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Nothing extraordinary about my childhood - Byanyima

By Umaru Kashaka

Added 27th December 2016 10:26 AM

"I was a daughter of two school teachers. I was brought up in a house on the suburbs of Mbarara town then, but in our house there was no electricity or water,"

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"I was a daughter of two school teachers. I was brought up in a house on the suburbs of Mbarara town then, but in our house there was no electricity or water,"

The executive director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima. Photos by Meddi Musisi


The executive director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, has said there was nothing extraordinary about her childhood only that she was better off than other girls.

The wife of the former Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, said this recently during an interview with New Vision at her home in Kasangati, Wakiso district.

"I was a daughter of two school teachers. I was brought up in a house on the suburbs of Mbarara town then, but in our house there was no electricity or water," she recalled.

She, however, noted that because her parents were knowledgeable and teachers, they knew the need for clean water so they invested in a rain water tank.

Winnie, as she is fondly called by many was born to Boniface and Gertrude Byanyima in a family of seven in Ruti, around 4km along the Mbarara-Kabale highway.

She went to St Hellen's Primary School for her primary education.

For her O and A levels respectively, she was at Mt St Mary's, Namagunga and Kings College Budo before joining the University of Manchester for her Bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

With a first class degree, she became the first female Ugandan to become an aeronautical engineer.  

Winnie said unlike the other children in the village, she did not have to go every day to the river to fetch water.

 xecutive director of xfam nternational innie yanyima with her husband r izza esigye the former orum for emocratic hange presidential candidate Executive director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima with her husband Dr Kizza Besigye, the former Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate

 
"I only went in the dry season when our tank ran out of water. So by not going to the river, I had time to do homework and because my parents were teachers they knew that we need a good light and a reading table," she said.

She said her parents invested in a table and a good pressure lamp for them and made time for them to read and looked after them to do homework.

"So I had an edge. I was ahead of other children because of having two parents who are educated. But if you look at it from a global perspective, they weren't rich. But in terms of our village, they were the richer people and they were educated so I was a step ahead," she stated.

The former Mbarara Municipality MP said when she looks back and sees the girls she was with in primary school, she becomes sad because she was not the cleverest.  
"Maybe the one in the global job, but I wasn't always the cleverest in the class. Yeah, I was good; intelligent. I was blessed with that, but there were others who could be better than me many times. When I look back, they are not where I am; some didn't make it beyond Primary Seven," she said.

Winnie lashed out at the Government for failing to close the inequality gap.

"So there are wide inequalities between us. We need to understand that and people in leadership should be working to reduce this, not to widen them further.  I would like to see today that those kids who were born in their villages have as good a chance to make it globally like I did," she said.

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