This city belongs to its residents and not landowners. We
will continue to support libraries and meeting and learning spaces that are
made accessible to the poor. They are a beacon of socialist power amidst an
increasingly exclusive and exploitative capitalist city management team bent on
privatizing all spaces for the accumulation of wealth of political elites who
live in mansions.
Our staff, Makerere students, readers, and other allies and users of Nana Mwafrika’s Knowledge Cave decided to rally some support to celebrate her and transfer her books when an NRM regime cadre, the fascist owner of Bagala Building in Ntinda, refused to accept her rent money for the services she provides to the city at her own expense. Under threats of forced eviction and break-ins on the basis that Nana was friends with an imprisoned feminist academic, we pooled our resources together and transferred thousands of books to a new location for the Knowledge Cave. We sang and will continue to sing against landlords (who wants to join a new tenants’ rights union?!) and their ever-growing corruption, classism, bullying, and malfeasance.
Says Nana, “I am finally out of the space that had become a torture chamber. I hadn’t violated anything in my lease at that deteriorating building, and on no grounds at all, the landlord threatened to break in and destroy these books and evict me. I’m so grateful for all who showed up. I am used to doing things alone, so this was a real show of solidarity.”
Nana, who lost her uterus to police brutality, has been
systematically singled out and targeted by the dictatorial Museveni regime she
critiques. She is a mother to many, especially her biological children, and continues
to stand up for the rights of Ugandans.
Despite the repression, threats, and arrests that have
occurred in doing so, Solidarity Uganda continues to support the formation of
unions for tenants, hawkers, informal workers, and small businesspeople. The
only way we can reclaim this city is by amassing collective power and resisting
the daily oppression we face as city residents. Succeeding will require
building our knowledge on how to exercise this power, a gift the likes of Nana
have offered us.
In her own words, “We must teach children and adults to
read not to merely pass exams, but to read for leisure or for teaching self.
This saga wasn’t easy on me. But we have carved a path to read ourselves out of