Despite the organizers of V-Day Kampala’s determination to ensure that the play went ahead on February 19th, 2005, Uganda banned 'The Vagina Monologues' and threatened the organizers with arrest were they to continue with the production.
V-Day Kampala was scheduled to take place on February 19, 2005 at the outdoor Ndere Cultural Centre Amphitheatre which seats 800 people. The play was being directed by Mumbi Kaigwa, V-Day Nairobi 2003, 2004 and 2005 organizer, producer and well known Kenyan actress.
Sponsors for the V-Day event included Ford Foundation, Action Aid International Uganda, Hivos, Mama Cash, African Women's Development Fund and the proceeds were to be donated to two women’s groups in the hardest hit areas in the north of Uganda: Lira Women's Peace Initiative and Kitgum Women's Peace Initiative.
Within a period of ten days the play becomes the focus of the Uganda and International media and the Ugandan cabinet:
Beginning on February 8th – the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting states that he is to hold a meeting with his colleagues in government to ask them to back his request to the organisers of V-Day Kampala not to stage “The Vagina Monologues” in Kampala on 19th February.
After meeting with the V-Day team, the minister agrees not to stop the play but still meets with the Cabinet to discuss the issue.
Later that week the Minister denounces the play at a weekly press briefing as a corruption of morals. The next day he is forced to back track with the weight of public opinion, which so far seems to be in favor of the play's production and adopts a new strategy - a smear campaign against Eve Ensler. He puts pressure on the Broadcasting council to get involved. The Media Council summons V-Day organizers to present a copy of the script, which they do along with information about V-Day and letters from organizers around Africa who have participated and succeeded in helping many women in their communities. The Media Council makes a decision that the play is NOT to be performed on Saturday and the matter gets handed over to the Uganda Cabinet who are to make a final decision. Three days before the scheduled performance the Cabinet announces the play is not to be performed. Organizers who attempt to carry on with the production are threatened with arrest .
After the banning Sarah Mukasa, Programmes Manager at Akina Mama wa Afrika, who headed the coalition of NGOs that organized and supported the event in Uganda stated: “What we are really having problems with here … is this notion that this play is 'yet another example of western cultural interference (imperialism some even call it)'. Somewhere in all this outrage, we in this country have lost sight of the fact that this play is in Uganda because a group of Ugandan women wanted it and worked to get it here.”
Akina Mama Wa Afrika is an African women's international non-governmental development organisation based in the UK and Africa that serves as a mobilising, networking, information, advocacy and training forum for African women, building their leadership capacities to influence policy and decision-making.
Statements of Support and Opposition
Who Decides What People Should See or Say?
by Hibaaq Osman
A statement from the V-Day Special Representative to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
I Am Glad They Have Banned The Vagina Monologues
by Sarah Mukasa
A statement from the V-Day Uganda organizer.
by James Nsaba Buturo
A statement made by the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting to journalists at the weekly press briefing held at Nakasero on Thursday, February 10, 2005.