According to sources, we might be getting some more autobiographies published. Here is a short list of Ugandan women in the public space who we hear are working on their stories, and whose stories we look forward to:
This letter from the members of the Mothers Union was written to the Right Reverend Jaimeson J. Willis, the Bishop of the Native Anglican Church (N.A.C) of Uganda, in 1934.
The busuuti still exists today. It has been adopted by the mainstream as a cultural dress and is celebrated nationally. Although no longer used as a uniform at Gayaza High School, its ideological biases have been maintained in Uganda’s post-colonial history. It is rigidly enforced that an ideal adult woman wears a busuuti. These ideological biases have permeated Uganda’s visual arts where the busuuti, alongside dresses and the ssuuka have been deployed in many gendered artefacts to construct sexuality, appropriate hierarchical power structures, and to define and confine women.
June 3rd was (and always is) Uganda Martyrs’ Day. The most widely-known, and celebrated, martyrs are men, as men were mostly the ones that got killed. This year, we tweeted the story of Clara Nalumansi- Uganda’s first recorded woman martyr.
Because Twitter has the habit of moving on quickly, we joined Storify and curated our tweets on Princess Clara Nalumansi.
We have Mexico to thank for the existence of a Ministry whose job (in part) is to prioritise women’s issues in the country. While there were always fora like the Uganda Council of Women and the Young Christian Women’s Association pre-Mexico, women’s issues could not be filed under “Community Development” after the very first global meeting on the status of women. This was in Mexico, 1975. And while the global conversation has now moved to “HeForShe” and men engagement, it is mostly celebrity men speaking on women’s issues. Not men being appointed as Ministers of Gender.
When my colleague asked me if I had any questions for the woman before me in a hospital bed, her skin taut and raw from the burns, I could barely speak. The sight of her and the injuries she had sustained at the hands of her husband – the harshness of it all – silenced me.
“No,” I said in a near whisper.
It was 1992, and I was a young lawyer on the legal team at the Ministry of Women in Uganda.
I was delighted to be sitting in the room when Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe was talking about the history of the Women’s Movement in Africa, and she used an alternate frame that she called “the four generations of the Women’s Movement in Africa.”
She had women from all over the continent as examples, but I am going to go ahead and give examples from just Uganda in each generation. Some women, however, fit in more than one generation. Please comment with more examples.
Yes, I am working currently on a novel called Nnambi. I suspect that the title might change because while it plays with Nnambi the mythical figure, this is not her story and it is not in dialogue with the first novel but due to the oral traditions (as the first man and woman) there is a kind of conversation between the novels. The new novel is set between 1965 and 1983 without dealing with the history of the time. It is a feminist novel with capital F!
In 1945, Ssekinoomu, a Muganda professional musician made two recordings, Ekyalema Nakato and Wayelesi that Samuel Kasule writes “develop a conversation on questions related to female sexuality, modernity, and culture.”
And, in the spirit of herstory, here is the speech by Miria Obote, then First Lady of Uganda, on the first IWD national celebration in Uganda at State House Entebbe. (It was first accessed from the archives of UPC)