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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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Rotary International President visits Mak

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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

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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

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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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