Meeting Tororo’s ‘Maggie Thatcher’

Phibby Otaala Nyawere is a very vocal woman from the sleepy town of Tororo.

Although a journalist by profession, Phibby sees her fortune in politics, and she just has no respect (read fear) for men. In 2006, she won a tight race against men to become district speaker. Now she is preparing to lead the family’s charge to win back the West Budama South parliamentary seat that her husband, the former minister Emmanuel Otaala, lost to Jacob Oboth Oboth in 2011.

Wolokoso cornered Phibby and sought to know her better.

Who is Phibby Otaala?

Hahaha, I’m a small woman, though people in this district love to refer to me as an iron lady. I’m the national vice chairperson, NRM Women’s League that is how I can briefly describe myself.

Okay, an iron lady could only have been produced by iron parents…

By the way I’m the Margaret Thatcher of Tororo, born to the late Doctor James Ouma and Florence Athieno Ouma in Tororo municipality, the fourth-born of their eight children.

Are you a born or made politician or both?

Hehehehe, you journalists have funny questions! I’m not a born politician because I’m a journalist by profession, but a politician by passion. So, you can choose for yourself where I belong.

Some people say you are some kind of ‘quack’ with no academic integrity.

Ooh my friend, the politics of this town is very complex. People can even wake up and announce your death yet you are alive. I hold a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Nkumba University and a diploma in Journalism, and I’m currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene amp Tropical Medicine. With that, you are now the judge pass the ruling.

Is that London thing what keeps you busy? I mean, you are rarely seen in Tororo these days.

Looking for votes and popularising my sole candidate President Museveni is my first agenda every day.

But at one point you were close to Amama Mbabazi when did you cross to the Museveni camp?

I expected that question and I was wondering why you were taking long. You see some of these things are created by the media but there is nothing like Mbabazi or Museveni camp to me.

Outside politics, what are you like?

I’m a mother of three but I also adopted two daughters from the street, whose mothers are mentally ill. I also run a private primary school whose fees are subsidised for the poor.

From those incessant phone calls, you look too busy a woman do you find any time to be a girl?

[Laughs shyly, like a high school teenager listening to a love proposal] Ooh yes! After work I take care of my husband. But in most cases, since we are all busy, we tend to take long holidays where we travel to different places having fun.

What is your taste for music?

I love country music because it reminds me of my old days as a young girl and when I met Otaala, my dear husband now.

What about Ugandan music and your favourite artiste?

Jose Chameleone sings nice music with true life lessons and his Nekolera Mmaali hit moves me to the dance floor, followed by Badilisha.

What do you hate about yourself?

Hahahaa, most people find this funny, but I’m too jealous and ready to do anything within my powers to protect my husband.

Back to your passion, who is that political icon in your mind?

Wow, I can’t wait to mention her name – Margaret Thatcher! This is a lady who was assertive and that is exactly my character. That is why most people in Tororo have branded me a chaotic and mad lady.

Where do we see you in the next two years?

Having led President Museveni’s campaign task force in eastern Uganda for the last two elections, it’s my time to enter Parliament in style and take on these men misleading the country.

Source : The Observer

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