Waigo: Women’s contribution to arts has predominately been as the subject during creation

Mon pi Mon was very excited to hear about the female visual arts exhibition Aphra Arts Organisation was putting together as part of Uganda’s 54th Independence anniversary. The pop-up exhibition will feature the Future Female Visual Artists (Kampala) collective of female visual artists age 19-24 years old, who are based in Uganda. In celebration of Ugandan Independence Asiimwe Caroline, Guma Ruth, Nalungo Sharifah, Namutosi Martha and Piloya Irene will be showing new works and others in progress at 32º East, Ugandan Arts Trust in Kansanga on Oct 7th.
We sought out Artistic Director and Founder, Yvonne Waigo, and asked her some questions:

Of manels, invisible women and the problem that the new ICT ministry is not solving

Between literacy and high cost of ICT, gender inclusion is essential to the achievement of the mandate of the ministry.
And while the Ministry was kind enough to make policy provisions, they forgot to invite women and youth to the table. This table is important because this is where who makes the decisions is seating, and from the looks of it, whoever is making the decisions is a Ugandan male above 30 years.

Somi offers easy listening and intelligent discourse

Indeed, we are only witnessing the evolution of a musician between two continents, and whose music shades light on the in-between of Africa and America. Her live performance at the historical Village Vanguard in New York, includes a favorite of my Bob Marley songs, ‘Waiting in Vain’. In a stripped-down arrangement with only guitar and voice, it brings the listener to hear Marley’s huge vocal lyricism, and just how intimate his work was. In her own rendition, we recognize the immediacy of Somi’s vocal abilities and her interpretative powers–the mark of a real jazz singer.

The first National Women’s Parliament proposes ban on kaveera alcohol

While Uganda has had special seats for women since 1989 National Resistance Council elections, the women legislators have mostly shared the space with their male counterparts. This was the first time that the House was occupied by just women for the very first National Women’s Parliament.

It was organised by the Uganda Women Parliamentarian Association (UWOPA) and the women used the platform to several issues: laws passed that directly affect women, land issues and cultural practices like polygamy.

Dressing sexuality? Busuuti, ssuuka, kanzu and their positions in the power hierarchy

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.

No more than 15 Domestic Violence shelters in Uganda

Domestic violence shelters are still a novelty in Uganda. Many times when women are beaten, they run to their parents and relatives for refuge. These relatives invariably send them back to their abusive spouses because they cannot afford to refund bride price or because leaving a relationship is seen as not just the woman’s failing but the family’s by extension as well. A shelter serves to break this cycle of violence to give women respite from abuse.

April: Month of Breast Protests in Uganda

It is a political act where she intentionally inserts her body- that which should move through the world clothed and preferably quietly- into the conversation. This is why shame comes easy to the gaze as the woman has deliberately cast her body as an object of representation of her suffering. Given the intent on the older woman’s part and the reason that would drive her to this point, it is no wonder that we call it a curse.

As long as They are Mopping Floors before School in the Morning, the Girls keep that 1.5

So yes, we shall keep that 1.5 for university. It may be revised, to figure out the imbalance in Sciences courses, but it should not be removed. Not as long as girls across the country are waking up in the morning to live life as farmer, sibling guardian, cook, cleaner in addition to their “side gig” as a student who has homework to do, tests to read for and a class to be in on time.