Subsequent to the ghastly murders of 25women (both young adults and grownups) in a span of just four months, ACFODE had long embarked on a journey of creating awareness on what one would call a reprehensible heartbreak that befell the stance of women in Uganda. ACFODE took a gallant step amidst the tense political upheaval on whether Uganda’s constitution, most specifically the contentious famous amendment of article 102b, and organized a one day event to commemorate the victims lives, andcreate a heightened sense of awareness and responsiveness to acts of violence against women and girls in Uganda. After a series of planning, consultations and idea sharing, it was decided that an inhouse event backed by a strong social media campaign would strike the punch. The date was set and the day tagged A DAY OF MOURNING themed #NotAnotherWoman.
27th September, 2017 finally dawned and came as a very exciting day despite the somber state of events that surrounded it. The day started with a downpour of rain, which though feared for wreckage of the mood teasers, indeed blessed the day. This was followed by full swing re-arrangement and re-set of what the rain had turned tops down. The documentarians arrived and the interviewees were set, and then came, the photographers, their lights and all that they could carry for the day. These were followed by the make-up artists and at last, the food-or rather, the tea to warm the guests.
The event was slated with a number of activities varying from a mini documentary filming on the murders of the Entebbe-Wakiso women, mid this year, a VAW/G photo imagery session, a vigil to pray for the souls of the deceased, as well as a poetry fusion reminiscing and decrying the sky rocketing levels of violence against women in Uganda. At sundown, a conversation circle, to forge a way forward for the secure living and equitable co-existence of both men and women in Uganda was held.
In attendance were clerics, who graced the event with both their presence and petitions for the souls of the deceased and comfort for their families. Also poets from around the country would lay a stone or two on to the unwavering call for justice and equitable livelihood of both women and men in the country.
Nakisanze Segawa, a renowned Luganda poetry performer, and journalist contributing to the Global Press Journal, was the vigil’s curtain raiser. Her poem entitled “Essungu ly’ekiro”described in bustles and qualms, the pains of the victims before they met their gruesome deaths, the heaviness of heart left onto their families and how much more related suffering the rest of the women in Uganda endure.
As attendees chewed on her delivery, they were usurped by a finely tuned plea against VAW/G by Hawa Nanjobe’s satirical outcry titled “Let By-gones Be By-gones.” With passionate vividness, Hawa described the stereotypes tagged alongside being a female in Uganda and echoed that this sort of cultural chauvinism meant a painful continuous struggle for impartiality, equality and visibility for all women in Uganda.
|“Supposing it were the men being killed? Would the government simply sit back and watch or they would go halter-skalter to save the lives of their sons?” Hawa Nanjobe
She noted that several cultures sideline women from as young as their girlhood. In so doing, different roles and attributes and culturing is geared towards their upbringing. The latter never happens for the opposite sex and in turn has groomed a bleak disposition of men with a distorted perspective of male and female co-existence in the adult world. While the girls are told to submit and submit, the boys are encouraged to be the cream of the crop and should decide on life and the lives of others in whatsoever way they wished. No wonder, even in the face of multiple killings of several innocent women, not a single step has been taken to de-campaign such brutality. As a challenge, she posed a question to society and the government: “Supposing it were the men being killed? Would the government simply sit back and watch or they would go halter-skalter to save the lives of their sons?”
At the height of the oratory, another poet, Andrew Mubeezi Tussah championed the men’s stand against violence on women and girls in Uganda. In his poem “Totta togajambula” Andrew implored fellow men to be insightful and responsive partners who understand that their full existence is made complete when they co-exist as an equal gender to women. He further appealed to men to appreciate that a woman too has a right to life and in living; she has dreams and aspirations, charm, beauty and most notably a firm contribution to the world. Andrew’s passionate description and entreaty for women’s protection left several attendees teary with a snuffle here and there.The mood was somber and nothing could rework the slackness of losing so big a number of fellow gender mate, a mother, sister or wife without thinking that you too could fall victim next.
Nakafeero Rosemary, a relation to one of the victims identified as Jalia Nalule (RIP), narrated her events prior to her niece’s grotesque demise. Jalia who might have been over 30 years old had been married and looked forward to a fulfilling life in her country. She and her husband lived at “Abayita Ababiri” along Entebbe road in Wakiso district. Two years back, Jalia had travelled to Juba in search for a job. She and several other Ugandan women had found business and casual work todo. She had successfully worked in Juba and had returned to the country to start a new life and invest in the brick laying business. Unfortunately, on the day she paid would be employees, Jalia was attacked by unknown assailants who killed, raped and dragged her body. Jalia’s body was discovered a month later dumped in Kayirira forest reserve in Nkumba Central, Katabi town council. If this extreme infliction of torture and dehumanization of women doesn’t affect our government, then Uganda is no place to be for any living woman.
Ms Regina Bafaki, the Executive Director ACFODE and hostess of the vigil said that it saddened her heart to think that such deplorable atrocities should fall on women. Regina pointed out that safety of citizens and their rights of peaceful existence is a state responsibility and as such directly requires proper and organized governance.
She added that the security of women in Uganda deserves as much attention as the litigious debate over lifting the presidential age limit motion in parliament at the moment. She called upon the government to take immediate action and protect the citizenry.
|“Uganda is at crossroads. If it is not about women’s rights being violated, it’s about one’s freedom to move, convene and express oneself,” Regina Bafaki| ED ACFODE|
The Diakonia country representative Ms. Annabel Ogwang Okotquestioned why women leaders and representatives at all levels still kept silence despite the carnage on to their fellow women. She commended ACFODE’s work in the fight against such mayhems against women, but however suggested a more unified frontier of NGOs and CSOs for greater impact. According to Annabel; “Numbers speak volumes and are easily recognized by governments.”
The event was crowned by a candle lighting session, petitions from Reverend James Ssebayiga, Kamwokya Parish and His Eminence the 2nd deputy Mufti Sheik. Muhammad Ali Waiswa. The audience thereafter proposed possible solutions to the catastrophe through a number of suggestions such as: engaging mainstream media to carry out an investigative report on the murders, lobbying for space on televisions and radios to create awareness, pushing for reinstating and empowerment of the Local Council 1, engaging youth on digital activism(social media and multimedia) through the use of their different talents and lastly, sensitizing masses to demand for accountability from all duty bearers.
Public Relations and Communications Department