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February 01 2014

‘Mistreated, Insulted and Disrespected': World Bank Releases Social Inclusion Report

Picture taken by @hivocolab during the launch of the Social Inclusion report in Uganda

Photo taken by @hivocolab during the launch of the World Bank's “Inclusion Matters” report in Uganda. Used with permission.

Certain groups of people in all countries seem to be left behind despite their home country's progress. The social exclusion of these people – not always minorities, and not always in poor or undemocratic countries – has costly economic, political and social consequences, according to a new report from the World Bank.  

For example, the report notes that in Uganda where electricity coverage is low, almost half of respondents from the Buganda ethnic group reported having electricity, compared to less than 5 percent of the minority Lugbara and Ngakaramajong ethnic groups. Some excluded groups have been denied opportunities for hundreds of years, such as Native Americans in the United States.

It also points out that poverty and exclusion are not the same. In some societies, even the rich can be excluded, as might
be the case with wealthy homosexual men in some African countries.

The launch of the report, titled “Inclusion Matters”, was held on 27 January 2014 in Kampala, Uganda alongside a public dialogue on the topic of social inclusion. Tarsis Kabwegyere, the Minister for General Duties in the Office of the Ugandan Prime Minister, and Mary Karoro Okurut, the Ugandan Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, attended the event; notably, Dr. Zac Niringiye, an outspoken former bishop of Kampala West, was among the panelists.

Explaining the concept of social inclusion, the World Bank website said:

Some people – because of personal or group characteristics, such as social status, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation – are mistreated, insulted, and disrespected. These people may either avoid situations that expose them to mistreatment, they may submit to their “fate”, or they may protest against it.  All these responses are cries for inclusion. 

Twitter users joined in the conversation using the hastag #inclusionmatters.

Journalist Henry Lutaaya asked:

Electronic Kasujja noted:

Activist and storyteller Javie Ssozi quoted Niringiye speaking about Uganda:

Mark Keith Muhumuza, a business and financial journalist in Uganda, quoted the report:

Web portal UGO Uganda wrote:

Cedric Anil, a blogger, quoted Minister of General Duties Kabwegyere:

Javie Ssozi questioned the assertion that government has a plan for social inclusion:

As the dialogue concluded, Charles Banda, a digital and new media consultant, wanted to know:

January 19 2014

President: Ugandan Soldiers Killed Fighting in South Sudan

Ugandan troops are fighting alongside South Sudan's President Salva Kiir's troops in the ongoing conflict between government and rebel forces, in what Uganda says is an attempt to protect its many citizens doing business in the the world's newest nation.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni revealed the troops’ involvement as well as that a few Ugandan soldiers have been injured and others killed on 15 January, 2014 while speaking at the 5th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region [ICGLR] on Peace and Security in Luanda, Angola. Rumors had circulated of Uganda's presence in South Sudan, but this was the first time the government had confirmed it. 

The following day, Uganda's two most read newspapers, the government-owned New Vision and the independent Daily Monitor, covered the news on their front pages, but with very different headlines. New Vision's read, “UPDF [Ugandan People's Defence Force] Hit South Sudan Rebels”, while the Daily Monitor printed, “Machar's Fighters Kill UPDF Soldiers”.

Two competing headlines sharing the news of Ugandan troops' involvement in the fighting in South Sudan. Shared on Facebook by Ugandan media personality MC Kats.

Two competing headlines sharing the news of Ugandan troops’ involvement in the fighting in South Sudan. Shared on Facebook by Ugandan media personality MC Kats.

Social media users quickly reacted to the story.

Benjamin Rukwengye wrote on Twitter that the New Vision headline meant to show that victory is more of a priority than the soldiers dying:

Winnie Byanyima, the wife of Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye, tweeted:

On Facebook, Charlotte Kemigyisha wrote:

About 48 hours ago, the Army spokesperson was denying any deaths of UPDF soldiers in Sudan. 24 hours later his Boss H.E. acknowledges death having been suffered on both sides during a cross fire. Question is; next time round, who will I believe?

Readers on both newspapers’ websites also commented on the news.

Peter asked for proof concerning the deaths and injuries on what the president said:

Where is the proof? Just because M7 [Presient Yoweri Museveni] said so does not mean so. Not surprising, this is the quality of today's journalists, particularly NV [New Vision newspaper] being mouth piece of Ug government

Elgon58 asked the president:

It started with the UPDF evacuating ugandans ,then UPDF prividing a safe corridor for ugandans to go home then UPDF guarding important installations in juba and finally UPDF fighting alongside the SPLA..Mr president why didn´t you tell us from the beginning that the UPDF was rushing to give support to the SPLA.Who is going to foot the bill?Why were the kenyans and ethiopians not involved in supporting the SPLA?

Kipunpung'it noted:

Only fools can claim they didn't know UPDF was involved in combat operations in S. Sudan

Bishanga thinks the UPDF soldiers dying in South Sudan are actually being killed by the President indirectly:

Why President Museveni should be actively fighting rebels led by Riek Machar in South Sudan fully knowing that two clans are involved in the figting.Is Museveni fighting the Rebels to create peace or fuel the fighting President Museveni must know that the UPDF Soldiers dying in the War of South Sudan are being killed by him indirectly because he did this to kill soldiers he does not want in the UPDF because I the first instance Museveni deployed these dead soldiers to South Sudan before getting blessing from the Parliament of Uganda.

December 21 2013

Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill Would Jail Gays and Lesbians for Life

The parliament of Uganda overwhelmingly passed a controversial anti-homosexuality bill on December 20, 2013 that would punish gays and lesbians with life in prison in some cases as well as jail anyone who did not report gay people to authorities.

The bill was passed shortly after the socially conservative country's parliament approved an anti-pornography bill that would criminalize clothing that shows a woman's thighs, like mini-skirts. 

Help Stop Uganda anti-gay bill. Image source:

Campaigners tried to stop the anti-homosexuality bill from passing. Image source:

Ugandan member of parliament, David Bahati, who proposed the anti-homosexuality bill back in 2009, re-tabled the bill after removing clauses seeking the death penalty following intense public and international pressure. 

During the parliamentary debate, there was exchange of words between Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, after the prime minister argued that the parliament did not meet the minimum number of members present to hold the vote. 

The law is now awaiting president's signature. The president has less than two months to sign the bill into the law, or to send it back to the floor of parliament for amendment.

Below is a short roundup of reactions online:

Frank Mugisha, the leader of Sexual Minorities Uganda, an organisation that fights for gay rights, tweeted:

Ugandan BBC radio journalist, Alan Kasujja, was optimistic:

LGBT activist Pepe Julian Onziema pointed out a situation in which the bill can be passed without the president's signature:

Amaka Okechukwu was disheartened by the bill:

@EJS noted:

However, James Howlett‏ celebrated after hearing the news:

A reader on the Daily Monitor website, EJS, commented:

Ridiculous! Ban on homosexuality and mini-skirts. NO WONDER THIS IS ONE OF THE WORLD'S LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES!!! Lol (MPs; get a real job and stop stealing tax payers money!)

Another reader, John Buluma, said that there are more serious issues that should be focused on, like corruption, rather than homosexuality:

This just confirms that Uganda is the worst place to be gay on earth. Why focus on none [sic] issues when they country is decaying with corruption?

November 22 2013

Global Voices Meetup in Kampala, Uganda

gv-meetup-logo-gvmeetup-400Our third Global Voices Meetup will take place in Kampala, Uganda on November 23, 2013 at the Hive Colab.

This Meetup is especially targeted at the hundreds of Rising Voices microgrant applicants from across Uganda. Over the past three years, we received the most number of applications from East Africa, including from all corners of Uganda. We hope that this Meetup will help facilitate connections.

The Meetup will bring together many of these community members to share their experiences and help facilitate connections between others that share similar interests or missions. Hosted by two of our community members Maureen Agena (@maureenagena) and Rosebell (@RosebellK), as well as other GV volunteers, the gathering will focus on:

  • Explaining the work of Global Voices, Rising Voices, Advox, and Lingua, and how the Ugandan community can get involved,
  • Exploring new ways that local community can support each other by sharing skills and resources and discussing projects and ideas,
  • Discussing how social media can be used in their work, including personal experience from attendees.

Since the focus of this meetup is primarily for past microgrant applicants, the invitation was initally sent to these groups, and all of the slots are filled. 

Follow the event through Twitter via #GVMeetup and for more information, please contact: rising [at]

RESULTS: Uganda's First Ever Social Media Awards

The first ever Uganda Social Media Awards (SMAs) took place on 15 November 2013 at The Hub, Oasis Mall in Kampala, Uganda.

Social Media Awards 2013 banner.

Social Media Awards 2013 banner.

The objectives of the awards, which were organised by BluFlamingo, were:

The Uganda SMA’s (Social Media awards) is Uganda’s first event that seeks to bring together individuals and organizations that are at the frontline when it comes to using social media for entertainment, change, sharing of ideas, creating communities and talking to customers online.

The awards seek to reward those individuals and organizations that are making a concerted effort to harness the power of social media to engage and build communities online. From avid face-bookers to twitter personalities and passionate bloggers.

This first of a kind event will be held on November 15th 2013 and will bring together not just the digitally aware, but also corporate organizations at the forefront of new media and those who have contributed to the growth of social media in Uganda.

The winners of different categories were:

Best Entertainment website – BigEye
Best Entertainment individual writer – Moses Serugo
Best blogger – Beewol

Corporate – MTN Uganda

News & info company – NTV Uganda
News & info individuals – Songa Stone

Civil service – Kampala Capital City Authority
Best innovation – Matatu
Best customer care – Airtel Uganda

Social justice – Barefoot lawyers Uganda
Crisis management award – National Water and Sewerage Corporation
Best media outlet print – The Red Pepper

Best media outlet radio – Power FM
Best media outlet TV – NTV Uganda
Celebrity – Anne Kansiime

Photography – Echwalu Photography
Best social media campaign – 40 days & 40 smiles
Judge’s choice – Proggie Uganda

The winners were nominated through online public voting and later selected by a panel of five judges.

October 31 2013

Meetup with Global Voices!

gv-logo-below-square-144You may feel as if Global Voices community members are already longtime friends after being a regular reader of their posts and translations highlighting the online conversation in their countries. Perhaps you may also follow them on Twitter or are familiar with their digital projects and activities. Certainly these virtual connections can help make the world feel like a smaller place, but there is still something elemental about offline interactions that can only help strengthen these online bonds.

Throughout the months of November and December, we are organizing six global in-person ‘meetups’ led and facilitated by Global Voices members, who live and know those local communities.

However, these gatherings are much more than networking social events. They are opportunities for knowledge sharing, skills building, and future collaboration among peers who share similar missions.

Perhaps you have an idea for a citizen media outreach project and you want to find potential partners. Or you may want to learn new strategies for digital storytelling for a global audience. You can also learn more about Global Voices’ work and how to become a volunteer. These and much more may be a part of the half-day program.

The six cities for this first round of meet ups are:

Karachi, Pakistan – November 1, 2013
Cairo, Egypt – November 16, 2013
Kampala, Uganda – November 16, 2013
Skopje, Macedonia – November 30, 2013
Porto, Portugal – December 14, 2013
Phonm Penh, Cambodia – To be announced

These meetups are free to attend, but RSVPs are required. With each meetup, we will publish a post, as well as a Facebook Event invite with more details on how to sign up and the proposed agenda. This post will also be updated with these details. Special invitations will also be sent to previous applicants from our Rising Voices microgrant competitions, many of which come from these cities.

We're also launching a hashtag – #GVMeetup to follow along even if you one of these meetups are not scheduled for your city.

These six meetups are part of a pilot project to explore ways that our vast Global Voices community in all corners of the world can help facilitate peer learning and exchange among readers and other individuals and organizations in the field of citizen media. We hope to build upon this experience for more meetups in 2014!

In the meantime, for more information please write to rising [at] globalvoicesonline [dot] org

October 07 2013

Follow AfricaHackTrip Online

A group of developers and designers from Europe who are curious about the emerging African tech hubs are on hack trip of the continent.

Check out their blog or Tumblr and follow discussion about the trip on Twitter.

July 30 2013

Ugandans Take Digs at Kenya's Bestiality Trend on Twitter

A recent news report that claimed bestiality is increasing among Kenyans has unleashed a volley of mocking from neighboring Ugandans on Twitter.

IQ4News, an online journalism organisation that produces news and analysis on Africa, reported on 25 July, 2013, the story of the supposed emerging trend in Kenya. The report said:

First it was at the port city of Mombasa, famed for tourism, where eleven women, including two university students were found having sex with dogs. Then a famous businessman in Tigania was nabbed by police for raping a cow.

It did not end there. Hardly a day passes without a Kenyan man found in a steamy moment with an animal, with the latest being the Nyeri saga where a man has been charged in court for sleeping with a hen and Murang’a where four men were caught having sex with a donkey in turns on Wednesday.

The man in the hen saga was caught by his 10-year old son who alerted his brother, the owner of the hen, who later reported him to the police. Police said they are seeking the services of the veterinarians to establish the cause the hens’ death.

Following the reports, some Ugandans used the hashtag #KenyansAndAnimals to make fun of Kenyans. Other non-Ugandan tweeters have also joined the discussion.

Helen Hasyanut (@hasyanut) remarked:

Swittie Hanks (@SwittieHanks) noted:

He is not allowed (‏@HeIsNotAllowed) pointed out that:

Edgar (@EdgarKW) wrote:

Replying to Allan Ssenyonga's tweet (@ssojo81Andima), Jeff (@andsjeff), a Ugandan computer scientist, wrote:

A Ugandan architect student Marvin EL Smull (@smull_El) joked:

SonOfFate (@katsiotho) made a humorous reference to Noah's ark:

Chronicles of Uchiha (@arnold_cle) wrote:

Silver Eyakoowa (@silwaxxy) made a religious comment:

Kenyans replied with their tweets to the Ugandans:

Kenyan investigative journalist Dennis Okari (@DennisOkari)

Lely Netso (@LNetso) advised Ugandans:

Louse Wanjiru (@Loiseshish) tweeted:

Freelance journalist Maxon airo (@Maxonairo) said that Ugandans have finally learnt how to tweet:

*Thumbnail image released under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) by Wikipedia user Jjron (John O'Neill).

June 26 2013

Ugandan Army Whistleblower Vows to Oppose President ‘By Any Means Necessary’

Renegade Ugandan General David Sejusa accused President Yoweri Museveni during an interview on BBC Focus on Africa of creating a “political monarchy” to hang on to power.

General Sejusa aka General Tinyefuza fled to the UK last month after claiming that Museveni, who has ruled over the East African country for more than 20 years, was grooming his son Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba to succeed him. Kainerugaba has denied that Uganda is a “political monarchy” and that his father will hand the reins of power to him.

The general's assertions played a part in the shutter of two newspapers by police in May 2013 after they reported on a controversial letter written by Sejusa, who is the country's coordinator of intelligence services, to the head of the counter intelligence agency asking for an investigation into allegations that opponents of the alleged grooming plan, known as the Muhoozi Project, are targeted for assassination.

In the BBC interview, Sejusa vowed to resist the president “by any means necessary.”

A satirical depiction of General Sejusa and President Museveni by @whatsupafrica. Image source: What's Up Africa Facebook page.

A satirical depiction of General Sejusa (left) and President Museveni by @whatsupafrica. Image source: What's Up Africa Facebook page.

The general's choice words have many people talking online.

Citizen journalist Maureen Agena (@maureenagena) was worried that the issue, widely discussed on the Internet, would prompt the government to monitor social media sites:

@maureenagena: This Sejusa noise is going to make the Ugandan Gov”t [sic] think of monitoring social media again….Lol. They usually rise up to the occasion.

Photo journalist Echwalu Photography (@echwalu) disputed rumors circulating in Uganda that the BBC Uganda office was closed over Sejusa's interview:

@echwalu: BBC #Uganda Offices are not closed. I repeat, BBC Uganda offices are not closed. Whatever rumor going around is just hot air.#Sejusa

The rumour was published on Uganda Picks news website. The website has a reputation for unprofessional behavior. Its Twitter account has been suspended. It's unclear if the suspension is related to the BBC story or other stories. Journalist and blogger Grace Natabaalo (@natabaalo) wrote:

@natabaalo: The search is on for Jane Nambi, author of the story on @ugandapicks alleging that BBC offices in Kampala were closed over Sejusa interview

Kenyan journalist Solomon Mugera (@smugera) wanted to know if Sejusa could face the death penalty for being absent without leave from the army:

@smugera: #Sejusagate, still in uniform, absent without leave for >21 days = death sentence?

Human rights activist and blogger Masake Anthony (@masakeonline) pointed out the Ugandan military says he could face the death penalty:

@masakeonline: @smugera: In #Sejusagate #Uganda military says Gen. David #Sejusa cd [could] face death sentence for being absent from work for more than 21 days

red pepper

Rep Pepper Offices were closed after the publication of a controversial letter written by Gen. Sejusa. Photo from Official Red Pepper Facebook Page.

Ofwono Opondo (@OfwonoOpondo), Ugandan government spokesperson, believes that Sejusa will fizzle out soon:

@OfwonoOpondo: @jobaze People, don't get excited Gen. Sejusa will fizzle out very soon as he won't return to BBC in the near future

He also claimed that Gen. Sejusa is merely seeking asylum in the UK:

@OfwonoOpondo: The reason Sejusa went to BBC was announce his hostility to create safe ground to be offered asylum.

Some netizens compared the general to American whistleblower Edward Snowden, whom they call “Sejusa of America.” Snowden was the man behind revelations of a widespread Internet spying program of the United States government.

Ashaba Ahebwa (@AshabaAhebwa1), a relief worker based in Denmark, noted:

@AshabaAhebwa1: @david Sejusa is to #Uganda as @edward Snowden is to #USA. Look at the #similarities,#Contrasts and the #Dramas

Whiplash (@whiplash) observed the differences between the two:

@whiplash: Sejusa writes a letter, he's loved. Snowden exposes Obama Admin, his passport is revoked and now more wanted than [Ugandan warlord] Joseph Kony.

May 28 2013

Human Rights Activists Hone Digital Skills in 2013 Empowerment Lab

Eleven international human rights activists learned new digital skills and shared experiences in this year's Empowerment Lab in Florence, Italy.

The week-long training program organized by The Robert F. Kennedy Training Institute seeks to empower digital activists who face growing threats of freedom of expression.

Nilantha Ilangamuwa, an exiled journalist from Sri Lanka, wrote about his experience in the “The Sri Lanka Guardian,” an online newspaper he founded.

Human Rights Defenders at a workshop. Picture taken by the author of this post.

Human rights defenders at a workshop. Picture by Andrea Arzaba.

Nil, as his friends call him, described how he felt when he attended the screening of the documentary “Call me kuchu”, which shows the life-threatening situations that sexual minorities in Uganda experience on a daily basis:

I felt like screaming when I was returning to the place where I was staying, after spending hours watching a documentary on homophobia in Uganda. Uganda is one of the countries in the world, which continuously contributes to nightmares of human in the pages of world’s history.

LGBT activist Frank Mugisha, one of the Lab's participants, appears in the documentary.

Nilantha also shared some of the compelling conversations he had with fellow human rights defenders on issues like social change and censorship in developing nations:

What we are seeing in many countries categorized as “developing nations”, is the common reality of suffering! Institutional collapse! Loss of hope of life while accepting that “social change” is impossible. This is the most common tragedy that we can observer [sic] in our motherlands. In our society, desire to fight against absolute power has been opposed by the culture of silence.

Renowned Italian journalist Luca de Biase wrote a short post for Medium where he expresses how important it is to not take democracy for granted in the western world:

In Florence, at the RKF Training Institute, activists teach us to love our democracy

Luca de Biase also reflected on what he learned from meeting and talking to the international digital activists at the RFK Training Institute:

But as activists learn what can help them in their non-violent fight, we the people living in the “democratic West” are going to learn as much from them. Democracy is not a given, it is a process: and we need to maintain it, we need to care about it. Activists from all over the world help their people. But they also help us.

Digital activism workshops for human rights defenders, held in Florence. Picture taken by the author of this post

Digital activism workshops for human rights defenders, held in Florence. Picture by Andrea Arzaba.

Nilantha finished his blog post with a quote that expresses the way he felt when he left the workshop:

Let us unite, as Gloria Reuben, a well-known Hollywood actress pointed out; to make the world for the people who have no space to raise their voice, whose rights have been buried in the slum of absolute power and injustice. Let us sing our song of rights among the communities where people can come up with fresh ideas to change the society currently controlled by the tyrant. It will wipe out our sorrows, and tears of sadness while generating a hope in hapless souls.

You can read the Lab's official blog posts at

May 25 2013

Ugandan Police Raid Two Newspapers Over General's Controversial Letter

Ugandan police have shut down two newspapers after they reported on a letter written by the country's  coordinator of intelligence services to the head of the counter intelligence agency asking for an investigation into a plan to groom the eldest son of President Yoweri Museveni to succeed the 27-year leader.

The Red Pepper and the Daily Monitor were shuttered on 20 May, 2013 and armed police agents placed outside the buildings. The closure of the Daily Monitor also affected two radio stations, 90.4 Dembe FM and 93.3 KFM, which are located in the same building in the Namuwonga suburb of Uganda's capital city of Kampala.

The police claim that the closure of these media houses was to search for the letter from General David Sejusa a.k.a Tinyefunza. The letter refers to the plan, known as the Muhoozi Project, to have Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba to take over for his father and calls for an investigation into allegations that opponents of the plan are targeted for assassination.

General David Sejusa is currently in United Kingdom. He has written to Speaker of Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, asking for three months’ leave from Parliament, where he is army representative, to complete his unfinished business in London.

red pepper

Rep Pepper Offices closed. Photo from Official Red Pepper Facebook Page.

Police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba has also accused the publications of scanning government officials’ signatures to forge documents.

So for these reasons the government has claimed, police have had to search the entire premises including the production plants. The computer servers, radio transmitters, and printing machines were all turned off on the arrival of police.

Both publications continue to occupied by police. A court hearing has been set for 30 May in which the Daily Monitor will argue that the order for them to produce the original letter should be cancelled.

Many Ugandans consider the siege as abuse of the law and misuse of Uganda's police force. Rumors also started circulating on social media sites that the government was planning on closing down Facebook and Twitter in Uganda, but the Minister of Information Mary Karoro Okurut said these were false.

Following the shutdown, Ugandans have taken to social media sites to comment on the action by the government, some supporting the move while others saying the government is interfering with press freedom and freedom of speech.

The Daily Monitor (@DailyMonitor) warned:

@DailyMonitor: State should stop muzzling free press – Monitor Editors #Dailymonitor……

Red Pepper (@RedPepper) wrote:

@RedPepper: RED PEPPER SIEGE: apparently, Unless the Controversial tinyefuza [Gen. David Tinyefunza] letter is found, We shall remain closed #OccupyRedPepper #OccupyMonitor

Commenting on a story appearing on the Daily Monitor website, netizen Tommy wanted someone to tell the president that Ugandans are tired of his regime:

Will anyone patriotic remind M7 [President Yoweri Museveni] that Ugadans [sic] are fed up?

Another reader, Alex Kahanga, wrote:

Press Freedom in Uganda, like all other spheres of life have gone to the dogs. Lets just lay, and watch the rot.

Police at Daily Monitor's Production Plant. Photo from Daily Monitor's Official Facebook page.

Police at Daily Monitor's Production Plant. Photo from Daily Monitor's Official Facebook page.

Godfrey Wanzusi wondered how a letter can cause the government to act in such a manner:

That's the nakedness of M7 [President Yoweri Museveni] and his boys in defence, security organs and government. They're doing more harm than good to M7 by harassing the press before the international image. Just a letter has caused this commotion, this brings people to conclude that the content contained in the letter was true and it has unsettled M7 and his plotters, thus why? he has remained quiet to dispute the content of the letter.

disqus_S7K0rqnCHo supported the police siege:

Really, I dont think there is any cause for alarm. Police anywhere in the world are free to check whatever is suspected of any criminal issues. I think it is a normal process.

kiapi@40KFreddie noted that the siege is in violation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Commonwealth Singapore Declaration:

The gov't is using the State security agencies to gang the press especially those that they deem to be lenient to the opposition all because of a letter written by one of their own is a step back to the dark days of the 1980′s of which they people in leadership fought against but now are doing the same, it call us all to condemn such acts and the days of such are long gone. the Monitor publication just like others are just a message and not the author, let them wait for the author and them ask him about the letter. This in violation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Commonwealth Singapore Declaration of Principles of which the GoU is a signatory too.

Kule J. Warren observed that closing down the media houses is pushing the public to believe that the letter is genuine:

Why is the regime police acting this way? We are now forced to believe that Muhoozi Project is real. Besieging Monitor will not solve the problem. Focus on keeping law and order and not being agents of lawlessness. Monitor, you will live up to the test. You have weathered more of these

Olum S. warned that the siege is a sign of what is to come. He also rephrased the Ugandan Motto, “For God And My Country,” to “For God And Our Stomach”:

And? What is so surprising about that? This is only but a taste of what's to come. Expect much more of the same the longer these thugs hold on to power. With a lot more brutality added in as well, just in case any of you thought you were exempt from all that. For God and Our Stomach

Gaetano Kagwa (@gaetanokagwa), former Big Brother Africa housemate and media personality, joked:

@gaetanokagwa: I wonder how long it will now be before the Government of #Uganda looks for the #Twitter Off switch. #Sejusa #PressFreedom

Kiyonga (@kinyongaismael) asked:

@kinyongaismael: Kfm off air. Shut down on orders from above. Where is the freedom of speech they have always claimed? #Sejusa

Arinaitwe Rugyendo (@RugyendoQuotes), editor at Red Pepper, joked about the situation:

@RugyendoQuotes: The cops who attacked Daily Monitor were looking @kalinaki [Kalinaki is a famous political writer in Uganda and former chief editor at the Daily Monitor]. those who went to Red Pepper were looking for The Hyena [Hyena is a daily sex feature appearing on Red Pepper newspaper]. #OccupyRedPepper

Red Pepper journalist Ambrose (@since_1986) wrote on the initial day of the police raid:

@since_1986: I have not even had a glass of water since morning.cops everywhere. #occupyRedPepper For heavens sake Tinye [the alleged author of the letter] is not in my computer.

GudderGudder (@zanckydenis) warned President Museveni:

@zanckydenis: #SomeoneTellMuseveOfUg that even in Tunisia,Libya and Egypt social media and media were shut down but the revolution went on. #OccupyMonitor

Power at the Daily Monitor premises went off during the siege on May 20, 2013. National Power Supplier UMEME made a statement that they were doing maintenance work, yet this was not true as Jennifer Okech (@ajokech), an editor at Monitor Publications, tweeted:

@ajokech: Power is off at DailyMonitor. umeme [Electricity in Kiswahili] claims they were jst doing maintenanceReally? Media freedom!!#policeatmonitor

March 27 2013

Exploring New Approaches For Poverty Reduction

Global Voices bloggers have been commissioned to liveblog the OECD Global Forum on Development in Paris on April 4-5, 2013. Leading up to the meeting, our team is submitting posts about development issues that help serve as weekly online discussion topics on their website (#OECDgfd)

Cloth for sale in at market in Ghana

Cloth for sale in Makola Market in Accra, Ghana. Photo by Caroline Beaumont shared by Transaid on flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The quest is on for solutions to poverty reduction with the approach of the 2015 deadline for the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG). Many organizations are exploring new avenues for answers hoping it can lead to fresh ideas. Among the goals agreed to by the international community more than a decade ago was to halve the number of people suffering from hunger, and for the world's poorest citizens to gain productive employment. Most of the targets are far from being met in most countries, but progress has been made, for instance in Sub Saharan Africa where the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day declined from 58% to 51% between 1990 and 2005.

Ideas exchange on the internet

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will hold their annual Global Forum on Development in Paris on April 4-5, 2013. This year, the OECD is exploring more inclusive approaches to tackle the poverty issue by inviting to an open pre-forum discussion online with OECD scholars. All the main conversation topics on the agenda are laid out for everyone to see and contribute.

Another interesting approach to online ideas exchange is hosted by Concerned African Scholars, an organization of scholars and students of Africa. Among the many issues explored is the impact of the hundreds of billions of dollars flowing illicitly out of Africa on the slow progress of poverty reduction. The author, Janvier D. Nkurunziza, suggests one key to bringing down poverty would be “the repatriation of the resources which are currently held abroad and not benefiting the continent.”

Had Africa had not lost so much resources in the form of illicit financial transfers, it is likely that poverty would have been less acute. The logic is that keeping these resources in Africa would have produced higher rates of investment, allowing African countries to invest in productivity enhancing sectors such as infrastructure, creating jobs, and raising incomes, resulting in lower levels of poverty.

In a TEDx talk in UlaanBataar, Mongolia on “Social Media and Poverty Reduction” in September 2012, Robert Reid, the Resident Country Director of the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Mongolia, highlighted the necessity of a broad public participation in poverty reduction projects, stressing the importance of private sector involvement for sustainable development. “It's important that the involvment of the private sector be considered at the beginning of discussions on how to reduce poverty,” he says.

This multistakeholder approach is also a key tenet of the open data movement, which is progressively penetrating the development sphere.

The Uganda Open Development Partnership Platform, a civil society organization-led public initiative, is an example of what open data could bring to the debate on poverty reduction:

Open development is where organisations are using information technologies, among other information sharing channels, to provide and share information. Open development enhances transparency and accountability about resources that are available to be invested in development, how those resources are invested and what results they achieve. In the end, all the stakeholders involved in this information sharing chain; the data owners and users benefit from this mutually reinforcing ecosystem

March 10 2013

The State of Torture in the World in 2013

On January 23, 2013, an excerpt from the annual report of l'ACAT-France, A World of Torture 2013, makes a fresh assessment of the state of torture in the world [fr]:

“A report called A World of Torture in 2013, assesses torture practices that continue to be alarming, from Pakistan to Italy, by way of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Bolivia. From authoritarian regimes to democratic countries, none are exempt from criticism on the topic. In 2013, torture remains as endemic, omnipresent and multi-faceted as ever”.

February 20 2013

[Webcast] Thoughts On The Fallout from Kony 2012

Every Tuesday, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society hosts a public lunch gathering in our conference room in Boston. Each session involves a short presentation by a guest speaker or one of our community members, talking about a challenge that emerges from his or her current work. We are excited to partner with Global Voices to bring these presentations to a wider audience.

Title: The Next 27 Minutes Are An Experiment: Thoughts On The Fallout from Kony 2012
Date: February 19, 12:30pm ET
Presenter: Ruha Devanesan, Executive Director of the Internet Bar Organization and Berkman Fellow

On March 5th, 2012, the American nonprofit, Invisible Children, published a video called “Kony 2012″ on the social video-sharing network, Youtube. Within six days, the video was dubbed the “most viral video in history,” beating out pop artists Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Beyonce’s music videos in how quickly it hit 100 million views. Much has been written on the Kony 2012 phenomenon by journalists, bloggers and academics. My aim in this talk is to only briefly summarize their thoughts and my own on the successes and failures of the initial Kony 2012 campaign, but then, more importantly, to explore the way in which Invisible Children has responded to criticism and adapted its messaging, and to ask what lessons can be learned by the human rights advocacy community from Kony 2012 and Invisible Children's subsequent actions.

About Ruha

Ruha is the Executive Director of the Internet Bar Organization, a nonprofit organization working to improve access to justice through technology through applied research in the fields of Online Dispute Resolution, mobile technology for dispute resolution, ICT4D, ICT4Peace and digital-economic inclusion for individuals in emerging economies. In her capacity as Executive Director, she has led the design and implementation of several tech-focused social justice initiatives, of which PeaceTones is her personal favorite. The PeaceTones Initiative helps talented, unknown artists from developing nations build their careers while giving back to their communities. Through PeaceTones, Ruha and her team are looking to rework the traditional record label into something more fair to the artist, while teaching musicians the legal, marketing and technology skills they need to succeed as social entrepreneurs of their own making.


January 14 2013

Kony's LRA Kills Villagers in Yalinga, Central African Republic

While the Central African Republic awaits a new prime minister [fr] after the peace talks in Libreville, the army reports that Joseph Kony and the Lord Resistance Army LRA have killed three people [fr] near the village of Yalinga. The reports adds that a 12 year old girl was also kidnapped by the rebels.

January 04 2013

Uganda in 2012: 50 Years of Independence and Africa's Youngest MP

2012 was one of the happiest years in Uganda's history. Sweet memories range from Ugandans electing Africa's youngest Member of Parliament to the country's 50 year independence celebrations.

But 2012 was not so good for soccer lovers as Uganda failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations taking place this month in South Africa.

Let's look at some issues and events which created buzz on the internet in Uganda.

The Uganda At 50 Official Logo

Uganda Marks 50 years of Independence:

On 9 October 2012, Uganda marked 50 years of Independence with a spectacular event at the Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala. The event involved an air show around the country where three jets painted the skies Black, Yellow, Red - official National colours. The celebrations even got an official song, Yoga Yoga, which was a collaborative effort by some of Uganda's leading musicians. Later the song sparked discussion online as the artists failed to agree on who owned the song.

Kiprotich wins Gold medal at the Olympics:

Stephen Kiprotich. Used with Permission from

With a record 2:08:01, Ugandan runner Stephen Kiprotich won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Delighted by the victory, many Ugandans switched to Kiprotich's winning image as their profile picture on Facebook. This was Uganda's second gold medal since 1972. Kiprotich got a hero-like welcome when he came back from the Olympics and received over $4million in gifts from different individuals and companies.

Hon. Alengot. Photo used with permission from

Uganda Elects Africa's Youngest Member of Parliament:

Usuk County in Eastern Uganda elected 19 year-old Proscovia Alengot Oromait as their MP. She won the election with 11,059 votes thus replacing her late father who had died earlier in 2012. This story got much attention online and offline as well as many people were asking whether Hon. Alengot was ready for such responsibility, while others believed in her and congratulated her.

King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi's Child Out of Wedlock:

On Tuesday January 17, 2012 the Buganda Kingdom in Uganda announced the birth of a second son of their King (Kabaka), Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II. Buganda celebrated when the news was released. However, the announcement did not come without controversy because the King duly wed in church in 1999 to Slyvia Nagginda, the Nabagereka (the Queen) of Buganda, which means Prince Ssemakokiro Richard, was born out of wedlock.

Kabaka Mutebi and Prince Ssemakkokiro. Photo source: the official Buganda Kingdom website.

Uganda LGBT Comunity held Frist Gay Pride Events

Early August 2012, the LGBT community held a series of events at Entebbe including a beach party. Jamaican LGBT activist Maurice Tomlinson was honored as the grand marshal of the event. In spite of widespread homophobia on part of Ugandan politicians and the public, the event was reportedly well attended. Ugandan police raided the event and detained LGBT activists who were later released.

Anonymous hacks Government Websites

A screen shot of the hacked website of the Ugandan Prime Minister.

International hactivist group known as Anonymous hacked the website of the Prime Minister of Uganda and the database of the Uganda Justice Law and Order Society in support of Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights activists.

They took control of the website of the Prime Minister posting photos of Uganda's first Gay Pride events, an official recognition of Gay Pride Week and a formal apology to gay people from the Prime Minister. It also revealed encrypted administration passwords for Uganda's Justice Law and Order Society.

Uganda Bloggers Meet Up:

Ugandan bloggers got to meet and discuss the future of blogging in Uganda and how to connect to the larger network of Global Voices and Rising Voices. They agreed, among other things, to create a Facebook group and a blog that aggregates all blogs in Uganda.

December 30 2012

New GV e-book: African Voices of Hope and Change

Here is a perfect gift to salute the new year: our new e-book dedicated to Africa's Sub-Saharan region. “African Voices of Hope and Change,”  gives you an intimate perspective into the stories and people of Sub-Saharan Africa through our best English-language posts from 2012. From a total of about 800 posts produced over the year from the region, we hand-picked 13 posts to feature from Senegal, Uganda, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mauritania, Kenya, Angola and other countries.

African Voices of Hope & ChangeYou are welcome to download it here. You can even send a copy (in PDF, ePub or Mobipocket format) to your relatives or friends across the world, maybe as a present for their donation to GV. Most important, please spread the word in your global circles, social networks and anywhere you deem fit!

African Voices of Hope and Change is more evidence of the power of we‘, a collective effort focusing on places and people too often ‘forgotten' by mainstream media worldwide, despite Africa’s diverse but promising growth in the upcoming years. As stated in the ebook introduction, “At the start of the new millennium, it felt as though the African continent was essentially written off by the international community… [but] recent statistics suggest that nine of the fastest-growing economies in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

And while many experts actually believe that new technology's most lasting influence will be on a broadening field of education, “also important is the potential for leveraging technology towards a more general transparency and accountability, as shown by initiatives based on social and citizen media for monitoring local elections or making government data available on the Internet.”

Aimed at providing a larger context and fostering the Global Voices mission, this collection of 2012 posts will try to parse out such complex framework and open up the horizon for the upcoming year. These voices tell us about moving forward in hope and change, their accounts reveal a path infused with struggle and collaboration.

Thanks to Mohamed Adel for technical support and to those who variously contributed to articles selected for this new e-book: Afef Abrougui, Ahmed Jedou, Anna Gueye, Eleanor Staniforth, Endalk, James Propa, Kofi Yeboah, Lova Rakotomalala, Nwachukwu Egbunike, Richard Wanjohi, Sara Gold, Sara Moreira, and Ndesanjo Macha.

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