Today, Dr. Stella Nyanzi stands accused of a crime no other Ugandan had previously been charged for, computer misuse. Her case before the courts; referring to the Person of the President as a pair of buttocks, amongst other unmentionables. Her case in the public’s know; adding the First Lady, Mama Janet Kataha Museveni, to her long list of bashed public figures that had only a few months back had Professor Mamdani added to it. And, her case in the public courts dominated by Ugandans who have assumed a moral high ground; being vulgar and repeatedly peddling vulgarity.
But, and but, the charge sheet is incomplete and half-baked. If the law of this land is to apprehend only one (loud) person for a crime that is committed nearly every day amongst the online communities of Ugandan internet users, then I suppose Charles Dickens was right after all; the law is an ass. For it to obstinately be used as the tool of persecution of the day makes it nothing but stupid.
For years, many a Ugandan has called another a pair of buttocks albeit using a different language altogether. Some have gone as far as using much worse unmentionables than a pair of disorganized seating cushions the Almighty blessed all of us with. At worst, a Ugandan has run his/her loose tongue online nearly everyday to do nothing but lay bare, for all and sundry, the dirty linen of a fellow Ugandan.
Sometimes for the pettiest of misunderstandings, a character has been killed, online. The perpetrator has often bragged and thumped his/her foolish chest for silencing their nemesis. If the said nemesis dared to respond, threats of releasing graver intimate details are thrown up like a dice. That is how images of Ugandans wearing their never seen before birthday suits have often been released to prove the threats carried water.
Away from the prying eyes of open social media forums like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram -in WhatsApp groups, the wars are nastier. There are barely any threats. It’s all guns and black roses; a character is assassinated by group bullies and a rose put on the victim’s coffin as he/she is forced to “left” a WhatsApp group.
In the extreme, is a cold war that has raged amongst the online community of Ugandans on Twitter. In the blue corner are “Tweminists” (a group of youthful Ugandan ladies riding on the feminist movement to attack others and wear airs of importance) and in the red corner is the rest of the Ugandan community on Twitter that doesn’t believe being in disagreement with the views of a Ugandan Tweminist or keeping silence over a social injustice suffered by women outrightly makes one a misogynist.
Living amongst the Ugandan community on Twitter is next to walking on egg shells and banana peelings; a slip of your fingers either gets you killed, as a character, or leaves you shocked at how trigger happy most fingers, amongst Ugandans on Twitter are. It takes a thick skin not to be dragged into a bath in the mud as you will constantly be provoked to do. If you master how to tread carefully, your Twitter character lives to stand a taste of time.
The online community of Ugandans is largely reckless and insensitive to the well being of other users. It’s more often than not animated with attacks and counterattacks (comebacks and clapbacks, says the millennials), and cold jokes (banter they call it). At the vigil of every character that has been murdered, memes and LOLs are passed around like cups of porridge and tea at an actual vigil as the perpetrators say, “it’s just Twitter (social media) after all.” They care less that there is a human being behind that character savagely killed.
But what do we end up with, Dr. Stella Nyanzi oscillating between Luzira and the courts to defend herself for a crime committed by all of us every day as we fan and instigate an attack against someone, online. It’s an ass; the law is nothing short of a pair of buttocks amongst other unmentionables.
Thanks for reading
Originally published on fodexpressions23.wordpress.com