The Swamp logo

How Uganda reshaped activism in Africa

A new face for the African youth

By Giorgi MikhelidzePublished 3 years ago 5 min read

Today social activism is considered an important force to protect civil rights and bring innovation to society. Looking at the world nowadays we can certainly say that social activism is more important now than ever and taking part in these activities is politically essential to society. Many famous activists in the world are playing important roles in changing society for good and defending human rights. People make a great effort to improve the social and political environments in their countries but still, sometimes it’s believed that social actions are characteristics more of developed countries like the US and European countries and people in developing countries are believed not to be as active.

However, if we take a closer look at Uganda’s activist environmental, political and social changes, we can see that activism in Africa is no less common compared to developed countries and even more, Ugandan activists work so hard that they even changed the direction of the social environment and related issues in the whole continent of Africa.

Are Ugandan people socially active?

The old, traditional forms of social activities in Uganda have already become a past. Today Ugandan people are not as conformist anymore as they have been and now many things are changing in the civil society of the country. First of all, civic campaigns and protests are becoming more and more creative and original. For example, back in 2014, a youth protest movement named the Jobless brotherhood made a great impact on society and increased public attention. They protested in the streets against the government’s failure to improve problems related to youth unemployment and actually change the lives of many people as a consequence.

This is just one example of creative activism in Uganda. Those activists have inspired so many people and as a result, they completely reshaped the social and economic landscape in the country. Not only the youth and not only the people who vitally need to bring some changes to the society but sometimes even some corporations take part in these activities and try to raise the awareness of the public. For example, another group that has tried to change the lives of people in the African continent are Forex brokers in Uganda. It may sound weird but they actually try to enlighten people and help them realize to free themselves from the monopoly of the government. They believe that taking part in the foreign exchange market is a good way for doing so, which is why these brokers are calling for people to start trading and take part in the economic growth of Uganda.

But also, there have been some other inspirational youth campaigns In Uganda that made history and had great influence over the African continent and its civil society. One more example of this is a young activist Stella Nyanzi and her challenging so-called pair of buttocks campaign. Girls’ involvement in the education system has always been a problem in African countries. The main reason for this is the poverty and restricted sanitary options which is why girls often have to miss school. Not surprisingly, Nyanzi was arrested once she started creating public movements and arranged protests in the streets and the reason was offending the president. However, her campaign raised a great number of funds and finally deserved appreciation from the government. Now her message for the “pair of buttocks” has become a widely popular protest symbol which was even used at several civil events in the United States against Donald Trump.

These examples are clear indicators that the civil spirit in the African countries is still alive, pushing a great part of the society to start making actual changes and bring some innovation to African society. One thing is certain, the old style of civil life today faces great challenges and the new face of activism will probably change the conformist forms of organizing social lives. But what is more important is that the struggle for social justice has spread from Uganda across the whole African continent and has had a great impact on the thinking and decision-making process of lots of people.

Freedom of expression in Africa

Currently, it is believed that Africa faces a completely new era of political activism. A few decades ago it was almost unimaginable that an African woman would run for the presidency of her country. But now the situation has changed and many successful women in the continent play important roles in society and sometimes even manage the social, political, or economic environment of different countries. And Uganda is not the only case. In recent years there have been many people in Africa who promoted free expression and helped the citizens realize that it’s time to say everything they think out loud.

Digital technologies play an important role in the political and social activism of Africa. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, physical protests have become a little bit hard task but now as technologies have developed in the African continent, people have the opportunity to express what they think. Of course, internet penetration is an essential factor for this. In Uganda, social activism today has the form of social media activism, blogging, or even text messaging. But in any case, if such kind of events will continue to occur, freedom of speech is likely going to be guaranteed if not now, in the following years.

Now technologies are giving African people a great number of opportunities to have direct feedback from the government and therefore, the actual power to increase political engagement nationwide. Civic tech is a quick and easy way for them to raise their voices and it’s an especially popular method for the youth compared to older and digitally quieter generations.

Without a doubt, new forms of activism represent an important wave. Ugandan activism has been inspirational for lots of young people in various parts of Africa and probably the tendency of expressing what they think and protecting human rights will remain or even increase. As a result of the increased social awareness, more and more civil societies are established in Uganda, bringing many important social and political issues at the center of the attention. New forms of this emerging movement will probably develop a more inclusive, tolerant, and plural civil society and transform the whole society of Africa. Although some people think that these emerging movements can just end up fading away, today we can’t trace any sign of it yet and one thing that can be easily noticed is just progress and completely new patterns of thinking consistent with the challenges of the world nowadays.


About the Creator

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.