In October 2011, the Ugandan government sent Ingrid Turinawe to the infamous Luzira Prison–Uganda’s Guantánamo–for the treasonable act of walking to work. This week, the State, again, attacked Turinawe and other women activists for the “crime” of standing, speaking out, driving, and generally being. Big mistake.

In Uganda, on Friday, the police attacked Ingrid Turinawe. She was in her car, driving to a protest meeting. The police dragged Turinawe out of her car, and in full view of smart phones and video cameras, groped and mauled her. They haven’t apologized nor have they ‘explained’. Basically, the attitude is that it’s Ingrid Turinawe’s fault. Women who pursue democracy and autonomy must learn to expect State sexual terrorism. In patriarchal circles, it’s called the ‘price of freedom’, or, more simply, the ticket in.

Women of Uganda refused that lesson. Instead, they took to the streets. They organized. Today, they protested, stripping off their tops, the police attacked, and six women were detained. As Barbara Allimadi, one of the organizers, explained: “We were there to show we’ve had enough, we will not tolerate this kind of behavior.” Others agreed: “We respect our bodies and we expect to be respected.”

But events in Kampala are not without precedent. Remember Mali? “When the protest movement of Malian women erupted in the town of Kati on January 30, few took notice.” That was the spark that kindled the flame that fed the fire that toppled the State that Touré built. Ok, maybe that’s a bit fast and loose with details, but the processes were set in motion by women’s protest that went largely ignored. (They weren’t ignored by Nina Wallet Intalou, the ‘pasionaria indépendantiste’ of the Tuareg movement in exile, and they weren’t ignored by women’s movements within Mali.) And of course, when not ignored, poorly reported, at least in the Anglophone press.

And remember the women’s protests in Malawi? Also in January. Those were in response to assaults on women wearing trousers, in public marketplaces in Lilongwe and Blantyre. First, women organized and protested, and then more and more people began seeing the violence against those women as part of a larger problem, a problem of State. Again, this is a bit quick, and it cannot be said that women caused the death of Mutharika. Nevertheless, Malawi now has a new President, Joyce Banda.

As South African women say, “You strike a woman, you strike a rock.”

Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.

Resistance is a continuous endeavor

For more than 75 years, Palestinians have organized for a liberated future. Today, as resistance against Israeli apartheid intensifies, unity and revolutionary optimism has become the main infrastructure of struggle.

Paradise forgotten

While there is much to mourn about the passing of legendary American singer and actor Harry Belafonte, we should hold a place for his bold statement-album against apartheid South Africa.