“When the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind, it is not enough to say that the man is mad” – Mosese Watonga (Betrayal in the City Play by Francis Imbuga)

This piece is about mad people, one particular “mad” person actually, well I’m not sure, I could be going mad myself but please do read on. 

Dr. Stella Nyanzi is no stranger to screens in Uganda be it television, computer, or smartphone, you’ve seen at least a thing or two concerning her. She’s a woman I honestly cant describe (a trait I love in a woman but hey, it’s not what youre thinking this time!). As you probably recall she was last year suspended from Makerere University where she was at the time a research fellow at the institute of social research after being found guilty of gross misconduct in an incident I joked about on this blog (see article). And this week, not long after returning from academic-related business in South Africa, Dr. Nyanzi was the centre of controversy once again, summoned to the criminal investigations directrate over numerous statements she has made on social media about various issues in this country.
This isn’t a political post so I wont get into the thick of aspects political in the Dr. Nyanzi case. I’m just trying to make snse of a few things. Dr. Nyanzi has been described by many (including me) as a mad woman especially after the fiasco at the Makerere University Institute of Social Reseach. She became and still is the subject of so much debate, insult, and ridicule. So I’m wondering: why this particular mad woman? Why is she the subject of so much noise? I see very many mad people walking the streets of Kampala but they do not stir any interest at all in the reasonable sane people around. On Monday I saw one walking down the road towards Kampala golf club from the traffic light junction where two police officers were stationed. No one, not me, not even the cops was bothered that this mucky mentally disturbed man was walking around stark naked in public and posed a threat to drivers and pedestrians. Now that I come to think of it, he actually fit the description of “idle and disorderly”. There is another mad man, in Lira town this time; an amputee I believe the locals call Ogwang. Even with just one arm he is a huge threat to everyone around, jumping wildly in front of moving cars, threatening people with violence, and even assaulting them, I’ve heard. Last I saw, he used to move in and out of the central police station premises at will, playfully looking to cause trouble much to the amusement of police officers who would tell him to go away amid giggles.

Mad people roam free in this country. So, why is Dr. Madwoman such a concern? If anything she seems the most useful of all her kind; she pays taxes, takes her kids to school, and oh this mad woman also teaches your kids at Makerere University! Shouldn’t we all just let her do her mad woman things in peace till she grows tired of it or regains her sanity? Or is it that this mad woman is not doing mad woman things, uttering certain things from outside the realm of mad talk and that therefore is an issue? All these questions could drive one mad. Is the madness of a nation getting to her and passing on to me? The words of my literature teacher echo in my mind, “We are all mad, the only difference is in the extent of madness.” Someone please remind me what it is I’m supposed to be writing about.

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