Continued From Part 3
- The Application
The Intriguing Ugandan Culture
Foreigners have asked me what it is that is really wrong with Ugandans. They find us, amongst other unfathomable descriptions, unserious characters. I, also, have no reasonable answer to that, but, I am aware that ours is a country made up of baby, mentally indolent people who are comfortable enough to only care about enjoying life’s pleasures. We are corrupt, sectarian, disappointed dream chasers, without any urgency whatsoever.
Our heritage is one heavily dependent on an educational, cultural, and religious bureaucracy which emphasise conservatism. We are not made for “revolutions” that honour “the crazy ones” (activists), detailed in the quotation at the top, for conversations had in a “vulgar” language (like Stella Nyanzi’s) that is understood and accepted across the broad, and for the caution and/or consequences (imprisonment) when we are found at fault for challenging the status quo.
We cannot realise much for ourselves, unless someone, one of us, better exposed or foreigners open up our blinded eyes, or literally do it all for us. There is, as you would imagine a sufficient dose of laziness in as far as exerting ourselves –mentally and physically, is required.
Stella Nyanzi is, I want to believe, well aware of this. It is probably why she has been quick to remind whoever has tried to challenge her, that she is better educated and more intelligent than them.
Her choice of writing, or rather sentimentalist’s style, is well calculated. Her choice, of a playground is, also, well thought out. First, it where most Ugandans, both those who have read her work, and those who simply admire her appreciation of the English language live or are bound to end up. Words are wonderful toys to play with, and she is with no doubt quite good at it. Being on a platform like Facebook that the Government of Uganda cannot, by any means, halt, she is, thankfully or otherwise, unstoppable. She is, as a matter of course, loved and disliked in equal measure.
- Stella and the French Vulgarians
Stella Nyanzi’s writing is, to me, nothing but a vulgar display of her wealth of words. She, we should know, is not the first or last Ugandan or non-Ugandan to capitalise on political vulgarity in order to address the same issues that we have always interacted with. Kenya’s Millie Odhiambo comes to mind. To deny the importance of vulgarity is to reject a historically well-tested revolutionary tradition, we have been taught.
Amber A’Lee Frost has defined vulgarity as “the rejection of the norms of civilized discourse.” To be vulgar, Amber adds, is “to flout the set of implicit conventions that create our social decorum. The vulgar person uses swears and shouts where reasoned discourse is called for.” This, Stella Nyanzi has, without doubt, achieved.
Vulgarity has been employed before. In Mary Antionette’s Bourbon-led France, the pamphleteers of the day coined a word, Austrichienne, to describe the Austrian-born Antoinette. Austrichienne means or meant Austrian bitch, but also resembles or resembled the French word for ostrich. In 2017 Uganda, Stella Nyanzi has described Mr. and Mrs. Museveni with several words that we can generally term as unmentionables. She has, as a trending social media hashtag has reminded us, been arrested and charged with calling the President a “pair of buttocks”. Indeed, each person chooses their monster(s) (re: victims). The French pamphleteers, and Stella Nyanzi did and have chosen theirs.
The pamphleteers of France were all too happy to satirize and smear the upper class, in the then society, with the utmost malice. Clergy, royals, and anyone else in power were slandered and depicted visually in all manner of crass and farcical political cartoons (little wonder Charlie Hebdo is a celebrated French publication). Hundreds of agents smuggled pamphlets through a secret network to reach the tabloid-hungry French masses. In order to stem the tide of banned pamphlets about Marie Antoinette in particular, the Bourbon government sent spies to England to buy up the entire stock before they could make it France. It’s therefore not particularly difficult to argue (as many historians do) for a causal relationship between nasty political vulgarity and the revolution that followed, especially when the pamphlets posed such a risk to produce and obtain.
Facebook, Stella Nyanzi’s playground, is the dwelling house of all low culture, all pornography, and all reckless abandon. It is the cheapest/most affordable, most viral platform, and one that can ably broadcast to all the people that Stella Nyanzi sympathises with or is championing. She does not need a kingpin or international smuggler to distribute her work. Her job is, thanks to advancement in technology, as easy as elaborately parodying the regime and all its functionaries.
End of Part 4 of 6