Freelance – Africa’s Youngest MP

I’ve already been slacking on this blog, which is something I said I wouldn’t do. Because of this neglect, you can assume that things in Kampala are going rather well. I have met fascinating people from all over the world, I am becoming more adept at cooking for myself with limited ingredients, and I am having an easier time navigating the city. After the pickpocketing incident last week, I have been extremely cautious, so hopefully that won’t happen again.

I am also slowly but surely figuring out what I want to research. Exciting topics abound here and there are so many things I want to explore: the Lord’s Resistance Army, conflict in the DRC, mineral exploitation, economic development, gender, LGBT issues, and the financial accountability of NGOs, to name a few. I have more questions than I can possibly ask in the eight months I have left, so I am already in sprint mode, trying to monitor the news each day, meeting journalists, and absorbing as much as I can.

This week, I am writing an article about Proscovia Alengot Oromait, a 19-year-old who is Uganda’s newest member of parliament. She is the youngest MP in Africa and possibly the second youngest to ever be elected to a national assembly (Anton Abele was elected to the Swedish Parliament when he was 18). Her dramatic transformation from an ordinary teenage girl to a world-famous politician began this July, when her father, MP Michael Oromait, passed away. In the immediate by-election, she ran for her father’s seat and defeated eight older and more experienced opponents. Although some have criticized her for political nepotism or for playing to the sympathy vote, I think her rise to power is much more interesting and complex.

Either this week or next, I will interview Ms. Alengot and some of her friends at Makerere so that I can write about her incredible story. I have never attempted to do freelance journalism before, so this will be my first foray into a very competitive field. There are many talented journalists in Kampala who string stories to U.S. and international publications, but I hope that my youth and mutual connections at Makerere will give me a unique angle for this story. I will let you know how things turn out, but in the meantime, here’s a video clip from Uganda’s NTV announcing Ms. Alengot’s victory:

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