March 8 will be celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Day and in commemoration of this year’s Women’s Day, I am pleased to pay tribute to 10 distinguished ladies who were not born in Uganda, but are Ugandans by marriage. They have done Uganda proud in various fields of human endeavour and deserve to be recognised and honoured for the wonderful roles they played for our country.
The 10 women are: Ms Daisy Buruku (Tanzania), Dr Thelma Awori (Liberia), Ms Patricia Lubega (USA), Ms Althea Kironde (USA), Ms Camille Aliker (USA), Ms Angelina Wapakhabulo (Tanzania), Ms Zahara Etiang (Tanzania), Ms Susan Senoga (Tanzania), Ms Lurlleen Onaba (Trinidad & Tobago) and Ms Pumla Kisosonkole (South Africa).
The story of the above women and many others reminds me of the story of Ruth who is mentioned by the apostle Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of God. Ruth was not an Israelite, but a Moabite woman who was the great- grandmother of King David. Although she was a foreigner, Ruth was deeply devoted to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Ruth’s story inspired me to write this opinion which is dedicated to foreign women who have become Ugandan citizens by marriage and who have profoundly enriched our beloved country in many ways.
First, Ms Daisy Aisha Buruku from Tanzania. Her husband, Mr Tom Buruku, is a dear friend and Daisy is my fellow alumni of the University of East Africa, class of 1970. Daisy and Tom met when both were students at the University of East Africa, Dar es Salaam campus. They fell in love, got married in 1970 and are blessed with four wonderful children. Daisy is as committed to Uganda as she is to Tanzania. She is, in fact, so committed to Uganda that after retirement she volunteered to be a member of The Elders Forum of Uganda (TEFU) and is the vice chairperson of TEFU.
Ms Buruku served with distinction from 1977 to 1986 as headmistress of Nabisunsa Girls SS, which is one Uganda’s leading schools.
She completed a two-year MA course in Public Administration at Makerere University in 1988 and joined UNHCR thereafter. She worked in a variety of positions at headquarters in Geneva and at UNHCR country offices in Malawi, Ethiopia, Liberia, Gabon, Rwanda and Kenya. She retired from UNHCR in 2007.
Second, Dr Thelma Awori, Honorary Consul of Liberia to Uganda. Dr Awori is married to Mr Aggrey Awori, former MP of Busia and minister of ICT. Aggrey and Thelma met at the prestigious Harvard University, USA during 1960s when they were students of that institution. She obtained a PhD in 2006 from another prestigious institution, Columbia University in New York City.
Ms Awori came to Uganda in 1965 and taught Sociology at the Centre for Continuing Education of Makerere University where she was senior lecturer from 1965 to 1977. After Uganda, she joined the UN system; from 1992-1996 she was UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Harare, Zimbabwe. She rose through the ranks to become UN assistant secretary general and director of UNDP’s Africa bureau based in New York. Right from 1965, Ms Awori has been an active participant in the just struggle of the Women of Uganda for gender equality.
Third, Ms Patricia Lubega, wife of ambassador Matiya Lubega, a distinguished career diplomat who was my boss at the Embassy of Uganda, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in the 1970s. Ms Patricia Lubega born in Detroit, Michigan, USA is an elegant and gracious lady with an impressive resume. She is mother of six and grandmother of 11 children. In Addis Ababa, she was instrumental in establishing an “African Women’s Association” which represented women at UN conferences during the 1970s.
She is an author who has written three books with more in the pipeline. During her stay in Uganda she wrote and staged a special production for Uganda Television called “Back to School” and a play which was performed at Uganda’s National Theatre.
I wish all women of Uganda a happy International Women’s Day. Remember, women’s rights are fundamental human rights.
To be continued.
Mr Acemah is a political scientist and retired career diplomat.