She spent two full nights in the Ugandan prison for flouting COVID-19 laws.....CONTINUE READING
Tems was completely disconnected from the world during the detention and found herself striving to adapt to being in prison rather quickly. Speaking during an interview with Angie Martinez, she detailed her experience in the small dingy prison starting from when she was picked up from her hotel. For the singer, she thought it was a joke at first but when she got to the prison and was handed her uniform, things became all too real and she cried.
Tems said, “I thought I wasn’t gonna come out. I thought I was seeing it for a reason like maybe I was meant to help the people. I was settling in because I adapted real quick and as I was walking in I started to cry because they gave me my uniform and it stunk because they don’t wash it. It was a small room and there was nothing, there’s just the floor they give you blankets and tissues and you’re just on the floor, no bed and I did it for two days. I didn’t even know I was going to get out, I didn’t have any ears on the ground nobody told me anything. Outside everyone was like ‘free Tems, free Omah lay but inside I was just hopeful, waiting.”
Even though she remained hopeful, she did not think she would be able to get out soon. Tems noted that the women she bonded with in the prisons were practically locked up for the most trivial things, and some were kept in by guards who were paid to do so. The prison structure was so that the inmates could not make phone calls unless they had money and she had no money.
The singer noted that she amused the ladies at the prison by winking at them when they stared at her when she walked in. Why was she winking? Nerves, she explained, to adapt quickly and most importantly, to avoid crying.
She said to Martinez, “Once I walked in everyone turned and looked at me and whispering and I was like ‘what have I done? I can’t cry’ and I just started winking, that was my way of adapting. I must show these people that I’m confident so I started being extra winking and saying hi and they were laughing.”
The woman in charge of the women’s prisons went to her to explain the rules and regulations, as well as the repercussions of breaking the rules. The apex punishment was solitary confinement in a small store with no food or water. She was told that she had to kneel to speak to officials and they were fed only once a day. During the two days spent in the prison, she didn’t eat and continued sipping water every day.
On the night of December 12, 2020, Omah Lay and Tems performed at The Big Brunch, which was held at Speke Resort, Wavamunno Road, Kampala, Uganda. After their performance, they were charged to court by the Uganda police for flouting COVID-19 guidelines after lockdown.
Back in Nigeria, all hands were on deck trying to secure Tems and Omah Lay’s immediate release. Her manager’s dad went to the capital, Abuja to see then President Buhari to have the issue sorted and soon enough they were released and sent back home.