By Fiona Laker
If anything, the internet has allowed for more meaningful conversations to happen beyond borders and continents. Prudence Nyamishana, a Ugandan feminist, is one of those that has leveraged the power of the internet to speak truth to power and foster feminist discourse. She believes “feminism is a way of life” and portrays this through her podcast, personal blog, and various digital platforms she writes for. She is also a researcher focused on the intersections of digital media, human rights, and development in Uganda.
Nyamishana Prudence Interview
If anything, the internet has allowed for more meaningful conversations to happen beyond borders and continents. Prudence Nyamishana, a Ugandan feminist, is one of those that has leveraged the power of the internet to speak truth to power and foster
1. Who is Nyamishana Prudence?
I am ever-evolving. A Ugandan feminist, an African, a pan-Africanist, and pro everyone black. I am also a blogger, and podcaster and my work covers intersections of digital media, human rights, and development. I have run my blog since 2012 and authored Global voices and Africa blogging since 2013. Currently, I run Nyamishana’s podcast and work for Hivos, a humanist organization.
2. What inspired you to identify as a feminist?
Being a feminist is a way of life because we are advocating for equality among the sexes and simply saying we are humans. That is why I identify myself as a feminist
3. Are there any Ugandan women that have particularly inspired you on this journey?
Yes, there are Ugandan women that have inspired me on my journey. Winnie Byanyima is one of them, Miria Matembe and so many others. When I was about 10 years old my mother took me to a women’s day celebration near my village that featured Winnie and Matembe. My mum didn’t go to school so there were spaces she couldn’t access but she told me to look at those women, look at how confident they are. And from then, I have always looked up to Winnie Byanyima and what she does. She does it with so much dignity and grace.
4. Being a feminist in Uganda online is often met with online harassment. How do you navigate pushing feminist discourse in such an environment?
I navigate this by taking breaks. I have realized that it is ok to take a break. Having spoken up and put yourself out there you are always a target so I have decided to take multiple breaks. Another thing that has helped is to mute and block any toxic energy.
5. What advice would you give to budding feminists that are trying to find their voice in Uganda?
You have the power and the agency and who you are is an important part of the movement. Bring who you are to the table, you are simply enough don’t try to act and put on different faces. Your voice matters. To younger feminists and old people trying to be feminists at an older age, we look up to you. Also read and be empowered- a feminist that doesn’t read and educate themselves is dangerous
6. Let’s talk about Nyamishana’s podcast. What inspired you to start podcasting and how has your experience been?
I was burnt out from writing so I needed a place to speak out and continue answering questions that have always lingered. I also started the podcast for my younger self, those things I needed to know then and that’s why there are a variety of topics. Even if I knew podcasting wasn’t a thing then, I thought that perhaps in the future an academic will be doing research and land on my podcast. And think to themselves, this is what women in 2020 were thinking about, or these are the experiences of African people. My podcast has featured awesome smart Ugandans who have shared with us their knowledge and I have been enriched and enjoyed my time with it
7. Where do you see the feminist movement in Uganda 10 years from now and what are some of the things you believe Government and community can do to realize the future you envision?
The feminist movement is going to be bolder and louder. There are digital tools and new ones are evolving to help tell our stories. What the government can do to help us achieve this is getting their hands off the media and stopping curtailing freedom of expression so that people can speak truth to power without fear of consequences. People like Stella Nyanzi will use their poetry and live a happy life in Uganda without having to run into exile
8. There are people that shy away from feminism due to claims that feminist jargon and text are too complicated. How do you think feminism can be made more inclusive?
Feminism should be like a way of life and should be simple. I look up to Bell Hooks because she makes feminism so simple. There is always a place for academics that use language that is “big” but if feminism is about equality for everybody it shouldn’t be complicated. Be who you are. Feminist jargon I feel is sometimes used because people don’t know better. It is also ok if you hate labels you don’t have to identify as boxes, just show up as who you are and know that you are contributing to the work.
9 . What is one thing you’d want to say to Ugandan women out there that are inspired by your journey?
I am truly honored by the women I inspire. I would like to say that I am truly honored that I inspire you in my own small ways. I hope that you know that I am always growing and evolving and teaching myself to be a better woman, a better feminist, and a better Ugandan so I hope that your journey also continues to be bigger.