Parliament honours her
Florence Alice Lubega, Uganda’s first female parliamentarian was last week honored by Parliament for having laid the foundation stone of Uganda’s legislative body and hence democracy in the country. The history-making legislator was also lucky to return to Parliament on the same day she celebrated her 100th birthday.
Filled with joy, Lubega was visibly happy to return to the chambers she last sat in as an active member more than 55 years ago. Lubega was the only woman in a 6-person Membership of the Legislative Council (LEGCO) that was held between 1958 and 1961.
Accompanied by Parliamentary staff and her niece, the centenarian was taken to the seat she once occupied – at the right hand side of the Speaker.
Unlike in the common practice of receiving dead bodies of former Parliamentarians, this time round Parliament perhaps rightly decided is to honor Florence Alice Lubega while still alive.
Touring the Chambers on Monday in company her niece Florence Settimba, Florence Lubega said she was happy for having worked to ensure the the building of the current Parliamentary building among other national issues.
At independence in October 1962, she was then elected as a Member of Parliament for Mityana, where she advocated for human rights observance and enjoyment especially the recognition of the rights of girls to attain education.
Uganda’s first Parliament had two women representatives. Sugra H.A Visram, an Indian represented Kibuga while Florence Lubega represented Singo North West (Mityana).
Lubega was later appointed as the first female Minister for Community Development and Labour. She expressed excitement at the fact that not only is today’s Parliament has a significant number of women MPs, it is also presided over by a woman.
“I feel good now that there are more women in politics and at different levels of leadership,” Florence Lubega .
Lubega served as a minister under Obote’s regime and she retained her portfolio even when President Idi Amin over throw Obote’s government.
Sharing her story with the much younger Parliamentary staff and reporters, Hon Lubega said she later had to go into exile in the United Kingdom after Amin wanted to turn her into his wife which she was not ready for despite the fact that her husband Saulo Lubega had died.
Counsel to the Nation
Asked what advice she had for the current MPs, Lubega challenged all politicians across the political divide to be patriotic and work towards uplifting the country at all times, regardless of their political affiliations and ethnic background.
She also challenged the current parliamentarians to engage but also promote agriculture rather than focusing on politics only.
Lubega says that despite her fairly secure living, she maintained the farm she owned with her late husband. She argued that farming is an occupation that sustain someone even after quitting politics.
Lubega also expressed gratitude towards the leadership of Parliament that saw it befitting to honour her and organised the historic visit.
Bukomasimbi District Woman MP Ruth Katushabe also thanked Speaker Kadaga for visit Parliament while still alive.
“Even if we didn’t know her, she is one the ladies that laid the foundation for all of us women to believe in ourselves. And being a Member of Parliament now is a source of pride for me,” said Katushabe.
Yumbe District Woman MP Driwaru Zaitun said it was exciting to see a woman who is considered a weaker sex to make it to that age. Driwaru stressed that being one of the 1st female MPs of that time, means she took good care of herself.