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Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija arrives in Germany

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is in Germany. Photo via @kizzabesigye1

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Satirical novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija who fled Uganda days after he was released from detention has arrived and settled in Germany. Kakwenza is now hosted by the Germany Pen Centre, a global association of writers campaigning for freedom of speech and expression.

Kakwenza fled Uganda on February 9, 2022, allegedly through Rwanda, Malawi and South Africa. It is said that he travelled to Europe on a South African passport after failing to secure his Ugandan passport from the courts. He had been released on bail, in the face of a trial on charges of offensive communication.

He was accused of using his Twitter handle @KakwenzaRukira to post a series of tweets about President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his son Lt General Muhoozi Kainerugaba. In one of the tweets, Kakwenza refers to the President as an election thief and in another, he calls Muhoozi overweight and intellectually bankrupt.

In a press statement, the Pen Centre says that they have worked intensively for Kakwenza’s release as a contribution to freedom of speech in Uganda and around the world. Their statement quotes PEN President Deniz Yücel saying that they are very happy that their commitment to make Kakwenza an honorary member has come to a good end.

Kakwenza, who was awarded the international PEN Pinter Prize in the Bravest Writers category last year, will now be taken to a safe place where he needs medical care, for the effect of the torture that he was allegedly subjected to while in custody, according to Yücel.

“Once he has sufficiently recovered from the immediate consequences of the torture, Rukirabashaija will speak out in public. PEN will continue to support him and include him as a fellow in its Writers in Exile program’,  the statement adds.

Kakwenza told Uganda Radio Network that after landing in Germany, he felt relieved from the mouth of the crocodile. He added that although he felt unsafe in Africa, he cannot be deprived of his citizenship and he takes it lightly.

“You know I wasn’t safe in Africa since dictators work together to deport dissidents. Now that I am in Germany, I feel really protected. I will get the medical attention I need then after recovery, decide on the next course of action,” he added.

Kakwenza’s case at Buganda Road Court resumes on March 23, 2022.

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