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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

a fearless Ugandan politician who spoke her thoughts and challenged conventions

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Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal, certainly one of Uganda’s longest-serving feminine legislators, handed away on 18 January 2024 on the age of 77.

Ogwal was thought to be a trailblazer, one of many strongest, most charismatic girls leaders within the opposition, and a staunch defender of multipartyism, democracy and human rights. Identified for her toughness, she was unafraid to face as much as male leaders within the ruling get together and even inside her personal get together. Therefore she got here to be often called the “iron girl” in Uganda.

Having studied gender and politics in Uganda for nearly three a long time, I adopted her profession as she turned one of many strongest parliamentarians and a mentor to youthful feminine politicians. She was a task mannequin to them and harassed the significance of balancing work and household.

Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni lauded her as a true patriot at a vigil held in her honour after she died. However her experiences as an opposition politician are emblematic of the challenges confronted by political opponents of the regime in Uganda.

She advised Kampala’s The Observer newspaper in 2014 that she had survived 12 makes an attempt on her life. In 2017, she alleged that safety operatives beat her and her husband for campaigning in opposition to the lifting of the structure’s presidential age restrict. The age restrict, which was lifted that yr, allowed Museveni – then in his fifth time period – to run for yet one more time period and probably rule indefinitely.

Early trailblazer

Ogwal was the primary lady to take part in a arithmetic contest sponsored by the Verona Fathers congregation within the early Sixties.

She gained a scholarship that allowed her to enrol within the oldest ladies’ boarding faculty in Uganda, Gayaza Excessive Faculty. She was one of many first Catholics admitted to Gayaza. Even her father was initially in opposition to her attending the establishment, which had been established by the (Anglican) Church of England.

She turned certainly one of 4 Ugandan girls to be admitted on a trial foundation by the College of East Africa, the precursor to the College of Nairobi, in Kenya. There she emerged as the most effective pupil in her area, graduating in 1970 with a Bachelor of Commerce diploma.

Her extraordinary achievements didn’t finish there. After marrying Lameck Ogwal in 1965, she went on to pursue knowledgeable profession whereas additionally elevating seven of her personal kids and a number of other adopted kids.

Her first job in 1979 included the place of liaison officer on the Uganda Embassy in Nairobi, serving to Ugandan refugees in Kenya return to Uganda after Idi Amin’s ouster. In 1980 she assumed the place of operations supervisor on the Uganda Advisory Board of Commerce.

In 1982 she was instrumental in founding the Housing Finance Financial institution, which remains to be in existence, and she or he chaired the board of the Uganda Growth Financial institution from 1981 to 1986.

Nevertheless it wasn’t till she entered politics that her assertiveness and distinctive voice earned her the moniker “iron girl”.

A warrior for democracy

Ogwal first entered political management within the early Eighties.

She served because the performing secretary normal of the Uganda Individuals’s Congress from 1985 to 1992. She participated within the constituent meeting that promulgated the 1995 structure.

Ogwal’s parliamentary journey started in 1996, when she represented Lira Municipality (1996-2005). She was additionally Uganda’s consultant to the African Union’s Pan African Parliament. In 2011, she was elected as the ladies’s consultant for Dokolo district for the Discussion board for Democratic Change.

Amongst her contributions, she helped rescind Article 252 from the 1995 structure, which banned multiparty politics. Thus she helped be sure that the nation transitioned from a de facto single get together to multiparty politics in 2005.

In November 2003, after the federal government had launched an enormous army offensive in opposition to the Lord’s Resistance Military rebels in northern Uganda, Ogwal, a Langi from the affected space, walked out on the president in parliament, demanding that he discover a answer to the battle, even when it meant looking for worldwide help.

Her difficulties weren’t restricted to the ruling get together. She opposed former president Milton Obote, the chief of the Uganda Individuals’s Congress, when he known as for a boycott of the 1996 elections. Obote had been in exile, and she or he felt he was out of contact with Uganda. She argued {that a} boycott would destroy the opposition at a time after they have been advocating for multiparty politics.

Her variations with the Uganda Individuals’s Congress’ high management got here to a head by the early 2000s, and she or he was expelled from the get together. Ogwal then joined the main opposition get together on the time, the Discussion board for Democratic Change, and ran for the Dokolo Lady MP seat, which she held from 2011 till her dying.

In her tribute to Ogwal at a particular session of parliament, Speaker of the Home Anita Amongst described this girl, who had as soon as served because the opposition chief whip, as a unifying power between the opposition and the federal government in parliament.

She recalled the mediating position Ogwal had performed at key political moments, corresponding to when she introduced the 2 contenders collectively following the 2021 speaker election. On a couple of event, she stepped in and helped feuding legislators to bury their variations. For this, she gained monumental respect from legislators on all sides and even had her personal reserved seat within the meeting.

“When she speaks, everyone retains quiet,” the speaker added. “That’s the Cecilia Ogwal we now have misplaced.”


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