On Wednesday, the Uganda Media Council suspended staging of the play ‘State Of The Nation’ saying it is against the law.
The play whose message the Ugandan government questions has been showing at the National Theatre for more than a month.
However, a day after, John Segawa, the play’s director and writer told the media that staging of the play would go ahead despite the government’s action to suspend it citing advice from his lawyers. Segawa says the play is aimed at promoting unity.
Human Rights activists have condemned the move by the Media Council to suspend the play with the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative calling the council’s action “… an encroachment on and restriction of freedom of expression in the country”.
This comes weeks after the government banned the filming of a movie that allegedly had homosexual undercurrents by a British director. So why is the government that fought for freedoms now allegedly clamping down on them?
According to political observers, the title of the play alone ‘State of the Nation’ is a matter of concern to the government.
The State of the Nation is an annual speech delivered by the President of Uganda while giving accountability about the standing of the nation at the beginning of the year and during the opening of Parliament.
To government, giving the play a title of the President’s speech is pun which it feels is aimed at ridiculing the annual address delivered by the Fountain of Honor. The government fears the title may arouse curiosity enticing many to watch the play and in turn breed anger against it.
Also, political pundits claim that President’s enemies have singled out the entertainment industry as a forum where they can rouse resentment against his government.
The Uganda entertainment industry has grown by leaps and bounds with music and drama proving to be a credible bread winning avenues and therefore it draws many people making it a fertile ground for spreading messages.
‘Bakoowu’ by Mathias Walukaga, ‘Africa’ By Ronald Mayanja are some songs that analysts believe have resonated with the plight of the masses increasing resentment against the regime.
It is the reason why today, opposition leaders are a common sight at concerts which they hope to increase their numbers by showing support to artists.
Therefore, it is safe for one to assume government had all this in mind while suspending the play so it can have time to study the content of the drama and ensure it is free from any political undertones that could be detrimental to the regime.
Reported By Alex Masereka