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Uganda’s first Olympics rower given dual citizenship

by Editorial Team
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By Charles Etukuri

The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) on Tuesday, February 1, granted Kathleen Grace Noble, the first Ugandan Olympian rower who represented Uganda in the Tokyo Olympics held between July 2021 and  August 2021, her dual citizenship certificate, having applied online at http://visas.immigration.go.ug.

DCIC director Maj. Gen. Apollo Kasiita-Gowa personally gave her dual citizenship.

Noble, the Uganda-born daughter of Irish missionary parents, fell short at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Her times in the women’s single sculls on Day One, and the Repechage on Day Two of the rowing championship could not match the standards set by seasoned campaigners from Northern Ireland, Mexico, and Qatar.

Besides announcing herself as the first-ever rower to represent Uganda at the Olympic Games, the 26-year-old exploited the global event to officially set a new national record 8:21.85, which she posted during her Olympics debut last Friday.

This is clearly no mean achievement considering the emotional testimony shared on the Uganda Rowing Community Facebook page.

“Kathleen was in the struggle with us the rowers and continues to be in the struggle with us.

“Some of us who had given up on our dreams because we no longer saw any more hope. Seeing Kathleen on TV this morning has started to get us excited again, but unfortunately, it is too late for some us, those dreams were long shattered. The country and the whole world is now watching and our voices can hopefully now be heard.”

Noble previously swam in the world championships for Uganda, and only took up rowing seven years ago when she moved to the US.

Her switch from the pool had to do with a chance meeting with Ugandan rowing Coach Rodrick Muhumuza – a move that ultimately changed the fortunes of a sport that was crying out for proper leadership.

A statement shared by the Uganda Rowing Community indicates that in 2014, with support from World Rowing (FISA) and Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC), Muhumuza was selected for a year-long rowing development programme in Europe and the US.

That it was during his theory training at Princeton University that he was introduced to Kathleen who he then introduced to the rowing programme in Uganda.

Muhumuza would then become Uganda’s technical rowing director. Besides supporting Kathleen in Tokyo, Muhumuza has been able to attend technical and administrative meetings that can only benefit the sport.

“The excitement and inspiration that Kathleen has imparted on our rowing community is big. For years, rowers in Uganda have had to jump one obstacle after another.

“The governance of this sport in Uganda has let many down and many have given up and quit the sport. Kathleen is one of us, we have trained with her, competed with her, camped with her. Her success is our success. Kathleen has given us hope.

“Thank you, Kathleen,” another post stated.

One of the social media posts offers a brief account of the genesis of rowing in Uganda. It suggests the journey started in August 2016 with Kathleen, one of the architects behind Maroons Aqua Sports. 

Club mates chose to create Kampala Rowing Club to foster healthy competition amongst rowers to try and save a sport that had long been crippled by persistent and unresolved governance challenges.

In a recent interview with New Vision Sport’s Olympics magazine, Uganda Rowing Federation boss Hamza Kahwa pleaded for a tax exemption on a donation of boats for the local rowers.

Can Kathleen’s breakthrough performances in Tokyo highlight this and other challenges affecting the sport in a society that does not cherish water sports? Maybe, maybe not.

What was clear for now, is that Kathleen has already broken down racial barriers in a country where multi-racial children make up less than one percent of those born annually.

How to get dual citizenship in Uganda

DCIC, in a tweet, noted that indigenous Ugandans in the diaspora, as well as foreigners that qualify for dual citizenship, should apply online at http://visas.immigration.go.ug and use this seamless service to attain their dual citizenship legally.

The requirements for one to get dual citizenship includes a recommendation letter and national Identity card of recommender (Ugandan by birth of substantial standing), valid Certificate Good Conduct from Interpol (issued within last six months), proof of Ugandan Citizenship (copy of Ugandan passport /National ID) and Page 45 of Ugandan Passport.

If born outside Uganda, one must produce a copy of birth certificate, as well as parent’s passport or national ID, foreign passport bio data page, recent passport size photograph, medical report of sanity from a certified doctor, notarized oath of allegiance (download and re-attach duly signed), evidence that the other country permits dual-citizenship (letter from country/embassy).

One must also have proof of profession/occupation (Attach academic document/employment ID), download and complete Form AA (re-attach Duly signed and notarized) and cover letter from the Applicant (addressed to Secretary National Citizenship and Immigration Board).

One must also pay a fee of $200 (sh640,000).

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