In a continent laden with overaged leaders who often spend multiple terms in power, it is so refreshing to hear of a 19 year-old contesting and winning an election for a political office.
Proscovia Alengot Oromait was recently elected to the Ugandan Parliament, making her the youngest and first teenage politician in all of Africa!
Some months ago, Alengot was studying for her Advanced Levels exams and had plans to go to college. But sadly, she lost her father in July and changed her plans, deciding to run for his spot as a Parliament member in their local Usuk county.
She ran for the elections last week under the National Revolutionary Movement (NRM)’s and won, beating eight other candidates. Alengot garnered 11,059 votes while her closest rival won only 5,329 votes.
According to Standard Media, Alengot sparked off emotions of sympathy when she expressed her interest to replace her father after he passed away.
She was actively involved in her late father’s campaigns and his developmental projects. “She has been also passionate about the projects her father had promised to initiate in the constituency, including lobbying for education and health infrastructure,” Opio Edekep, Alengot’s campaign manager was quoted as saying.
She has been exhibiting leadership skills in high school. As a student, Alengot chaired the debate club, was the brain behind the school’s weekly news bulletin and the leader of the patriotism club.
Just two weeks ago, she was elected as NRM’s flag bearer after she easily won the party primaries.
In the interview with a local TV station below, she said her age wasn’t a problem. “Age does not matter, it’s not the age that works, it’s the brain and the knowledge that one has,” she said.
In response to the challenges she was going to face, she said: “I can’t tell now because I’m not yet state parliament and I don’t know the challenges that I will face. It’s only after getting to parliament and I will see the outcomes and the challenges that I will face there.”
Alengot noted in an interview that she intends to focus on roads, fight cattle-rustling and elevate the education standards in the district.
She is however not the world’s first teenage Parliament member. Sweden elected an 18-year-old in 2010, while Canada elected a 19-year-old in 2011.
The events surrounding her election suggests that she might have won for sentimental reasons or probably riding on her father’s glory. As a political analyst, Angero Izama told a news portal, Jezebel, “Her youth has nothing to do with her election. It all boils down to sympathy votes because her father was a staunch, popular and senior person at NRM. People will be drawn to her youth more than her performance because she represents a very large majority.”
However, we celebrate her courage and determination to run for Parliament in an office dominated by people of her late father’s age. We also recognise the support she was given by her party and country and say well done.
She has set an impressive standard and from her example, young people across the continent would be motivated to run for political offices to charter the course for effecting positive changes in their societies.
It’s a first for Africa and we are proud of Alengot!
Watch the video of her interview on a Ugandan TV Station, NTV