Prof. Joe Oloka-Onyango gave an inaugural lecture titled, Ghosts and the Law, in which he revealed that the Ugandan law has long been haunted by ghosts, which take on varied shapes and sizes as the Common law itself. He nevertheless remained hopeful that one day, Public Interest Litigation (PIL) will eventually triumph, leading to reconciliation between the two ghosts; one backward-looking in support of extra-constitutional overthrow of government, and another which aspires for the protection of fundamental human rights, with the hope that the good one will prevail over her evil sibling.
“As we celebrate 20 years of the 1995 Constitution and approach the 50th anniversary of the decision in the case, it is the most appropriate time to look back and consider which of the ‘twins’ of the ‘Ghost of ex parte Matovu’ has been most successful in influencing the Ugandan body politic. What does the future portend for the life of these fraternal twins?”
The drums sounded as the Vice Chancellor’s procession comprising the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, Ag. Principal-School of Law and academicians clad in gowns, led Prof. Joe Oloka-Onyango to the Main Hall, amidst a colourful performance from the Mak Department of Performing Arts and Film.
The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu welcomed the audience comprising invited guests, the family of Prof. Joe Oloka-Onyango, intellectuals/scholars, staff, students, the legal fraternity and well-wishers to the Joe Oloka-Onyango inaugural lecture. He thanked the audience that filled the Main Hall to full capacity for braving the heavy rains.
The Vice Chancellor highlighted that Inaugural lectures are a central part of the University’s academic life. “These events are held to commemorate the inaugural lecturer's appointment to full professorship. Today’s inaugural lecture provides a platform for the academic (Prof. Oloka-Onyango) to present the body of research that he has been focusing on during his career,” said Prof. Ddumba-Ssentamu.
The Acting Principal-School of Law, Dr. Damalie Naggita Musoke officially introduced Professor Joe Oloka Onyango to the audience. Prof. Oloka-Onyango’s credentials speak of a distinguished career in the Law profession as an academic. He has served the School of Law Makerere University as a Dean in the then Faculty of Law as well as Director of the Human Rights and Peace Centre. He is also an active litigant and human right activist and has served as a Special Rapporteur on Globalization and Human Rights of the United Nations. He has been a visiting Professor at a number of Universities that include the University of Cape Town, Oxford and United Nations University in Tokyo.
He spent his sabbatical 2014/2015 as a Full Bright Professor at George Washington University in the USA and Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies (STIAS) in South Africa.
Professor Oloka Onyango is widely published and some of his most recent publications include; Battling over Human Rights: Twenty Essays on Law, Politics and Governance (Laanga Publishing, 2015); When Courts Do Politics (Cornell University, Debating Love, Politics and Identity in East Africa: The Case of Kenya an d Uganda among others.
With such an admirable profile, Prof. Joe Oloka-Onyango clad in full academic regalia energetically moved from the high table to the Podium to address the captivated audience. Professor Oloka-Onyango paid tribute to his late father, Bernard Onyango who always emphasized that one is proven a Professor only after delivering an inaugural lecture. Prof. Oloka-Onyango acknowledged his parents for setting the standard for excellence in all spheres of life very high. His mother, Mrs. Lucy Onyango attended the inaugural lecture. He also appreciated the constant inspirational support of his wife, Professor Sylvia Tamale, Children Kwame Sobukwe Ayepa and Samora Okech Sanga and his in-laws from the Nkima Clan.
During his presentation on the Ghosts and the Law, Professor Oloka-Onyango explained the various instances when the Law is inflicted with ghostly situations quoting the case of ex parte Matovu as illustrated in the case Uganda v. Commissioner of Prisons, ex parte Matovu, whose case will make 50 years in 2017. He said although dead, ex parte Matovu is still a domineering presence in the law, with effects being felt in all branches of study or practice. He explored the relationship between the law, politics and society and the impact that connection has on the protection of Human Rights, specifically constitutionalism.
In his presentation, Professor Oloka-Onyango explored situations how we get ghosts in the Law, the Political question Doctrine and how it contrasts with Public interest Litigation as a form of change-oriented and socially-conscious lawyering. He said the legislature has continued to concentrate on the Political Question Doctrine and in this way deny the populace their economic, social and cultural rights.
Emphasizing the need to do away with the Ghosts in the Law, Prof. Oloka-Onyango shared powerful quote from Okot p’Bitek, Song of Lawino:
“ The smell of carbolic soap;
Makes me sick;
And the smell of powder
Provokes the ghosts in my head;
It is necessary to fetch a goat;
From my mother’s brother;
The sacrifice over;
The ghost-dance drum must sound;
The ghost be laid;
And my peace restored.”
Prof. Oloka-Onyango mentioned particular cases that further enlightened the audience on how Ugandan law has long been haunted by ghosts.
“All these are the ‘Ghosts of History Past, Present and Future.’ In the arena of Constitutional Law and governance the ghost appears in the form of the Political Question Doctrine (PQD), a concept most associated with the 1966 High Court decision, Uganda v. Commissioner of Prisons, ex parte Matovu,” he said.
“But as with all spiritual beings—such as the Roman God, Janus—there are two sides to the case. In other words, there are not just one but (at least) two ghosts of ex parte Matovu. There is the backward-looking one which supported the extra-constitutional overthrow of government in 1966 and paved the way for military dictatorship, judicial restraint and conservatism. And in the same case, there is its reverse which “jettisoned formalism” to the winds, overruled legal “technicalities,” and underlined the need for the protection of fundamental human rights. The jettisoning formalism decision eventually opened the way to a robust and growing industry of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Uganda.”
Fortunately, Prof. Oloka-Onyango provided hope to Ugandans and the world at large when he pointed out that the “good ghost” fought back taking on the form of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and the quest for democratic constitutionalism.
He shared with the audience the battle between the Political Question Doctrine and Public Interest Litigation that mainly centres around the status of economics, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs) and on other issues in which the Judiciary is too timid to directly confront the Executive and Parliament.
“That battle brings the two ghosts of ex parte Matovu into head-on collision, i.e. The one which allows the government to escape all its obligations to ensure that human rights are respected, and the other which underlines the point that the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights also attaches the State,” he said.
Ending his presentation, Prof. Oloka-Onyango remained hopeful that Public Interest Litigation will one day triumph.
“Hopefully, in this battle over destiny, Public Interest Litigation will eventually triumph. That should lead to reconciliation between the two ghosts with the good one of them prevailing over her evil sibling,” he remarked.
Still basking in the spotlight of this academic milestone, Prof. Oloka-Onyango commended the personalities who inspired him to become an academic. He acknowledged Frederick Jjuuko, Deogratius Mabirizi, the Late Richard Kiwanuka (RIP) and George Okoth Obbo who interested him in academic teaching and research.
He made mention of his classmates that included Kenneth Kakuru (now Court of Appeal Justice), Richard Musajja Karyegesa, the late Patrick Karegeya and Donald Nyakairu whom he described as his first intellectual co-travelers.
Commenting on the inaugural lecture presentation, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Professor John Ddumba-Ssentamu agreed with Prof. Oloka-Onyango that we indeed had ghosts in the law.
Prof. Ddumba-Ssentamu noted that the lecture provided an in-depth exploration of the doctrine of the Separation of Powers that is the relationship between the three arms of government, namely, the Executive (the President and Cabinet), the Legislature, and the Judiciary. He observed that Prof. Oloka-Onyango’s study calls for particular attention to the courts of law and their obligations when faced with issues to do with the protection of human rights.
Prof. Ddumba-Ssentamu upheld the fact that the Constitution is the most important legal document of the very many laws, regulations and statutes that we have in Uganda. Thus Prof. Onyango’s lecture underscored the important place in which Constitutional Law should be placed when considering matters to do with governance, human rights and the improved social well-being of Ugandan society.
“I take this opportunity to thank Prof. Onyango for his profound insights and for having greatly educated us on the various aspects of Constitutional Law doctrine. The lecture was a multi-disciplinary intellectual tour covering a wide range of subjects from Literature to Philosophy,” proclaimed the Vice Chancellor amidst applause from the audience.
The inaugural lecture was also graced by members of the Judiciary that included Her Lordship, Prof. Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza of the Supreme Court, Justices Kenneth Kakuru and Stephen Egonda-Ntende from Court of Appeal.
“As a teacher and a researcher, I have variously drawn inspiration from colleagues like Mahmood Mamdani, Busingye Kabumba, Sallie Simba Kayunga, Ben Shokoro Twinomugisha, Frederick Egonda-Ntende, J.J. Barya, James Gathii, Celestine Nyamu, among many other’’ said Prof. Oloka-Onyango.
The lecture was organized by the Office of the Vice Chancellor, spearheaded by Dr. Okello Ogwang-the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Mr. Alfred Masikye Namoah, The Academic Registrar and the Inaugural Lecture Committee consisting of: Prof. Elly N. Sabiiti-Chairperson, and members that include, Prof. Oswald Ndoleriire, Prof. Ruth Mukama, Prof. David Bakibinga, Prof. H. Oryem-Origa and Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi.
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Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda calls for full involvement of men and boys in achieving Gender Equality
The Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda Her Excellence Maria Håkansson has emphasized the need to fully engage men and boys in all the initiatives geared towards achieving Gender Equality in Uganda and other parts of the world. She said this on 28th November 2023 at a press conference organized by the Embassy of Sweden in close collaboration with Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to unveil the National Orange Pledge campaign and officially launch the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The press conference was headlined by a Ugandan rapper and record producer Daniel Lubwama Kigozi, popularly known by his stage name Navio and his fellow from Sweden Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu. Over 200 students both male and female from Makerere University and other institutions of higher learning attended the press conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds.
According to Her Excellence Maria Håkansson, Gender Equality cannot be achieved without involving men and boys to take their responsibilities and be the drivers of change. “For real change to happen, we need to change attitudes and norms that might cause Gender Based Violence, one of the social ills in Uganda and an extreme of gender inequality that occurs at all levels of society,” she said.
Referring to the national survey conducted in 2020, the Ambassador was concerned about the escalating burden of gender based violence in Uganda when she said, “the Survey highlighted that 95% of women and girls experience physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.”
She therefore emphasized the Global 16 Days of Activism as key international movement to increase awareness and advocate for an end to Gender Based Violence. The Ambassador also mentioned that preventing and responding to Gender Based Violence is a cornerstone for Sweden’s commitment to promote democracy, human rights and gender equality and this is done as an investment in a society that upholds the principles of equality, dignity and justice.
She acknowledged the full participation of university students in all campaigns and activities geared towards achieving gender equality as well as ending Gender Based Violence when she said, “You are the leaders of tomorrow and you have an opportunity to build a future where everyone can thrive. So please use today to take an active stand against Gender Based Violence.”
Every year Uganda joins the rest of the world to enhance the global campaigns on 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and also add a voice to the call for an end to violence against women and girls. These campaigns run from 25th November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until 10th December of the Human Rights Day.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 initiative calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations to help end all types of violence against women and girls. This year 2023, the UNiTE campaign theme is; Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls.
Over the years, Makerere University through its Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and School of Women and Gender in partnership with UN Women and many other partners have been at the fore front to support the campaign on 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence in Uganda. This has been done through debates, theatre forums, student dialogues, thematic artistic presentations, media exposures, drama and music skits presentation, and student peer led discussions and quarterly competitions.
This year 2023, the University in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) unveiled the Orange Pledge. According to Eric Tumwesigye the Senior Gender Specialist at Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, this campaign calls upon government, policymakers, activists, civil societies, academicians, students and all members of community from all parts of the country to make their heartfelt pledges towards ending Gender Based Violence in Uganda and the rest of the world.
The UN Women Country Representative Paulina Chiwangu recognized the investment Makerere University, the Embassy of Sweden and UNFPA have made to end violence against women and girls. “Thanks to our collective efforts, the silence that used to shroud violence against women has now been broken” said.
In the same spirit, she acknowledged the progress Makerere University has made in establishing and implementation of the University’s Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment to protect students and staff from potential abuses of power and conflict of interest. She also applauded the increased support and training for students and the strengthened mechanisms for investigations that allow students and staff to anonymously report sexual misconduct.
“We are however, aware that despite this, sexual harassment is still happening in the university and that not many students report to the authorities when they experience it. It is therefore, our humble appeal to the university leadership to continue monitoring the implementation of the Policy and Regulations Against Sexual Harassment, take all allegations of sexual harassment and violence seriously, ensure that all personnel have information on available support services and take action to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.”
Reaffirming the University’s position in fighting GBV and particularly sexual harassment, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe was highlighted the various measures Makerere University has put in place to prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence. To him, the Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment; the appointment and capacity building for the Vice Chancellor’s Roster of 100 eminent people from the various colleges and administrative units; recruitment and training of the Gender Mainstreaming Programme Student Peer Trainers and setting up Sexual Harassment Investigation Committees are bigger milestones to celebrate.
He appreciated the move by the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and all the partners to embrace entertainment and artistry as a critical advocacy and awareness tool to reach several communities especially the youth.
“We firmly believe in the transformative power of music and the arts in promoting social change. Music and art does serve as a powerful medium to advocate for the world free from violence especially violence against women,” said to Mr. Dainel Alemu, the UNFPA Deputy Country Representative.
“It is heartening to see artists like Navio taking a stand and using their influence to challenge harmful norms. As we revel in the beats and melodies, let us not forget he underlying message that everyone , regardless of gender, has a role to play in fostering a world where everyone is free from shackles of gender based violence,” he added.
Speaking at the Press Conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds, Navio said that for the 20 years he has been an activist of Gender Based Violence, he has faced the reality of many young girls and women in Uganda being victims of sex and physical abuse. He therefore sent a huge condemnation to men especially artists that who are perpetrators of Gender Based Violence and called for serious government action and clear policies and laws against such injustices.
Navio applauded the women and men who have stood tall over the years to fight against Gender Based Violence in Uganda when he said, “ As we launch the 16 days activism in Uganda and through these pledges we are making, let us be accountable for our actions. For long in our cultures, men have considered force and violence as power and protection. They have been tough to their children hence instilling fear to the extent that the children cannot freely interact with them on serious matters such as abuse and torture.”
He applauded all families that have adopted the new parenting model of free conversations and interaction hence encouraging children to freely open up whenever they have challenges. Navio also acknowledged the role of his mother Mrs Maggie Kigozi as a human rights activist and a champion in fighting against Gender Based Violence in Uganda.
Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu from Sweden appreciated the wider platform provided by the music industry globally for artists to act as role models and champion of change. The rapper highlighted the need to respect women for their roles and support towards community development.
“I am a son and it is extremely important for me to respect my mother and all women. Also being a father to a beautiful daughter, I am always eager and looking forward to seeing the best future for her. I want daught to grow up in the world where she is able to feel safe and be allowed to freely associate without being discriminated or threatened because of her gender,” he said.
Scholars & Alumni of Mastercard Foundation light up Achukudu Community, Napak District
By Bernard Buteera
On Saturday 2nd December 2023, all roads led to Achukudu Community Primary School in Napak District, Karamoja sub-region, as the Scholars and Alumni of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University commemorated their Scholars’ Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback). The 2023 Scholars Annual Day of Community Service was held at Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District in the Karamoja sub-region. Established in 2013, Achukudu Community School serves two ethnic communities—The Iteso and Karamojong.
With a total population of 1,097 pupils only three government-paid teachers, and nine community-paid teachers, the School faces a plethora of challenges. Key among the challenges is the lack of Classrooms, decent Ventilated Pit Latrines, and Desks. Therefore when the Scholars identified the School as one that deserved to be given a gift of a classroom block, it was a befitting choice!
The Scholars with support from the alumni, the Program Team, Members of the Steering Committee, and partners of the Scholars Program at Makerere University intervened by constructing a two-classroom block, which was supervised by one of the alumni who is an Engineer. Alongside the classroom block, the Scholars also provided 40 desks, helping the school meet UNEB Center eligibility criteria.
While presiding over the event, the area member of Parliament, Hon. John Bosco Ngoya, thanked the Scholars and alumni community at Makerere University for supporting the young pupils of Achukudu Primary School and the entire community by gifting them with a two-classroom block.
“Thank you Scholars and alumni of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University for the Christmas gift of a classroom block to the young people and the entire community of Achukudu. This classroom block will go a long way in improving the learning environment of the young children of Achukudu primary school.” Hon. Ngoya pointed out.
Hon. Ngoya called upon other people to emulate the Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation in embracing the spirit of giving back to the vulnerable people in the community. On his part, he donated One Million Five hundred shillings (1,500,000/=) to help the School purchase more desks, and he had earlier contributed One million shillings (1,000,000/=) towards the construction of the classroom block.
The District Education Officer (DEO) for Napak District, Ms. Joyce Nakoya, praised the Scholars Community for embracing and practicing the spirit of giving back to other people at an early age.
“Thank you Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation at Makerere for embracing the spirit of giving back to other people at such an early age. If all people gave back to the less privileged in our communities, we would have a better world for everyone.” Ms. Nakoya pointed out.
Ms. Nakoya further pointed out every child deserves to study in a decent environment, therefore it was a befitting cause for the Scholars to construct a classroom block for the young pupils of Achukudu community primary school, who were studying in open grass thatched classrooms.
The Program Manager of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, Ms. Jolly Okumu who led the team of Scholars, alumni, and staff to Karamoja thanked the community of Achukudu for supporting the Scholars to deliver the class block by contributing to the construction sand.
“We come here today to join with you as a community driven by a shared commitment to education, empowerment, and ethos of giving back. Today is a historic occasion as we celebrate the completion and commissioning of the classroom block, which is a remarkable testament to the transformative power of education and our unwavering spirit of community service.” Ms. Jolly remarked.
The President of the Scholars Association, Mr. Godfrey Okello, thanked all the Scholars and alumni, and all stakeholders who contributed to the construction of the classroom block, which was a dream that became a reality.
“I would like to thank my colleagues and people of goodwill who supported us to realize our dream of constructing this classroom for our young brothers and sisters of Achukudu Primary School. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our fellow young people in Uganda and Africa as a whole.” Mr. Okello remarked.
The Headteacher of the School, Mr. Eryebu Raymond, who was visibly very excited was full of praises for Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation, for what he termed as an iconic classroom block they had gifted to his School.
“This day is very special to us, we will not see this day again. We are delighted to receive the Scholars and alumni of Mastercard Foundation from Makerere University, thank you for considering supporting our School” Mr. Eryebu excitedly remarked.
The Headteacher revealed that one of the major challenges the school was facing was an acute shortage of classrooms for his 1,097 pupils. He was therefore grateful to Mastercard Foundation Scholars for choosing to construct a two-class block for the School.
“This donation of a classroom block and Desks is a testament to your commitment to education and empowering the lives of the vulnerable people in the community. This classroom block and desks will go a long way in improving the quality of teaching and learning at our school.” Mr. Eryebu further remarked.
The 2023 Scholars Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback) was punctuated with a lot of joy, pomp, and fanfare, as the pupils and the entire community of Achukudu danced and ululated at the commissioning of the classroom block. The construction of the classroom block and purchase of desks for Achukudu Community Primary School was made possible by generous contributions by the Scholars, alumni, the Program Team, and members of the Steering Committee.
Among the Partners who made financial contributions towards the class block construction included; DFCU Bank, Post Bank, URA, Katumba Estates, Footsteps Furniture Ltd, and Sion Travels Ltd.
The Scholars and Alumni Day of Community Service (Give back) is an annual event, where Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation go out into the community to give back by providing solutions to challenges that a particular community is facing. Over the years Scholars have given back to the communities in numerous ways that range from offering professional services and erecting major projects like classroom blocks.
Bernard Buteera is the Communications and Public Relations Officer of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.
Innovations using low cost locally available materials for point of use water treatment system unveiled
The College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) conducted a Research Dissemination of two studies aimed at the Development of Materials for point of use water treatment systems.
The investigations were conducted by a team of researchers comprised of P. W. Olupot, H. M. Kalibbala, E. Menya, G.M. Wangi, J. Jjagwe, J. Wakatuntu, M. Turyasingura, R. Walozi, C. Kanyesigye and R. N. Kulabako.
The dissemination event held on Wednesday 29th November 2023 follows the successful completion of two MakRIF supported Research projects namely; Development of rice husk based granular activated carbon for point-of-use water treatment systems and Development of zeolite-based nanocomposite filters for drinking water treatment.
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