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Humanities & Social Sciences

Crafting the Bamasaba: a Mak-NUFU film premiere

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The Mak-NUFU folklore project is a collaborative effort between the Department of Literature Makerere University and The Norwegian Programme for Development Research and Education (NUFU) aimed at establishing the role of Ugandan folklore as a repository of traditional wisdom.

The Mak-NUFU folklore project is a collaborative effort between the Department of Literature Makerere University and The Norwegian Programme for Development Research and Education (NUFU) aimed at establishing the role of Ugandan folklore as a repository of traditional wisdom.

One of these methods is through the promotion of cultural film production and research.

DVD Cover

Crafting the Bamasaba is the first full-length feature (62mins) and the third film under this project, which aims at exploring the life and aspects “Beyond the physical cut” of the actual Imbalu initiation ceremony. Other titles before this were IN THEIR OWN VOICES: THE MADI OF UGANDA (44mins) and Imbalu: The heart of Masabaland (17mins)

 

L-R Prof Ssengendo Dean, Arts, Prof David Bakibinga & Dr. J. KaahwaThe premiere of this film, held at the Department of Food Science and Technology Conference hall was attended by University staff, representatives from the Uganda film industry and students. Notable among the staff were Prof David Bakibinga, former Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration, The Dean, Faculty of Arts Prof. Ssengendo, Dr. J. Kaahwa, deputy Dean Faculty of Arts and Mr. Adolu Otojoka.

L-R Sr Dipio Head Dept. of Lit and Mr. Danson Kayana Asst. Lecturer LitSr. Dr. Dominic Dipio, Head, Department of Literature welcomed everyone to the screening and thanked especially the students and staff for making time despite their busy exam schedules. She proceeded to give a brief background of the film, which was shot in Manafa, one of the districts comprising the land of the Bamasaba in Eastern Uganda. She then introduced the film and wished everyone a happy viewing.

DVD back coverThe film kicks of with the unmistakable sounds of the undulating drums and flutes that accompany ceremonies of the Bamasaba, most outstandingly the processions leading up to the Imbalu initiation ceremony. It then delves into the origins of this ceremony, which as tale has it, was introduced by a girl called Nabarwa, who set a condition of circumcision in order for her to accept any romantic advances from her Mumasaba lover man. Having fulfilled her condition, the two proceeded to live happily ever after and henceforth, the Imbalu tradition was born and accepted as a core cultural ingredient and distinct identity signifying the transition from boyhood to true manhood.

It then touched on practices preceding the actual initiation ceremony, which is marked by elaborate colorful processions that often move over 20kms in a single day! These see the ‘candidate’ move from village to village announcing his candidature to his uncles and soliciting and receiving gifts. The audience’s concentration on the feature was unmistakable as the air was often punctuated with sounds of laughter, awe, gasps and winces as some images quickly flashed by. On the other hand, some of the key informants’ interviews also didn’t escape the jeers and flashes of disdain from this attentive audience as some of their contributions, though from a cultural point of view trampled on modern day gender roles and relations.

This feature ends with comments from the key informants recognizing that times have indeed changed and some of accompanying practices are overtly unsafe as the participants are often under the influence of alcohol and hence more susceptible to illicit behavior. Economic factors also come into play as hitherto elaborate celebrations, characterized by weeklong feasting are no longer affordable and tend to put a strain on the candidate’s family. The prolonged applause as the film’s end credits rolled up indeed proved the audience’s enjoyment of the premiere.

The days emcee Mr. Danson Kayana, Asst. Lecturer Department of Literature commended everyone for being such a great audience and hoped for an equally amiable reception the next time an invitation was extended. He then invited Sr. Dipio to moderate the next question and answer section.

Mr. Adolu Otojoka; popularly referred to as professor because of his great contribution to performing arts in the Department of Music, Dance and Drama thanked the Department of Literature for their wonderful work Mr. Adolu Otojoka cracks up the audienceand shared his personal experience, which as a young man drawn by his undying love for a Mumasaba girl saw him almost brave the knife in 1954. However, this wasn’t to be as he quickly changed his mind and fled for dear life after witnessing a candidate undergo the un-anesthetized operations under the swift hands the ‘surgeon’.

Mr. Otojoka’s contribution sent the audience into uncontrollable laughter and indeed set the pace for the audience’s questions and comments, which touched on the depth of the film, the apparent degradation of women during the ritual, the act of circumcising dead bodies and matters to do with spirituality. Prof. Ssengendo, Head, Faculty of Arts and representing the Ag. Vice Chancellor Prof. Baryamureeba thanked the Department of Literature and Sr. Dipio in particular for her tireless contribution to Faculty especially in the performing arts division.

Prof Hannington Ssengendo Dean, Faculty of ArtsHe observed that the production of such films was indeed in tandem with the university strategic plan’s component of outreach, the rest being teaching and research. Furthermore, he noted that the production of such films would not only enrich the cultural repositories of the institution but also play a key role in helping the Makerere community to learn more about other cultures and hence appreciate them better.

Mr. Kifu Taddese, Rep. Africa Cinema and Culture CompanySr. Dipio then took this opportunity to recognize some of the key informants present during the launch; Ms. Florence Mutonyi Dujanga, Lecturer Physics Department, Mr. Francis Wambete, Lecturer Institute of Languages and Mr. Dominic Makwa, Masters Student. She also recognized Mr. Kifu Taddese, a representative from Africa Cinema and Culture Company, who helped with the post production, representatives from AMAKULA Uganda Mr. Ken Barongo and Ms Sarah Sigayi.

Mr. Dominic Makwa M.A student Makerere University KampalaAfter a few more contributions from the audience, Sr. Dipio invited some of the key informants present to react to the issues raised. Mr. Makwa, who had his fair share of presence in the film, led the reactions and left the audience stunned when he reaffirmed what had aired during the film that, possession by spirits was culturally permissible for the circumcisers as without spiritual influence, they’d lack the “blessing” to perform the revered tradition.

Dr. Florence Mutonyi Dujanga, Dept. of PhysicsQuick to follow was Ms. Mutonyi, who sought to clarify on the role played by women in this male dominated ritual. Reacting to one of the contributors who was appalled at the Bamasambas’ apparent sexual exploitation of women during the processions, she stressed that the original taboos associated with pre-marital sex weren’t meant to condone exploitation of women but rather to deter would-be victims by labeling/ostracizing the offenders.

Mr. Francis Wambete, Faculty of ArtsMr. Wambete then closed the question and answer session by commenting on questions about the physical abuse meted out by the elder men on the initiates. He explained that this was only meant to toughen up the candidates and test their determination to see the ritual through while all the time watching for any signs of hesitation or cowardice so as not to shame the family during the more severe Imbalu. Regarding the practice of circumcising the dead, he clarified that it was cultural taboo, which was believed to bring a curse upon the entire clan, to burry an uncircumcised male adult however bizarre and appalling this circumcision routine seemed to be.

Prof. David BakibingaProf. Bakibinga in his remarks thanked Sr. Dipio once again for her tireless efforts in keeping the Department of Literature’s light burning by regularly inviting people to witness their works. He also commended Sr. Dipio on her novelty, which has seen the introduction of a Film Production course, housed under the Department and hoped that this would help hone the skills of future world-class film producers and directors. He noted that this would not only enable the students to become entrepreneurs but also cement the outreach component of the University’s strategic plan, as the communities would be able to witness the good works of Makerere.

Mr Jeffrey Balemezi, Film EditorIn conclusion, Sr. Dipio thanked AMAKULA Kampala and Africa Cinema and Culture Company for their contributions and support, the key informants for their willing participation, The Head and staff of the Faculty of Arts for their encouragement and belief in their work and Jeffrey Balemezi, The film’s editor for a job well done. She further stressed that the film only featured certain cultural view points and as such did not represent the Bamasaba culture entirety. However, she hoped that this would be a stepping stone for future productions to explore specific components moderately touched on by this film.

Copies of the film can be obtained at the Department of Literature, Faculty of Arts Makerere University at UShs 10,000/= per copy.

Humanities & Social Sciences

Mak launches MA in French Language Studies

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Dr. Edith Natukunda - Togboa, the Head, Department of European and Oriental Languages, CHUSS, Makerere University.

By Hasifa Kabejja

Makerere University has launched a new Masters programme in French Language Studies. The programme was officially launched by the Deputy Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) at Makerere University, Dr. Wamala Robert on 15th September 2021.

The main objective of the Master in French Language Studies (MAFLS) is to build professional capacities in the mastery of the French Language, develop skills in the pedagogy of French and impart knowledge on the cultural and political relations of the Francophone world. The programme is hosted by the French Section of the Department of European and Oriental Languages, under the School of Languages, Literature and Communication, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Makerere University.

 The programme offers students historical, economic, political, linguistic, cultural and pedagogical perspectives to the Francophone world. It also engages the graduate students in the critical debates of topical issues and current development challenges relating to Francophone and other societies. It emphasizes comparisons and contrasts with other development scenarios and interactions with other stakeholders both within and outside Africa.

MAFLS is structured into two strands; PLAN A and PLAN B.  PLAN A is by coursework and dissertation/thesis and here emphasis will be put on using research skills and problem analysis to create knowledge mainly through investigation.  This option will enable institutions in the country and the region to train their staff for academic career development. PLAN B is by coursework, internship and research paper.  This alternative will be for students who require in-service language and practitioners’ training and not necessarily pursuing the traditional rigorous research skills but rather seeking the mastery of the French Language and grounding in functional competences.

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Business & Management

ECRLF Helping to Co-create the Future of African Academic Leadership

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Makerere University in partnership with University of Pretoria on 14th September 2021 hosted the Future Africa’s Early Career Research Leader Fellowship (ECRLF) Dissemination Workshop in the Central Teaching Facility 2 (CTF 2) Auditorium and virtually. ECRLF’s aim is to offer an opportunity for development of research leaders who will be able to fill a critical gap in the African research capacity ecosystem. This fellowship program is offered by the University of Pretoria with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the ECRLF program at Makerere University and Lecturer in the Department of Population Studies, Dr. John A. Mushomi, thanked Future Africa for the first-of-its-kind fellowship accorded to young African academics.

“We are used to taking leave from academia at a much later time in life, where we have professors taking their sabbaticals, but within five years of finishing my doctorate, I was given an opportunity to spend two years at the University of Pretoria and interact with academics from across different disciplines and universities in Africa” explained Dr. Mushomi.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the ECRLF program at Makerere University and Lecturer in the Department of Population Studies, Dr. John A. Mushomi
Screenshot: The Principal Investigator (PI) of the ECRLF program at Makerere University and Lecturer in the Department of Population Studies, Dr. John A. Mushomi

In this respect, he thanked the Carnegie Corporation of New York for sponsoring the ECRLF and the University of Pretoria for hosting the fellowship. He equally thanked Dr. Cori Wielenga from the University of Pretoria for the mentorship accorded to him during the fellowship.

“We had the opportunity to interact with fifteen researchers from different disciplines and spent time learning and training together, and we have not been the same since. We were not just invited to participate but to also co-create what we think is the future of African academic leadership” added Dr. Mushomi.

Speaking on behalf of Future Africa, Rachel Fischer said, “In particular we see with this conference today our very important objective to work with a transdisciplinary mindset and engagement towards forming partnerships, and to collaborate across various disciplines.”

She added that the shift from physical to virtual and online collaboration is an active endeavour towards breaking down silos within disciplines, partnerships as well as across various countries on the African continent. The outcomes from such partnerships, she noted, would allow all stakeholders to have a peaceful and secure Africa that is stable and fully functional, while ensuring that the values and ideals of Africa are prioritised.

The Head, Department of Population Studies-Dr. Stephen Wandera represented the Dean School of Statistics and Planning.
Screenshot: The Head, Department of Population Studies-Dr. Stephen Wandera represented the Dean School of Statistics and Planning.

The Dean, School of Statistics and Planning (SSP), Dr. James Wokadala, who was represented by the Head, Department of Population Studies, Dr. Stephen Wandera noted in his remarks that SSP encourages staff to go beyond conducting research and publishing to mentoring students into the next generation of African academics by co-publishing with them.

In line with the workshop he thanked the University of Pretoria for the partnership, noting that “collaboration among African academics helps us to build more comparative studies across the continent, allowing colleagues to learn from each other the best practices and opportunities that can move us forward.”

He congratulated Dr. John Mushomi upon completing his post-doctoral research experience at UP, which culminated into the exciting workshop.

Screenshot: The DVCAA Dr. Umar Kakumba officially opened the ECRLF Dissemination Workshop
Screenshot: The DVCAA Dr. Umar Kakumba officially opened the ECRLF Dissemination Workshop

Officially opening the workshop, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs)-DVCAA, Dr. Umar Kakumba applauded the University of Pretoria supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for the great capacity development for future academia and African leaders. The workshop was based on the theme, History Meets Demography: Multi-Disciplinary Inquiry on Poverty, Resource.

“I applaud the University of Pretoria on this move and demonstrating the great potential that Africa has, especially the academic institutions, in mobilising resources, bringing together the African scholars and giving them an opportunity to explore and forge South-to-South collaboration” remarked Dr. Kakumba.

He added that South-to-South collaborations help to build a solid academia across the continent, enabling them to find solutions to emerging problems of African societies. The DVCAA noted that COVID-19 had brought to light the vulnerability of Africa’s dependence on the global North to solve her fundamental problems as well as the greater role that universities ought to play.

“And we cannot play this role as Universities outside the shadows of partnerships between our institutions, and without building the huge capacity of early career researchers” he observed.

The DVCAA therefore noted that workshop’s theme and its concerns about issues of history and demography were source of great hope, especially given its transdisciplinary nature.

“We are able to dialogue on history and demography and see how we can address issues of poverty in light of our past experiences as well as interrogate the nature of our population and the characteristics that affect our society in various ways” he stated.

Screenshot: Prof. Cheikh Mbow, Future Africa Director at the University of Pretoria delivered his address virtually.
Screenshot: Prof. Cheikh Mbow, Future Africa Director at the University of Pretoria delivered his address virtually.

In his welcome message, Prof. Cheikh Mbow, Future Africa Director at the University of Pretoria noted that his organization had over the years been holding academic workshops on different topics across different African countries.

“The reason why were are trying to empower the early career scientists is actually to be able to close the loop in terms of availing science in order to package and deliver knowledge to everyone who needs it, particularly the stakeholders.

“Today’s topic is very timely. It’s about poverty in Africa, it’s about resources in Africa, and it’s about mobility in Africa. The poverty line which had come to be stable at some point or decreasing quite slowly over the projected years to come has just suddenly gone into a spike – Africa now has more than 50 million new poor people coming into the statistics of the World Bank” remarked Prof. Mbow.

He concluded by noting that research is not only about hardcore science but looking at all other aspects of life as contributors to knowledge production. “The transdiciplinary theme of the workshop is one of the most important discussions that ECRLF could have.”

The workshop featured four parallel sessions that covered;

  • Governance, Security, Peace and Conflict I
  • Mining, Resource, Extraction and Policy frameworks
  • Global Trends in Interdisciplinary Research and Governance, Security, Peace and Conflict II and
  • Education and Development and Resource extraction and Policy frameworks II

During the closing ceremony, Dr. Cori Wielenga on behalf of ECRLF thanked participants for the wonderful conference proceedings as fostered by Dr. Mushomi’s involvement with the University of Pretoria.

Screenshot: Dr. Cori Wielanga, ECRLF Mentor, University of Pretoria.
Screenshot: Dr. Cori Wielanga, ECRLF Mentor, University of Pretoria.

“The purpose of this fellowship and its collaboration is to promote interdisciplinary research as well as collaboration between institutions on the continent and in this regard Dr. Mushomi has made excellent use of the fellowship to meet its objectives including through this conference” she elaborated.

The program mentor from UP added that her collaborative work with Dr. Mushomi was particularly in the areas of resources, identity and migration, which remain a challenge to Africa and the entire globe.

Dr. Wielanga thanked Makerere University for supporting the event, and Dr. Mushomi as well as the coordination team for organizing a successful hybrid event. “We do hope that we will be able to meet in person in the near future as we deepen the collaboration between our institutions.”

Screenshot: The Principal CoBAMS, Dr. Eria Hisali called for the formation of policy labs to influence policy.
Screenshot: The Principal CoBAMS, Dr. Eria Hisali called for the formation of policy labs to engage policy makers and other stakeholders.

Addressing participants, the Principal, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Dr. Eria Hisali congratulated Dr. Mushomi upon successfully convening the hybrid workshop and extended his appreciation to the funding partners for supporting both the event and work of early career researchers.

In terms of providing sustainability to the collaboration, Dr. Hisali appealed to all the partners to regard the day’s workshop as a starting point and work towards strengthening their collaborations so that a lot more work can be done in other fields of research.

He equally appealed to the collaborating parties to use the findings generated thus far to engage policy makers, civil society and the private sector under a framework of policy labs, at least once every quarter. The Principal further called for the integration of students into research activities, as a way of creating multiplier effects that can continue to inform policy debates.

“As the College of Business and Mangement Sciences, we commit that out of our small grants research programme, we should be able to take up funding to further studies in some of these areas” concluded Dr. Hisali.

The Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Dr. Josephine Ahikire applauded the re-centering of history in interdisciplinary scholarship.
Screenshot: The Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Dr. Josephine Ahikire applauded the re-centering of history in interdisciplinary scholarship.

Delivering the closing remarks, the Principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Dr. Josephine Ahikire noted that interdisciplinarity increases the University’s relevance to society by bringing forth perspectives that enrich the understanding what is at stake in terms of development challenges.

“It is very exciting that we are re-centering history as a key perspective in whatever we do as a university. We know that in the past decade, history had been relegated as a study of the past but actually, history is not just a study of the past, it is the understanding of the totality of humanity for you to be able to actually craft a way forward” Dr. Ahikire explained.

The Principal noted that resource conflicts and contestations are at the heart of human existence. As such, she opined that issues such as citizenship, tribe and nation were very important and the workshop had commendably provided a space where early career researchers can try to provide answers to questions of the time on the African continent.

“A research-led university is one where the people engage intellectually. These engagements improve the academic environment for staff as well as students” she concluded.  

The abstracts and presentations from the workshop will contribute to an edited book to be published by Palgrave.

Please click the embedded video below to view proceedings from the Workshop

Opening Session


Early Career Research Leader Fellowship (ECRLF) Dissemination workshop, 14th September 2021, Opening Session

Session 1A: Governance, Security, Peace and Conflict I



Session 2A: Global Trends in Interdisciplinary Research and Governance, Security, Peace and Conflict II



Closing Ceremony



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Humanities & Social Sciences

TRF Canada Announces Endowment for Mak Rotary Peace Centre

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Director of the International Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University, Dr. Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala with colleagues at a meeting.

The Rotary Foundation (TRF) Canada has on behalf of Canadian Rotarians announced an endowment fund to support the annual capstone seminar at Rotary’s newest Peace Centre at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

The endowment was established with a gift of CAN$125,000.00 (US $100,000) to The Rotary Foundation. The seminar is an opportunity for peace fellows to reflect and report on their social change initiative efforts to an audience of peers, Rotarians, and experts in the field. The year long certificate courses at Makerere overlap allowing current and incoming fellows  the opportunity to network and build fellowship.

We congratulate the Director of the International Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University, Dr. Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala upon yet another meritorious award.

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