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Verbal Explosion as Literati Celebrate the Spoken Word

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The atmosphere was literally thick with words as literature teachers, students and enthusiasts from all walks of life gathered on Thursday 9th November 2017 in the Quality Assurance Directorate’s Telepresence Centre, Makerere University to launch Word Craft. Word Craft is a two hour documentary directed by Prof. Sr. Dominic Dipio, Department of Literature, College of Humanities and Social Science (CHUSS) focusing on the Word as what defines and shapes human relationship in its everyday and specialised usages.

“The role of film is to create a forum for people to talk about things” said Prof. Dipio quoting Ousmane Sembène, one of Africa’s greatest film directors and novelists. Prof. Dipio couldn’t hide her delight as she scanned the room and acknowledged the presence of her Principal-Prof. Edward Kirumira, Deputy Principal-Dr. Josephine Ahikire, Acting Dean-Dr. Gilbert Gumushabe, Head of Department-Dr. Okot Benge, Former Deputy Principal-Prof. Abasi Kiyimba, Former Head of Department-Dr. Susan Kiguli and so many great writers present. She sent the room into rapturous applause when she, in a special way, introduced Prof. Austin Bukenya, fondly referred to as Mwalimu-the man who taught her to “write with a PUNCH!”

Earlier, Wake; a Christian rapper, poet and spoken word artist had taken the audience on an engaging reflective journey with Ssengegya/sieve a poetic recital urging the audience to always carefully consider each and every word before they speak. But not even his soulful acoustic guitar-accompanied delivery could steal Word Craft’s limelight.

Prof. Dipio explained that the documentary explores the impact of the Word from three perspectives namely; the Spiritual, Traditional and Literal Word. Shooting of the film commenced during the Holy Week in April 2017 with upcountry scenes recorded in the Madi community of West Nile and concluded at the Department of Literature in Makerere. She paid tribute to her hardworking team led by Mr. Ramadan Ddungu.

Word Craft is a mellow no-frills film shot in typical documentary style, with soothing narrations dominated by Prof. Dipio, interspaced with several hymnals and traditional Madi pieces. It does not intend to put you at the edge of your seat but you will find yourself making multiple mental notes of questions that you’ll need answered thereafter.

A beaming Prof. Austin Bukenya (2nd R) and Dr. Susan Kiguli (R) listen to proceedings during the launch of Word Craft

The film sets out on a spiritual tone with Father Alenyo delving into the potency of the Word of God as written in the scriptures and its creative effect, before crossing over into captivating traditional illustrations of the spoken word such as the ciliri by the Madi community. The audience was at one point rocked with waves of excitement when Mwalimu’s baritone and frame came into view as he animatedly recited a folktale to a handful of wide-eyed children. The captivated handful’s excitement would soon be replaced with fright as the tale turned creepy and the hitherto warm-voiced talebearer metamorphosed into a growling monster.

“Poetry is the first language of mankind” shared Prof. Abasi Kiyimba in the film “and poetry is part of the delivery” he added as he effortlessly broke into performing an Islamic prayer. He appreciated the role played by the spoken word, noting that traditionally, tales, poems and proverbs were tools that helped to nurture morals within the social and historical contexts.

As the film progressed into its Literal Word phase, in his usual philosophical style, Mwalimu observed that just as the ability to see words didn’t make one literate, the ability to say words didn’t make one articulate. “if you are going to speak precisely, proficiently and professionally, you have got to be trained. That is what is called oracy” explained Prof. Bukenya.

The aftermath of the screening had the audience bubbling with excitement; almost surging forth to share their views, and the moderator Dr. Danson Kahyana had to pull all the stops to preside over the proceeding panel discussion and audience interaction.

“This event is a continuation of a story that started from time immemorial. The word has always been there and I have been a part of it since 1968” shared Prof. Bukenya. He congratulated Prof. Dipio and the whole team involved in the film production upon a job well done. “Let us live the spoken word and let us not just live it in theory. I want us to be more communicative about the spoken word” encouraged Prof. Bukenya. He charged the audience to firmly guard against “tertiary orality” which often manifested itself in people talking more to their phones that to each other.

Professors Sr. Dominic Dipio (L) and Abasi Kiyimba (R) share a light moment during the launch of Word Craft

In a moving submission, Dr. Virgil Onama, a public health specialist by profession and a spoken word guru by passion lauded Makerere University and Prof. Dipio for breathing new life into the spoken word through Word Craft. “This is the beginning of the reincarnation of Makerere and Word Craft has demonstrated that we can initiate, originate and substantiate the originality of our culture by documenting it” he said, before adding “we need to put it on record that we are the people giving significance to our ‘Africanness’.”

He lamented the current trends like social media that had made us irrelevant to ourselves by replacing the spoken word with digital texting on WhatsApp, and when we did speak, it was in a cacophony of English words, that paled in comparison and expression to richer, multilayered languages such as his own; Madi. He shared that his latest contribution to the spoken word is the compilation of a Madi-English dictionary, set to be released before the end of 2018.

“We do things by saying them” chipped in Prof. Abasi Kiyimba, “we mean them and have the right to say them” he continued.  “We need to have the authority to back the things we say so as to appropriately replay when prompted or authorized, for example, saying ‘I do’ when reciting your marriage vows,” he shared, in line with his current research on ‘Words that Perform’.

Commenting on the future of the spoken word, Prof. Bukenya said “People are getting more illiterate as they get more digital. A lot of people are losing the skill of the written word as they get more literate. However, we should develop these skills side by side. Teachers should underline and emphasise the spoken word. Encourage, promote, inculcate and systematically teach the spoken word.”

“The word is here to stay and poets, spoken word artists need to be given audience and a platform” continued Prof. Dipio. “The word as an art has to develop, even as much as we have this technology today. We should use technology as a tool to capture and preserve the spoken word.”

Part of the audience that graced the launch of Word Craft, 9th November 2017, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

“Humanities are not useless and I thank Prof. Dipio for raising the flag high through this film and her other works” said Dr. Josephine Ahikire as she made the concluding remarks of the day. “I congratulate the Department of Literature headed by Dr. Okot Benge and the Acting Dean-Dr. Gilbert Gumoshabe for steering the School of Languages, Literature and Communication to raise ideational leadership as a college. Through books, film and performance, we use our power to make Makerere what it is” she added, and thereafter declared Word Craft launched.

The award for the most spirited performance at the Word Craft launch went to Mr. Peter Kagayi, a lawyer by training and versatile poet by writing and execution. His energetic performance on “The Word” so stilled the audience that you could have thought someone repeatedly stole their breaths in the breaks that punctuated the performance. He truly lived up to Dr. Kahyana’s introduction of his act as “the leading performance poet”.

Article by Public Relations Office

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Launched: Word Craft Documentary Film by Prof. Dominic Dipio

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

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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

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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

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Mak-Undergraduate-Admissions-2021-2022

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.

ALFRED MASIKYE NAMOAH
AG. ACADEMIC REGISTRAR
Date: 22nd September, 2022

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