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Muloni: From a Budadiri village girl to a minister

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st July 2011 03:00 AM

The darkness would slowly fall. Soon she wouldn’t be able to read her notes. She would close her book, keep it away for the next day at school. Leaving in a home without electricity, dusk marked the end of this young girl’s studies for another day. Her name: Irene Muloni.

By Vicky Wandawa

The darkness would slowly fall. Soon she wouldn’t be able to read her notes. She would close her book, keep it away for the next day at school. Leaving in a home without electricity, dusk marked the end of this young girl’s studies for another day. Her name: Irene Muloni.

“I was an ordinary girl, living an ordinary life, walking five miles to school and fetching water over a long distance,” she recollects.

Fast forward and Muloni’s life is anything but ordinary. She has enjoyed many achievements, including holding top jobs in Uganda Electircity Board and UMEME from 2001 to 2010. Last month, she was appointed energy minister.

Muloni was born on November 18, 1960, in Budadiri, to a now retired primary school head-teacher and a housewife.

She went to Budadiri Girls’ Primary School and she had an exceptional interest in education. “I was keen on education and loved it,” she happily reminisces.

Amid walking five miles to and from school and household chores, she always read through the day’s notes and the hard work paid off as she topped her class, right to the end of her primary education.

“I worked hard and when the Primary Leaving Examinations results were released, I was the best in my school.”

Though excited about her success, Muloni was not certain where she would go for secondary school. “One of my aunts lived in Kampala. She had noticed my brilliance and asked me to apply to Gayaza High School.”

After a while, one of Muloni’s teachers came to her parents’ home with the news, that she had been admitted to Gayaza. “We had no postal address, so my admission letter came via the Budadiri Girls post office box.”

Although she was moving to the city from a humble background in Budadiri, the ordinary girl was not intimidated; she maintained her stability at the top.

 “I was the last on the admission list to Gayaza but by the time I left, I was on top,” she proudly says.

Soon she was in Senior Four. Each student’s parent was expected to go to the school to discuss the student’s subject choice for A’Level. Muloni’s parents could not make it, so her class teacher stepped in. “My teacher and I could not easily reach a decision because I was good at both the sciences and arts.”

The two finally chose Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Muloni yet again excelled and was admitted to Makerere University, to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

She graduated in 1986. She got married to Felix Muloni and they have four biological children. She also has two step-daughters.

From 1991, she worked with Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation for five years as an engineer. She then went on to work with Uganda Electricity Board. For the first two years, she was a Senior Protection engineer and then served as a senior communication engineer for the next two years. She then moved on to serve as a communication engineer, a position she held for three years.

From October 2001 to April 2002, she was the manager, customer service for Kampala area, Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited. From 2002 until 2011, she was the managing director of the same firm.

After years in the engineering world, Muloni made a career change to politics.

So why the change? She desired to serve Ugandans more and what better way than to represent them in Parliament?

“It’s important to ask yourself how you can improve other people’s lives. I was able to serve different people as manager and I had reached the top position. I asked myself how else I could serve the people of Uganda and leave a mark? That’s how I came to the decision to join politics,” she says.

However, she notes that the decision was not without her husband and family’s approval. “I needed their approval because whatever I do impacts on them. They were all supportive of my decision, and during the campaigns, often moved with me.”

She became MP and was then appointed the Minister of Energy, which position she is excited about.

“I am excited about the President’s decision to appoint women in numerous ministerial positions. We should not let him down.”

She continues, “I pray that my sisters and I achieve the goals the President has set for us. This status will encourage girls to aspire for political positions.”

Muloni is confident that choosing women to head key ministries was wise because they are hardworking, committed and sincere.

“We stretch and work doubly hard. When given a challenge, especially where people do not expect us to excel, the societal bias compels us to deliver.”

She also confesses that since she was appointed minister, women have been begging her not to disappoint them.

“They say to me, please do not disappoint us, keep the banner flying.”

So how is this career woman, wife and mother able to excel in her different roles?

“Find time for everything,” is her simple answer.

“Our lives are divided into four aspects; the individual, the family, career and community. We need all these to be happy, so there is need to find time for them all; however, the time allocated for all doesn’t have to be balanced.”

She adds that hard work, positive thinking, commitment and integrity have shaped her way to success. For a successful marital relationship, she says it’s all about respect for one another, no matter who contributes more to the family financially.

Muloni is one person bent on sharing her secrets for success and one of her social activities is holding motivational talks with the youth. At her home, she has young people over once in a while for talks on how to make it in life.

She is a 50-year-old grandmother, but barely looks her age. Her secret, “Happiness. I am always positive and do not keep bitterness. It’s poison to the body.”

Muloni: From a Budadiri village girl to a minister

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