To be politically correct is to choose words and sometimes actions that avoid disparaging, insulting or offending people because they belong to oppressed groups—those subject to prejudice, disrespect and discrimination on the basis of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and physical disability.
For as long as it politically works for him, Museveni’s led Uganda is smoothly developing a culture of okaying everything—caring less of its impact on the public. The corruption rates in his 38years led government are telling.
If the interjection “That’s politically incorrect” is uttered with a wry knowingness, it is a serious intent – to challenge the user to think about the social power of a word and the injury it might cause. ‘Political correctness’ in Uganda is failing both the ruling class and its opponents.
Those who are most strongly opposed to the so-called “political correctness” view it as censorship and a curtailment of freedom of speech that places limits on debates in the public arena. They contend that such language boundaries inevitably lead to self-censorship and restrictions on behaviour.
They further believe that political correctness perceives offensive language where none exists. Others believe that “political correctness” has been used as an epithet to stop legitimate attempts to curb hate speech and minimize exclusionary speech practices.
Museveni’s continued verbals intimidating corrupt officials and calling gangsters pigs with massaging solutions in addition to his opponent’s thinking that winning a bush war presidential product is by ballot voting—makes the culture grow everyday.
Ultimately, the ongoing discussion surrounding political correctness seems to centre on language, naming, and whose definitions are accepted.
According to the Whorfian hypothesis, our perception of reality is determined by our thought processes, which are influenced by the language we use. In this way language shapes our reality and tells us how to think about and respond to that reality. Language also reveals and promotes our biases. Therefore, according to the hypothesis, using sexist language promotes sexism and using racial language promotes racism. Uganda under the leadership of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni fully subscribes to Sapir-Whorf’s class of thinking.
Linguistically, the practice of what is called “political correctness” seems to be rooted in a desire to eliminate exclusion of various identity groups based on language usage. For Uganda, the culture of political correctness is growing beyond language, inclusivity is only documented in legal frameworks.
In June 2023, the Office Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) announced its decision to drop investigations into 17 high-profile government officials over iron sheets saga which went viral on not only social media but also to the beneficiaries of the said assets.
So political correctness forced us to think more deeply about our own ingrained and frequently unconscious oppressive attitudes!
All of these, and a thousand more, had the effect of reinforcing the subjugation of people already in a vulnerable position in society. Beyond mere politeness and civility, political correctness is “political” in the sense that it aims at bringing about social change at a time when racist, sexist and homophobic attitudes find expression in everyday language and attracted no censure, even though the words were humiliating, disparaging and threatening to the minorities in question.
As a genuinely perplexed student I once asked a more experienced activist: “Why is it acceptable to call a bloke a prick but not acceptable to call him a cunt?”
“Because”, he replied, “men aren’t oppressed.” I saw it straight away. Apart…