Continued from Part 5
- A Necessary Imprisonment
Believe me or not, it was necessary that Stella Nyanzi was arrested. Here is why; it became necessary to imagine, even for a day, what a world without Stella Nyanzi would look like. With each Facebook post, her wings and influence grew. Her messages were well received, and appreciated. Without her, we would have a good enough test to determine whether her efforts would be, collectively, taken on by any other person, and as well as she has demonstrated. Unfortunately, all I have seen, post-her arrest, are her followers’ illustration so their frustrations, frustrations and disappointment resulting from the arrest. I would, personally, fancy a continuation of her causes (the sanitary pads one is, thankfully, ongoing), but the politics behind her motivations is yet to be figured out by many.
Besides hurling insults criticising Mr. and Mrs. Museveni’s National Resistance Movement party, a thing we all derive pleasure in, what does she really represent? It is a good question for us to ask ourselves, because, in (re)publishing or (re)publication of her postings (which would translate to possession should lead to punishment – imprisonment in Uganda’s case), by sharing it on our personal Facebook timelines and other social media mediums, we are ought to be arrested as well.
Stella Nyanzi is, for her “activism”, charged under the Computer Misuse Act. The law has its own challenges. It for example, does not aptly distinguish between a computer and a mobile phone, the people’s most common device.
For that loophole, and, thanks to Andrew Mwenda, Stella Nyanzi might get lucky. In Mwenda v Attorney General (Consolidated Constitutional Petitions No. 12/2005 and No. 3/2006), a case in which Journalist Andrew Mwenda made several comments critical of the President and the government of Uganda on his live radio talk show, the state charged him with the crime of sedition, pursuant to sections 39 and 40 of the Penal Code, because his remarks were made with the intention to bring into hatred and contempt against the President, government, and Constitution. The Constitutional Court declared null and void the sedition provisions from the Penal Code because they were in contravention with the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, as enshrined in Article 29(1)(a) of the Constitution.
With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps, and reference to the opening quote, Stella Nyanzi has, and wonderfully so, set and crossed her own lines –of decency. She has not had the opportunity of radio, but a better one, that of the internet. What the internet does, is that it augments the proliferation of information. The actual results, the ones we will actually remember Stella Nyanzi for, especially when before the organs of the state, are yet to be crystallised. We can’t help but wait to see how these sentimental counterarguments cum hullabaloo that is offensive communication, cyber harassment, and cyber space freedom (of expression) and the tolerance of socio-activists in the 21st century will be resolved –hopefully to set a worthy jurisprudence for many.
Signs Of A Dying Regime
Stella Nyanzi’s blame game (Oops, did I?) has concentrated on, amongst others, the breakdown of Uganda’s health infrastructure, the same which, unfortunately, led to the death of her father’s and mother’s death. We all know of a loved one that we would not have lost, if it was not for the same broken systems.
Uganda’s shame of an election(s) has also featured in her postings. If we had all chosen to not participate in it in the first place, we would not be that engrossed in bothering ourselves with the rot that they are. One of the solutions to unseating this government is, I find, showing them that we do not even care about their schemes. Participation in their programs is tantamount to enslavement. I tried with I Have Decided Not To Decide.
The Kasese Killings, the waste of national resources (like gold in Karamoja), and the land grabbing in Acholi-land have also been noted. Land grabbing is, however, nationwide, with skirmishes in Kayunga, for example, and the rest of the country. There is, simply, not enough land for every one of us. Our population has overshot and surpassed our never planned for national resources. We cannot, in a few words, lay all blame on a few hapless individuals. They may play a part, and need help for it, but these challenges are beyond them.
I have argued before that for this regime to end, it will inevitably do so when the so called 1986 revolution is complete. We will have to return to the same levels of anarchy, poverty, disease, hopelessness et al that we were in before 1986. If you are too comfortable to need someone to enlighten you on these realities, then you are in need of a lot of help. We may speak on it, or not, but we do not need to elevate any other person above the mediocrities and failures of our land. We all need to play our roles, our active roles in collectively criticising the government and all its ills – every other day. They do know that he challenges that beset them, too. We hope that they can read the signs. We have to be active enough in engaging them to take the necessary action(s).
Damn you, Censorship!
Amber A’Lee Frost wrote, in The Necessity For Political Vulgarity, that vulgarity should be among the grammars of the left, just as it has been historically, to wield righteously against the corrupt and the powerful. Civility, Amber wrote, is destructive because it perpetuates falsehoods, while vulgarity can keep us honest.
On my aforementioned juxtaposition of low and high culture, Amber wrote that “the left will always need its journals and academic writing, but there are times when it is both right and proper to terrify the bourgeoisie with your own feralness.”
It, therefore, makes sense to entertain both the vulgar and the not so vulgar to maintain an agreeable sense of tolerance towards one another as it would be beneficial to the administration and accountability of our democracies.
A Footnote On The Pages Of History
Mr. Semakula Mulumba might have gotten away with insulting the Protestant Bishop, the local governor, Sir John Hall, both to Baganda and British audiences, and internationally, to the United Nations and the Soviet bloc and Stella Nyanzi might get away with insulting the First Family to whoever can access and read a word of either English and Luganda, but what will we really remember them for?
Well aware that there are those who have come before her, and that, with her help, she might not be the last one, it is my fervent hope that Stella Nyanzi does not end up as a mere footnote on the pages of history, when, eventually, left all alone, by her numerous fanatics, but as one who might change way we perceive things, just like the company she keeps in the opening quote.
Featured Image credit: Chimp Reports