Whenever an unknown person comes into the limelight, most of us are keen on knowing everything about them.
We want to discover interesting things about their lives, relationships, failures, ambitions, dreams and so many other personal things. Some are willing to share such details with the world while others prefer to keep it to themselves.
Florence Nebanda Andiru, the new Woman Member of Parliament for Butaleja District, and sister to Cerinah Nebanda, who held that position at the time she died, is one of those who is mindful about privacy.
The 27-year-old legislator hardly opens up to people she barely knows about her personal life.
I noticed it during a brief phone conversation and then in a one-on-one meeting with her.
The phone conversation happened about two weeks ago when I called to request for an interview. It was mainly to discuss her home life; she told me how unappealing the idea was to her.
“I do not like discussing my personal life with the media. It is my personal business. If you want an interview, that is fine but we shall only be talking about my work,” Andiru asserted.
I tried to explain that such an interview would help people, especially those in Butaleja, know who she was.
“Do not insist. If you really need one, let it be about my work,” she replied even more assertively. At this point, I was afraid that she would hang up, so I hurriedly agreed to her suggestion.
We zeroed in on a date to meet at her new office at Parliament and it was from this meeting that I further discovered how heavily she guards her privacy. On that particular day, I was at Parliament by noon which was the agreed time of the meeting.
Dressed in a brown and black patterned kitenge, Andiru, who is of medium height, warmly welcomed me to her office with a soft handshake and immediately offered me a seat.
She has a smooth face and her hair was neatly combed backwards.
I found it intriguing that the Woman MP who had just ushered me into her office was hardly known around this time last year.
Andiru came into the political limelight earlier this year when she was nominated to stand on the National Resistance Movement (NRM) ticket for the Butaleja Woman MP seat, which fell vacant after the death of her younger sister, Cerinah Nebanda, 23, last December.
As much as our earlier agreement was not to discuss anything about her or family life, I tried to persuade her to reconsider the thought.
“My dear, I cannot tell you those things because they are private matters,” she stated with a bit of laughter.
Even with that answer, I kept pushing her until she told me just a little bit.
She was born in Entebbe to Peter Waiga (now deceased) and Alice Namulwa; she was raised with her sister, who was five years younger.
One of the things that she loved doing with Cerinah as they were growing up was arguing over various political matters.
“We loved arguing over all sorts of things ranging from ministers to the sorry state of various infrastructures such as roads, schools and hospitals,” she states.
Things in common
Andiru believes that it must have been these discussions that sparked both their passion for politics. It was a passion that both wanted to pursue. Her sister was able to do that when she was elected in 2011.
Andiru, on the other hand, had left the country immediately after her Senior Six to study in the UK. This was nine years ago. She had hoped to continue staying in the UK but after the untimely death of her sister, she came back to be by her mother’s side during the tough moments.
It was around that time when she decided to stand for the by-elections, which were held in February and she beat her four opponents, gathering 27, 338 votes, which was a 57.6 per cent win.
As she commences her parliamentary work, Andiru hopes that individuals do not compare her to Cerinah since they are totally different people.
However, if it does happen, she says she will not change. “I am not going to change for anyone. I am simply going to remain the Florence I was even before entering Parliament.”
Her biggest priority is finishing the projects her sister was involved in. Some of these included building schools, roads and hospitals for the people of Butaleja.
She knows she has the full support of her family as well as the president whom she praises for having helped her a lot during the campaigns. “He was very supportive and encouraging when I was aspiring for the seat. He is like a father to me,” she states.
At this point, I ask her if there are any other people besides the President and family members whom she is close to.
“I cannot tell you that. That is personal,” she replies with a simple smile while reminding me of our earlier agreement not to ask about her private life.
At the same time, she gently tells me not to bother myself if I am going to ask her any other personal question such as which man she was dating, if she has children or not, her best and worst life experiences so far, or her life in the UK.
“I know you want the information badly but I am not going to give it to you. As I told you before, those are very private matters that I do not want other people who are not very close to me to know,” she emphasises.
It is from here that I realise that no amount of persuasion is going to work, I decide to drop the subject.
Meanwhile, she promises to work very hard just like Cerinah Nebanda and hopefully stand again for the Butaleja seat when the next Parliamentary elections take place in 2016.