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Men and women are equal, but not uniform

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Added 8th March 2019 02:02 PM

As we cerebrate National Women’s Day, where the theme is “…think equal, build smart and innovate for change,” we should ensure that men and women are equal but not uniform.

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Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi

As we cerebrate National Women’s Day, where the theme is “…think equal, build smart and innovate for change,” we should ensure that men and women are equal but not uniform.

By Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi

Just like the legendary Biblical and Qur’anic story of creation where we had a pair of Adam and Eva, in Buganda and the Great Lakes Region, we had Kintu and Nambi.

According to the Baganda’s legend, Kintu was poor when still single, but became a wealthy man and a king, upon marriage of Nambi, a daughter of Gulu who came with all the riches.

After Kintu had become king and disappeared, he was succeeded by one of his sons Chwa Nabakka who also disappeared and Kalemeera, the son of Chwa Nabakka had fled to Bunyoro and died on his as he returned.

Two prominent ladies, who were mistresses of Kabaka Chwa Nabakka; Nnakku at Ganda and Najjuka at Kireka plotted to import Kimera from Bunyoro who was installed the Kabaka. Kimera is the undisputed founder of the 700 year current dynasty of Buganda.

Bunyoro and Buganda were twin rival states despite a common origins of Luo Babiito; Isingoma Mpuuga Rukiidi of Bunyoro and Kato Kimera of Buganda. So Kabaka Winyi fought with Kabaka Nakibinge and Bunyoro captured Gomba and Butambala counties. Nakibinge was killed and the Baganda were almost drowned into Lake Victoria. They had to hire mercenaries from Sese islands led by Kibuuka Omumbaale and drove Bunyoro out of Mawokota, Gomba and Butambala and extended even further.

In those long battles, the role of Nakibinge’s wife, Nannono, who used to sharpen reeds as the Baganda army had run out of spears, could not be undermined. Nannono’s co-wife Namulondo, played a role in installing her son Mulondo, as the Kabaka. When he grew up, a throne was prepared for him and thus it was named Namulondo up-to-date.

In the Buganda kingdom, there was no queen as the Kabaka was polygamous, marrying almost from all other clans. But the senior wife, Kaddulubaale, was very important. However, there was Namasole (queen mother) and Nnaalinnya (Princess Royal) and those were very important offices reserved for women. They are still important up to today.

Namasole Muganzirwazza, the queen mother of Kabaka Muteesa l almost wiped out the royal family, killing royal and imaginary rivals to her son.

Her official sister, Nnaalinnya Muggale, was equally powerful ever present in the Lukiiko (Buganda’s parliament).

In the colonial period, when royal families embraced Christianity and there was an official wife, the role of Nabagereka as Kabaka’s official wife is very important. She is the role model for women’s fashions be traditional or modern and Lady Irene Drusilla Namaganda, the official wife of Kabaka Daudi Chwa ll, Damalie Nakawombe Nabagereka  that of Sir Edward Muteesa ll and Sylivia Nagginda of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi ll have played it very well.

Women have continued to lead in other areas like Dr. Josephine Nambooze, the first African medical doctor in Sub Saharan Africa, Florence Lubega, the first woman in Legislative Council and later first Deputy Minister in Uganda’s post first independence government, Princess Elizabeth Bagaya, Sarah Ntiiro ,the first woman graduate, the first woman cabinet minister, Foreign Minister under Idi Amin’s regime, and many others likr Joyce Mpanga, Namirembe Bitamazire, Rhida Kalema, among others.

The role of first ladies like Sarah Kisosonkole, the Queen Mother of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi ll, Mama Miria Kalule Obote, Mama Malyamu Amin, Norah Amin, Kay Amin, Madiina Amin and Sarah Amin, and Mrs Janet Kataha Museveni, in women emancipation and promoting a girl child have been visible.

Sarah Kisosonkole’s was short lived, from 1963 to 1966, but Mama Miria worked closely with Mothers Union.

Amin founded National Council of Women the precursor of National Womens Council.

Maama Janet Museveni did not only participate in the liberation struggle against Amin and Obote dictatorial regimes, but also founded UWESO, which for a long time, has been catering for widows and orphans.

In the liberation struggle, the role of Lt. Gen. Prsocovia Nalweyiso, Hajjati Capt. Janati Balunzi Mukwaya now Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Capt. Gertrude Njuba, Capt. Oliver Zizinga, and many others, was very significant.

By the time NRA now UPDF captured Kampala, it had a women battalion commanded by Nalweyiso. In UNLA there was an attempt to recruit women in 1979 especially by FRONASA faction under Museveni, but almost all of them were dismissed or not married by some officers and men.

After capturing state power, NRM reserved one post at all levels for a woman in addition to her being at liberty to compete with men in other posts. These include the district Woman Member of Parliament.

The Constituent Assembly expanded this to one third in every local government council, which has been kept up to today.

For the first time under NRM Government, we had not only a good number of women as cabinet ministers, ministers of states, deputy ministers and assistant ministers, permanent secretaries, undersecretaries, but also the Vice President, Dr.Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, and  the Speaker and deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga and Betty Okwir and also Prof. Victoria Mwaka who was Deputy Chairperson Constituent Assembly.

Among the ministers were Gertrude Njuba, Joyce Mpanga, Victoria Ssekitooleko, Rhoda Kalema, Florence Lubega Byekwaso, Betty Bigombe, Namirembe Bitamazire, Miria Matembe, Mary Karooro Okurut, Esther Mbayo, Betty Aketch, among others. For Under Secretaries, there was Princess Dorothy Nassolo, sister to Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, who was for a long time, Under Secretary Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Then Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) including Zerida Rwabushagara, Margret Baryehuki, Victoria Namusisi Nalongo, Rose Munyonyi Masaba and many others.

Recently, we had female presidential candidates; Maama Mira Obote in 2006 on a UPC ticket, Betty Kamya in 2011 under Uganda Federal Alliance and Princess Maurine Kyalya, who was on an independent ticket.

In the judiciary, we had the late Justice Leticia Kikonyogo as Deputy Chief Justice and others like Justice Julia Sebutinde judge on the International Court of Justice and Justice Solomy Balungi Bossa a Ugandan judge on the International Criminal Court. Justice Catherine Bamugemereire is also making headlines on land matters.

In the media, apart from war correspondents like the late Caroline Lamwaka who used to work with the New Vision during the war in the northern of Uganda in late 80s eighties and early 90s, there are other female journalists and broadcasters who have made a mark. Among these is the New Vision Editor-in -Chief Barbara Kaija, and New Vision news editor Hellen Mukiibi, among others.

So, according to the late Col. Muammar El Qaddaffi, who was one of the champions of the women emancipation in Africa, African women should not copy paste from the West where women have turned into masculine, but should only fight for their rights while remaining feminine.

Even the pre-colonial Africa had such, although there was some oppression like denying women a chance to eat nutritious foods like chicken and grass hoppers.

As we cerebrate National Women’s Day, where the theme is “…think equal, build smart and innovate for change,” we should ensure that men and women are equal but not uniform.

The writer is a communications assistant and regional co-ordinator of the Central Region at Government Citizen Interaction Center (GCIC) at Ministry of ICT and National Guidance

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