I am not a “native informer”

I have read more than a couple of opinions by Dr. Stella Nyanzi in which she critiqued what she considered the disrespectful manner in which our counterparts from other parts of the world, let us call them ‘outsiders’ (for lack of a better word), of the global-west particularly disrespect academics and practitioners of Africa. The ‘outsiders’, according to Dr. Nyanzi could be students and or professors, consultants, etc.

Dr. Nyanzi pointed out how ‘outsiders’, even students, often approached her in a manner that revealed that they possessed a kind of entitlement, which gives them an expectation that she would be eager to drop all that she was doing and re-organise her work schedule, in order to give requests for raw data from ‘outsiders’ priority. This in some case was even though they arrived at her office without an appointment, she wrote.

She also pointed out how ‘outsiders’ sometimes just added her name onto applications for research grants and then later they inform her in a manner that communicates that they, the ‘outsiders’, think that they are doing her a favour; while in fact, according to her, it was the other way round, because it is in fact her expertise that would most certainly advantage the application.

Am reminded of Dr. Nyanzi’s opinions for am beginning to feel and appreciate what she was articulating. I have received, I think, the kind of requests which Dr. Nyanzi described – students, consultants, researchers – asking me to accept interviews on issues that if they took the time to respect me and Google me they would have discovered my position on those matters.

Let me explain, for example. I have authored several opinions and backgrounders in which I clearly articulate that the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda formally recognises Customary Tenure as among the land tenure systems of Uganda. I have articulated my position that I am against interventions that down grade customary tenure to be inferior to other forms of tenure and that I am against interventions which support the ethnocide of customary tenure.

Now, when you request me to participate as a respondent to a study whose proposition has the phrase “if customary rights are recognised and formalized”, am thinking you have not bothered to read my work, for if you had you would appreciate that my likely conclusion on your proposition would be that it is a false premise. In the context of Uganda, customary rights are recognised and formalized within the highest law of the land, The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. Mmmmm.

Then I read further your request and I realise that the funders of your study or those who have commissioned it include mega institutions that I surmise are hell bent on ensuring the ethnocide of customary tenure. Then, without a doubt I realise that your study is perhaps but a vehicle through which factoids about customary tenure in Uganda will be disseminated – getting people to think that they are not recognised and formalized within the law.

What could be the motive of this? Get people talking about non-issues, instead of talking about the onslaught against customary tenure that is being waged, including by the institutions that are funding your study.

You probably sub-consciously or consciously mistakenly categorise me as those Africans that Prof. Mamdani describes as “native informers – researchers who are used to provide raw material – in form of data – to foreign academics who process it and then re-export it back to Africa.”

Well, logically, I kind of ignore your request. I do not reply to your email, but you continue to hit me with exactly the same email numerous times. I wonder how long it will take you to realise that I am not a “native informer” and that if you would like to use my opinion, read and obtain it from my work; direct other readers to my work and give me credit for my contribution as an independent thinker. I am a researcher in all ways that UNESCO defines researchers:

Professionals who are engaged in the conception or creation of new knowledge, products, processes, methods and systems

May be eventually you will realise that you should not try to subsume me in your research and use my name to legitimize your voice while drowning mine. I will not help you with that, for am not a “native informer.”

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3 comments

  1. […] some days back I wrote this piece in which I am extolling my achievements as, well, a distinguished practitioner, scholar and […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. omoding · · Reply

    Our Sister, you are ahead of them. whatever they bring take them on you are equal to the task

    Like

  3. Richard Mugisha · · Reply

    ’nough anger, sister!!! Keep it up. r

    Like

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