Building a Community of Sisterhood with the Uganda Feminist Forum

Imagine what would happen if Feminist sisters came together to talk freely, unleash ‘madness’ and create friendships, in a safe space. An army of Feminist mafias without ‘Ifs,’ ‘Buts’, or ‘Howevers’ will unquestionably rise. The Uganda Feminist Movement has played a critical role in building sisterhood across class, ethnicity and sexuality and is strengthened by the fact that the sisters consider each other as a family and recognize the diversity therein. The friendships that have been made are pertinent to the process of building the movement which has undoubtedly contributed to strengthening ties between feminist organizations and individuals.

Recognizing that these gains in Sisterhood, a core Feminist Principle, must be celebrated and that much remains to be done in fostering collective organizing; effectively and consistently weaving and connecting across generations; and cultivating self-love, inclusivity, solidarity and commitment amongst members, the UFF Working Group hosted Sisters to a conversation on Sisterhood on 14th December 2018. The dialogue which brought together about 60 Feminists in Uganda aimed at fostering a functional sisterhood within the Feminist Movement ahead of the larger Uganda Feminist Forum gathering anticipated in June 2019 and was themed ‘Sisterhood is Powerful.’

Giving themselves over to the Chief Steerer & Feminist Witch of the event, Ms. Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe, and what she had in store for them, the evening commenced with Sisters getting to know one another, connecting and sharing their 2018 highlights in the Feminist movement. Participants told a range of major victories and had the company of fellow sisters to share their joy with. Doing things unconventionally, Ms. Sarah Mukasa, a Uganda Feminist Forum historical and founding member of the African Feminist Forum, in her welcome remarks gave a brief background to the Uganda Feminist Forum taking members present through the birth and rise of the growing movement. In her passionate narration of the UFF herstory, Sarah emphasized the need for Feminists to document our journeys or face the threat of our herstories being poorly documented by outsiders. Sarah emphasized that since her inception, the Uganda Feminist Movement has been guided by the Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists

We must tell our herstory otherwise other people will tell it, and they won’t tell it right – Sarah Mukasa

Other activities included the Dear Younger Me where sisters had to write to their younger selves and after passionately poured out their life experiences with a comforting hug in place of merciless judgement awaiting them, some invoking hearty laughter while others a curse to the patriarchy and the Feminist Trivia which got sisters interrogating their intellect. Prof. Sylvia Tamale was also present to guide sisters through the Charter, as at every Feminist gathering.

Our feminism is not qualified by BUTs, IFs or HOWEVERs. You are either a Feminist or you are not – Dr. Sylvia Tamale

The evening was concluded with a heart-to-heart conversation with three formidable sisters in the movement. Ms. Shira Natenda, Ms. Jackie Asiimwe and Ms. Lovisa Kabuula participated in a panel discussion on the subject. While Shira enlightened sisters from a young woman’s perspective, Jackie and Lovisa brought in a vast experience of living and practising sisterhood in their day to day lives. Participants at the conversation also celebrated the lives and contributions of sisters who had passed on during the course of the year.

A movement can accommodate each and every one of us. Let’s build movements that are stronger, inter-generational and inclusive – Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe

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