Pre-independence female lawmaker says current debates in Uganda disappointing

Frances Akello was one of the first women representatives in parliament shortly before Uganda got its independence from 1960-62.

A teacher by profession Akello was only 24 when she stepped into the Legislative Council commonly known as Legico. She served until independence and went back into teaching after.

I caught up with her in Soroti where she works for the Teso cultural institution after retirement.

Frances Akello.

Akello told me she was disappointed at the level of debate in the current parliament.

“Our debates were nationalist in nature. We wanted independence and good services for all Ugandans, it didn’t matter where you were from,” she said. “Comparing that time with today the house has found itself debating personalities and few times do they debate issues with a national interest.”

Akello said her disappointment has been “since independence we haven’t identified ourselves as Ugandans and this is reflected in parliament how people only discuss what benefits ‘their people’.”

“It’s all about what are you, whether you are from the west or north or central. I am disheartened.”

She said that lack of national identity was also seen in service delivery.

“We are becoming more selfish, unfocused on the nation, shortsighted and more corrupt every day.”

However Akello still believes there’s still room for the country to put itself back on the road and achieve what the pre-independence leaders fought for.

Akello also said she was happy with the increase in women representation in parliament from about 5 percent in her time to now about 31 percent.

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