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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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Rotary International President visits Mak



The Chairperson of Council, Mrs Lorna Magara (L) presents a plaque to Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta in appreciation of his visit and invaluable service, 15th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University.

By Hasifa Kabejja

Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta has appreciated Makerere University for supporting and carrying forward the newly introduced programme aimed at advancing peace on the African Continent. Launched in January 2020, the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University runs a postgraduate diploma programme in Peace-building and Conflict Transformation. The hands-on program entails coursework that addresses topics including human rights, governance, and the role of the media in conflict. Other studies focus on refugees and migration, as well as resource and identity-based conflicts.

At a high level meeting held with the University leadership on 15th September 2021 at CTF1, President Shekhar Mehta said Rotary International was proud to be partnering with Makerere to promote peace on the African Continent. “The mere absence of war does not translate into total peace. Besides war, there are many other factors undermining peaceful co-existence. It is our duty to address these issues so as to create harmony in our communities. Through the Rotary Peace Centres across the globe, we are undertaking a number of initiatives aimed at promoting peace. Since 2002, the Rotary Peace Centres have trained more than 1,300 fellows who are working to advance peace in more than 115 countries. We are happy to work with Makerere University to foster peace and development on the African Continent,” he noted.   President Shekhar Mehta, who was on a three-day tour of Rotary projects in Uganda, was visiting Makerere for the first time since the University won the bid to host the International Rotary Peace Centre, the first of its kind on the African Continent.

President Shekhar Mehta, who was in company of past and current Governors of Districts 9213 and 9214, said peace was a necessary catalyst for the progress of humanity and general development of nation states across the globe. Elected for the 2021-22 term, President Shekhar Mehta, through his year theme Serve to Change Lives, asks Rotarians to participate in service projects where they can make a difference in their communities and the people who live in them. Since he joined Rotary in 1984 as a member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India, President Shekhar Mehta has led many major service initiatives in India and South Asia, including among others, constructing 500 homes for Tsunami survivors at Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and starting the Shelter Kit programme in India which has served about 20 disasters and benefited about 75,000 disaster victims. 

Delivering her remarks, the Chairperson Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara appreciated Rotary International for entrusting Makerere University with the mandate to host the first rotary peace centre on the African Continent. “Choosing to house the Centre at Makerere University shows Rotary International’s trust and confidence in Makerere and her vision for building for the future. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of Rotary International’s agenda. We also sincerely appreciate Rotarians all over the world who have committed funds to support the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University,” she noted. Similarly, she appreciated The Rotary Foundation (TRF) of Canada for setting up an endowment fund for the Peace Centre. “This will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the Peace Centre at Makerere University. The fund will help in the Capstone week where Fellows will present their social initiatives. These initiatives will showcase how the Rotary Peace Centre contributes to positive peace initiatives all over the world.”

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe informed the President that the decision to establish the first Rotary Peace Centre in Africa at Makerere University was welcomed with ‘excitement and gratefulness’. “We consider this to be a vote of confidence in our efforts in the peace and conflict resolution agenda. We extend our appreciation to Rotarians in Uganda and beyond for selflessly supporting this noble cause.” The Vice Chancellor appreciated the leadership of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere, and the Director of the Centre, Dr Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala for their tireless efforts in ensuring the centre achieves the intended objective.

By the end of this year, the Centre will have hosted two cohorts of peace fellows. The first cohort was at Makerere University between February and May, 2021. Currently, these Peace fellows are carrying out their peace initiatives in their communities. The second cohort will report on September 27, 2021. In both cohorts, Peace Fellows were chosen from 20 countries and by the end of the year, the Centre will have had a total of 36 Fellows.

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Intentionality Key to Nurturing More Women Leaders



The "Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research" Phase One Study dissemination poster for the event held on 14th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University and Online.

The Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD), Makerere University on 14th September 2021 presented findings from phase one of the study on Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research. The study team led by the Director GMD and Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine also consists of Assoc. Prof. Consolata Kabonesa, Dr. Anna Ninsiima, Ms. Frances Nyachwo, Ms. Susan Mbabazi and Mr. Eric Tumwesigye.  

The team is also made of coordinators from participating Universities such as Busitema University-Ms. Elizabeth Birabwa, Kabale University-Sr. Dr. Eva Tumusiime, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)-Dr. Specioza Twinamasiko, Muni University-Ms. Amandru Stella Wawa, and Gulu Univeristy-Sr. Rosalba Aciro.

Funded by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the study was inspired by the fact that women are persistently few in numbers as staff, more so in leadership and decision-making organs of Ugandan Public Universities. “This is despite all the various efforts at national and international levels; the numbers are not growing as fast as needed to meet development goals of the country” explained Dr. Euzobia.

Based on this background, the study team therefore sought to conduct a situational analysis of the gender terrain of the six public universities to obtain baseline information encompassing the composition of governance and leadership organs and senior staff by sex, as well as a needs assessment and profiles of potential mentors and mentees.

Furthermore, the team sought to explore the capacity to conduct gender-responsive research as well as the role of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions within the universities as the drivers of development.

Dr. Mugisha-Baine shared that results of the baseline would then be used to design participatory training manuals or guides on gender and leadership. The manuals would cover; Institutionalized mentorship, How to conduct gender-responsive research, gender and equity budgeting, among others.

The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine
The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine

 “Within these manuals, we shall have a male staff engagement strategy in gender equity interventions in universities” she explained.

The development of the aforementioned materials would then be followed by their adoption and use to build capacity for women not only in leadership of participating and other public university but also beyond. “We shall periodically evaluate whether the capacity we have built has influenced women’s participation in leadership and decision-making organs of the university” supplemented the PI.

The capacity building trainings for women, it is envisaged, will lay the foundation for the formation of a functional Uganda University Women’s Think Tank, starting with the six participating universities. Dr. Mugisha Baine added that through this Think Tank, a monitoring and tracking system for gender representation in recruitment, promotion, retention/turnover and leadership of public universities shall be established and maintained.  

At the conclusion of phase one, the study team had drafted participatory training manuals in gender and leadership with content on; gender specific critical analysis of the leadership spectrum of public universities, positioning of individual women within the institutional framework and strategies for their advancement, gender equity advocacy in the university setting, institutional mentorship, building capacity in conducting gender-responsive research, among others.

“This content will be validated by the participating universities before the actual research training is conducted” added the PI.

On behalf of the research team, Dr. Mugisha Baine thanked the Government of Uganda for providing the resources that facilitated phase one of the study and prayed that the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) would support the next phase of capacity building.

Speaking on behalf of the Mak-RIF GMC Chairperson, Prof. William Bazeyo, Dr. Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala thanked and congratulated the team led by the Director GMD upon the milestones registered in the critical research.

“We are very proud of that work that is being done by all researchers in Mak-RIF and we would like to most sincerely thank Management for all the support throughout this process” she remarked.

Dr. Nkabala encouraged the research team to continue disseminating and using the findings for the furtherance of gender mainstreaming, particularly through the aspect of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions.  

The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.
The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.

Prior to delivering the keynote address of the day, the Executive Director National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) Prof. Mary Okwakol thanked the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for inviting her to the important forum, noting that women’s participation in decision making and governance is a priority area of the Uganda Gender Policy 2007.  

She commended Makerere University for being at the forefront of gender mainstreaming in Uganda, noting that this prominence was one of the reasons why the Gender in Education Policy 2007 provides for replicating the institution’s strategy in all other Higher Education Institutions.   

Prof. Okwakol whose keynote address was punctuated incisive personal examples reaffirmed the statistics that women are generally not visible in leadership of Universities. That notwithstanding, in instances where they rise to leadership and decision-making positions, they are regularly subject to roles traditionally deemed as women’s inconsiderate of their managerial seniority and experience.

She nevertheless rallied the women to play their respective roles in enhancing participation and visibility at a personal level. The following were some of the strategies she proposed; work hard to acquire academic credentials so as to compete favourably with men, acquire necessary administrative training and experience, network among women, join professional networks as well as do research and publish.  

On joining professional networks, she shared her personal experience as a young zoologist who joined UNESCO’s Tropical Biology and Fertility Programme. “Within a short time I was appointed Coordinator for Africa and after two years, I was elected as a Member of the International Board of Management. After serving for two years, I became Vice Chairperson of that Board and finally I became Chairperson of that International Board.”

At the institutional level, Prof. Okwakol appealed to the Chairperson Council and Vice Chancellor to proactively recruit women who meet the requirements for leadership positions even if it means actively seeking out the reluctant ones. In this regard, she shared that it would be useful for the university to develop a database of women and their qualifications to ease this process.

She shared that NCHE has in recognition of female underrepresentation at every level in Higher Education approved the establishment of a Gender and Equity Unit with the aim of promoting inclusive gender participation in the sub-sector.

“This unit has been placed under the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Accreditation which implies that as we look out for and regulate quality, gender will be a very important aspect of that regulation” she reassured.

Prof. Okwakol concluded by urging participants to read the; Third National Development Plan (NDPIII), Uganda Vision 2040, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) noting that there is no way all three can be achieved while women are left behind because they each make a case for inclusion of the female gender.  

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.

“What we are addressing here are historical injustices” said Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe as he commenced his remarks, “And in the case of Makerere University, it is well known that the institution started as a male-only institution and we all know the original motto was ‘Let us be men’” he added.

Citing examples from history such as; Marie Curie – one of the smartest physicists, Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra – prominent Pharaohs of Egypt, George Eliot, Rosa Luxemburg and Hypatia – all great philosophers as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel – first female Chancellor of Germany, the Vice Chancellor said there is no plausible argument that there are things women cannot do as well as their male counterparts.

He said it was against this knowledge and in a bid to correct historical injustices that Makerere University pioneered initiatives such as putting in place affirmative action for girls, establishing a Gender Mainstreaming Directorate as well as a School of Women and Gender Studies. The Vice Chancellor nevertheless stressed the need to go beyond pioneering to protecting these gains through legislation. “Historically we have seen that discrimination can only be addressed by laws and policies.”

Prof. Nawangwe thanked the Government for providing funds to support Mak-RIF as well as the Funds GMC and Secretariat for ensuring that these funds are put to good use. He equally thanked the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara for her not only her support but also sparing time to attend a good number of the research dissemination events.

A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.
A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.

Delivering the concluding remarks, Mrs. Magara acknowledged that the study was timely and relevant the contemporary University, as one of the critical drivers of the national and international development agenda. She therefore reechoed the Vice Chancellor’s thanks to the Government of Uganda for generously supporting the University’s research through Mak-RIF.

Turning to the keynote speaker she said, “I thank Prof. Okwakol for ardently discussing the critical issues affecting the female gender, the strategies to overcome the challenges, including sharing her inspiring personal experiences.”

Mrs. Magara equally thanked Prof. Okwakol for her very instructional analysis, providing mentorship guidance with the resultant impact of enhancing the female gender in decision-making positions. In the same breath she congratulated the PI and her team upon successfully concluding phase one of the project.

“Phase one has generated insights in understanding the status of women in leadership in public universities, the legal and policy framework and its implications on women’s visibility, the institutional mentoring systems and the gaps therein” she observed.

The Chairperson of Council acknowledged that the challenge of underrepresentation of women in leadership roles cannot be resolved at an individual level. She therefore advocated for broad based strategies that can address deep-seated structural and cultural biases facing women. “These include developing mentorship networks, enacting laws and policies that address the imbalances and providing training programmes to address the leadership gaps.”

She therefore pledged the University Council’s unwavering support to the Gender Mainstreaming Programme by ensuring an enabling policy environment that facilitates gender-responsive teaching, learning, research innovation and community service.   

The research dissemination was moderated by the Principal Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ms. Ritah Namisango and the Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and PRO Mak-RIF, Ms. Harriet Adong.

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Section Editors & Associate Editors Wanted-CABI Agriculture & Biosciences Journal



The CABI Agriculture and Biosciences Journal (CABI A&B) is still in search of both Associate Editors to join the CABI A&B Editorial Board, as well as a Regional Editor-in-Chief to lead for Africa in addition to serving as a Section Editor in the area of either Environmental and SOIL SCIENCE, AGROECOLOGY, OR AQUACULTURE AND FISHERIES. Ideally CABI wants Section Editors (SE) who are prominent members of their research communities, with high-level established positions at a research institution, with a strong, current record of international collaborations and publication, with an H-index of at least 25.  For Associate Editors (AE) we hope for researchers who have with established positions at a research institution (e.g., not post-docs or Ph.D. candidates), with a strong growing record of international collaborations and publication (e.g., around 8 publications in the past two years), and have an H-index of at least 15.

Very importantly, CABI hopes for SEs and AEs who are good communicators and are passionate about serving and building the journal to be an outlet for both large and small steps of sound science that will improve the lives and livelihoods of people worldwide.

Please see Downloads for the CABI EDITORIAL DIRECTORY

Interested applicants should email PHILIPPA J. BENSON, PH.D. MANAGING EDITOR | _CABI A&B | P.BENSON[at]CABI.ORG

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