Dr Stella Nyanzi, as she insists to be called in lieu of the fact that she earned her title and degree with years of hard work and study, is a woman who will probably make many people uncomfortable. An academic at Makerere University, her latest battle with the executive director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research, Professor Mahnood Mamdani, has thrown her into a glaring unkind spotlight.
The lines are sharply divided, with some people wholly in support of her actions and others openly condemning her, insisting that she is a disgrace to the University and academic world at large.
Dr Stella Nyanzi’s recent contention began when she was locked out of her office three days ago because she had refused to teach MISR’s doctor of philosophy (PhD) students after allegedly committing in 2012 to teach them. She however shared on her Facebook wall, which will give you a front row seat to all the drama, that her contract did not include teaching.
The MISR executive director, Professor Mahmood Mamdani, also no stranger to social media, posted on his Twitter three days ago that; “Since her appointment at MISR, Dr. Stella Nyanzi has done only private research…So long as she spends her time exclusively on private matters and personal research, MISR can only offer her a seat in at the MISR library. The day she begins teaching in the PhD programme, she will be provided an office by the institution.”
The MISR therefore on the order of their executive director locked Dr Stella Nyanzi out of her office and urged her to make use of the institute’s library to do her private consultancy work. The university’s Vice Chancellor in charge of finance and administration, Professor Barnabas Nawangewe had waded into the matter with a request that the MISR put on hold Dr Stella Nyanzi’s eviction from office.
When her office was shut, Dr Stella Nyanzi therefore deemed it a blatant abuse of her labor rights and promised to fight to her death to have her rights respected. She arrived her office yesterday, chatting with journalists who came around, assuring them; “My brain is sound and works well. I am fighting for my office, my rights. Prof. Mamdani is an oppressor”. Then police officers arrived at the premises and accusing them of being biased and working with her oppressor, Dr Stella Nyanzi began undressing.
According to reports from Ugandan media, she took off her dress and bra, exposing her nudity to the full glare of the public, then said; “My clothes are on the floor. I want my office. You have locked me out with one padlock. Mamdani, I want my office”. Uganda’s Daily Monitor has it that Nyanzi was later allowed access to her office after the undressing episode which she followed up by taking pictures and a video clip of herself which she posted on her Facebook wall, in apparent protest.
Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity State Minister Simon Lokodo has ordered for her arrest. In his words, recorded by Uganda’s New Vision, Lokodo said the lecturer went overboard; “Even if she was offended by anybody, she behaved indecently. I condemn it in the strongest words possible and have directed police to arrest her. She must be brought to book”.
Under Uganda’s laws, Dr Nyanzi will be charged under the Anti-Pornography Act and if found guilty, she will get a two-year jail sentence or a fine of 500 currency points, or both. Her supporters still stay singing her praises and commending her for taking action while others who believe that she behaved disgracefully are hoping she is excused from the University to avoid her denting it’s reputation further. Which side are you on?