Uganda: Theatre play that criticises president banned

5 November 2012

Uganda’s authorities have banned a play that criticises President Yoweri Museveni’s government, the play’s co-director and co-author John Ssegawa has said, according to BBC News.

The play, ‘State of the Nation’, highlights alleged corruption and poor governance in Uganda, ruled by Yoweri Museveni for 26 years.

“ ‘State of the Nation’ has staged at the National Theatre in Kampala for about a month, but the Media Council has now asked for further performances to be suspended,” John Ssegawa told BBC.

“It is critical of those in charge as they are the governors of the country and the state of the country is not good,” he was quoted by BBC as saying, while RFI quoted him as saying that the Ugandan authorities are limiting freedom of expression. He believes Uganda’s Media Council is on shaky legal ground, reported RFI.

Ssegawa says the production company is willing to discuss parts of the play that are an issue for the government’s media watchdog. However, stopping the production altogether is not an option.

“If there are a few lines, then we can discuss it,” Ssegawa concedes. “But we don’t just stop, because we employ a lot of people and we have bills to pay.”

‘State of the Nation’ was produced to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Uganda’s independence, which was celebrated on 9 October 2012.

Play about gay businessman banned
This is the second theatre play which has been banned in Uganda within recent months. David Cecil, a UK theatre producer, was arrested in Kampala for staging a play about gay people without permission. David Cecil was released on bail and ordered to surrender his passport. He was charged with “disobeying lawful orders” for staging ‘The River and the Mountain’, a comedy drama about a gay businessman killed by his employees, in the capital, Kampala. Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda. Read more
BBC News – 31 October 2012:
Uganda’s Media Council bans State of the Nation play
Radio France International, RFI – 2 November 2012:
Ban on Uganda’s critical State of the Nation play has no legal basis, says co-director – including audio report



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