“I was just running along with police as they dragged her”

“It all happened quite fast,” recalls photographer Sumy Sadurni, who took the photograph above. It was Monday in central Kampala, and she was covering a demonstration being led by Stella Nyanzi: the academic, poet, activist and virulent government critic. This time, Nyanzi was protesting against Uganda’s coronavirus containment measures, which she says are inflicting disproportionate suffering on the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

“She got dragged by police almost as soon as she started her demonstration, with around 10 supporters that were with her,” said Kampala-based Sadurni, a Women Photograph member and stringer for AFP. “With that specific picture I was just running along with police as they dragged her. They stopped for a second as they were opening the police van so I kneeled down and I wanted to get her face close up, but wanted to include her pulling away from police — so that was the fast thinking behind the framing.”

The police said that Nyanzi has been arrested for inciting violence.

The image has already received widespread acclaim. “Iconic,” declared writer Rosebell Kagumire. “What a photo, what a fighter!”

“I think the impact is because she’s representing how many, many Ugandans are feeling right now,” said Sadurni. “She’s angry, so are many Ugandans. She’s frustrated, so are Ugandans and she’s desperate, as everyone else is. The government did a good job with locking down fast, and they’re testing effectively and are also good with tracing contacts. But the economic impact on people here has been extreme, and food distribution has been very slow unfortunately.”

This article was first published in The Continent, the new pan-African weekly newspaper designed to be read and shared on WhatsApp. Download your free copy here

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Simon Allison
Simon Allison, The Continent
Simon Allison is the Africa editor of the Mail & Guardian, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Continent. He is a 2021 Young Africa Leadership Initiative fellow.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

The Opera Virgin attends ‘The Marriage of Figaro’

Opening one’s mind to new artistic disciplines could provide enlightenment to glorious new pursuits.

What’s behind the vulture poisonings in Kruger and Chobe parks?

People poison vultures for various reasons, including a belief that they can see into the future and to stop authorities from being alerted to poaching

Kenya’s Ruto declared president-elect amid results chaos

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati said Ruto had won almost 7.18 million votes (50.49%) in the August 9 vote, against 6.94 million (48.85%t) for his rival Raila Odinga.

Kenya vote chief declares Ruto president-elect

The deputy president has been declared the winner of the close-fought election, despite several commissioners rejecting the results

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…