Amidst violence to feminist, both physical and online, feminist have an unrelenting urge to fight injustice, challenge and dismantle systems of oppression while advancing just solutions. In East and Horn of Africa, feminists have been very visible in the fight against injustice and the fight for equality. Most of the specific country struggles cut across the region, conversations on collective action and movement building have been championed as a strategy to address some of the injustices and build solidarity. Movements further aid in developing a comprehensive and informed feminist response framework.
Heinrich Boll Foundation believes in collective action to amplify the work of individual feminist and move beyond silos to build collective power. In this front, the foundation has on various occasions hosted gatherings of feminist to facilitate collective actions. Dr. Stella Nyanzi was among a group of feminists that convened in Nairobi in 2018; this convening was followed by the march on femicide in Uganda that saw various feminists from across East and Horn of Africa, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia travel to Uganda to march and demand for justice for women in support of the Ugandan feminist. This was further supported by clarion calls from feminist on justice and accountability by states in the various social media platforms.
Shortly after this Dr. Stella Nyanzi was arrested and charged on two counts -cyber harassment and offensive communication–under Uganda’s Computer Misuse Act of 2011. The charges stemmed from a poem that Dr. Nyanzi published on her Facebook page to her hundreds of followers on President Museveni’s birthday. Some observers described the poem as deploying “radical rudeness” to challenge President Museveni’s rule of 33 years–a form of political dissent used during Uganda’s colonial era.
The arrest angered many feminists as it was considered a violation of the freedom of speech. This anger culminated to various social media campaigns such as #FreeStellaNyanzi and #Push4StellaNyanzi and now #BoldLikeStellaNyanzi. This period saw various commentaries mostly by feminist as pushback to the violations by the Ugandan government against Stella and on the widespread violations of human rights for women in Uganda.
In 2019, Heinrich Boll Foundation hosted a follow up convening for the young feminists in East and Horn of Africa, during this Gathering the feminists paid a visit to Dr. Stella Nyanzi in Prison, the visit was followed by a compilation of statements by the feminists on Dr.Nyanzi’s work and how it has inspired their feminist actions.
This, among other actions across the regions, speaks to a growing movement of feminist and a growing collection that will soon be a voice to reckon. Widespread oppressive systems that undermine democratic processes and enable patriarchal governance will slowly be dismantled and systems that speak for equality and inclusivity will gain traction. It is this reason that the Heinrich Boll Foundation continues to offer platforms for collective feminist actions that are geared towards dismantling patriarchal systems.
Read a compilation of statements by feminists on Dr.Nyanzi’s work and how it has inspired their feminist actions published on the African Feminism website.
Get a copy of No Roses from My Mouth: Poems from Prison (Political Prisoner Series Book 1) Kindle Edition