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
The Media Institute of Southern Africa’s (MISA) flagship publication, So This Is Democracy?: State of Media Freedom in southern Africawas 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.
Above: Lt. General Jonathan Rono, the Force Commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the AMISOM Ugandan Contingent Commander Brigadier Sam Kavuma visit AMISOM front-line troops at the Janaale base in Lower Shaballe region, Somalia on September 05 2015. AMISOM Photo
First diplomatic sources reported over 50 soldiers had died and then Somali military sources said 37. More than 48 hours after the attack on September 03, Uganda’s army spokesperson Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda tweeted that the estimates of more than 50 was a lie.Finally he told the nation that only 10 Ugandan soldiers had died in Somalia.
Last week, shortly after the International Peace Day I went to Moroto with Karamoja Cluster Project, My graduate school University for Peace is starting.
At an intra-community dialogue, held under a tree, between Tepeth elders on resolving the cross-border conflict between the Tepeth in Uganda (in alliance with the Pokot) and the Turkana in Kenya, i took these photos in Kalemungole village, Tapac subcounty.
Peace in Karamoja is fragile. After decades of armed violence through cattle rustling, Uganda government enforced disarmament. But Kenya instead decided to arm their warriors. This dialogue showed a change in the communities and their embrace for protection from armed forces instead of arming themselves.
One of the most important issues raised at a dialogue where the LCV was present was where is the 3% the communities is supposed to get from Marble mining? Karamoja also has gold and other issues arising are land rumored being grab. Most Karamojongs lost cattle and struggle but not much is known about gold mining and trade from Karamoja. Not that I intend to scare but there’s a mega road construction project by Chinese and rumours were rife that the Chinese are trying to get a stake in Gold. Am ignorant of the gold mining venture in this part of the country just like most Ugandans but i thought these issues regarding extractive industries need to be given attention and coverage to put such rumours to death.
As the news of a final confirmation of a life presidency in Zimbabwe trickles in, I am reading from a great Zimbabwean blogger and friend Delta.
Increasingly Ugandans are waking up to the realisation that we are on the path towards Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
Both regimes have a tainted history of massacres that were generally ignored because the narrative at the time was that of liberation- at all costs. But slowly our liberators Mugabe and Museveni worked hard to entrench themselves in power, make their rule unquestionable and blatantly disregard any semblance of rule of law.
They use history to claim their entitlements with no mention of future. Everything in these countries’s regimes is in past tense except when they are talking about the next election.
The hardships people face in these countries are either because of colonialists, bad past leaders or opposition and media -which are ‘western stooges.’ Nothing points to the saints in power in these two governments as far as they are concerned.
In Uganda, Museveni is using every unconstitutional means to remain in our face and tells himself he is still relevant. And slowly books are blocked from publication and no more than three people can meet without government permission.
All in all I love Deltas touch on role of youth in shaping our non-existing democracy. Her conclusion is so powerful and it should be told to these leaders.
“You liberated yourselves and not us – so don’t speak the language of liberation to those whose lives have been shattered by your political tyranny.”
Our bitterness does not come from the fact that we’ve been hurt.
Our bitterness comes from the fact that those who have hurt us remain perpetually unrepentant.
Our bitterness comes from the fact that those who have hurt us go unpunished, make no penance and show no contrition.
And so our wounds remain gaping, our sense of violation festers like a sore and the injustices we have suffered silently, become loud screams in our heads.
We have been powerless to retaliate because at first we were young (born frees) and later we were ignorant of the power of our vote (pushed to the margins by the older generation who insisted that they knew what was best for us).
Then in time, we were rendered powerless by our lack of capacity occasioned by the worst economic meltdown that had those whose skills we relied on scurrying out of the country like…
Last week I wrote about my feeling about the manner in which the debate on the Marriage and Divorce Bill was handled. I couldn’t’ write any better than Jacqueline Asiimwe, a lawyer who has been, for more than a decade, at the centre of the struggle for women’s rights in Uganda. Here is her personal note on the bill. We all can’t run or hide from realities and horrors in our homes. We all have similar stories like those of Jackie’s clients and her clients don’t come from outside our country. They are the silenced victims of our unfair laws and cultural practices. I am hearing that some MPs who have something left of their morals are returning the 5 million they were given for sham the consultations on a proposed law which Ugandan taxpayers had already spent over years. These stories are not just stories of poor, rural people, they are stories that we dont have to look far! They are our family’s stories, they are our stories. Hope Jackie’s note makes you realise how urgent this law reform is needed!
This week Ugandans saw and participated in different dramas that can only give you a glimpse into a nation in a moral dilemma.
Businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba was arrested at Entebbe International Airport as he attempted to leave the country after a four nights of a cat-and-mouse chase and several police summonses. For a week our intelligence couldn’t ascertain whether Basajjabalaba was in the country as his lawyer and also my shameless Member of Parliament Michael Mawanda lied to courts!
Basajjabalaba is wanted over fraud in connection with alleged forgery of a consent document, which led to payment of Shs142 billion by the government. This arose from the reversing of the then Kampala City Council decision to sell Nakasero, Shauriyako, and St. Balikuddembe (Owino) markets, and the Constitution Square to Mr Basajjabalaba.
Today Ugandans marked 50 years since colonial rule ended. On October 9th 1962, Uganda joined a list of African countries that were set to govern their own affairs after decades, in some cases centuries, of colonization.
I left Kampala a few hours to the Independence Day but even if I were home, I wouldn’t have joined the national event at Kololo to celebrate. I think we have a lot more to reflect on than an all out celebration.
It is important that every person should take part in deciding the affairs of their family, community and nation. So the end of colonialism didn’t mean the end of the quest for Ugandans to have a say on how they want to be governed.
Uganda like many African countries was a nation formed by colonialists through breaking nations (others call them kingdoms) and forcing them under one boundary as they saw fit- for their administrative and colonial interests. So to convince these nations to come to recognize and really be part of the new nation Uganda was a tall order!