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East African Founding First Ladies push for integration

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EALA Speaker Kidega receives Mama Miria Obote and Mama Ngina Kenyatta Tuesday in Arusha. EAC PHOTOS @jumuiya

Two founding East African Community First Ladies have challenged the region’s leaders to ensure the future of integration is both guaranteed and realised.

Kenya’s Mama Ngina Kenyatta and Uganda’s Mama Miria Obote Tuesday addressed a special session of the East African Legislative Assembly in Arusha.

According to the EAC, Tanzania’s Mama Maria Nyerere sent her apologies. Her family was  represented by Makongoro Nyerere, who is an elected EALA member.

Miria Obote was accompanied by her son James Akena while Mama Ngina Kenyatta’s entourage consisted of family members including  Wambui, Kristina Pratt, Selina Renee Pratt, MPs, women leaders from Central Kenya and representatives of the Mount Kenya University.

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What Mama Miria Obote said

She said the EAC must re-energise itself and strive to be a fully functioning integration block, with prioritisation of economic investment projects including oil refineries, the Standard Gauge Railway, agricultural research, food security, youth employment and climate change.

All this should be supported by an integrated syllabus and curriculum to stabilise the labour market within the EAC.

“This can be achieved through joint or common East African Community investments such as the ongoing projects between Uganda and Tanzania for the proposed pipeline, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya for the Standard Gauge Railway; Kenya, Ethiopia and the new South Sudan for the Lamu Port. The clear call should be an intensification of efforts across various fields to make our region more integrated.”

“For instance, a majority of Ugandans have never learnt proper Swahili. We are now learning proper Swahili in schools and in the public engagement. This is the best way towards integration.”

“We are very grateful for EAC and EALA for recognising the contribution of our founding Fathers, Comrade Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Comrade Dr. Apolo Milton Obote and we are also thankful to the Almighty God for having kept us alive as former First Ladies of the Independent East African Community, Mama Miria Nyerere, Mama Ngina Kenyatta and I”, Mama Obote said.

She hailed Tanzania, Kenya and their people who a understood the social-political challenges of Uganda.

“They welcomed, sheltered and catered for our people as political refugees. This spirit of togetherness was extended to Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the new South Sudan. Not only for receiving and hosting refugees but also for walking the extra mile and facilitating peace talks, for example”

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What Mama Ngina Kenyatta said.

“In 1967, all three of us were witness to the establishment of a Community that spoke to that shared sentiment. The East African Community was built on the understanding that our nations and our peoples were stronger together. I request you to keep the hope of the founding fathers alive and to ensure that unity in the region is achieved”

“It is a credit to your hard work and persistence—and the hard work and persistence of your respective Governments—that today, that Community is more vibrant and active than ever”, the former First Lady added.

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What Speaker of EALA,  Daniel Fred Kidega of Uganda said.

“We are happy that you still show leadership in your own rights and continue to be involved in numerous humanitarian causes throughout the EAC region much akin to your active and prolific years when you worked for political and social justice and advocated for a wide range of human rights issues.”

“Today, we celebrate you. You are walking encyclopedias in your own rights and repositories of information, who despite ageing gracefully, still credit, follow developments of this great region, and are supportive of the EAC unto this day. Late last year for example, Mama Ngina Kenyatta met with the EALA Kenya Chapter in Gatundu, Kenya, while in August 2014, a group of EALA Women Members paid a courtesy call on Mama Maria Nyerere in Dar Es Salaam. Mama Obote on her part, is still involved in the political spheres in Uganda and continues to follow developments at the EAC closely from Uganda House in Kampala.”

“Indeed, in retrospect, the collapse of the Community in 1977 was a sad and catastrophic affair, a great loss in opportunities and setback for the region. But today, I stand here convinced that the steps we have taken as a Community since its re-establishment are fundamentally underpinned on the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC and we are on course for full integration of the region”.

The EALA  on March 16th, 2016, passed a Resolution recognizing the role the First Ladies at Independence continue to play in galvanising East Africa in the integration process and in the service of East Africans as “informal Institutional Memory”.

SOURCE: EAC website

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