“Man doka aye”

The collective story that appeared in both media houses in Uganda and the East African News Paper contributes for

The hand of death has claimed the life of Hon. Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal, Dokolo District Woman Member of Parliament.

Hon. Cecilia Ogwal, 77, breathed her last on Thursday morning in India after a short illness.

The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, this morning rushed to the deceased’s residence in Bugolobi, an affluent suburb of Kampala, where she condoled with

Lameck Ogwal, the husband of the late legislator.

“It is a pity that she has passed on. We condole with the family, people of Lango and Uganda. Some of us the young ladies joined Parliament because we used to admire Hon. Cecilia Ogwal; the way she was articulate and the way she would discuss issues concerning this country. We have lost a role model,” Among said.

She was accompanied by the Parliamentary Commissioner, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, and other Members of Parliament.

The Secretary General of Lango Parliamentary Group, Hon. Samuel Opio (Indep, Kole North County), also a family member, eulogized the late Ogwal, as the “barometer and compass of Lango.”

“When I was going to stand for Kole North Constituency, it was in this sitting room that she gave me the blessings. I last talked to her about two weeks ago. We have lost an iron lady, a vocal and strong-hearted woman,” he said.

Bugweri County Member of Parliament, Hon. Abdu Katuntu also acknowledged that it is in Ogwal’s sitting room in Bugolobi that his political journey started 30 years ago.
“I would not be a politician but this sitting room changed me from being a lawyer to a politician… Hon. Cecilia was a great woman who would assert her authority,” Katuntu said.

Hon. Mpuuga remembers Ogwal as a rare breed of politician.
“Cecilia was a household name. Every time she picked a microphone, she was speaking country and people. A rare breed of politician because you would not be ashamed of what she would speak,” he said.

Ogwal was one of the longest-serving legislators, having served since 1996. At the time of her death, she was a member of the Committees on Physical Infrastructure and Budget.

She also served as Uganda’s representative to the Pan African Parliament (PAP) and a Parliamentary Commissioner in the 10th Parliament.

Uganda is mourning the death of its first beauty queen, long-serving legislator and senior opposition leader Cecilia Barbra Atim Ogwal, who succumbed to cancer while receiving treatment in India aged 77.

Ogwal passed on Thursday morning, according to family sources and Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament Anita Among.

Mourners, including members of Parliament, opposition leaders and businesspeople thronged her home in Bugolobi, a Kampala suburb following news of her demise.

Ogwal won Uganda’s first beauty pageant in 1969. She later joined politics, becoming an MP for Lira in 1996 and later her home district Dokolo in northern Uganda.

She earned the moniker ‘Iron Lady’ for her way of advocating for women’s rights and democratic principles during the making of Uganda’s Constitution in 1994.

Ogwal is also remembered for holding the fort for the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), a political party led by former president Milton Obote when the latter was in exile in Zambia. She became the face of opposition when political parties were under a ban by President Yoweri Museveni who fought Obote’s government in a guerrilla war, eventually capturing power in 1986.

“She is one of the women I have admired since I was a little girl because she is a lawyer, just like me, and very assertive and passionate about women’s rights” said Laura Kanushu, Parliament’s representative for women with disabilities.

During her time in Parliament, she was also a commissioner, opposition chief whip, chair to various parliamentary committees and a member of the Pan-African Parliament where her performance was recognized by her colleagues at the continental level.

In a meeting of legislators, and at a time when many states were hesitating to take a stand against homosexuality, she stood up for Uganda in the OACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, earning both the nation and herself a standing ovation from representatives in several European countries, especially at a time when Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill passed in May last year, had sparked opposition from western countries.

She spoke as her voice flared up, drawing everyone’s attention, saying, “The new law was conceived to criminalize the commercialization of homosexuality, mainly targeting vulnerable persons, including the physically and mentally impaired, and innocent children in schools.”

Eulogizing Ogwal, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa,

“You were instrumental in guiding and shaping local leaders, as well as advocating for a just global agenda where the voice of the global south was heard especially in the OACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. Your remarkable contributions will forever be etched in the annals of history.”

‘Very brilliant’


Four-time presidential candidate and leading opposition figure in the country Dr Kizza Besigye described Ogwal as a brilliant leader of women.

“She was very brilliant, one of the few strong competent women leaders that our country has raised and a strong leader from the Lango region. It’s a terrible loss for the country,” Besigye said.

In addition, former prime minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda described Ogwal as a consistent leader who firmly spoke her mind about issues she believed in, while Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze said, “Despite being in opposition, her positions were always anchored on logic and not extremism.

Her life

· Born on June 12, 1946 in Dokolo District, Northern Uganda

· Graduated with Bachelor of Commerce from the University of East Africa in Nairobi, (present-day University of Nairobi), in 1967.

· Became Miss Uganda in 1969

· Got a certificate in Human Resources Management from the Institute of Public Administration, present-day Uganda Management Institute (UMI)

· Worked at Uganda’s Embassy in Nairobi from 1979 to 1980, as the Liaison Officer for returning Ugandan refugees

· Worked as operations manager at the Uganda Advisory Board of Trade in 1980-81

· In 1982, she was one of the founders of Housing Finance Bank; working there until 1984

· Served as the Chairperson of Uganda Development Bank, from 1981 until 1986

· Appointed Acting Secretary General of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), 1985 to 1992

· In 1994, she was part of the Constituent Assembly which drafted the 1995 Constitution

· From 1996, Ogwal represented the people of Lira Municipality until 2005 when she lost the UPC party ticket to Jimmy Akena, the son of Milton Obote

· In 2011, Ogwal contested and won the Women’s Representative seat for the newly created Dokolo District, a position she held until her death

· Cecilia Ogwal was a loving wife to Lameck Ogwal and a mother of seven children

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