Undoubtedly, Kizza Besigye may be the well known opposition person in Uganda right now with the numerous arrests and charges to prove it but there is another silent opposition figure that most Ugandans aren’t paying more attention to, Stella Nyanzi. She is gaining wider popularity in a country that is becoming more and more unenamored with President Yoweri Museveni.
Stella Nyanzi is a Ugandan scholar and lecturer at Makerere University and a dedicated Facebook activist. She is a strong critic of the government of President Museveni and recently used the platform to blast both the President and his wife, First Lady Janet Museveni, for failing to provide school girls with sanitary pads as was promised in the President’s last election campaign.
First Lady Janet Museveni also doubles as Uganda’s Education minister and it was in that role that she committed the act that so ruffled the feathers of Stella Nyanzi who proceeded to call her out in one of her colorful, expletive decorated Facebook posts.
Mrs. Museveni had informed Uganda’s parliament in an address that her ministry was unable to secure the funds to fulfill the President’s campaign promise of providing sanitary pads to school children starting with the coming financial year.
Here is a brief excerpt of Stella Nyanzi’s response to the First Lady’s announcement;
“Women’s month compels me to speak again against the shamelessness with which Janet Kataaha Museveni declared in the house of parliament that Uganda government lacks money to provide poor girls with sanitary pads so that they don’t miss school during their menstruation. She is not only wife to dictator Yoweri Museveni who lied poor Ugandans during his presidential campaigns about giving sanitary pads to their daughters, she is also the dry-eyed beneficiary of nepotism as the Minister of Education.
What is the usefulness of powerful women who sleep under dictators to poor women in the masses? Of what use is Janet and her ilk to the daughters of Uganda? Why do our journalists tremble silently in their boots when it comes to Janet’s systemic and structural violence? It is violent to justify the continued manipulation of poor people’s lack through deceitful promises.”
The tirade would earn her an invitation from the office of Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in the capital, Kampala. She was charged with cyber harassment and computer misuse and was then interrogated for several hours behind closed doors before she was finally let go by police.
The irrepressible Nyanzi spoke to journalists after her release saying that the police invited her for questioning because Mr. Museveni found her posts on social media offensive before she added;
“The President always offends me with his world; should he be summoned here as well and interrogated?”
Stella Nyanzi has started a campaign to raise money for the pads
Stella Nyanzi proving that she is not all mouth and no action is also behind the #PadsforUganda campaign on Facebook. The campaign has managed to raise $2,115 of Nyanzi’s $10,000 goal to get pads for school girls who are often exposed to unhygienic and embarrassing predicaments due to the lack of sanitary napkins in and out of school.
Stella Nyanzi is definitely becoming a voice to be reckoned with in Uganda. With her literary command, she is managing to voice the anger of numerous Ugandans and has, therefore, garnered a huge followership.
Although the vulgarity inherent in most of her addresses have also garnered some negative reactions to her brand of activism, she is making the government increasingly uncomfortable. The government, meanwhile, cannot come down too hard on her to avoid appearing undemocratic and Stella Nyanzi is not about to keep quiet anytime soon. As she puts it;
“Unless these useless powerful women use their might to dig out my voice box and cut off my tongue, I will continue speaking out about the plight they have reduced Ugandans to. And if they crash my voice box and slash out my tongue, I will continue to write and type my critique of their regime’s wanton abuses. Should they cut off my fingers, I will insert my pen deep into my vagina, clench hard the Keggel muscles and continue to write about the Musevenis’ shameless abandon of the masses of Ugandans. Short of killing me, nothing will silence me.”