Stella Nyanzi: A mom / activist’s writings from prison

In her writings from prison, longtime gay activist Stella Nyanzi proves herself to be a devoted mother as well as a fierce opponent of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Earlier this month, the Museveni regime threw her into prison again on charges of insulting him online.

Stella Nyanzi remains a devoted mother as well as an outspoken political activist. (Photo courtesy of Voice of America)
Stella Nyanzi’s writings from prison show that she remains a devoted mother as well as an outspoken political activist. (Photo courtesy of Voice of America)

Photographed letters from her prison cell, posted on Facebook, include the following:

  • A description of the harsh conditions in Luzira Women’s Prison.
  • A protest against police abuse of a young mother, and
  • A loving letter to her daughter on her birthday.

These are transcriptions of those three of Nyanzi’s writings from prison:

Crowded sleeping quarters at Luzira Women's Prison in Uganda. (NTV photo via YouTube)
Crowded sleeping quarters at Luzira Women’s Prison in Uganda. (NTV photo via YouTube)

From Luzira Women’s Prison, Nov. 9, 2018:

We sleep as sardines packed in a tin.

Buttocks touching buttocks.

Buttocks bent into thighs.

Thighs kissing thighs.

Backs bent into each other.

Nostrils breathing out

What other nostrils breathed in.

We are remandees,

Convicts and escapees.

We are women detained in Luzira Women’s Prison.

 

We sleep as logs tightly packed together.

The cold floor cools out hot bodies.

Lucky ones have a thin mattress.

Four beds host four of us.

The rest of us 78 inmates

Sleep safe on the floor in Ward 2.

We are remandees,

Convicts and escapees.

We are women detained in Luzira Women’s Prison.

 

Police baton (Photo courtesy of The Inquisitr)
Police baton (Photo courtesy of The Inquisitr)

Police abuse of a young mother, Nov. 3, 2018:

Tina’s violent arrest

Afande OC Operations, shame upon you! You are a violent misogynist!

Tina carried her 7-month-old baby to our police cell.

Tina was limping.

Tina was crying.

Tina was shaking as she held her crying baby.

Tina showed us her swelling fresh wounds.

You beat her with your baton, Afande.

You beat her arms.

You beat her back.

You beat her thighs.

You beat her buttocks.

Tina fell down and banged her head.

You backed at her to hurry up and climb the truck.

You did not mind about her wailing baby.

Did you not see the wailing baby?

Did you not hear the waiting baby?

You only focused on the money from fines.

Shame upon you, Afande OC Operations !

That baby was a patient at a nearby clinic.

That baby was ill with malaria.

That baby slept on the cold floor of the police cell.

That baby was innocent and pure.

Why punish Baby Tinashe?

Why arrest and detain innocent Tina?

Why beat up a nursing mother?

How come you released both without charge?

Back in 2017, prison officers had to assist Stella Nyanzi before her appearance in court on the first set of charges she faced for insulting President Yoweri Museveni. She was suffering from malaria. (Betty Ndagire photo courtesy of the Daily Monitor)
In 2017, prison officers had to assist Stella Nyanzi before her appearance in court on the first set of charges that she faced for insulting President Yoweri Museveni. She was suffering from malaria. (Betty Ndagire photo courtesy of the Daily Monitor)

To her daughter, from Luzira Women’s Prison, Nov. 9, 2018:

My daughter Baraka,

Tomorrow will be your fourteenth birthday. I will be absent from the preparations, cooking, decorating, wrapping of gifts, feasting with family and friends, dancing, singing “Happy Birthday to You,” taking your photos, watching you unwrap your gifts, and praying with you. Although I will be physically absent, my thoughts will be with you, child. Have fun. Enjoy your day.

I am back in Luzira Women’s Prison. In many ways, this feels like another of my homes away from home. It was great to reunite with former friends and catch up with what has been happening in their lives since I was last imprisoned with them. The prison wardresses are generally fine and they manage us with respect. Only one midget refused to listen to my response about my marital status and erroneously wrote that I am divorced. I told her to change that entry. She refused. Power is making her write a wrong record about my marital status. Otherwise, I am very fine in this place.

Prison is a great honour for those of us who are sent here for dissenting against dictator M7 [Museveni]. Each night I sleep on the floor of this dear old Maximum Security Prison, I add a badge of honour to my many credentials. Imagine, the dictator reads my Facebook posts! I will continue writing against impunity until I die. I am neither repentant nor remorseful. I have no regrets for writing truth to power.

I encourage you to continue writing your own poetry. Keep your poems going. We shall share them when I come home finally. Do not stop being curious! Do not stop asking questions. Do not shut up. Do not be docile. Be loud. Be bold. Be daring. Be sweet. Be good. Be kind. Be you. Be the best. You are my best daughter Baraka.

Love,

Mama Stella

For more information, read the article “Mom, activist, gay ally Stella Nyanzi imprisoned again.”

 

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