Performing Power: Behind Stella’s Naked Set

By Yusuf Serunkuma

Let me start this post with a note about me.  I’m a student at MISR.  I have been here for the last five years and can claim to be friends with both Mahmood and Stella.  Until recently (well, Stella told me off) I actually thought I was more friends with Stella than Mahmood:  Like I, Stella loves debate.


These we have engaged on end. For example.  Her three lovely kids are my friends. They love my summersualting and football tricks.  We have watched football games in Namboole together, with her paying my VIP bill.  BTW, I also admire her writing, and politics—we kinda share some views.  She has recommended me for fellowships, etcetera. With the above, I do not intend to claim any objectivity or disguise my disagreement with Stella.  I actually think through her entire performance, media (social and mainstream) was duped.  And that is not fair for our clan as academics–because it has inestimable consequences! I do not either intend to deny that MISR has challenges, no.  Instead, I want to focus on the Monday drama. Maybe, we will extend this conversation on another day into those other issues.


To access Dr Nyanzi’s office, there are three doors:  Two burglars, and wood-made-burglarless door into her office.  Were any these doors actually locked?  Lets examine Stella’s two stories of the locked doors, and the protest.  To begin: (1) For the reasons he has given, Mahmood served Stella with a letter asking her to vacate the office by April 15.   BUT he did not at any one time indicate to enforce it by locking Stella out!  (2) MISR administrative staffers insist there was no door locked for the purpose of blocking Stella’s access.  (3) All the Facebook frenzy, and the Monday red-paint-nude-protest is Stella’s personal work.

The first time we saw Stella’s locked out of her office, was of a picture in front of a burglarproof door with a gigantic old grey padlock.  That is the door to a hallway, which allows access to four offices including Stella’s.  They are numbered A8, A7, A6 and A5 in that order as one enters the hallway.  Stella’s door is A7.  We have not seen any pictures of Stella locked out of door A7.   Because she has the key to it, and locks have not been changed.   I have noted earlier that to lock her out via the burglar will be blocking access to three other offices, which are actually active and presently occupied by Dr Lyn Ossome, Dr James Ocita and PhD Administrator, Mr Simon Peter Musoke.  Why would Stella be blocked out of her office via a burglar, which also allows access to three other active offices?  For this conversation, lets assume it did.  It actually did.  But look, Stella sought to access that door in the afternoon of Saturday, and public servants rarely appear to work on Saturday.  Doors, burglars especially will often be closed.  Accessing offices on weekends is no crime, but you have to know the people with the keys, and Stella has always done so.  But not this time! Not before pausing for pictures in front of a hallway-burglar frame claiming she’s been locked out of her office!  We all recall her mid finger sprouting!  And Facebook went amok.

In the second story, and here I think our mainstream media disappoints especially by not being any bit skeptical — a core journalistic principle.  Dr Nyanzi’s naked protest is staged on the inside of the burglar proofing that allows access to an entire side of a building.  Not the door to her office.  This side houses several offices including the director’s and hers.  Stella’s office is in a sort of go down.  To access it, one actually has to descend some steps from ground level where the protest was–which was actually in front of Mahmood’s office.  Well, she claimed locking Mahmood out, too.  Some questions: (a) Stella is on the inside of a locked door protesting against being locked out.  Meaning she actually found the first bugglar open, and locked her self in.  Why? For uninterrupted performance since that entire place is burglar mesh (b) The stage is in front of someone else’s office, but journos do not ask where the door was to her actual office.  Did journos ask her whether she actually had keys to her office, which she did (c) Did it concern our good journalists that Stella reported so early in the morning, earlier than many MISR staff, making it difficult to tell which doors have been deliberately locked, and which one were just yet to be opened? (d) How does Stella convince journos that actually the burglar to the hallway leading to her office (and three others) was locked to block HER access–especially since she arrived earlier than even the property manager?  How does she infer intention of the act?  Our journos, I once was one of you (still in some ways), being curious, skeptical and cynical are good instincts. We need to ask many many questions to properly report the facade we live in.