In the early hours of January 18, 2024, Uganda lost a political giant, Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal, who breathed her last at the age of 77, at the same time Uganda is hosting G-77 Summit. Fondly known as the ‘Iron Lady’ in Ugandan political circles, Cecilia Ogwal dedicated her life to challenging the status quo and advocating for a better Uganda.
Born on December 6, 1946, in Dokolo District, Northern Uganda, Cecilia Ogwal’s journey began in local schools in Uganda. At the age of 21, she embarked on her academic pursuits at the University of East Africa in Nairobi, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1970. Her commitment to education extended to certifications in Human Resources Management, Christian-Based Values from the Haggai Institute in Singapore, and Public-Private Partnership from Australia.
Ogwal’s professional journey saw her contribute significantly to various sectors, from working at the Uganda Embassy in Kenya to being a founding member of Housing Finance Bank and serving as the Chairperson of Uganda Development Bank. Her involvement in politics commenced in 1985 when she became the Acting Secretary General of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), a position she held until 1992.
In a noteworthy move, Ogwal switched allegiance from UPC to the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in 2011, signaling her commitment to a revolutionary agenda for Uganda. This shift was not the first time she displayed independence, as she had previously defied a directive from deceased party leader Milton Obote in 1996, to boycott elections, successfully winning the Lira Municipality seat.
Throughout her political career, Ogwal was a staunch critic of President Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). In a 1993 interview with Courier Magazine, she expressed concerns about the country moving towards dictatorship, urging the outside world to assist in preventing further entrenchment.
Ogwal’s resilience and commitment were evident in her walkout from Parliament in 2003, demanding President Museveni’s resignation if he couldn’t seek international help to end the war in Northern Uganda. Her legacy as a long-serving politician who fought for the common man’s progress will be remembered for generations to come.
Her contributions to Uganda’s political landscape earned her the nickname “Iron Lady,” a testament to her unwavering spirit. Even in her final days, she remained a vocal critic of the NRM, breathing her last on January 18, 2024, in an Indian health facility after a brief illness.
Eulogies from prominent figures, such as former Kasese District MP Winnie Kizza, journalist Allan Kasujja, and Speaker Annet Anita Among, reflect the profound impact Cecilia Ogwal had on the nation. Her passing leaves a void in Uganda’s political arena, but her legacy as the ‘Iron Lady’ will continue to inspire those who strive for a better future.
As Makerere University Convocation fondly recalls her visit during the Pan African Women’s Organization Makerere Club launch, and the Ministry of ICT mourns the loss of a great asset to the nation, Ugandans unite in remembering and celebrating the life of Hon. Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal. May her soul rest in eternal peace. “Until we meet again, RIP Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal (6 December 1946-18th January 2024). ‘In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.’ Proverbs 16:9.”
- Mr. Daniels N. Tatya is an affluent Sports Writer, Commentator and Editor. His over 15 years of covering almost major sporting events makes him a revered and an authority on investigative Sports journalism in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected] +256(0)758268315
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