I am dedicated to helping others as I was helped – Namayanja

Rose Namayanja Nsereko is the Deputy Secretary General of the ruling National Resistance Movement Organisation in Uganda. She was appointed to the position following the February 2021 General Election which the NRM chairman Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni won a 6th term as President. Before becoming second in command at the NRM secretariat, Namayanja served as the party National Treasurer from March 2015.

The seasoned politician, who started her political journey as a founder member of the radical Uganda Young Democrats, the firebrand youth wing of the opposition Democratic Party, has since served in various government ministerial positions. Before embarking on party leadership she served as the Minister for Information and National Guidance between May 2013 and March 2015. Prior to that she served as Minister of State for Luwero Triangle in the Office of the Prime Minister from May 27, 2011 to May 24 2013. She had previously in 2006 been elected as Woman Member of Parliament for Nakaseke District. She represented the women for 10 years until 2016.

Nakaseke is located in the Greater Luwero Triangle, where Namayanja’s young life started as she narrates;

“I attribute the ignition of my leadership consciousness to joining Light College Katikamu in 1989, and particularly, to the service in the Chapel in this SDA Church-affiliated school given the culture of daily chapel prayers and worship services. Following my conversion to the SDA Church faith in Senior 2 at the same school, the chaplain of the school – Elder Samuel Kajoba (now Bishop of the SDA Church in Central Uganda Conference – Buganda region) deliberately picked me to lead chapel service, one day including preaching and praying. Honestly, it was quite terrifying for me to stand before an audience of more than 1,000 students – not just to read a verse but to deliver a sermon. I pretended to be sick, but the Chaplain insisted that I should lead the prayers and give the words of exhortation.  After the benediction, the Chaplain informed me that I had done so well and encouraged me to improve on that performance.  Since then I became a regular preacher.  This did not only enhance my knowledge of the Bible, but greatly boosted my confidence levels and self-esteem and public speaking skills.

By the time I wrote my Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations in that same school, I had become a prolific debater, cum orator.  Even during the period of A-level, I would organize and lead academic discussions and seminars with other schools.  It was such confidence levels I displayed in the University, that made it possible for me to weather all storms and scale all hurdles with relative ease. This stage in life was a great contributor to my political life going forward.

My active participation in debates at high school made it easier for me to participate in debating activities at Makerere University which were the springboard for my active involvement in students politics and later participating in formation of Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) which was a firebrand opposition political organisation aligned to the Democratic Party (DP).

The debates at the University that time were directly linked with what was going on at National level particularly the proceedings in the Constituency Assembly, therefore as leaders in UYD, we decided to begin attending CA debates in the strangers’ gallery.

It was during this time that I had the opportunity of seeing the people I had been reading about in the newspapers and watching on television.  This blind association encouraged me to keep going back.  I used to skip majority of my first year lectures to attend the congress of the National Caucus for Democracy (NCD) which was the opposition caucus in the CA on support basis.

Each time I sat in the Public (Observer) Gallery, I paid attention to two categories of people; the youth and women.  Some of the young men who really influenced me were the late Noble Mayombo, the late Serwanga Lwanga, Rwomushana Charles, among many others. Their active participation made me realize that the young people actually have prospects in national politics.  Among the female politicians, I was particularly inspired by former vice president Dr. Specioza Wandera Kazibwe, Miria Matembe, Janat Mukwaya Ruth Nankabirwa, Winnie Byanyima, Cecilia Ogwal, among others.

My passion was later further ignited as I read more about Uganda’s political and constitutional history. It is from the Constituency Assembly that I derived my inspiration for national politics. This is greatly attributed to NRM’s policy of creating space for women and young people at the decision making table. These women who pioneered in the women movement inspired many of our generation to participate in national and local leadership.

How the NRM Policies have propelled to where I am

I would never have surfaced on the national scene if I had not had a chance to join Makerere University, I was admitted at the University on government sponsorship because of NRM’s landmark affirmative action policy of 1.5 points awarded to girls in order to increase female access to tertiary education. Without that policy, it would not have been possible because my parents didn’t have the capacity to provide tuition, in any case even at A-level I had dropped out of school until Light College Katikamu at Masulita offered me a scholarship for my outstanding performance at O-level.

After University, I still took advantage of the NRM’s policy of National Youth Council structures which were aimed at meaningful involvement of young people in decision making processes right from the village local councils to Parliament. Through these structures I was elected from the village to district level and later became the first female chairperson of a district youth council in the country which later encouraged me to contest and win the position for youth MP for central region.

Again, because NRM pioneered globally to provide for special seats for women MPs, I still used that policy to contest as Woman MP when Nakaseke became a district.

Those positions gave me a platform to participate meaningfully in the National Parliament where I held a number of leadership positions in committees, caucuses and later served in different ministerial positions.

Empowering Other Women

During my tenure as a member of Parliament for 15 years, I worked with various women and youth groups for economic empowerment but most importantly, having completed my education by support of a good Samaritan, I decided to give back to society by providing bursaries for young people first through establishment of a Target Community College in Wobulenzi which is now a public school providing Universal Secondary Education. This is in addition to those I supported by providing tuition in various schools.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *