Stella Nyanzi Biography, Age, Makerere University, Arrest and Sentencing

Stella Nyanzi

Stella Nyanzi Biography

Stella Nyanzi is a Ugandan academician who is a medical anthropologist, queer rights activist, feminist, as well as a scholar of sexuality, public health, and family planning. She is infamously known for her 2017 arrest after insulting the Ugandan president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.


Stella Nyanzi Age

Dr. Stella Nyanzi is 45 years old as of 16th June 2019. She was born in Masaka District in Uganda in 1974. She is also known as Nnalongo Owenene, Nnalongo which means mother of twins.

Stella Nyanzi Alma Mater 

Dr. Nyanzi began her higher studies at Makerere University in 1993. She took a course of Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Literature and completed her studies in 1996. From 1999 to 2000, she studied for her Masters programme in Medical Anthropology at the University College London. She then proceeded to attain a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine having studied from 2003 to 2008. She also studied social anthropology, sexuality, and youth and health policy from the same institution.

Stella Nyanzi Family

Stella has a younger sister by the name Sheila Nyanzi. Their parents are deceased with her father having passed on first in 2014 as a result of lack of the right medicine in the hospitals near his home. He was a doctor. Stella’s mother, Harriet Nyanzi, passed on in 2015 after an ambulance lacked fuel to take her to the hospital. Her mother was also the sister to Suzan Ssali, the mother of popular Ugandan Musician Moses Ssali famously known as Bebe Cool. This makes Stella and Bebe Cool, cousins.

Activist Stella Nyanzi
Activist Stella Nyanzi

Is Stella Nyanzi Married? – Stella Nyanzi Husband

Stella is not married as of 2019, however, she was once married to a Gambian. The former had met in London, in the United Kingdom and began their relationship. They moved to her husband’s country and Stella worked as an anthropologist between 2002 and 2003. She got pregnant and in 2004, her daughter Baraka was born. The family moved back to London in 2005. Shortly afterward, Nyanzi discovered that she was pregnant again, this time with twins.

Her husband convinced her to move to Uganda and he would join her. She listened and went back to her native country but her husband did not join his family. He had a secret he had kept for long and it was while Stella was trying to inquire what the problem was that he revealed that he was gay. He explained that due to the fact that his native country had passed a law to kill all gays, he could not return to Africa, hence, he sought asylum in the United Kingdom.

She gave birth to two boys and has raised her children by herself over since. She has not had any other known relationship. This is backed by her own words on her birthday, “At 42, I have no job, no political party, and no lover! And yet I am fulfilled….”

Stella Nyanzi Works | Makerere University

Beginning her professional life in 1997, Dr. Nyanzi worked as a Social Science Research Associate at the Medical Research Council (UK) Programme in Uganda. She remained at the programme until September 2002. Her next job lasted a year as a Local Anthropologist at the Medical Research Council Laboratories, The Gambia. She moved to London to pursue her Ph.D. studies.

In 2005, she conducted research on youth sexuality in Uganda, and also in The Gambia. She began working at Makerere University in 2009 as a Researcher at the Law, Gender & Sexuality Research Project. She was a member of the Faculty of Law until December 2013.

In 2014, she began working as a Research Fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research until 2016. She got a request to lecture a new Ph.D. programme, the Mamdani Ph.D. Project, but declined. Her office was closed in the process and Nyanzi made a nude protest against her boss.

She got suspended from Makerere University in 2017 following her arrest. In her classic style, Nyanzi made an appeal and the university’s tribunal gave a direction for Nyanzi to be reinstated, and be promoted to be a research fellow with immediate effect as well as be paid back wages. The university violated the decision and Nyanzi filed a lawsuit against the university requesting reinstatement and back wages. Makerere University responded by dismissing her and 45 fellow academics, citing contract expiring.

Stella Nyanzi’s Tuffle with the Authorities | Arrest

Nyanzi’s first public encounter with the law was on April 7, 2017 when she was arrested for referring to the country’s president as “a pair of buttocks” in March 2017. She was held at Kiira Police Station and was charged with cyber harassment and offensive communication.

She was taken to court after three days on 10th and charged with the misuse of a computer, cyber harassment, and abusing the President under section 24, and 25 of the Computer Misuse Act of 2011. Soon after, Nyanzi was remanded to Luzira Prison. The next day, a psychiatric assessment examination was conducted on to check for insanity. She resisted the examination and requested that her personal doctor and at least one family member be present.

Dr. Nyanzi was released on a non-cash bail of 10 million Ugandan shillings (US$2924) on 10th May 2017.

In October 2018, Nyanzi was again remanded and decided not to request bail as she felt she was safer in jail. She also cited another reason for wanting to carry on her work in education with fellow women in prison. In January of 2019, she made a request to delay her date in court as she was ill and had suffered a miscarriage in prison.

On 1st August 2019, a Ugandan court found her guilty of the charges of cyber harassment which is an offense under Uganda’s computer-misuse law. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison on 2nd August 2019. Having been in prison for nine months prior to the sentence, Nyanzi has nine more months of jail time.