Who is Norbert Mao? Flash Uganda Media looks at his biography, early life, Age, politics, and family of the current president of the Democratic Party.
Norbert Mao is a Ugandan politician and lawyer. He has been president of the Democratic Party since 2010, and he served as the Local Council 5 chairman for Gulu District.
Early Life and Education
Norbert Mao was born on 12 March 1967. His father, Dusman Okee was an Acholi and his mother was a Munyankole, he currently lives in Kampala but his home town is Gulu District.
Mao attended Mwiri Primary School in Jinja and briefly went to Wairaka College in Jinja District before attending Namilyango College, a prestigious all-boys boarding high school in Mukono District from 1982 until 1988.
From Namilyango College, Norbert Mao joined Makerere University graduating in 1991, with a law degree. He served as the president of the Makerere University Students Guild between 1990 and 1991.
After, Mao went on to obtain the Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Center (LDC) in 1992. In 2003, Mao was admitted to Yale University, under the Yale World Fellows Program, where he spent one year at the New Haven, Connecticut Campus.
Work and Experience
From 1992 until 1994, Norbert Mao worked as an associate attorney in the offices of Kabugo and Company Advocates, a Kampala –based law firm. Between 1994 and 1996, he worked as a legal counsel for the Legal Aid Project of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) in their Gulu office.
In 1996, he was elected to the Parliament of Uganda, representing Gulu Municipality. While in Parliament, he served on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee and the Public Accounts Committee. He resigned from Parliament in 2006 and was elected chairman of Gulu District.
Mao is chairman of the East African chapter of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and member of its secretariat. Also, he helped found the Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace (AMANI FORUM).
He was instrumental in trying to bridge the gap between the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and the Ugandan government by lobbying for the passage of a general amnesty law aimed at bringing a peaceful resolution to armed conflict in northern Uganda.
He belongs to the Democratic Party and publicly indicated his intention to contest the 2011 Ugandan presidential elections, either as the nominee of his party or if not nominated on the party ticket, as an independent candidate.
He was elected as President of the Democratic Party on 20 February 2010 and ran for President of Uganda in the 2011 general election.
The DP faced a lot of challenges that led to a split and deep polarization at the height of the election. He attracted only a small share of the vote, and President Yoweri Museveni was elected to another term.
Mao and inter Party Coalition presidential candidates Kizza Besigye and Olara Otunnu, among others, protested the election results despite its early approval by international observers and the United States as largely free and fair.
Recently, Mao declared his intentions to stand against the incumbent in the 2021 general elections.
Mao and his wife Naomi separate
The High Court (Family Division) in 2019 dissolved the 16-year marriage of Democratic Party (DP), President Norbert Mao, to wife Naomi Achieng Adong.
Justice Godfrey Namundi dissolved the marriage in his judgment delivered on May 27, 2019, on a petition filed by Achieng accusing Mao of cruelty and desertion. Mao, who has three children with Achieng following their civil marriage on August 8, 2003, is said to have deserted his wife for eight years.
“The evidence before this court shows the petitioner (Achieng) has been living separately for eight years. The respondent has absconded from the matrimonial home leaving the petitioner (Achieng) with the issues of marriage,” said justice Namundi as he delivered his judgment.
In 2017, Achieng dragged Mao to court seeking orders for the sole custody of their children and Mao be given access to them. She also sought for an order for maintenance of the children and that Mao surrenders vehicle registration number UAH 437Z.
Achieng also demanded that the property in Ntinda be registered in her names.
She argued that she contributed to the construction of the house in Ntinda by buying wardrobes, cabinets and other property. Mao contested the allegations of cruelty and approved the divorce arguing that Achieng had deserted their home leading to irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Mao also prayed that the marriage between him and Achieng be dissolved. He asked the court to give him primary custody to be able to access them.
He also asked that the Ntinda property be put in the names of the children and willingly accepted to relinquish all his interests in and transfer their property in Gulu measuring an acre of land. Mao also agreed to surrender the vehicle requested by Achieng saying he bought it for her.
As part of his evidence, Mao tabled evidence before the court for the purchase of the Ntinda property, saying that as a politician he saw windows of the house being dispossessed and decided that they become joint tenants for the sake of the family.
The duo had to buy a house from one Azu. Mao paid Shs35 million as they were still cohabiting in 2002 using part of his salary he obtained from parliament as a legislator. He, however, says he added Achieng’s names on the property title for the reasons stated.
Mao obtained a mortgage of Shs60 million from dfcu bank and an additional loan from Centenary bank to roof the house. It’s only in 2007 when he cleared the loan using his gratuity from parliament, according to the evidence in court.
Mao applied for the property in Gulu valued at Shs400m from Gulu Municipality Council and paid the premium in 2007. He invited Achieng to sign the papers while renewing the lease in 2013 so that she doesn’t go empty-handed.
Personal Life and Family
Norbert Mao was married to Naomi Achieng Odongo, and they have two sons together. They divorced on 27 May 2019, after 16 years of marriage. He speaks Luo, Luganda, Runyakole, and English fluently.
Mao is a step-brother to Daniel Kidega, the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly.
In 2019, Chairman Mao’s son got lost and found later. Nicholas Hope Opio was found asleep and his guitar leaning on the wall, his host a cousin said he wanted some time alone to reflect what had happened to his parents who had just divorced.
Norbert Mao’s son left home in the company of a friend unknown to the family in the evening, the Democratic Party president-general would never have imagined any worse scenario than having his beloved Nico not return home. Yet, that is exactly what happened.
Nicholas Hope Opio, a 19-year guitar enthusiast in his Form Six vacation by then, was not seen back home that day. His phone was off as well.
A frantic search for him ensued, with his parents reporting his disappearance to Police. Mao and Nico’s mother reached out to relatives and friends in an attempt to establish their teenage son’s whereabouts.
They also contacted his other known friends and their family members, but they had not caught sight of him.
It was the same unwanted response from his friends at Watoto Church North “where he (Nicholas) plays guitar in the church band”. They too had not seen him or heard from him.
But Mao did not let his sense of desperation metamorphose into despair, thanks mostly to the outpouring of support he said he received from “concerned people from all walks of life in Uganda and abroad”.
Eventually, Mao’s perseverance and elevated measure of optimum would soon pay off; his son was found three days later.
“We have found Nico! I give the highest form of praise one can give the living God. Nico is well,” he wrote hours after reuniting with his son.