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a fearless Ugandan politician who spoke her mind and challenged conventions

Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal, considered one of Uganda’s longest-serving feminine legislators, kicked the bucket on 18 January 2024 on the age of 77.

Ogwal used to be considered a trailblazer, one of the crucial most powerful, maximum charismatic girls leaders within the opposition, and a staunch defender of multipartyism, democracy and human rights. Recognized for her toughness, she used to be unafraid to get up to male leaders within the ruling birthday party or even inside of her personal birthday party. Therefore she got here to be referred to as the “iron woman” in Uganda.

Having studied gender and politics in Uganda for nearly 3 many years, I adopted her occupation as she turned into one of the crucial most powerful parliamentarians and a mentor to more youthful feminine politicians. She used to be a job type to them and stressed out the significance of balancing paintings and circle of relatives.

Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni lauded her as a true patriot at a vigil held in her honour after she died. However her reviews as an opposition flesh presser are emblematic of the demanding situations confronted by way of political fighters of the regime in Uganda.

She informed Kampala’s The Observer newspaper in 2014 that she had survived 12 makes an attempt on her existence. In 2017, she alleged that safety operatives beat her and her husband for campaigning in opposition to the lifting of the charter’s presidential age prohibit. The age prohibit, which used to be lifted that yr, allowed Museveni – then in his 5th time period – to run for but some other time period and probably rule indefinitely.

Early trailblazer

Ogwal used to be the primary woman to take part in a arithmetic contest backed by way of the Verona Fathers congregation within the early Sixties.

She received a scholarship that allowed her to enrol within the oldest women’ boarding faculty in Uganda, Gayaza Prime Faculty. She used to be one of the crucial first Catholics admitted to Gayaza. Even her father used to be to start with in opposition to her attending the establishment, which were established by way of the (Anglican) Church of England.

She turned into considered one of 4 Ugandan girls to be admitted on an ordeal foundation by way of the College of East Africa, the precursor to the College of Nairobi, in Kenya. There she emerged as the most productive scholar in her box, graduating in 1970 with a Bachelor of Trade level.

Her ordinary achievements didn’t finish there. After marrying Lameck Ogwal in 1965, she went directly to pursue a certified occupation whilst additionally elevating seven of her personal kids and a number of other followed kids.

Her first task in 1979 integrated the location of liaison officer on the Uganda Embassy in Nairobi, serving to Ugandan refugees in Kenya go back to Uganda after Idi Amin’s ouster. In 1980 she assumed the location of operations supervisor on the Uganda Advisory Board of Business.

In 1982 she used to be instrumental in founding the Housing Finance Financial institution, which continues to be in life, and she or he chaired the board of the Uganda Building Financial institution from 1981 to 1986.

However it wasn’t till she entered politics that her assertiveness and unique voice earned her the moniker “iron woman”.

A warrior for democracy

Ogwal first entered political management within the early Nineteen Eighties.

She served because the appearing secretary basic of the Uganda Other people’s Congress from 1985 to 1992. She participated within the constituent meeting that promulgated the 1995 charter.

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

Amongst her contributions, she helped rescind Article 252 from the 1995 charter, which banned multiparty politics. Thus she helped make certain that the rustic transitioned from a de facto unmarried birthday party to multiparty politics in 2005.

In November 2003, after the federal government had introduced 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 at the president in parliament, challenging that he discover a approach to the struggle, even though it supposed in the hunt for world help.

Her difficulties weren’t restricted to the ruling birthday party. She adverse former president Milton Obote, the chief of the Uganda Other people’s Congress, when he referred to as for a boycott of the 1996 elections. Obote were in exile, and she or he felt he used to be out of contact with Uganda. She argued {that a} boycott would wreck the opposition at a time after they had been advocating for multiparty politics.

Her variations with the Uganda Other people’s Congress’ most sensible management got here to a head by way of the early 2000s, and she or he used to be expelled from the birthday party. Ogwal then joined the main opposition birthday party on the time, the Discussion board for Democratic Alternate, and ran for the Dokolo Girl MP seat, which she held from 2011 till her demise.

In her tribute to Ogwal at a distinct consultation of parliament, Speaker of the Area Anita Amongst described this girl, who had as soon as served because the opposition leader whip, as a unifying drive between the opposition and the federal government in parliament.

She recalled the mediating position Ogwal had performed at key political moments, equivalent to when she introduced the 2 contenders in combination following the 2021 speaker election. On multiple instance, she stepped in and helped feuding legislators to bury their variations. For this, she won monumental admire from legislators on both sides or even had her personal reserved seat within the meeting.

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



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