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Uganda’s cyber laws can’t silence Stella Nyanzi

Can one be imprisoned for having published a poem on one’s Facebook page? The answer is yes—in Uganda. In August 2019 the Ugandan writer and women’s rights activist Stella Nyanzi was sentenced to eighteen months in prison for ‘cyber harassment’. Her crime? In a satirical poem she criticizes Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and his mother in her characteristic way. “My language will grow sharper if the government continues to oppress us,” was Nyanzi’s response to the verdict. PEN/Opp here publishes two of her poems.

Credits Text: Stella Nyanzi January 13 2020

Posted on Facebook January 28, 2018

Museveni matako nyo! Ebyo byeyayogedde e Masindi yabadde ayogera lutako.

I mean, seriously, when buttocks shake and jiggle, while the legs are walking, do you hear other body parts complaining? When buttocks produce shit, while the brain is thinking, is anyone shocked? When buttocks fart, are we surprised?

That is what buttocks do. They shake, jiggle, shit and fart. Museveni is just another pair of buttocks. Rather than being shocked by what the matako said in Masindi, Ugandans should be shocked that we allowed these buttocks to continue leading our country. Matako butako.


Posted on Facebook March 5, 2015

I want to make love with the president and whisper womanly words into his presidential ear. Loathing Yoweri for ruling Uganda too long to be good for our national sanity is not very useful to this country. So it's better for me to change my stance towards him into one of adult love; for in the prime of his life, the tired president has forgotten what it's like to receive genuine freebie love without a single string attached. I have nothing to gain from making passsionate love with the elderly autocrat. I seek neither a ministerial post nor investment opportunity, neither promotion nor property. Did the hair on his chest turn grey already?

I am trying to make love with Mzee, but his thoughts are far away plotting about how to win again in the 2016 elections. His dancing-stick is dead asleep. I try to touch his man-boobs and tickle the old nipples with my hands, but he's tightly clad in his bullet-proof vest until a time when Uganda is safe enough for him. I try to tickle his arm pits, but he is firmly holding the coming draft budget document under one armpit. I abandon the idea of foreplay with his torso and try to French-kiss His Excellency. He pushes me away, makes an ugly face by folding his lips and then telling me that the mouth was made for eating food only. I lie back, close my eyes and invitingly reveal my beautiful bossom, hoping that he'll reach down and touch me. Nothing happens...

I slowly open my eyes and look at the president. In his other hand is a mini pistol which Mzee never lets go... not even after he removed military fatigues and started donning flowered shirts. Quarter-pins never release their guns. I want to make slow passionate love with Musanvu, but he's so used to screwing our nation, its systems and public institutions that he only remembers how to give a quick fuck for his own release. Instead, I blow his sad unloved trumpet, causing him to quake and roar in spiritual tongues mixed with Kinyakitara riddles and proverbs. And yet even at the height of his orgasmic ecstasy, Museveni still clings tightly onto the national budget, his pistol and thoughts of standing as sole party candidate for predidency in the 2016 elections.

He throws a thick wad of new notes at me, as he heaves up his camouflage boxer shorts and marches to the bathroom. Alas, it may be too late to teach the president about mutual love and loving.

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