One has read a number of comments, commentaries, analysis, on social media in which the authors allege state persecution and discrimination against Dr. Stella Nyanzi. Early this week Dr. Nyanzi protested nude what she consider unjust treatment of her by the public academic institution – Makerere University Kampala – in which she is among the academic staff that are assigned to work under the Makerere Institute of Social Research that is under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The commentators and analysts allege that the orders by the Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Fr. Simon Lokodo, to the police to arrest Dr. Nyanzi for her exhibitionism are not fair considering that other Ugandan women who have protested nude in the recent past were not arrested.
On such grounds, the allegations of state discrimination against Dr. Nyanzi, however, do not hold true. The women who nude protested the grabbing of their land by Soroti University, for example, were arrested, prosecuted and jailed. That many commentators on social media are misinformed about the fact that nude women protesters were in the past arrested, tried and jailed raises questions. It does so, for videos exist on YouTube containing first-person reports from the police in which they boast that they arrested the women and presented them in courts of law, which tried them, and subsequently jailed them.
Are the social media commentators genuinely misinformed or have they deliberately chosen to propagate a misinformation propaganda campaign in favour of Dr. Nyanzi and against the Government of Uganda? One recalls, in fact, that when the women in Amuru and Soroti protested, there were a significant number of Ugandans who characterised them as barbaric and backward. Others, one inclusive, thought otherwise and in one’s view, until one has faced injustice that threatens one’s livelihood and home, one should be careful to judge the actions of those who feel thus threatened. One clarifies, however, that one does not equate the magnitude of the threat to the Soroti women’s livelihood by the Soroti University land grabbing to the threat posed to Dr. Nyanzi by her bosses allocating her alternative office space. It is one’s understanding that Dr. Nyanzi was going to continue earning a salary.
How ironic that the women in Soroti were protesting against ‘modernisation’ which was coming in the form of a university and taking away their land on which they grow food for their sustenance and their livelihood; while Dr. Nyanzi is protesting what she perceived ill treatment within a ‘modern’ university. How is it that the Soroti women did not benefit from a social media propaganda campaign? A valid question one will explore on another day.