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Multidenominational Composition of Uganda a plus for Tolerance



According to Wikipedia, Uganda is a religiously diverse country with Roman Catholics and Anglicans at 44.5% and 39.2% respectively making up the largest percentage of the population. Muslims follow at 10.5% while the remainder of the population consists of Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Orthodox Christian and other Christian faithful, not to mention the Bahai Faith as well as those who believe in Traditional faith systems. As such, Uganda is a fairly multidenominational society that is gradually becoming cosmopolitan according to a public dialogue organized by the University Forum on Governance (UNIFOG) in partnership with Konrad-Adenauer-Siftung (KAS).

Held under the theme Perspectives on Uganda as a Multidenominational Society on 27th March 2015. the Public Dialogue sought create a platform for Staff, Students and the general public to address growing concerns of radicalization especially in the face of rising terror attacks. In his keynote address, Mr. Mwambutsya Ndebesa, Lecturer-Department of History, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) pointed out that Uganda had taken major steps in forging Mr. Mwambutsya Ndebesa-Lecturer, Department of History, CHUSS gives the keynote addressinterdenominational harmony through umbrella bodies like the Uganda Joint Christians Council (UJCC) and the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU). He however pointed to: the emergence of sexual and cultural politics; the use of religion as an instrument for political mobilization; the overlap of poverty and religion; the aggressive measures of Pentecostal Churches to convert Muslims to Christianity; the infiltration into Uganda of forms of religious fundamentalism from USA, the Arab world, Pakistan and Iran; and perceptions and feelings of economic and political exclusion by some religious groups as six threats of interdenominational dialogue in Uganda.

Mr. Ndebesa urged the audience to guard against imperialism from both the USA and the Arab world coming into Uganda through religion. “They are creating tensions here which are unnecessary; if we are going to reject imperialism, let us reject religious imperialism. To be religious, you don’t have to come from the USA or the Arab world” he expounded.

He noted that the social fabric in Uganda is founded on interfaith marriages and families, which accords the nation the opportunity to avoid extremism associated with faith. “In Uganda there is no official state religion and no religious instrumental laws such as the law on blasphemy or apostasy laws such as those in the Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In other countries, if you convert to another religion, you would have committed apostasy and the punishment is death,” shared Mr. Ndebesa.

Immam Kasozi discussed radicalization and religious intolerance in Uganda within a global perspectiveIn the panel discussion that followed, Immam Kasozi, Islamic Scholar and Lecturer at the Islamic University in Uganda, citing revolutions such as the Arab Spring, the Iran-Arab world war and Uganda’s own inter-religious battles noted that politicians have seized the opportunity to make use of inter-religious differences to wage proxy wars. “The whole problem is neither Shia-Sunni, nor Christian-Muslim; because we still co-exist and work together, but rather people who have their special agenda will do that…” Immam Kasozi said in reference to the root cause of inter-religious conflict.

Commenting on the origin of great names such as Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, ICS and ICL, Immam Kasozi pointed to the USA as the source and owner of all these names to be used as “an opportunity to hit on the less suspecting Muslims especially those that did not have enough knowledge of their own religion.” He then went on to give brief historical backgrounds on Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab.

Assoc. Prof. Deusdedit Nkurunziza proposed institutional adjustments for mitigating radicalizationThe second panelist of the day Assoc. Prof. Deusdedit Nkurunziza, Lecturer, Peace and Conflict Studies, CHUSS, noted that in addition to being multidenominational, Uganda is also multicultural, multiethnic, multi-political and is gradually becoming a cosmopolitan state. He noted that while Uganda was experiencing growing cases of radicalization, religious intolerance and hate speech, this state of affairs was nothing compared to the past decades of insurgencies and wars.

Dr. Nkurunziza urged the audience to be proud of their religious heritage and proposed four approaches to help Ugandans become more human rights aware and conflict-sensitive; i. To be liberal-democratic so as to address power struggle and identity issues ii. To have religious liberty iii. To have religious freedom and iv. The rule of law. He urged the authorities concerned to address the issue of poverty as it seemed to be a great contributor to radicalization. “In our being democratic, liberal or humane, the question of poverty is an issue and let us think strategically on how to change our mindset from the issues of poverty and profitability,” he added. He further noted that Africa was still lucky to have the family institution intact but noted that today, the family faced a disaster as Fathers and Mothers were increasingly not being able to take care of their own children. As a result, they were willing to let them go for shocking amounts as low as UGX 100,000/= “this is the highest level of poverty!” he exclaimed.

Dr. Sarah Ssali-CHUSS proposed direct and indirect interventions to address radicalization“Personally what scares me the most when I walk on the streets of Kampala is not religious intolerance. Religious intolerance is less than any other kinds of intolerance we have,” said Dr. Sarah Ssali the third panelist of the afternoon as she commenced her submission. She noted that any plausible intervention to radicalization in Uganda ought to encompass the different contours of radicalization. She expressed her discontentment with the association of radicalization with religion only, noting that this would inadvertently render all the interventions faulty.

“Previously the radicalization was against communists, and before that racial and yet when other forms like genocides have gone on in this world, we don’t call it radicalization but tribalism, racism and so many other things” observed Dr. Ssali in support of her argument. She further shared that radicalization has a very enduring history along the lines of race, gender, tribe etc and often breaks forth when the boundaries of tolerance crumble. This served to further reinforce her argument that radicalization is a process and not an event, and that no one becomes radical or extremist overnight. She noted that radicalization is a threat to us all and shared the example of Boko Haram in Nigeria where the victims are not only Christians but also Muslims.

She proposed direct interventions such as identifying the causes and moving in on them but however warned that this may in the end appear be confronting only one religion. Dr. Ssali then shared that in such cases indirect interventions which identify any form of hate speech and call upon the entire community to denounce it could be used. She called upon everyone to appreciate the different ethnicities, denominations and cultures that make up Uganda in order to cement our unity in diversity.

In his response to the panel discussion, Mr. Ndebesa urged all participants not to confuse religion with ethics, noting that intolerance was not necessarily a preserve of religion. He explained his point by observing that countries with the highest atheist populations are not necessarily the most intolerant.

Members of the audience participate in the public dialogue on Uganda as a multidimensional society at Makerere University on 27th March 2015

The panel discussion moderator Mr. Yusuf Kiranda a Programme for Africa Leadership fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science then took discussion to the audience whose input raised issues such as; politics and its ideals as a cause of chaos, misinterpretation of religious laws, empowering institutions to enforce laws, when religious groups claim responsibility for unlawful acts, poverty as a cause of radicalization and many others. Dr. Paddy Musana, Department of Religious & Peace Studies, CHUSS commenting as a student of New Religious Movements in particular observed that every new form religious manifestation is as a result of cultural changes. “We in our fallen nature tend to emphasize our differences and not our commonalities and as long as we feel threatened, we construct a new identity to protect our interests” he said. Dr. Musana stressed that Uganda as a nation has a reason to celebrate 16th November; the UNESCO International Day for Tolerance, owing to the diversity which is even manifests itself in the composition of our extended families.

In more responses that followed, Dr. Nkurunziza urged the audience to look up and read MUASA Chairperson-Dr. Muhammad Kiggundu Musoke’s PhD thesis entitled “International Islamic Fundamentalism: A Case Study of Uganda”. He said that this thesis would help all parties present further expound on the discourse on multidenominational societies and radicalization. He thereafter urged the audience to embrace Ubuntu-African Humanism; which is Africa’s contribution to globalization.

Mr. Ndebesa noted that education can go a long way to de-radicalize societies, taking the example of Europe where the age of enlightenment played a great role in stopping religious killings, establishing tolerance and critical thinking. He further proposed that every student in Makerere should pursue a course in critical thinking.

Dr. Ssali on the other hand urged participants to desist from looking at the enemy as external and care for each other as Ugandans. She further noted that intolerances always arise when economic resources reduce and that structural adjustment programmes that were meant to rebuild societies and people have only ended up fracturing them.

Immam Kasozi in response to some of the questions on poverty chose to define it as a lack of ideas, association and relationship. He urged participants to appreciate their unity in diversity as Ugandans and not to only identify Ugandans or non-Ugandans based on distinctive attributes. He further urged leaders to stop hate campaigns and avoid selfishness and mistrust.

This public dialogue organized by UNIFOG and KAS whose Executive Secretary-Mr. Bruce Kabaasa and Programme Officer Ms. Maike Messerschmidt respectively gave opening remarks was indeed a step in the right direction in as far as preaching the message on tolerance and demystifying radicalization in Uganda are concerned. The take home message Learn to treat everyone with dignity and respect for our diversity is our strength was indeed resounding and a good note on which to start the next dialogue.

Article by Public Relations Office.

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Uganda’s policymakers implored to address forest loss, plastic & water pollution



Left to Right: Prof. Gunnar Köhlin, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Amb. Maria Håkansson, Commissioner Julius Mafumbo and Prof. Edward Bbaale posing for a group photo before the opening ceremony on 22nd September 2022: Photo by EfD-Mak Centre.

The Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe on Thursday 22nd September, 2022 participated in the opening of the EfD Annual meeting hosted by Makerere University at Speke Resort Munyonyo where he appealed to government to implement the ban on kaveera and address other environmental issues.

The opening ceremony moderated by the EfD Global Hub Manager Gunnar Köhlin and was graced by Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment represented by the Commissioner for Water, Mr. Julius Mafumbo and the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda, H.E. Maria Håkansson.

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Prof. Nawangwe urges Makerere University community to support the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative



By Bernard Buteera

Makerere University has launched a two million dollar E-learning Project, dubbed The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative.  

The launch was held on Tuesday 20th September 2022 at Makerere University, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium. It attracted over 200 participants, who included members of University Management, College Principals, School Deans, Academic and Administrative staff, students and the general university community.

While addressing the gathering, the Chief Guest, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), congratulated Makerere University for winning such a huge grant, which will go a long way in transforming the eLearning infrastructure at Makerere University.

“I am happy to be joining you in launching a project that is at the heart of National Council for Higher Education. Online learning is at the heart of the Council, not only because of the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the world is now a digital world.” Prof. Okwakol remarked.

Prof. Okwakol thanked Mastercard Foundation and other development partners who have continued to support initiatives that help transform higher institutions of learning in Uganda.

“I sincerely thank the Mastercard Foundation and other partners who have continued to support higher education in Uganda, especially in the area of research and online learning. Globally, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly disrupted education systems forcing learners and some schools to shift to virtual learning to curb the spread of the pandemic.” Prof. Okwakol pointed out.

On his part, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe urged the university community, especially the academic staff to take advantage of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning initiative to develop e-content across all Colleges of the University, to enhance capacity for eLearning at Makerere University.

[L -R] Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the E-learning Initiative, Prof. Umar Kakumba, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the Executive Director of National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative and Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator for Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

”I appeal to the Colleges to embrace this project and have as many courses adopt this pedagogy development system, even though students will continue with face-to face and phyisical learning, they should be allowed the option of online learning. The platforms that are going to be built, will give our students an opportunity to interact with international students, scholars, teachers and with each other.” Prof. Nawangwe applealed.

The Vice Chancellor, further called upon all other development partners to emulate Mastercard Foundation in supporting Makerere University and other universities on the entire African continent in strengthening digital literacy, so that Africa is not left behind.

”In 2018 I attended a conference on E-learning in Beijing China, where a critical question was asked; Will Africa be left behind again? This was in reference to many advancements that were taking place in the western world, in which Africa had been left behind.” The Vice Chancellor reminded the audience.

Prof. Nawangwe further emphaised the importance of e-learning as one of the critical modes of teaching and learning in the 21st first century.   

”Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot over emphasise the importance we attach to e-learning the 21st Century, that is why we took a decision to elevate the Department of Open and Distance Learning into an Institute of Open and Distance E-learning with an intention of having e-learning extended to other Colleges of the university.” Prof. Nawangwe pointed out.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, and Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the E-learning Initiative, Prof. Umar Kakumba, rallied the University community to support the implementation of the project in the University.

“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program E-learning initiative could not have come in at a better time than post COVID19 era. A pandemic, which exposed our systems and methods of teaching and learning. You all recall, when were hit by the pandemic, with lockdowns and closures of institutions of learning, we all went into a panicky mode on how were going to cope with online learning. I therefore call upon every member of the university to give this project the support it deserves.

Prof. Kakumba reminded the audience the importance and relevancy of online learning at Makerere University and other universities in Uganda.

“The online method of learning is best suited for everyone. This digital revolution has led to remarkable changes in how the content is accessed, consumed, discussed, and shared. Office goers and stay home mothers can take up online educational courses too, at the time that suits them. Depending on their availability and comfort, many people choose to learn at weekends or evenings.” Prof. Kakumba remarked.

Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda, the Coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation E-learning Initiative, informed the audience the importance of the project and the expected outcomes for the University.

One of the Champions of e-learning trained by Arizona State University, Prof. Paul Birevu Muyinda receiving a certificate from Chief Guest.

“The Mastercard Foundation e- Learning Initiative is a Project funded by Mastercard Foundation aimed at addressing the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic that constrained access and continuity of teaching, learning, research and community engagement activities at Makerere University” Prof. Muyinda pointed out.

Prof. Muyinda further thanked the team that he worked with in putting up the proposal in a very short time that yielded such an important grant for the University.

“I thank the team that spent sleepless nights putting together the proposal that resulted into this project. I must report that Makerere University is privileged to be having the most highly qualified persons in online instruction design and online pedagogy at the IODeL and beyond. It is now up to Makerere University in particular and the Country in general to make use of these persons to transform the terrain of online, blended distance and e-learning education.” Prof. Muyinda remarked.

Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator for Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, informed the audience, that the E-learning initiative was one of the many partnerships between Mastercard Foundation and Makerere University geared at supporting the young people to succeed on the African continent.

Members of University Management, staff and students present.

“The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program continues to recognize that in order to enable young people across Africa to succeed, there is need to; Address systemic barriers in Higher education, Strengthen the capacity of Institutions that serve the Young People, and Support innovative solutions across critical sectors.” Prof. Namaalwa remarked.

The colourful launch ended with a panel discussion in which panelists digested the importance and opportunities for open distance and eLearning in higher institutions of learning.

Bernard Buteera is the Communications Officer of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.

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Supplementary Admissions to Bachelor of Laws Under Private Sponsorship 2022/23




The Academic Registrar, Makerere University, informs applicants wishing to be admitted to Bachelor of Laws Private for 2022/2023 Academic year but failed to submit their application online to submit their applications from Friday 23rd to Friday 30th September, 2022 at a non-refundable fee of 50,000/= (Fifty thousand shillings only).

The applicants MUST have passed the Pre-entry Examinations for Bachelor of Laws.

Diploma/Degree holders should submit certified copies of their academic transcript to Room
315 Level 3, Senate Building.

Applicants who have already been admitted need not apply.

For any additional information, contact Undergraduate Admissions Offices 301/303 for A’Level Applicants and Office 315 for Diploma/Degree holders.

Date: 22nd September, 2022

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