Standing up against injustices and defending human rights is a risky and stressful task involving speaking truth to power and regularly stepping on the toes of those who have the power, might, and will to destroy anyone standing in their way with no qualms. Most people would rarely want to do this in any given society. The few who sacrifice to fight are usually unappreciated and end up burnt out, with terrible consequences to their emotional and physical health. We decided to recognize and appreciate these comrades who daily put their lives on the line in our communities. This is what we set out to achieve with the Solidarity Uganda awards.
The wards recognize strategic, courageous, and progressive members of society for their contributions toward social and political change. The first is the Activist of the Year Award given to an activist in Uganda for front line work on liberating Uganda from the grip of oppression. The Community Organizer of the Year Award is given to an organizer who has mobilized many to practice collective nonviolent civil resistance.
But who is an activist?
An activist is a person who campaigns for some kind of change. It can be social or political. For instance, when you participate in or organize a march protesting an unjust eviction you’re an activist.
Someone who’s actively involved in a protest or a political or social cause can be called an activist. Demonstrations, strikes, and sit-ins are all ways that activists work toward achieving the change that they desire.
How about a Community Organizer?
A Community organizer is an individual devoted to restoring democracy at the grassroots level and energizing citizens to become a more active member of their society. Community organizers focus on helping build broken social systems, bringing about meaningful changes to peoples’ lives, and empowering vulnerable or oppressed populations. Community organizing has the goal of uniting local citizens around a common concern, ranging from preventing crime, fighting corruption, prejudice, and any form of injustice. All they do is done collectively with community members.
Today we happy to announce the winners of the 2020 Solidarity Uganda Activist and Community organizer of the year awards.
Nana Namata Annette Mwafrica Mbarikiwa is our Activist of the year 2020 while Alex Kipsang is our Community Organiser the year.
Nana Mwafrica is an embodiment of courage and resilience. She has been consistent in the struggle against police brutality in Uganda. She has been at the frontline of the “#StopPoliceBrutality” campaign. Even in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic and restrictions she carried out direct actions. Braving the streets and unafraid of her oppressor. She has been arrested several times yet her spirit remains unshaken. Many would have given up. By organizing occupations and nonviolent protests on the streets, she has inspired both women and young people to fight injustice and take action. She has also stood in solidarity with other activists and victims of police repression through jail solidarity. Nana you are an inspiration to this generation. We see your struggle and congratulate you today.
Alex Kipsang, our Community Organizer of the Year 2020 has been at the forefront of mobilizing and organizing the Benet community against the Uganda Wildlife authority that has committed several atrocities against the Benet indigenous people. UWA has committed several atrocities against this community including burning their homes, raping women, shooting and killing several people including their cattle, and forcefully evicting the Benet from their ancestral land. Alex Kipsang spearheaded the organizing of over 300 locals in the Benet community to occupy the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kween Sub-county for over a month to protest against the atrocities committed by the UWA rangers against the locals. He continues to coordinate this struggle while encouraging other victims to share their stories. Your courage in the face of such brutality continues to challenge and inspire many. We see you. Congratulations comrade.