Reflections: Kizza Besigye And Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution

Cross-posted from: Uncultured Sisterhood
Originally published: 17.01.15

As the 2001 Uganda presidential elections loomed and the drama that came with it ensued, I hit voting age with no fanfare, rather, steadfast preparation for a matter of greater personal urgency – final examinations. It wasn’t up for discussion that I wouldn’t participate in the election fracas. Attempts at that debate came up again in 2006, and were avoided altogether by 2011. Being a woman, the right to vote isn’t something I take for granted in a world that is still as sexist today as it was centuries ago. But it always seemed piteous to stand in line for an ink-stained thumb and claims that one had exercised a constitutional right in a shady political environment.

Thus, although I have a high level of interest in Kizza Besigye, particularly the motivations for his campaign(s) against the presidency of Yoweri Museveni, it hasn’t materialized into actually voting for any of these men, or their opponents – seeing that members of the establishment and many of the so-called opposition seem to be cut from the same cloth; looking out for their personal share of “the national cake” to the continued exclusion of the bulk of the citizens of this country. Yet, choosing not to vote out of despair without committing any effort towards the solution, is not only unhelpful, it is in fact the head-in-sand attitude that has in some ways contributed to our present situation. 
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Joining the Dots: Literacy as Democracy

Cross-posted from: Aliya Mughal

“We all need to feel like we have control of our lives. Of course you can never have total control. But being literate gives you a level of autonomy that’s really important.”

The autonomy that Paul Sullivan, of blind literacy group The Braillists, is talking about is often denied to the blind or visually impaired. A lack of physical and social support means that a significant proportion of the blind population – that’s 360,000 people in the UK according to the RNIB – are likely to be disproportionately hampered and isolated in day to day life as compared to sighted people.

The Braillists operate as regional networks in Bristol, Reading and Dublin as grassroots, community groups, motivated by the desire to improve braille literacy. They do this through influencing policy, raising awareness and garnering commercial support for new technologies.

They started in March 2015 in Bristol, when social entrepreneur Steph Tyszka was tasked with setting up a user group to test the prototype for The Canute, a new piece of braille technology created by Bristol Braille Technology CIC.

The Canute is a multiline refreshable braille e-reader that contains four lines of text, each containing 28 cells per line, compared to standard braille readers which contain a total of just 40 characters.


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