My Woman Of The Year: Barbara Allimadi

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And she has stood with other courageous daughters and sons of Uganda in harms way. She is a true leader and revolutionary and tonight I shall raise glasses in celebration of even being associated with a lady of this calibre.

[Salutations]

My woman of 2012 is my younger sister Barbara Allimadi, a most valiant and courageous woman who has chosen as her path to be: a Pro-Democracy Activist; a Human Rights campaigner; and, a voice of the voiceless.

Like many Ugandans, she had had enough of the political decay by the time she marched with other women to protest the brutal sexual groping by security officers of a leading opposition politician, Ms. Ingrid Turinawe , resulting in her arrest with others.

Despite many protestations from her family, despite much negativity, despite even treachery and attempted sabotage, she has remained steadfast on this most admirable, remarkable and dangerous journey. It is her belief that this is her calling. In her own words: "I believe that God still wants to use me and when the Almighty decides its time, there isn't a thing we can do, neither can anything happen before it's time."

When in mid 2012, an article appeared in the "New Vision", the pro-government mouthpiece, purporting to have evidence that she had been "compromised", she remained dignified in her response: "To those who are saying that I have been compromised, this should not stop you from fighting for your rights."

Such whispers very quickly got lost in the wind and Ms. Allimadi merely intensified her campaign against injustice and rampant corruption, amid threats of arrest and personal safety. She has attended Court hearings with other activists and encouraged those who can to do so to offer support, often buying supplies with the little she can put together. She has visited prisoners on remand, assuring them that they had not been forgotten.

She uses her own resources and contributions from well wishers for such visits, taking with her basic necessities. And she has stood with other courageous daughters and sons of Uganda in harms way. She is a true leader and revolutionary and tonight I shall raise glasses in celebration of even being associated with a lady of this caliber.

Family and Friends, raise your glasses, even imaginary glasses and let us celebrate our sister and keep her and all our courageous sisters and brothers in the struggle for democracy in our prayers for protection and let us remember our fallen young firebrand, Member of Parliament Cerinah Nebanda.

We may never know the true cause of Nebanda's untimely demise so let us remember her as a sister who stood up and spoke up for us all; anything else is "by the way."

Let us also remember our children, brothers and sisters in the Congo; for theirs is a daily ongoing battle for survival. The rape of the Congo. The plundering of its resources by its neighbors and American and Western corporations. The rape of its women and children. The murder of the people of Congo.

Let us remember Victoire Ingabire, political prisoner in Rwanda; her days are long and her nights are lonely in her prison cell, away from her beloved and family.

Let us remember Malala Yousafzai, the victim of an ugly attack by a Taleban gunmen in Pakistan, and pray for her continued recovery and the countless who stand up to dictatorship and intimidation by the very government supposed to protect them.

Barbara Allimadi like her countrywomen and countrymen wants Uganda to prosper. A Uganda where Human Rights are respected. A democratic Uganda where there is rule of law.

"It is an uphill task", she notes, "but one that I cherish. Everywhere I go, I want to shout out and tell others that 'we have rights', and that 'we must demand an accountable government.' The masses need to be sensitized."



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