[By Rabba Naga, the senior Ugandan freedom struggle leader operating from within the Museveni camp – 02/04/2017]
I had decided to pretend am not hearing the Stella Nyanzi Janet Museveni discourse, yes, discourse, because that is what it is. But of a different type.
But later, I decided to briefly comment when I saw Janet Museveni, perhaps not surprising, play the way Stella wanted her to play by sacking her from her job etc.!
Many are amused as why Stella Nyanzi writes that way. I see many calling her names, mad, gay, etc., my mind tells me Stella Nyanzi is none of all those. She is sane and intelligent.
What am not sure is whether she, herself understands that what she is doing is a well-practiced method of political revolt employed throughout history. And I watched poor Janet Museveni wondering why Stella hates her etc., and saying she forgave her. Janet, like most people are preoccupied with the words used but don’t know that Stella’s method of resistance is called vulgar politics.
Vulgarity in politics is a rejection of the established political and social order. It is the overt way of rejecting the set social conventions normally set by society. It is the rejection of the so called civilised discourse whose content and usage is normally set and controlled by those with the power. Be that power wielded by the state or the church or elders etc. The bottom-line is that they are social norms used by those with authority to keep in check those they rule over.
Hence, throughout history, vulgar politics has been employed in the fight against the powerful. vulgar politics is very effective and hard to ignore. Indeed, it is an effective political tool for the oppressed.
What suprised me was seeing Mr Museveni using it like in that video where he tells his audience to “go eat their mothers something something…” Vulgar politics does not serve well those in power. It depicts them in bad light.
Yet, for the oppressed like Stella Nyanzi, it serves them well because they lure you in their trap. You cannot ignore them. And because its nasty, ugly and mean, it gets under the skin of those with authority. It provokes their raw nerves and they overreact. Its piecing. As brutal as hot lead! So, it is an effective symbol of people’s revolt.
In days preceding the French revolution, and even after, you see plenty of vulgar revolutionary rhetoric, extreme jacobinian malicious abuses etc. Maria Antoinette was ridiculed. Referred to as Austrian bitch. She was shown in cartoons as an ostrich-like penis, with legs and saddle etc.
Therefore, vulgar politics should not be merely looked at with moral lenses. It is a political tool imbued with violent revolutionary traits and totally at variance with the common pragmatist liberal ideas of political dissent. Like one writer once put it, being politically “…mean and nasty and cruel is just like guillotines….”
I doubt the Museveni oligarchy even understand what is happening, thus the Janet Museveni attempt to forgive Nyanzi. In a rebellion, people don’t seek for your forgiveness nor your understanding. Neither are they afraid of the consequences. So, your usual methods may not be effective after all.