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Africa News of Tuesday, 18 May 2021


Fish vendor becomes Uganda's youngest MP

Ms Hellen Auma Wandera, alias Mama Busia. Ms Hellen Auma Wandera, alias Mama Busia.

• 24-year-old Hellen Auma Mandera is the youngest MP in Uganda's 11th Parliament

• She is a Women’s MP on the ticket of the ruling National Resistance Movement, NRM

• Hellen, nicknamed Mama Busia, said she once sold fish at a local market

When Ugandan President Museveni made his opening speech at the official retreat of the newly-elected National Resistance Movement (NRM) Members of Parliament (MPs) at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) Kyankwanzi, the name Mama Busia was brought to his attention.

Colleagues gave her the name at the retreat because of her position as Busia Woman MP-elect. She had throughout her time at NALI distinguished herself as amiable person.

Today, the former little-known lady from Busia that used to trade fish at Banda market, will take oath as the Busia Woman MP at 2pm. She is also the youngest of the incoming legislators of the 11th Parliament.

Who is Maama Busia?

Born on December 12, 1997, Ms Hellen Auma Wandera is the fourth born in the family of seven children of Mr Dickson Richards Wandera and Ms Betty Nekesa Ofuro from Busia District.

Ms Auma attended Busia Parents Primary School for her Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) before joining Great Obrem Memorial in Tororo District for her O-Level. She completed her A-Level at St Peter’s Secondary School, Naalya, where she took Literature, Economics, Divinity and sub math(LED/S).

In 2016, she enrolled at Kyambogo University, where she graduated with a Bachelors’ Degree in Arts and Social Science in 2019.


“It was not really easy because all my siblings were relying on our father’s small salary as head master,” Ms Auma recounts.

“We managed to attend school despite the hustle along the way of frequently being sent home for school fees,” she adds.

Her mother, Ms Nekesa, who is the Buyuya Village chairperson, Masafu Town Council in Busia District, at the time only got income from fish vending, from which Ms Auma and her three sisters and three boys got additional finances.

“I had to plough people’s gardens to raise additional money to contribute to school fees for myself,” Ms Auma says.

This also ushered her into entrepreneurship as she saved from her upkeep to raise her first capital of Shs5,000 while in Senior Two.

“I began vending tomatoes in my Senior Two holidays which first got me a profit of Shs2,000. Out of that, I later got a small stall and started dealing in other items such as vegetables. I did this up to my Senior Four vacation and saved up to Shs300,000,” Ms Auma says.

She later grew her business by exporting clothes and bags from Nairobi, Kenya.

“I went to Nairobi without the knowledge of my parents. I only called them after I had reached and notified them that I was on my way back. I didn’t want anyone to know about that idea because I knew my parents would stop me from going since I was still young,” Ms Auma recalls.

With her mother covering her rent bills for an outlet in Busia, Ms Auma opened up a boutique.

“I would make good profit because clothes that side [Kenya] are fairly cheap and got me profits each time I brought them here [Uganda]. For instance, I would fetch a profit of Shs150,000 of an item that cost me Shs5,000,” Ms Auma said.


“At first, I could not understand Kenyan currency and also the person that first helped thought I was loaded [rich] since mum is a well-known business woman, so he cheated me when converting Uganda shillings into Kenya currency,” Ms Auma recounts.

She, however, kept in the business throughout her A-Level and only dropped the trade when circumstances at campus could not permit.

“When I joined university, I thought of transferring it [boutique] to Kampala but didn’t have the capacity of renting an outlet for my boutique and also pay accommodation in Banda,” Ms Auma says.

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