans stranded as this is the quickest way many Ugandans send and receive money from relatives.

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Elections, Politics, Uganda, Women

Worrying war rhetoric ahead of Feb 18 Uganda vote

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Kale Kayihura addressing police officers via RedPepper Twitter

Uganda is set hold presidential and general elections on February 18. Eight candidates are vying for the seat but the campaign is more of a three-horse race between incumbent President Museveni, leading opposition figure and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate Kizza Besigye and former Prime minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi. The last four elections conducted during President Yoweri Museveni’s 30 years in power have all been marred with irregularities and violent incidents.

Less than a month to the vote, an increasing climate of fear  hovers over the country. The Uganda Police has recruited about 11 million crime preventers whom critics say are more or less a standby government militia to be used in case things don’t go well for the regime. Besigye’s party FDC says it has 10 persons per village ready to guard their vote and he continues a message of defiance that is not fully explained. Amama Mbabazi at rallies has emphasized that his go-forward team is ready to defend the vote.

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Sex, Uganda, Women

“No, Yes”, Ugandan artist piece evokes conversation on sex, consent and women’s voices

Earlier this month,a few days after returning to Kampala I walked into the Kampala Art Auction as Serena Hotel. At first, I was excited to see a piece that captured the obsession with ourselves- the ever increasing narcissism of our time – the Selfie. Minutes into the auction one piece captured the audience evoking laughter and comments about this piece by Violet Lynus Nantume,a Ugandan Artist.

The piece was bought at UShs 4 million. Violet explained her piece titled “No, Yes” a flaccid penis pointed at an ear is about sexual relations between men and women in Uganda and Africa today. She said she wants to contribute to the conversation where a woman’s no is ‘taken’ for a yes. Sex, consent and women’s voice today! Great piece, important conversation that must continue. Violet says she was inspired by writings of Dr Sylvia Tamale a Ugandan academic and human rights advocate.
LISTEN:

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Development, Uganda

Uganda: Shit is not just a poor man’s problem

A while back, a friend returned from a funeral of one the big men from his village. The man had served as a minister in one of past regimes and had generally lived a good life. My friend’s story from the big man’s funeral wasn’t about the pomp, which many often try to put up even at funerals in our rich world. It was about one shocking aspect of the man’s life. This big man had lived in Kampala and kept his village home like most Ugandans do but to the surprise of my friend this big man’s village home where he was buried had had no toilet/latrine facilities. The only standing structure had been quickly erected at the news of his passing.

I was reminded of this story at a sanitation meeting that is taking place in Kampala, which brought participants from 21 countries.
When I first saw the theme “unclogging the blockages” I wondered if we had even anything blocked in the first place. Contrary to held myths that open-air defecation is done by poor people, this story of the big man shows that shit matters in Uganda are everyone’s problem.

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