Last Sunday the Uganda National Contemporary Dance group, led by French choreographer and dancer Valerie Miquel organised a concert dubbed ‘Pride of a Woman’ to push for women emancipation.
The show did not hit at men per se, who in the past have been criticised for oppressing women, but, instead, the media and how it continues to belittle women by using funny terms to describe female genitalia. Sophie Alal, a writer and poet, caught the audience by surprise with her opening performance, a recitation of one of her poems.
As much as her proclamations were rather embarrassing considering the context in which she put them, it was the right moment to challenge people about how women continue to be demeaned in every manner.
Alal was not about to mince her words, standing solo on the stage in the National Theatre auditorium. She pointed out how much women hurt when their genitalia is described using moments of history that will continue to define the world and its activities.
She said while people continue to live in fear after the 9/11 terror attacks on the USA in 2001, some media organisations use the twin towers that came down in New York to poke fun at the female genitalia.
As the war on terrorism started in Afghanistan, Alal pointed out how the town of Kandahar quickly became a description for a female body part. Interestingly, it is not the bad moments in history alone that have been picked by the media to demean women.
The first World Cup in Africa came with the vuvuzela, which football fans blow in support of their teams; it loses its innocence in Uganda as it is now used to mean the vagina.
Alal wants women’s bodies to be respected for what they are and not be called what they are not. However, while Alal left an indelible mark, the show had only women on the programme.
There were dance performances from Barbara Upoki, Allen Kagusuru, Valerie and Allen Kyarisima, as well as storytelling from Beatrice Lamwaka of FEMRITE, a body of women writers in Uganda.