Education

Vaginas come with brains, Nyanzi admires Prof Tamale

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Prof. Sylvia Tamale [M] in a gown

Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) research fellow, Dr Stella Nyanzi, has heaped praises on Prof. Sylvia Tamale, the first female professor to give an inaugural lecture at Makerere University entitled her talk “Nudity, Protest and the Law”.

A queer laughist, writer and critique from the non-core academia, Nyanzi celebrates Prof. Tamale for opening the way for more female professors at Makerere University.

“Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! She was also the first female Dean of Law at Makerere University. Prof. Sylvia Tamale is a trail blazer,” Nyanzi wrote on her social media, Facebook page.

Sylvia Rosila Tamale is an academic, and human rights activist, also the first woman dean in the Law Faculty at Makerere University.

Tamale has been a visiting professor at the African Gender Institute of the University of Cape Town and a visiting scholar at the University of Wisconsin. In 2003, she was condemned by Ugandan conservatives for proposing that gay men and lesbians be included in the definition of “minority”.

Tamale was the dean of the Faculty of Law and Jurisprudence at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, from 2004 to 2008.

On Friday 28 October 2016, she was the first Ugandan professor to give her inauguration lecture.

Entitled Nudity, Protests and the Law, it was inspired by the nude protest of Stella Nyanzi at Makerere University, earlier that year.

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“But how the fucking hell is it possible that Makerere – the oldest university in Uganda has never had a vagina-carrying human being giving an inaugural lecture?” Nyanzi set out.

She added: How many vaginas live in Uganda? Don’t these vaginas come with brains? How many vaginas have studied or taught at Makerere University? And only one vagina delivered an inaugural lecture today on the last Friday of October 2016, after decades upon decades of this glorious university existing? Fucking hell!”

Nyanzi said one day, her very own vagina should deliver another inaugural lecture at the great Makerere University.

“I mean, we can’t allow our vaginas to only be fucked at the university. One day, my vagina will give another inaugural lecture at this tower of misogyny. In the meantime, I will stop shaving my pubic hair until the day that my own inaugural lecture will be delivered. So help me God!”

Nyanzi says she is glad Tamale refers to her twice in the first two pages – as her friend.

“It is special to be Sylvia’s friend. I mean: how many friends can one inspire to give professorial inaugural lectures? This does not happen often.”

Nyanzi says she is now on a mission to inspire more respectable feminists to start thinking about the respectability within their feminist praxis and how this craving for propriety makes them impotent.

“It is not everyday that one’s actions cause a professor to unlearn and relearn. It is rare that simple individuals such as myself inspire professorial thinking and writing! We must celebrate this, Noosim.”

Tamale writes: “When Nyanzi stripped to her knickers, she did not breach any written law!”

Nyanzi says the books people read, movies they watch, music they listen to and experiences they live through shape their weapons of combat, and how they respond to other people’s contestation against oppressive forms of power.

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Dr Stella Nyanzi

“Tanga Odoi does not know that naked adult bodies are powerful weapons. Miria Matembe sees a woman’s nude body as a symptom of mental illness. Wangari Maathai went before me. The mothers whose lands were threatened cursed Aronda with their bared bodies. Simon Lokodo thinks that only adult Karamajongs have a constitutional and moral right to walk around naked.”

She adds: “President Museveni is the adult naked Emperor without clothes. Barbara Allimadi knows that women can contest against police brutality using their naked bodies. Solome Kayondo celebrated the power of nude protest, without anybody prompting her. Kizza Besigye and Ingrid Turinawe defended me. Sarah Ssali, Sarah Kiguli, Sharifah Buzeki, Josephine Ahikire, et al.”

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