Monday, September 2, 2013


This week Makerere University student Elizabeth Nakamya dragged her father to court for refusing to pay her tuition.

Her father John Wampamba estranged from Nakamya’s mother had not paid her fees since primary school.

She felt compelled to take action when the burden of her fees as a software engineering student became too much to handle for her mother.

A suggestion for the family to first try arbitration was rejected by Nakamya who said her father had turned down all previous family meetings to resolve the issue.

The magistrate ruled in her favour despite Wampamba’s protestations that he is unable to raise the sh2m required in two weeks.

Like many turning points this story may go unnoticed, buried deep in the paper, but it could be an inspiration for a new movement that holds men to their responsibilities.

Evolutionary theory in trying to explain men’s promiscuousness suggests that it is a natural instinct in aid of propagating the specie.

Although recent research has also suggested that the human male is less promiscuous than some of its animal relatives. Human children are the most capital intensive animals to rear, staying at home until past their eighteenth birthday in many cases the longest of any animal. This dependence also makes it necessary for the male parent to stick around to ensure his offspring survives to continue his blood line. As a result of the considerable investment therefore men are less likely to take too kindly to raising another man’s children.

According to the theory monogamy, the hope that by sticking around the wife will stay on the straight and narrow, is the tradeoff human males pay to perpetuate their genes.

Our patrilineal practices picking and choosing from an intuitive and maybe flawed understanding of evolutionary theory, relegate the girl child to a lesser position to her brothers because – among other things, she will be lost to the clan one day anyway so why invest in her?

Well Nakamya’s action may very well force a change of our society’s attitudes towards women, the girl child and contraception.

If we wrote into law the clause that we are all equal under the law just to meet some donor criteria and really did not believe it, Nakamya has called our bluff.

Why should she be treated any different from any of her father’s other children? Because she is a daughter?

In my first year in secondary school the headmaster speaking to us one day let loose with the advice that we should never drop our pants for a woman who we cannot foresee being the mother of our children. Basically that if you sleep with a woman you better be prepared to deal with the consequences.

But even at that time there was contraception that would allow for the times when you were not quite sure, maybe.

And yes it’s foolhardy for one to abrogate their reproductive responsibility to another --  male or female.

In December 1955 the diminutive Rosa Parks refused to forfeit her chair in the bus for a white passenger. She was arrested. She was not the first person to refuse to cede her seat or even charged for flouting segregation laws but her case stood out because it was used to challenge segregation laws subsequently.

Known variously as “the first lady of civil rights” her defiance that December evening in Alabama triggered a series of developments which eventually saw Barak Obama rise to the highest office in the US five years ago.

Will Nakamya be the Ugandan woman’s Rosa Parks?

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