Jane Apunyo, head nurse at an Ebola treatment center in Mubende, Uganda, last week. Badru Katumba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The first major Ebola outbreak in Uganda happened when I was a medical student at Makerere University in Kampala. A professor of virology explained to us the dangers of filoviruses, the virus family Ebola belongs to, and why they should be avoided at all costs.

Seven years later, in 2007, I was a newly minted military officer, detailed to respond to a new Ebola outbreak near the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where I saw this danger firsthand.

It’s one thing to learn about the virus in medical school, but it’s another to travel deep into a remote area to face a deadly scourge.…  Seguir leyendo »

The first plane of Ugandan Asian evacuees arrive at Stansted Airport on September 18, 1972.

The plane carrying 193 passengers circled down over London Stansted Airport, where a cluster of journalists were waiting to document its arrival. Stepping onto the tarmac under typically gray English skies, the families clutched their scant possessions in briefcases and boxes, saris flowing in the wind.

Five decades after the first evacuation flight of Ugandan Asians touched down in the United Kingdom on September 18, 1972, their story has been held up as a triumph of British generosity and migratory success.

But the back story is less heroic, as the British government first tried to send them anywhere else.

In early August 1972, Uganda's brutal military dictator Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of the country's entire Asian population -- including my grandparents.…  Seguir leyendo »

Estudiante de robótica de la academia Digital Citizen Fund. Fuente: Facebook de Digital Citizen Fund.

El quinto objetivo de la Agenda 2030 resalta en uno de sus epígrafes la importancia de la tecnología como herramienta de empoderamiento femenino. No es una demanda nueva, pues en la Cuarta Conferencia Mundial sobre las Mujeres (Beijing, 1995) se defendía en el punto 35 “el acceso de las mujeres en condiciones de igualdad a los recursos económicos, incluidos la tierra, el crédito, la ciencia y la tecnología…”.

Pasados los años, y como se constata en diferentes informes internacionales, la situación ha mejorado, pero siguen existiendo enormes carencias en este ámbito. De esta manera, por ejemplo, en el continente africano se indica que el uso de internet entre los hombres supera en 250 millones al del género femenino y que las mujeres están infrarrepresentadas en los puestos de trabajo derivados de las tecnologías, en la alta dirección y en las carreras académicas.…  Seguir leyendo »

People extinguish fire on cars caused by a bomb explosion near Parliament building in Kampala, Uganda, on November 16, 2021. - Two explosions hit Uganda's capital Kampala on November 16, 2021, injuring a number of people in what police termed an attack on Ivan Kabuye / AFP

What happened and who is allegedly involved?

On 16 November, a trio of suicide bombers targeted Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, one detonating his vest outside police headquarters and two more blowing themselves up near parliament. The attacks killed at least four other people, according to official reports, and wounded 37 more, 27 of whom were police officers. As the city reeled from the blasts, security forces hunted down a fourth bomber in north-western Kampala, shooting him before recovering his suicide vest. The police said they had recovered more explosive materials from a safe house the fourth attacker was using in a nearby suburb and were continuing to track other possible members of the “terror groups”.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Uganda ran out of vaccines shortly after the first doses arrived in March, it was another blow for girls and young women who have made extraordinary sacrifices as our country struggles to keep Covid-19 at bay.

Schools and universities were again shuttered, leaving 15 million students at home or on the streets. Workers went unpaid and fear spread through the communities. The impacts were felt first and hardest by women, especially if they were young.

Months later, the lockdown has not been fully lifted. People wait for hours in the street for the few vaccines that have crossed our borders.…  Seguir leyendo »

People queueing outside a health centre to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Kampala, Uganda, in August 2021. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

My gardener, Emmanuel, returned a few days ago after a five-month hiatus. One of the conditions for his return was that he needed to be vaccinated. He comes from Karamoja in the north-eastern part of Uganda, where the vaccine uptake was low, so he was able to get vaccinated.

I first thought that he was fibbing, as many Ugandans are prone to do when they get fake documents in order to get a pass. I checked his card and confirmed he had a genuine vaccination card. He told me that his whole family had been vaccinated.

On the other hand, Annet, my live-in housekeeper, has resisted getting the vaccine – always weaving new stories of why she cannot get it.…  Seguir leyendo »

My Country Did Everything Right on Covid. And the Worst Is Still Here

Early in the pandemic, Uganda bought itself precious time at great economic cost to protect its people from Covid-19.

There were lockdowns, international travel was restricted, and border screenings were introduced to prevent entry of the coronavirus. Cases of Covid-19 identified at borders or in communities were isolated, and people who had been in contact with those infected were quarantined and checked on by public health authorities.

These measures were meant to minimize the impact of the pandemic until drugs and vaccines could be found and distributed. However, as of July 6, only about 2 percent of Ugandans are vaccinated. There were more deaths reported in the month of June than total deaths reported since the start of the pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bobi Wine is detained by riot police during an anti-government demonstration in Kampala on 15 March 2021. Photograph: Abubaker Lubowa/Reuters

Uganda is experiencing its worst wave of political oppression in decades. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of supporters of opposition parties to President General Yoweri Museveni have been abducted, detained and tortured in recent months. Like many, I bear the scars of the baton, have felt the sting of teargas and endured unlawful detention. But I know that this is not personal. It isn’t about me.

Many others, whose only offence is to exercise constitutionally entrenched rights and freedoms, have been clobbered, abducted, tortured and put on show trial. The atrocities are numerous: the unresolved carnage of the Kayunga shootings in 2009 that saw 40 left dead, the massacres in Rwenzururu where police and military killed more than 150, or the November 2020 killings in which more than 50 protesters lost their lives.…  Seguir leyendo »

Security forces gather on election day in Kampala, Uganda, on Jan. 14. Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine on Monday released a list of 243 people who have allegedly been abducted by the security forces, piling pressure on the government to find those missing amid continuing political tensions after last month’s elections. (Jerome Delay/AP)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni won a sixth term with 58.6 percent of the vote last month, in an election marred by unprecedented violence and repression. Measures supposedly aimed at enforcing covid-19 regulations de facto criminalized political competition, preventing or banning the opposition from electoral campaigns. Security forces targeted opposition candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, known popularly as Bobi Wine, and his supporters, in particular.

Kyagulanyi and his National Unity Platform party firmly rejected the election results as fraudulent. The United States and European Union noted concerns over the credibility of the Jan. 14 election, and the United States called for an audit of the returns.…  Seguir leyendo »

An example of the ballot for the upcoming elections is displayed on a wall at the electoral commission headquarters in Kampala, Uganda. (Sumy Sadurni/AFP/Getty Images)

In Uganda, the military deployed to opposition strongholds in Kampala and the government blocked all social media going into Thursday’s elections. On Jan. 14, millions of Ugandans will vote in the country’s presidential elections. To many, the day may seem like politics as usual as incumbent President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) again seeks to extend his rule.

Museveni has been in power since 1986, and this week’s election won’t be free or fair. Here’s why Ugandan politics now seem to be diverging from the typical script, and how the political landscape has changed.

The opposition has changed even as the regime’s repressive tactics remain the same

This is the first time in the past two decades that Kizza Besigye of the leading opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), is not challenging Museveni.…  Seguir leyendo »

Badru Katumba/AFP via Getty Images) Opposition leader Bobi Wine saluting as he walked into a court building following his arrest at an election rally, Inganga, Uganda, November 19, 2020

When the popular Ugandan singer and opposition politician Bobi Wine was arrested last week, his nation erupted. A huge crowd had gathered in Luuka, just east of the capital Kampala, to hear him speak, when security forces suddenly began firing not only tear gas canisters but also live bullets into the crowd and beating away Wine’s bodyguards with batons and pepper spray.

Wine was driven off in a police van and detained for two days without access to his family, doctors, or lawyers. The charge? Holding a rally of more than two hundred people, in violation of Covid-19 social-distancing regulations—something that ruling party politicians, including Uganda’s strongman leader Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, have been doing with impunity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, at a news conference in Kampala, Uganda, on June 15, about the government handling of the coronavirus pandemic. (Abubaker Lubowa/Reuters)

Last week, Zimbabwean security agents raided Hopewell Chin’ono’s home, arresting the journalist for allegedly “inciting public violence”. Chin’ono’s reporting uncovered corruption in the government’s pandemic response and led to the ousting of the health minister over allegations of contract fraud. Security forces also arrested opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume and more than 100,000 others, charging them with violating coronavirus-related regulations.

While the scale of the repression in Zimbabwe captured the attention of advocacy groups such as Amnesty International and the U.S. Embassy, it’s not the only country undertaking politically motivated crackdowns in the name of public health. For autocrats, the coronavirus has lowered the cost of repression by allowing them to justify actions as necessary responses to the crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ugandan police detaining the academic Stella Nyanzi for protesting against the way that government distributes the relief food and the lockdown situation to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kampala, Uganda, in May. Credit Reuters

Brutal policing is a global crisis, but America’s favorite African strongman, Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president since 1986, has deployed his own security forces to a particularly malign end: assaulting opposition parliamentary lawmakers to crush the democratic challenge he is facing.

I speak from experience. I am a member of Uganda’s Parliament and also a musician, activist and founder of the opposition People Power movement. For the past three years, we have been seeking social, economic and political change with the support of Uganda’s youth — 80 percent of the population — who face dire poverty.

On April 19, my colleague Francis Zaake, a 29-year-old member of Parliament, was arrested and tortured.…  Seguir leyendo »

From 10 to 12 March, about two dozen prosecutors, victim’s lawyers and defence counsels gathered in The Hague to present their closing arguments to three judges on how they ought to perceive Dominic Ongwen, a former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) child soldier who became one of its commanders, and whether or not to convict and punish him for a litany of atrocities he perpetrated after his eighteenth birthday. On one hand, Ongwen was portrayed as a monstrous, brutal and cruel serial-paedophile, a mass murderer and a fearless terrorist, who was powerful, proud and happily “gratifying his own desires” in the bush.…  Seguir leyendo »

Anthony Kalulu is a farmer in eastern Uganda, and founder of non-profit Uganda Community Farm (UCF). Photograph: Handout

Where I live, people are organised in clans. I belong to a clan where even 100 people, gathered together, can’t raise $100 (£75) to organise a funeral.

I come from a family that couldn’t afford to pay tuition of $10 a term when I was a student two decades ago. Many of my young relatives are out of school now, because their parents can’t afford a full academic term of $15.

Others are even worse off. There are families I have spoken with who say they are unable to earn $2 a month as a family.

There is no question that the UN global goals have stalled.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bodyguards of the now-deceased LRA commander Vincent Otti, around 2003. (Charles Tabuley/Kristof Titeca)

The French news magazine Jeune Afrique noted on Nov. 20 that despite decades of international attempts to capture warlord Joseph Kony, he remains free. Kony’s movement, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), began in the mid-1980s with the goal of protecting Northern Ugandans from the newly installed regime of President Yoweri Museveni. But the insurgency turned against civilians, becoming notorious for mutilations and large-scale abductions. By 2006, the LRA had abducted up to 38,000 children and 37,000 adults, researchers estimated. Those abducted were forced to become fighters or fighters’ “wives” — a euphemism for sex slaves — and household servants. Today, the movement has only about 100 to 150 fighters left, but they are still abducting and causing insecurity in the borderlands between Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.…  Seguir leyendo »

En enero, el parlamento de Etiopía ratificó una legislación que les da a los refugiados derechos sin precedentes, incluido el derecho a buscar empleo y educación, y a moverse libremente fuera de los confines de los asentamientos de refugiados. El Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR) elogió a Etiopía por tener “una de las políticas más progresistas para refugiados en África” –una política que podría servir de modelo para otros.

Los países que reciben refugiados en todo el mundo deberían seguir el ejemplo que marcan países como Etiopía y Uganda, en particular dándoles a los refugiados un mejor acceso a empleos formales y escolaridad, e intentando alojarlos en comunidades más que en campos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli: policing women’s bodies. Photograph: Emmanuel Herman/Reuters

In Tanzania, teenage girls who become pregnant are not allowed back in school; female MPs are forbidden from wearing fake eyelashes and nails; now, a senior government official has called on the public to report gay people so that they can be punished.

This infantilisation of women and homophobia is all part of President John Magufuli’s “morality crusade”. When he was elected in 2015, he was seen as a decisive figure determined to run a frugal government, stamp out corruption and deliver better services in the east African country.

However, in a flash, he turned from cracking down on corrupt government officials to evoking redundant colonial laws in order to police women’s bodies, reinforce discrimination against girls and now, in this latest move, to hunt down homosexuals.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of pop star turned lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, hold a poster of him as they gather in the Kisekka market area of Kampala, Uganda, on Aug. 23. (AP)

On Wednesday, Uganda issued a ban on rallies, anticipating the return of musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, who reportedly has been in the United States seeking urgent medical treatment after being detained by Ugandan security forces.

The government edict is in response to large protests that rocked Kampala, Uganda’s capital. Young people demonstrated in June against the government’s new tax on social media, which they see as regressive. They also turned out in August to protest the arrest of Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine, a 36-year-old parliamentarian elected in 2017. After Wine’s release, the government initially prohibited him from leaving the country for further medical attention, sparking more protests.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man in a control center of the NTV channel, which was shut down by the Kenyan government because of coverage of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s symbolic presidential inauguration, at the Nation group media building in Nairobi on Feb. 1. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Imagine paying over $900 to a government agency just to be allowed to blog.

This is what the government of Tanzania wants to require of its citizens. The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority has given all online content providers until May 5 to submit massive amounts of documentation to earn state approval for what the Internet has always given for free. If you can’t pony up details of shareholders, share capital, citizenship of owners, staff qualifications, training programs and a tax clearance certificate, you risk a fine of at least $2,200 and/or a year-long prison sentence. While the rest of the progressive world is considering blockchain technology or investing in robots, Tanzania’s big idea this year is licensing bloggers.…  Seguir leyendo »