Amid political tension, Vagina Monologues succesfully showcase in Uganda

03:08 by Kaggwa Andrew

The very first time someone attempted to produce a show called Vagina Monologues, they were meant with a lot of resistance from the authorities.
That was 2005, the production was meant to be showcased at the National Theatre and Information Minister Nsaba Buturo said the play had been deemed offensive and vulgar and thus would corrupt public morals if performed in Uganda.
“As government, we have agreed that this play should not be staged in the country because the language used is offensive, vulgar and not according to the country’s culture,” he told Mail & Guardian in 2005.
While all political and executive arms of our government went to slumber after winning an election, when all the necessary offices were fatigued, the Vagina Monologues somehow found their way back to our dusty streets last week at Gothe Zentrum.
Apparently, every year, Eve Ensler, the author gives anyone in the world rights to reproduce the monologues for free, as long as their proceedings go to an organization that benefits women.
The weekend shows were benefitting Mifumi, an international non-government women rights organization whose work revolves around protection of women and children experiencing violence and other forms of abuse.
And literally, that’s what the Vagina Monologues is based on several hundred interviews with women around the world. It celebrates female sexuality and focuses on the abuses women in different relationships suffer.
Ensler wrote the Vagina Monologues in the 1990s, though, through the times they’ve been performed in over 140 countries and more than 50 languages over the years, they’ve been retouched to fit the different societies, countries and era, for instance, while it was being performed last week, among some of the names listed for a woman’s anatomy were some Luganda lingual our parents never let us say as well as some coined ones from Katwe or Kalerwe like Desire Luzinda, wiwi, Kandahar and Ka Nyabo among others.
It’s not the kind of play that you will get excited about because it barely runs like the traditional productions you and I may be used to – in fact, it’s merely activism, mostly feminism, explaining what it means to be a modern woman – the inequalities where they will be labeled sluts for wearing something short and revealing, an inequality where many women’s sexual satisfaction has to be sacrificed so as to please men.
But the Vagina Monologues, even when all the things they said about the production eleven years ago were aptly not right, it’s not an easy production to stomach especially in an African setting – yes, saying vagina is probably not vulgar but saying or listening to it being said over sixty times in a space of two hours is not the most comfortable thing.
Or, that troubling intro that had a group of women standing onstage and professing their love for their…you know what.
But the rest of the show is valid that you will question why the show was banned in the first place – it merely looks at a number of issues like rape, hygiene, child birth and hair among others, of course its hair down there.
Of course as the production goes on, at some point it ceases to be a play but turns into a crusade of women rights and how they must be treated right – it’s a change from the norm especially in Uganda where theatre is into more romantic dramas than social issues.

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