As part of events to mark the Uganda Police Force (UPF) Centenary celebrations, on 16th September 2014 Makerere University hosted the Erinayo Oryema Memorial lecture in honour of Uganda’s first indigenous Inspector General of Police. Born on 1st January 1917, the late Lt. Col. Erinayo Wilson Oryema enlisted in the Uganda Police Force in 1939 and rose through the ranks to eventually serve as Inspector General of Police from 1964 to 1971.
By 2:00pm on the warm Tuesday afternoon that the Memorial Lecture was held, the Main Hall was a buzz of activity as guests and members of the Makerere community were ushered to their seats; occasionally stopping to briefly greet and laugh with a few familiar faces in the midst of flashing green and blue strobes of light from the grand setup by the events company. With the Inspector General of Police, IGP-Gen. Kale Kayihura, Cabinet Ministers, UPF top brass and various dignitaries freely greeting and mingling with the audience, the security detail was obvious and meticulous in the execution of its duties. This was soon put to the test as several members of the audience had to be tactfully asked to take up seats in the gallery, as only the reserved seats were empty way before the talk could start.
Welcoming all present to the Memorial Lecture, the Chancellor Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera thanked the UPF for choosing Makerere University as the place of remembrance for an illustrious Ugandan. He thanked the IGP for closely relating with Makerere, noting that at one time the institution had the worst reputation with all armed forces in Uganda.
“The Makerere University community finds it wonderful to celebrate this marked improvement in our relationship as evidenced by the recent training of our students in crime prevention skills by the Uganda Police,” noted the Chancellor. “This is indeed remarkable progress as compared to situation in previous regimes where it was a serious offence to be identified as member of staff of Makerere University” added Prof. Kagonyera.
He noted that the late Lt. Col. Erinayo Oryema was a gentleman of perfect distinction and his death as well as that of Archbishop Janani Luwum and Mr. Charles Oboth Ofumbi was one of the biggest crimes of the Ugandan Government then, “I hope that this will never happen again in this country” reflected the Prof. Kagonyera, further adding “it is high time that the History of Uganda became a compulsory subject so as to educate our youth on the distinctive qualities of great leaders such as the late Oryema.”
The moderator of the day and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Vision Group Mr. Robert Kabushenga thanked the Uganda Police for the tremendous work done over their 100 years of existence, especially in line with the day’s theme "From Colonial Policing to Community Policing; A Century of Challenges, Achievements and Transformation". He recommended that the audience reads Andrew Okello Lawoko’s The Dungeons of Nakasero and Henry Kyemba’s State of Blood to better appreciate how much policing had transformed in Uganda. He then asked Hon. Henry Kyemba who was also present in the audience to stand up for recognition of his authorship and contribution to the Nation’s transformation.
Prior to delivering his keynote address, Dr. Jude Kagoro a former Makerere University Lecturer currently serving at Bremen University, Germany took time to recognize his former colleagues in the Department of Religion and Peace Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) like Dr. Paddy Musana and thank Makerere for firmly establishing him in the field of Peace and Conflict studies. He applauded Dr. Simba Kayunga, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, CHUSS whose then rousing political science talks in the Main Hall set the pace for his own now busy speaking schedule.
Dr. Kagoro then delved into his address, which sought to give a sociological understanding of the Uganda Police, an often neglected area. He noted and appreciated the role of the Media and NGOs whose reports help to inform and educate the public on UPF performance but added that these often do not take into consideration the other aspects that affect the force. “You would be surprised to note that research the world over almost exactly mimics details on the social aspects of the police however an academic understanding of this is missing,” said Dr. Kagoro.
He observed that the UPF does a commendable job in the Ugandan communities putting into considerations that factors that would have favoured policing like National Identity Cards and proper physical addressing are almost nonexistent in Uganda. He however noted that despite these encumbrances and in comparison to other countries, the Ugandan people overwhelmingly report crime to the Police, which speaks of confidence in the force and an intimate relationship between the UPF and masses.
Commenting on the colonial versus the community policing model, Dr. Kagoro appreciated the noticeable difference in gender balance as evidenced by the increasing number of female Officers heading Directorates, Police Stations and various departments. He also noted the increased presence of police officers of all categories in even the most remote locations citing an example of the unexpected presence of traffic officers on remote country roads in Kotido and other locations he had visited. He also noted the marked improvement in the psychosocial value of the UPF in the communities, as shown by the willingness of music artistes to freely partner with the Police. He also observed this also played out in the form of elderly citizens especially in the Central region often visiting police stations to report suspicious patterns in the community that were yet to break out into criminal activity. He concluded his keynote address by emphasizing that the ordinary citizen is not only a consumer but a co-producer of order in partnership with security agencies and therefore must embrace their civic duty and responsibility to remain orderly.
Discussing the keynote address, Mr. Andrew Mwenda, CEO-The Independent started off by observing that our media today was awash with self-proclaimed commentators whose opinions are mostly based on hearsay and as such rely on stereotypes and prejudice to make comments. He appealed to journalists to conduct meticulous research by interviewing a representative sample of the various stakeholders so as to exercise a degree of objectivity in what they were reporting.
He also advised the UPF to constantly publish all the community outreach activities and positive strides made in order to stem the tide negative publicity, which threatens to overwhelm all the good work that the force is doing. He however advised all those intending to organize demonstrations to first of all be organized by restraining all participants from participating in any illegal activity such as looting and destruction of property. In concluding his remarks, he commended to the IGP Gen. Kale Kayihura for increasing the visibility of the Uganda Police through transforming the force from the colonial to the community policing model. He also thanked the IGP for maintaining public order and thereby enabling the force to be better facilitated to improve its other units.
The patient audience was then given a chance to participate in the lecture and members expressed opinions that ranged from the need to improve on the welfare of retired police officers to the need for UPF to take advantage of the academic specializations of their Senior Officers, some of whom had earned Masters and Doctoral degrees. Participating as a member of the audience The Minister in charge of General Duties, Office of the Prime Minister, Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere commended Dr. Kagoro for once again awakening the sociology in him and acknowledging the improvement in the relationship between the UPF and general public; a very important aspect of sociology.
“Many of us are getting focused on causative and forgetting these qualitative differences that occur in our lives. I wish that another type of debate on the causative differences between the UPF and the public over the years could be organized,” commented Prof. Kabwegyere.
The Woman Parliamentary representative-Kitgum District Hon. Beatrice Atim Anywar then took time to make her contribution, noting that as the police celebrated 100 years, it was important to also examine the other side. She observed the need to desensitize members of the rural population in some regions from only looking at the UPF an organ that quells riots. She also requested the IGP to oversee the welfare of female Police Officers, especially those who needed to fulfill their maternity obligations.
In his remarks, the IGP thanked all present especially the families of the late Erinayo Oryema and Janani Luwum for attending the inaugural memorial lecture. He also commended the Management of Makerere University and student leadership for cooperating with the UPF to peacefully resolve any standoffs. Commenting on the current reputation of the UPF as a “tear gas force” he noted that circumstances often dictated police responses and such means were only a last resort.