Tag Archives: justice

Happy Independence Day to Uganda.

9 Oct

Happy Independence Day to Uganda.
Anybody who knows me or who follows my work knows that I have a great love for our continent and a special deep rooted love for Uganda. So it is no surprise that I along with my Ugandan family, will be celebrating its independence. As much as the country boasts beauty, tranquility and splendour, like every other county it has its problems and areas that need attention. I will address all of these in this blog.

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Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa whose diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and immense Lake Victoria. Its abundant wildlife includes chimpanzees as well as rare birds. Remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest is known for its 43m-tall waterfall and wildlife such as hippos.It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region. Uganda also lies within the Nile basin, and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate.
Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital Kampala. The people of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu-speaking populations migrated to the southern parts of the country.
Luganda, a central language, is widely spoken across the country, and several other languages are also spoken including Runyoro, Runyankole, Rukiga, and Luo.
According to oral tradition, the Empire of Kitara covered an important part of the great lakes area, from the northern lakes Albert and Kyoga to the southern lakes Victoria and Tanganyika. Bunyoro-Kitara is claimed as the antecedent of the Buganda, Toro, Ankole, and Busoga kingdoms.
The culture of Uganda is made up of a diverse range of ethnic groups. Lake Kyoga forms the northern boundary for the Bantu-speaking people, who dominate much of East, Central, and Southern Africa. In Uganda, they include the Baganda and several other tribes. In the north, the Lango and the Acholi peoples predominate, who speak Nilotic languages. To the east are the Iteso and Karamojong, who speak a Nilotic language, whereas the Gishu are part of the Bantu and live mainly on the slopes of Mt. Elgon. They speak Lumasaba, which is closely related to the Luhya of Kenya. A few Pygmies live isolated in the rainforests of western Uganda.
The geography of this beautiful country are marked by mountains on its eastern and western borders. In the east, there are a number of volcanic mountains, Mount Elgon the highest at 4,321m. In the west, the Ruwenzori mountains run down much of the border (with Uganda’s highest peak at 5,109m) and in the south are the northernmost of the Virunga range. Lake Victoria is sometimes said to be the source of the Nile. But really, this huge lake has many rivers which feed into it. The Ruvubu and Ruvyironza rivers (in Burundi) are regarded as the ultimate source of the Nile; these are upper branches of the Kagera River (in Rwanda) which flows into Lake Victoria
The Nile is the longest river in the world (at 6,695km). It has many different stretches and flows through a number of east African countries. Uganda’s rivers are mainly seasonal and can be slow and swampy in stretches. Uganda is rich in wildlife and habitats. The country has semi-desert areas in the north-east, swampland along the Albert Nile in the northwest and savannah across some regions. The country also has areas of forest, including the tropical montane forests of the southwest. However, much of southern Uganda’s natural rainforest has been cleared.

The history:
Beginning in 1894, the area was ruled as a protectorate by the British, who established administrative law across the territory. Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9 October 1962. The period since then has been marked by intermittent conflicts, including a lengthy civil war against the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Northern Region, which has caused hundreds of thousands of casualties. Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9 October 1962 as a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. In October 1963, Uganda became a republic but maintained its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations.

The first post-independence election, held in 1962, was won by an alliance between the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and Kabaka Yekka (KY). UPC and KY formed the first post-independence government with Milton Obote as executive prime minister, with the Buganda Kabaka (King) Edward Muteesa II holding the largely ceremonial position of president.

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Uganda came into the spotlight for its laws against LGBT rights in 2007, a Ugandan newspaper, the Red Pepper, published a list of allegedly gay men, many of whom suffered harassment as a result. On 9 October 2010, the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone published a front-page article titled “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak” that listed the names, addresses, and photographs of 100 homosexuals alongside a yellow banner that read “Hang Them”. The paper also alleged that homosexuals aimed to recruit Ugandan children. This publication attracted international attention and criticism from human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, No Peace Without Justice and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. According to gay rights activists, many Ugandans have been attacked since the publication. On 27 January 2011, gay rights activist David Kato was murdered.
In 2009, the Ugandan parliament considered an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would have broadened the criminalisation of homosexuality by introducing the death penalty for people who have previous convictions, or are HIV-positive, and engage in same-sex sexual acts. The bill also included provisions for Ugandans who engage in same-sex sexual relations outside of Uganda, asserting that they may be extradited back to Uganda for punishment, and included penalties for individuals, companies, media organisations, or non-governmental organisations that support legal protection for homosexuality or sodomy. The private member’s bill was submitted by MP David Bahati in Uganda on 14 October 2009, and was believed to have had widespread support in the Uganda parliament. The hacktivist group Anonymous hacked into Ugandan government websites in protest of the bill. The debate of the bill was delayed in response to global condemnation but was eventually passed on 20 December 2013 and signed by President Yoweri Museveni on 24 February 2014. The death penalty was dropped in the final legislation. The law was widely condemned by the international community. Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden said they would withhold aid. The World Bank on 28 February 2014 said it would postpone a US$90 million loan, while the United States said it was reviewing ties with Uganda. On 1 August 2014, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the bill invalid as it was not passed with the required quorum. A 13 August 2014 news report said that the Ugandan attorney general had dropped all plans to appeal, per a directive from President Museveni who was concerned about foreign reaction to the bill and who also said that any newly introduced bill should not criminalise same-sex relationships between consenting adults.

Ugandan Cuisine:

Ugandan cuisine consists of traditional and modern cooking styles, practices, foods and dishes in Uganda, with English, Arab, and Asian (especially Indian) influences. Like the cuisines of most countries, it varies in complexity, from the most basic, a starchy filler with a sauce of beans or meat, to several-course meals served in upper-class homes and high-end restaurants. Most tribes in Uganda have their own speciality dish or delicacy. Many dishes include various vegetables, potatoes, yams, bananas and other tropical fruits. Chicken, pork, fish (usually fresh, but there is also a dried variety, reconstituted for stewing), beef, goat and mutton are all commonly eaten, although among the rural poor, meats are consumed less than in other areas, and mostly eaten in the form of bushmeat.
My absolute favourite dish is Matooke and ground Peanut sauce. Matoke, is the fruit of a variety of starchy banana, commonly referred to as cooking/green bananas. The fruit is harvested green, carefully peeled and then cooked and often mashed or pounded into a meal. The fruit is steam-cooked, and the mashed meal is considered a national dish in both countries. The Buganda tribe of Uganda do however pride themselves in making the best matooke dishes. Matooke are peeled using a knife, wrapped in the plant’s leaves (or plastic bags), and set in a cooking pot atop the banana stalks. The pot is then placed on a charcoal or wood fire and the matooke is steamed for a couple of hours, water is poured into the bottom of the cooking pot multiple times. The stalks in the bottom of the pot serve to keep the leaf-wrapped fruits above the level of the hot water. While uncooked, the matooke is white and fairly hard; cooking turns it soft and yellow. The matooke is then mashed while still wrapped in the leaves or bags and often served on a fresh banana leaf. It is typically eaten with a sauce made of vegetables, ground peanut, or some type of meat (goat or beef).
Ugandan traditional meal with Matooke steamed and served with luwombo, meat or gnuts steamed in banana leaves. Matoke are also used to make a popular breakfast dish called Katogo in Uganda. Katogo is commonly cooked as a combination of the peeled bananas and peanuts or beef, though offal or goats meat are also common.

Some other traditional and historic Ugandan foods include:

Posho or Kawunga – called Ugali in Kenya, it is usually made from maize but also other starches, regional names include kwon. Ugandan expatriates make posho from cornmeal, masa harina or grits. Kwon is a type of ugali made from millet (called kalo in western Uganda) but in other regions like eastern Uganda they include cassava flour.
Groundnuts (peanuts) – groundnuts are a vital staple and groundnut sauce is probably the most commonly eaten one. They are eaten plain or mixed with smoked fish, smoked meat or mushrooms, and can also be mixed with greens such as borr.
Sim-sim (sesame) – A staple particularly in the north, roasted sesame paste is mixed into a stew of beans or greens and served as a side dish, though sesame paste may also be served as a condiment; a candy is made from roasted sesame seeds with sugar or honey.
Luwombo – A traditional dish from Uganda, in which a stew of either chicken, beef, mushrooms or fish is steamed in banana leaves
Malewa – A traditional dish from eastern Uganda (Bugisu), made from bamboo shoots
Kikomando – A chapati that is cut into pieces and served with fried beans
Uganda is also know as the La Vegas of Africa as it sports a wild and vibrant entertainment scene. In certain parts of Kampala, there are bars and restaurants that operate 24 hours, whether its a quiet drink with friends and dancing to Uganda’s favourite po artists, there is a place that will suit your requirement.

My favourite dinning spots are:
Zone 7, which is co-owned by Gaetano Kagwa. The restaurant/bar is the perfect location for a lunch or dinner or after work drinks session. The establishment hosts a number of of events from sporting to live bands and the well know School party, where revellers are invited to wear their school uniforms and party down to the past decades top 40 hits.

I discovered a great eclectic bar for The Embers, run by two amazingly crazy New Zealanders, who like me fell in love with the country.

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Their speciality are their infused cocktails and shoots. My favourite is the chilli tequila.

They also have live events and I was able to catch the performance of ‘Young Cardamom & HAB’. These artists are both Ugandans with roots that reach far beyond their borders.Though they represent the sound of their city, Kampala, the duo’s tracks also blend several influences from South Sudan, India, Atlanta, and Lahore. Cardamom’s parents are actually Ugandan scholar Mahmood Mamdani and filmmaker Mira Nair (Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding). Their song, #1 Spice features in the Disney film: Queen of Katwe.
A lot of their specialised cocktails are made from the world famous Ugandan Waragi.

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My favourite chilling to spots include the cocktail bar or poolside at the Serena Hotel, as well as The Royal Suites. I have had the opportunity of living at both 5-star residence. Both boast comfort, safety and true East African hospitality.

The Ugandans entertainment industry is growing at a great speed, with the rise of some of Africa’s most celebrated stars such as Flavia Tumusimme, Gaetano Kagwa, Brian Mulondo, Cedric Ndilima and Sheilah Gashumba. Of course all of these artists are represented by Waka talent Agency, http://www.wakaagency.biz
There has been an emergence of powerful channels being broadcast from Kampala, including the establishment of Kwese TV.

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The war on women’s bodies.

23 May

The war on our bodies has been an ongoing struggle for decades, dating back to the 1970’s. People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) was formed in 1979 by a group of women volunteers in order to provide referral services and shelter to women experiencing domestic violence.
The word “jack-roll” or ‘jack rolling”, started during the 1980s by a gang called ‘the jackrollers’, it was the abduction of women in townships who would then subjected to lengthly periods of gang rape.

It was only after The Bill Of Rights was signed, did women receive formal recognition as equal citizens. For many years South African women were under the legal control of their fathers and husbands, this is still the same in many African countries.
The domestic violence act 116 of 1998 was signed: To provide for the issuing of protection orders with regard to domestic violence; and for matters connected therewith.

About ten years ago, somebody asked me when I will stop marching and pushing the anti-abuse campaign, my answer was when the abuse stops.

I have written many blogs on the state of affairs regarding rape and abuse in 2014 I wrote about a women who called out for help after she had been raped, she called on the police for assistance, her response came from the Hillbrow police station where six policemen( Men) were called to a rape case, they found the perpetrator and let him go. The survivor was present and requested medical attention, they denied that and told her to sleep it off as she had been drinking. I have highlighted on many cases where survivors have received ill treatment from police personnel when trying to report a case. Like many activists and organisations, this outcry and call has been the forefront of many campaigns, yet there has been very little change.
Over the past years we have seen the disrespect of women’s lives from the very publicised murder cases such as Oscar Pistorius, who killed his girlfriend Reeve Steenkamp and received a reduced jail sentence to Shrien Devani who was acquitted for murdering his wife Anna Dewani and Thato Kutumela who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend, Zanele Khumalo. Former Soweto community radio presenter Donald “Donald Duck” Sebolai was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend, Rachel “Dolly” Tshabalala.
Unfortunately they have been hundreds if not thousands who have gone unnoticed.

Women in our present day still face many obstacles and challenges which can be related to poverty, violence and abuse in the home, unemployment, access to quality health care and legal representation.
Financial dependance of their male partners or husbands has increased vulnerability to domestic violence and rape.
The girl child has been greatly affected by the personal home front as well as discrimination at school, from the subject choices which have seen to be suitable fro male learners, girls have been sexually harassed, raped and abuse, some forced to drop out due to teenage pregnancy, possibly caused by rape. Many young girls miss school during their menstrual cycles as they cannot afford sanitary towels and tampons.

Over the past few weeks there has been in increase in reported crimes against women. These barbaric acts have been publicised and there has been a huge outcry from all sectors, that we need an intervention. This is true but we need to understand and own up to the fact that this has been on ongoing problem for years. The change that has occurred is that more incidents are being reported and now we hear a strong outcry from men.
The rate of crimes and murders that have escalated within the LGBT community. Due to the stigma attached many cases are not even heard and still remain unresolved.

Where to from now?
To start with, our men need to hold each other accountable. Many years ago I dated a man who’s business partner continuously made jokes about beating up women and this frustrated me, causing many arguments in our home. My then partners undermining attitude was that it was just a joke and I should get over it by response was and still is the same, if you joke about it, you condone the action. We need to create a shift in our conversations and attitudes towards women.

Gender equality starts in the home. There should not be gender specific roles for boys and girls, parents should be seen as equal. Children are taught and emulate what their parents do. Fighting in the home has proven to have lifelong effects on children. Many people decide to remain in abusive relationships as they feel that separation will affect the children, the violence and hatred is what affects the children.
If incidents happen at schools and remain unresolved, notify the department of eduction. No child should be scared to go to school or face any form df discrimination whilst trying to get an education.

The police need to be held accountable. Correct protocol measures need to be adhered with taking down reports, recording crimes and treatment of survivors.
We need harsher laws for rapists and abusers. Women need to stop being blamed for what happened to them. Victim blaming is still a major concern. I have made many reports and complaints to IPD with no response but if we get large number of valid complaints, then action will take place. Their contact details are:  
Address in Gauteng City Forum Building
 114 Madiba Street
 Pretoria
Telephone number: 012 399 0000

Email address

Complaints@ipid.gov.za

Our minister of police Mr Fikile Mbalula is very active on twitter: @mbalulafikile
 
Social media, should be used for good and not just scandal. If an incident occurs, recording it is necessary but so is justice. Record the dialogue and images but also record relevant information such as car number plates, what the perpetrator looks like, the exact location of where the crime takes place, such as a road sign, building structure etc
One should notify the police immediately and seek help for the survivor. We should make more citizen complaints, hold our police accountable. There are too many reported cased where investigating officers receive bribes and then in questioning the survivors, telling them that they should drop the case and convince them that they would not survive long trails. Granted trials are long and tedious and the incident will have to be repeated many a times but by keeping quiet will not help as the incident will still be repeated in your mind.

If you need assistance here are a few organisations that I have worked with and strongly endorse:

1. FEW: Forum For The Empowerment of Women
Call: +27 11 403 1906/7

Social media:
@forumfortheempowermentofwomen

Email
project1@few.org.za

Website:
http://www.few.org.za

FEW was established by black lesbian women activists living in Johannesburg in 2001.In a post 1994 South Africa and with the new constitution of 1996 recognising sexual orientation within the equality clause, it was clear that we had to organize ourselves to ensure that we were able to claim and live the rights entrenched in the constitution. Already, with increasing numbers of LGBTI people coming out and being visible both in everyday life as well as within human rights defending work, the age-old issues of discrimination, stigmatisation and marginalization were becoming more blatant. The group which initially began the conversation about organizing black lesbian women were concerned that within the broader LGBTI and women’s human rights issues, black lesbian women were more vulnerable because of intersecting identities, contexts and realities.
We also recognised the power within our community – both black lesbian women, women in general and the LGBTI community – to confront the abuses that were being perpetrated against us in a democratic South Africa. Initially, the focus was on social space and service provision, including counseling and information, education and communication on key issues, health and related realities of lesbian lives. A key focus was on the issue of hate crimes, particularly rape and sexual assault, which were being reported in growing numbers. The hate crimes were being perpetrated based on assumptions about sexual orientation and gender identity which were seen as deviant and so worthy of responses by communities. This homophobia was directed at all LGBTI people, but the targeting of black lesbian women for this “fixing” was obvious and linked to the patriarchal nature of our society which in turn fed heteronormativity. Projects included a small scholarship fund for survivors of hate crime related violence, drama and soccer as processes to engage with black lesbian women.

2. POWA: people Opposing Women Abuse:
Telephone: -11 642 4345/6
infor@powa.co.za
Twitter: @powa_za

POWA is a “feminist, women’s rights organisation that provides both services, and engages in advocacy in order to ensure the realisation of women’s rights and thereby improve women’s quality of life”.
POWA’s uniqueness as an organisation is in providing both services to survivors and engaging in advocacy using a feminist and intersectional analysis. Our work is rooted in the belief that change can only be said to be effective when women’s lives are directly improved through our interventions. We also believe that there is no single route to change, and thus constantly seek new and creative approaches in our programming to achieve the change we seek.

Frontline Services – Shelters, counseling, and legal advice
As one of our core frontline services, POWA provides shelter services for clients (and their children where relevant) who have been the victims of GBV. These services are located in the East and West Rand, and a “second stage” house is located in Berea. POWA also provides several forms of counselling to clients (including shelter clients), such as face-to-face counselling, support groups (facilitated by a social worker) and telephone counselling and referrals. The Legal and Advocacy Department at POWA also assist women (approximately 50 per month) with telephonic and face-to-face-legal advice to women, court preparation and support, and referral to other professionals and practitioners (pro bono).

Advocacy
The Legal and Advocacy Department at POWA works to “provide quality women-centred legal service and engage in national and regional advocacy for the protection and promotion of women’s rights.” POWA’s advocacy work includes advocating for legal reform, for example, parliamentary law reform submissions as well as strategic litigation. We actively participate in national advocacy. We are a member of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), a network of 26 Civil Society Organisations and Development Partners. In South Africa, POWA is the lead organisation spearheading the eight-nation Raising Her Voice Campaign, working to empower women to hold governments accountable to commitments on GBV and HIV.

Aluta Continua.

To continue the dialogue contact me via Facebook or twitter:
@RosieMotene.