Legendary long-reigning Member of Parliament and Dokolo District Woman Representative, Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal has died aged 77.
Ogwal, passed away on Thursday in a hospital in India where she was reportedly undergoing treatment for a cancer-related illness. News about her sudden demise was disclosed by the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Annet Among on Thursday morning.
“The Rt. Hon. Speaker regrets to announce the death of Dokolo District Woman MP, Hon. Cecilia Ogwal. It is a sad day for her family, the people of Lango, the Parliament of Uganda, and the entire country,” Among announced.
“We mourn the death of a political matriarch. Details of the funeral arrangements will be announced later,” added the Speaker.
Several Ugandans joined the Speaker to mourn the departed lawmaker, whose political career in the August House dates back to 1994 during the Constituent Assembly which drafted and promulgated the 1995 Constitution.
“She has been a great leader in the opposition who didn’t have a problem meeting the President as long as it’s a matter of working for her people. She will surely be missed,” John Paul Guminikiriza commiserated.
Dr. Sarah Bireete, a Human Rights Defender and Executive Director at the Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG) expressed shock saying, it was “extremely sad and shocking news about the passing of Uganda’s Iron Lady.”
Among the Opposition figures in the country, Ogwal was considered a fearless legislator who dared to tell President Yoweri Museveni the truth whenever the two could meet during public functions. For instance, in June 2022, Ogwal faced off with the President at Barlegi State Lodge in Otuke District where Museveni was meeting Acholi and Lango leaders.
She decried the rising cases of child mothers in the region, advocated for more affirmative action for women, and tasked the government to equip post-war households in the north with oxen and ox-ploughs to promote agriculture to ensure food security.
She was among the MPs who supported the enactment of the anti-LGBTQ+ law, and kept referring to the promoters of same-sex marriage as ‘advocates a force from hell’.
The deceased served as Acting Secretary General of the Uganda People’s Congress – UPC and remained a high-ranking official in the UPC political party until 2004. During the 2006 parliamentary elections, she lost her Lira Municipality seat to Jimmy Akena, the son of UPC founder, and former President Apollo Milton Obote.
In 2011, Ogwal switched political parties and contested and won the Women’s Representative seat for the newly created Dokolo District and ran as a full member of the Forum for Democratic Change – FDC party until her demise.
The deceased legislator was a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Physical Infrastructure in charge of overseeing and covering policy matters related to Lands, Housing, Urban Development, Works and Transport, and Physical Planning. She was also a member of the budget committee.
Ogwal, the former Miss Uganda in 1969, at the age of 23 was born on 12 June 1946. She was married to Lameck Ogwal and the couple is blessed with seven biological children and several adopted ones.
She was a graduate of Commerce from the University of Nairobi). She also holds a Certificate in Human Resources Management from what was then called the Institute of Public Administration but is now known as the Uganda Management Institute. She holds two other certificates; one in Christian Based Values from the Haggai Institute, Singapore, and the other in Public Private Partnership, from Australia.
Ogwal worked at the Uganda Embassy in Kenya, as the Liaison Officer for Returning Ugandan Refugees. Further, she worked as the Operations Manager at the Uganda Advisory Board of Trade. She was one of the founders of the Housing Finance Bank in 1982.
She becomes the 4th serving Member of the 11th Parliament to pass on after Bishop Patrick Okabe the Representative for Serere County, former Speaker Jacob Oulanyah (Omoro County), Charles Okello Macodwogo Engola of Oyam North Constituency.