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Balloting kits awaiting distribution in Mbale, Uganda, February 2011. (Matthew Fishbane)

Last month, Gershom Sizomu Wambedde, likely the first black African-born rabbi, ran for the parliamentary seat representing Uganda’s Bungokho North district. His campaign, waged in the rural enclaves outside the provincial center of Mbale, was hot, dusty, and contentious. He lost, by just a thousand votes, after alleged vote-rigging by the incumbent. But the campaign was also a significant attempt by Sizomu’s congregation of about a thousand to bring legitimacy and recognition to the Abayudaya, as the Jews of Uganda call themselves. Tablet Magazine’s Matthew Fishbane spent the week leading up to national elections with Sizomu, whose campaign benefited from significant support from international Jewish groups. In this audio slideshow produced by Ari Daniel Shapiro, Fishbane talks about the challenges ahead for Sizomu’s tiny community, the dynamics of an election campaign in rural Uganda, and the hopes for Sizomu’s political future.

Read Fishbane’s two-part report on the Abayudaya here.





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