Byanyima: Ingrid in prison for challenging ‘the leopard’

Ingrid being arrested

Ingrid being arrested

Oxfam boss and wife to FDC candidate, Kizza Besigye, has no kind words for the continuous detention of FDC secretary for mobilisation aka iron lady, Ingrid Turinawe.

Ingrid was arrested with Besigye, Mugisha Muntu and Wasswa Birigwa yesterday at FDC headquarters and detained at Nagalama police station in Mukono.

Besigye and Muntu were later released in the night but Ingrid wasn’t.

Winnie Byanyima said when Turinawe was not released, Besigye and Muntu refused to leave without her but were “bundled into the van and returned home”.

She said although Besigye and Muntu resisted being driven back without Ingrid, they were overwhelmed by police.

“Ingrid Turinawe, a mother will sleep on a cold floor of a cell because she challenged “the leopard” politically and peacefully.”

“How can Ingrid sleep on floor of a cold cell just because she dared to gather election results for her party?” Winnie wondered.

“Why were Besigye and Muntu forced into a van and driven home and Ingrid kept in a cell? Is it because she is a woman and poor?” Winnie further queried.

Questioned by tweeps why she wasn’t being neutral in Ugandan politics, Winnie asked: “neutral in the face of injustice? We fought apartheid, dictatorships in Latin America etc, this about Uganda”

“Yes Ingrid is an ordinary woman, little wealth but huge courage, conviction and leadership.”

Who is Ingrid

Ingrid Turinawe is former chairperson of the Women’s League in the leading opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

According to The Observer, by 2011, she was already boasting of having composed and crooned a song and engaged in pulling while she faced off with police as the Activists for Change (A4C) kick-started the walk-to-work protests.

According to the newspaper, Turinawe’s cunning plans that beat a security ring around her home made her an instant TV sensation with her footage posted on YouTube, went viral.

She reminds one of another former FDC strong woman, Ann Mugisha.

Mugisha first met Turinawe after she returned from her nine-year exile in the United States in 2010.

Turinawe also met Sarah Eperu, FDC spokesperson of the Women’s League, in 2004 while both were still members of Reform Agenda – a pressure group that gave birth to FDC.

Turinawe was then secretary general of the council in Rukungiri district.

When FDC was formed in 2005, Turinawe was nominated unopposed.


Turinawe went to Rugyeyo Primary School and later Kinyasano Girls High school where she completed A-level.

Those who went to the same school at the same time remember Turinawe as a student who was academically brilliant and vocal.

She was still a student when she met a young man, Jackson Turinawe, who would later become her husband.

Joining politics

After her Senior Six in 1992, Turinawe married the prominent businessman in Rukungiri town.

Together, they have five children.

Turinawe would later continue with her education at the Kabale based National Teachers’ College where she attained a Diploma in Education.

Opposition activist Ingrid Turinawe.; Photo by Morgan Mbabazi

Opposition activist Ingrid Turinawe.; Photo by Morgan Mbabazi

She practised for a year before she opted to help her husband run his pharmacy business located on Republic road in Rukungiri town.

In 1998, Turinawe plunged into active politics, being elected district councillor for Buhunga and Ruhinda sub-counties in Rukungiri district council.

She was active in the 2001 election campaigns, passionately campaigning for herself and for Besigye in the western region.

Besigye lost the elections, but Turinawe was re-elected councillor.

In 2003, when Kanungu district was carved out of Rukungiri district, Turinawe became deputy speaker of Rukungiri district.

A year later, she assumed the role of speaker after the former speaker, George Owakiroru, was detained alongside others on allegations that they were behind the shadowy People’s Redemption Army (PRA) rebel group.

Turinawe served as speaker until the end of her term in 2006.

As a member of Reform Agenda, Turinawe became one of the founding members of the FDC political party in 2005.

She has suggested before, that government tried to use her husband to get her out of politics, but he always supported her.

However, while still serving as district speaker in 2005, Turinawe separated with Jackson.

But Jackson still tried to bail Ingrid out of prison when she was incarcerated for a month at Luzira on treason charges.

Turinawe later did her bachelor’s degree in Public Administration at Nkumba University.

Besigye recognises Turinawe’s contribution to the party through the Women’s League and to the cause of women in Uganda as a whole.

In 2006, Turinawe ran for Rukungiri district Woman MP, but lost to then incumbent, Winfred Matsiko.

In 2010, when Rukungiri became a municipality, Turinawe was among a big number of FDC candidates seeking the party’s flag in the party primaries for parliamentary elections.

She lost to Rowland Mugume Kaginda, who eventually won the seat. Turinawe then decided to try the Rukungiri district Woman parliamentary seat again, and this time round lost to Public Service minister of state, Sezi Mbaguta.


Turinawe cannot count the number of times she has been arrested, but says she has seen the insides of many police cells in the country.

She has been detained at Kiira Road Police station, twice at Jinja Road police station, Central Police Station, Katwe police post, Kasangati police and prison, Kabale police station, Rukungiri police station and has spent two months in Luzira prison.

Her motto is: “I would rather die as a lion than live as a rat”.

She has also been hospitalised twice after being assaulted by police. Turinawe was hospitalised at Nsambya hospital in June 2010, after police sprayed her with dangerous chemicals.

She was also hospitalised at Kabale Medical Centre, following beatings by the police.

On April 20th 2012, a policeman squeezed her breasts in a brutal arrest.

The most recent arrests happened in May 2015 and July 2015.


She was running Da Palace Health Club and Restaurant on Mawanda road in Mulago, and the business failed.

Turinawe blames sabotage by government.

An avid Facebook user, Turinawe also runs a primary school – Bakwatirenda Primary School – in Rukungiri to help the community and earn her money which sustains her political and family life.

Ingrid’s profile: Credit The Observer 

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