The Life And Times of ‘Iron Lady’ Cecilia Ogwal

Uganda’s celebrated woman politician -the outspoken veteran who always challenged President Yoweri Museveni’s government Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal has died at the age of 77.

Popularly know as the iron lady ,Ogwal has been Member of Parliament for the Dokolo District Women’s Constituency since 1996 and had earlier in 2020 collapsed while in parliament . 

Family sources said the aging Ogwal was suffering from cancer and had been flown to a hospital in India where she died Thursday morning.

Ogwal has been serving as a member of the parliamentary Committee of Physical Infrastructure in charge of overseeing and covering policy matters related to Lands, Housing, Urban development, Works and Transport, and Physical Planning. 

She was a strong believer in multi-party democracy and once told the media thus: “In my understanding of politics, I strongly believe that it’s only through multiparty politics that we can get a fair deal. It gives an environment of dialogue, competition and an environment where everybody has a role to play.

Life and times of Ogwal

Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal was born on June 12, 1946, in Aduku, Kwania County, Dokolo District in Northern Uganda. She is Roman Catholic.

Ogwal was born to Rosemary Apio (mother) and the late Opio Boniface (father), from the Dokolo district in Northern Uganda. 

Cecilia Ogwal got married to Lameck Ogwal in 1970 at Christ the King Church. She is the mother of several adopted children in addition to seven biological children. She attended Ngeta Boarding Primary School, Lira for her primary education. 

She then went to Sacred Heart Secondary, Gulu for her Ordinary Level of education where she participated in an essay writing competition in 1963 and won. 

She later joined Gayaza High School, for her Advanced level of education after being invited by Joan Cox and the intervention of a minister from the Lango sub-region who promised her father that the school would guarantee her a chance to join university. 

In 1967 at the age of 21, Ogwal became one of the first four women in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania) to enrol in a Bachelor of Commerce program at the University of Nairobi, where she graduated in 1970. 

As the Liaison Officer for Returning Ugandan Refugees from 1979 to 1980, Ogwal worked at the Uganda Embassy in Kenya. 

She was employed by the Uganda Advisory Board of Trade from 1980 to 1981 as the Operations Manager. 

She helped create Housing Finance Bank in 1982 and stayed on as one of its first employees until 1984. From 1981 to 1986, she presided as Chairperson of the Uganda Development Bank.

She was involved in politics in Uganda and held the position of interim secretary general for the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) from 1985 until 1992. 

She participated in the Constituent Assembly in 1994, which created and adopted the 1995 Ugandan Constitution. Up until 2004, she continued to have a significant position in the UPC political party.

Cecilia lost her Lira Municipality seat in the 2006 parliamentary elections to Jimmy Akena, the son of UPC founder Milton Obote.

She ran for and was elected to the Women’s Representative position for the recently established Dokolo District in 2011. She ran as a member of the Forum for Democratic Change party this time after switching parties.

Cecilia Ogwal won the first runner up in the 1969 Miss Brook bond Tea beauty pageant when she was 23 years old.

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