By Stella Nyanzi
Winnie… I am thinking of my passionate love-hate sentiments towards Winnie Mandela and Winnie Byanyima. These Winnies are a bunch of contradictions in themselves.
There is something about the Winnies in the lives of strong African men whose political leadership I respect. I generally admire these women for they are strong characters who sacrifice immensely for their situatedness at the crossroads between being public political wives, and also deeply close family pillars. They constantly have to negotiate every personal move under the harsh scrutiny of disenfranchised peoples. Their strength is often also their greatest undoing.
When our votes were stolen and our bitter hearts were crying out for arms in order to fight for our liberation from Museveni, Dr. Kizza Besigye preached non-violent protest to us and assured us that armed violence was not the route. Out of respect for the people’s president, many of us calmed down our aspirations for mutinous civil warfare, abandoned violence and instead chose peaceful defiance.
A few months later, Akena was violently murdered with a gun for nothing really, Kanyamunyu arrested on suspicion for the violence, and Dr. Besigye’s Winnie is standing surety for Kanyamunyu. Granted, bail is a constitutional right. Granted Winnie is family to Kanyamunyu. But the contradiction herein is that Winnie is standing with the violent in this specific case, yet her husband has been preaching non-violence at us. Winnie, wife of our non-violence crusader is siding with a man accused of the wreckless violent murder of another Ugandan.
How does non-violent Besigye sleep in the same bed with this violent Winnie? How does non-violent Besigye enter the tough pants of violent Winnie? How does non-violent Besigye mount violent Winnie? What does Winnie’s public stance with the man accused of violently murdering Akena do to our young and fragile non-violence movement of defiance that Besigye is building? If Besigye could not convince his Winnie about non-violence, why should we trust his non-violence pokopoko???
See? I told you I love-hate Winnie!