Nigerian Singer, Tems Shares Details About Her Time in Ugandan Prison
Nigerian singer Tems has provided further details about her time in a Ugandan prison, where she, along with Omah Lay, was held for two days in 2020 following their court charges.
During her detention, Tems was entirely cut off from the outside world and had to rapidly adjust to prison life. She shared her ordeal in an interview with Angie Martinez, recounting her experience from the moment she was taken from her hotel.
Initially thinking it was a joke, reality hit when she received her prison uniform, leading her to tears.
Tems expressed her initial fear of not being released while in Ugandan prison. Despite adapting quickly, she felt a sense of purpose and hoped to help others. She described the harsh conditions, including a small, bare room with no bed, just blankets and tissues on the floor. Uncertain about her release, she remained hopeful, even though she had no information from the outside world.
Remaining hopeful yet unsure of her release, Tems formed bonds with fellow inmates who were often incarcerated for minor reasons or due to corrupt guards. In prison, making phone calls required money, which she didn’t have.
To cope, she used humor, winking at other inmates to hide her nervousness and prevent herself from crying. Tems’ approach was to project confidence, and she even made the women in prison laugh with her antics.
The female prison official briefed Tems on prison regulations and consequences, highlighting solitary confinement as the ultimate punishment in a small, food- and water-deprived room.
In prison, inmates had to kneel to talk to authorities and were given only one meal a day. Despite her stay, Tems chose not to eat, opting to sip water throughout the two days.
Omah Lay and Tems were charged in Uganda for violating COVID-19 guidelines after a performance in December 2020. Efforts were made in Nigeria, including appealing to President Buhari, resulting in their eventual release and return home.
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