Women’s Bodies are Not for Tourism

 

Uganda’s leaders are at it again. Tourism minister, Hon Godfrey Kawanda beginning this week decided that he would be launching a beauty pageant to celebrate “curvy women”.  The competition will be called: ” Miss Curvy  Uganda”.It is unbelievable that in 2019, a Ugandan minister believes that parading curvaceous women’s will boost Uganda’s tourism. Uganda is a very beautiful country and currently, tourism is Uganda’s top foreign exchange earner with the country earning $1.4 billion in 2018, according to government statistics.

Most tourists visit national parks for diverse wildlife species such as gorillas, birds and other animals. The source of Nile River is also a prime attraction, including crater lakes and mountains.

Young women in Uganda  have joined hands to rally against the pageant.   Some of the leaders of they young women’s movement are voicing concerns saying this is not proper at all, especially that women have not been involved in the decision-making. Ssanyu Penelope points out that women have not consented to be part of the pageant. So the women movement has arranged a couple of meetings with the ministry to get down to the bottom of the issue.

“We are condemning the objectification of women’s bodies. People are claiming that the women involved consented, however there are sources that they actually didn’t – so we are meeting them to understand what really happened before we claim to understand this as their source of income.” Said Ssanyu Penelope

Ssanyu adds:

“We are saying the minister’s statement is a violation of Art 33(6). We are saying it’s shameful to want to parade women as objects for tourism whether they understand what they are doing or not. Of all the ways to boost tourism, how can women’s bodies be the main focus?”

Objectification of women’s bodies can be traced back to as far back as the slave trade era,  where we have read about Sarah Baartman.  I have seen quite a number of people refer to that incident in history when talking about the current issue in Uganda.

Musa Mugoya a policy analyst took to his Facebook page and argued:

“When I read about the Miss Curvy Project,  I thought it was a joke.  This project reminds me of my Research Ethics Course Unit taught by Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo at Makerere University specifically the story of Sarah Baartman one of the two South African Khoi Khoi women who were exhibited because of the king size of their bums in Europe in the 19th century. What is happening is that, this is being done now by our own.”

There are also some schools of thought that are saying that elite women in Uganda are over reacting to the issue. Obviously, because this is an ongoing debate, there are still many conversations being held.

One of the persons who think this said  that the elite women that are fighting this may not really representing the  women involved. How do we say that we are speaking for all the women?

The debate is far from over and the minister does look like he is about to budge. For those of us not directly involved and do not have a full understand of the debacle must think beyond the present and think about the future and what this will mean in the coming years.

And as Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan woman activist says :

“It’s the same struggle different voices. The very women can speak for themselves and even if they would consent to their bodies being paraded there’s still room to tackle basis of exploitation they will encounter and the nature of their exploitation. It’s not Olympics really.”

I sit here hoping that this madness will end; that the minister will find it in himself to listen to all the counsel around him; that we, the society; will be firm in our resolve to not let the government speak on behalf of our women; that we shall make decisions right for ourselves and for our children in future. Women’s bodies cannot be paraded for tourism.

The Nalubaale Tale

When we rolled out to start this blog site, we were inspired by the very natural passion that runs thick in our blood. A country whose shortcomings should never overshadow the limitless beauty it possesses, the beauty that roots deep into not just the identity,  I personally flaunt ever so proudly but also the very DNA that we have inherited from our ancestors. The very DNA that inspired our founding fathers who set a uniform precedence that we have over numerous decades of our existence willingly embraced, “For God and my Country”. A country that’s without a doubt the Pearl of Mighty Africa.

Over the years, we have politicized every achievement that this beautiful country has realized henceforth drawing out of logical perspective. We have made arguments about this landlocked country that sometimes do not reflect the journey we take or give this republic the credit it fully deserves. While many of us have lost our selves all forms of distillates and brews that are to a large percentage produced from the very country we call home, I ventured out into the night bliss of the new bridge; the Nalubaale Bridge. Now, I have been in many parts of this resplendent flower we call Uganda but nothing in my 23 years of life beats this marvelous of architectural marvel that moves you across the longest river in Africa.

I honestly haven’t comprehended if it’s the fine architectural masterpiece or the fascinatingly blinding display of overwhelming lighting that has me drawn to this indescribable amusement, or both. Anyway, what I have to say is that the Nalubaale Bridge is a work of sheer commitment, endless effort, an,  determination not just to ease transportation but to ease it in sheer style.

If I was Zari Hassan, the tourism ambassador who hails from Busoga, my pivot of attraction would move away from my delicious bodily curves and eye-opening glimmer that has become a popular song and I would redirect it to the newly commisioned Nile Bridge. Gosh! It’s not just a work of art but a historical step to a future we should have realized yesterday.
As I walked gently across the new bridge, with a bottle of my favorite distillate clutched hard in my right hand, I couldn’t fail to appreciate the transportation advancement that was displayed right in front of my naked eyes. The lights that shone like the envision of the very Shangri-la that fairy tales sing about and the night view of the pitch-black surfaced the Nile that blew an unwinding breeze which swept off the journey’s fatigue off of me. I grew fondest of the vast endless land that I have called home. Uganda has limitless potential, to grow, to flourish, and to put a mark on the world buffet that we are worthy enough an international cuisine that every human living across the huge planet should dine into and experience.
For a few minutes, I looked past the many challenges that burden this nation that sits on the Eastern plane of Africa. I focused on the potential we have to thrive, away from being the most accommodating country in regard to refugees, or the compassionate heart to foster peace around the African continent. My potential for my motherland to thrive lies in the very geographical, environmental and climatic gifts that shoot us up to the epitome of natural endowment we so desperately need to take advantage of.
The driver of the vehicle I wastravelingling called me to jump back on board, I was quite honestly dazzled by what was striking brightly right on the face of my eyes. I was lost to the dream; a vision of not just where I see Uganda in a few years but the minimum best of what we should have achieved by now.

Uganda is a wealthy country, with the capacity of being a face of everything Africa needs to be identified by. An economic power, a number one tourist destination, a home for the global village and a light beaming with jaw-dropping rays that spread out to the rest of the universe. Uganda is a gem, and all we need is to explore that uniqueness, and while Nalubaale Tales is looking into this direction, it needs everyone to embrace this vision. Uganda is the Pearl of Africa.

What does it matter if your President gives a misguided speech?

 

The recent spate of killings in Uganda has caused an uproar in the public arena and thrown the government in sitting into panic over what to do or say. It is particularly an indictment on President Yoweri Museveni who is revered as the epitome of security in the country and the Greatlakes region at large, by both regional and international actors. The woes of the regime begun particularly with the brutal murder of the high-ranking AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi. This claim, is not oblivious of the insecurity that continues to bedevile the country, but draws attention to the incident that ignited the wrath of the President and led to some of the current security policies in place – the reemergence of the SIM-card registration policy directive in 2017, the banning of hoodies and airtime scratch cards, the installation of cameras and the police registration of sports bikes to mention a few. Other prominent cases include the gruesome murder of State Atmtorney, Joan Kagezi, murder of several sheikhs, Honorable Abiriga, former Buyende District Police Commander Muhamed Kirumira and the 47 (and still counting) women.

The President’s speech on 9th September 2018, most of it reminiscing the good old days (in comparison to other regimes) with little or no regard to the contemporary problems young people are facing has been overly criticized. To the dismay of many Ugandans, the past was overtly regurgitated. The scapegoating of the media, the opposition and the international community as fans in the insecurity flame fronted in the speech bore the characteristics of a tired tactic in the governance book

 

The lack of empathy to the plight of many Ugandans who are faced with daily unemployment and uncertainty of the future riddled the televised debacle. President Museveni said everything and yet there is nothing to write home about the current situation in Uganda, security or otherwise. Given the polarized situation following the assassination of the outspoken police critic, ASP Kirumira, it was only appropriate for President Museveni to reassure Ugandans of his government’s commitment to peace and security.

The President ought to have commiserated with the general public, spoken on the measures being deployed to avert such security threats now and, in the future, and less on economic trajectory the country has been on since he ascended to power in 1986. Not only would this have calmed an irate populace but also demonstrated initiative by the head of state. To summarize the speech in a few words, the ghost of 1986 reared its ugly head at every opportune moment.

Unfortunately, no concrete security policy measure was communicated in the speech of September 9th, instead the role of the country’s security was transferred to civilians under the methods of “shattering terrorist concealment” of intelligence gathering, detecting crime (drones and cameras) and the role of eye witnesses. No doubt every citizen must play a role in their own security and that of their neighbors, however, the government cannot rely on inexperienced civilians. First because civilians cannot discern a threat from what is not until the danger has passed and second, a civilian’s first instinct is flight (not fight) under threatening circumstances. Incidentally all these options make sense when apprehending suspected criminals in the aftermath of a crime.

The plan to recruit 24,000 Local Defense Unit personnel to beef up security in the greater Kampala area is a stop-gap measure with sustainability implications. The need to strengthen the security apparatus as the key player in ensuring inland peace and security cannot be overstated in these Presidential speeches. Areas for security improvement must include; improved transparency, enhanced capacity, improved welfare, and modern equipment beyond crowd control equipment to create an efficient police force. The relationship and roles between different security groups like the Special Forces Command, Internal Security Organisation, External Security Organisation, flying squad etc. and other para-military groups and how they fit into the overall security agenda should also be interrogated. Given the increase in gun related crime throughout the country, it is important, for accountability purposes to conduct a census of guns in the country and note in whose jurisdiction each type of ammunition falls so that the onus, in case of is crime is on the responsible party to account. More importantly, a deep reflection on what kind of force Uganda needs – one that transcends a sitting government’s agenda or one that acts in the interests of a small ruling class.

Crime of all nature has increased at an alarming rate, yet responsible parties, including President Museveni are leaving citizens to speculate on the matter. No concrete evidence of practical solutions is being communicated to stakeholders which is riling more fear. A speech filled with grand plans of infrastructure and energy development is appreciated, but of what importance are paved roads and efficient energy sources if a population does not feel safe? In his own words, President Museveni once said that, to know the importance of security in a country, try starting a coffee farm in Somalia – I fathom that we will one day stop wondering and experience firsthand the full wrath of this pervasive insecurity if nothing is done.