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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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Climate Change and Global warming: Researchers and partners discuss Climate Smart Agriculture approaches

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By Ritah Namisango

Global warming due to uncontrolled human activity, industrialization and rapid population growth as well as emission of greenhouse gases is a threat to both humans and animals.

Global warming is an aspect of climate change, referring to the long-term rise of the earth’s temperatures. It is caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from human activities such as burning fossil fuels and farming.

To address the emerging danger of climate change and global warming that threatens the very existence of the human race, animals and the world in general, countries and international bodies have come up with strategies, measures and programmes aimed at mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Dorothy Nampanzira, the Principal Investigator presenting during the workshop.

Researchers at Makerere University (Uganda) in partnership with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway), Maseno University (Kenya), and LUANAR and DARS (Malawi), and with funding from Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education (Diku), are implementing a four-year collaborative research project titled, “Building Capacity for Innovation and Advancement of Climate Smart Agriculture in East and Southern Africa” (CICSA-E&SA). 

This is a multi-disciplinary project bringing on board experts in climate change, livestock, animal science and agriculture. In Uganda, Dr. Dorothy Nampanzira, a researcher at Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) is the Principal Investigator. One of the objectives of the project is to develop a platform that includes key stakeholders who are engaged and interested in activities and initiatives that promote Climate Smart Approach practices and technologies to share experiences and lessons to further the resilience of farmers and promote activities that limit greenhouse gas emissions and receive outreach for adopting new, proven Climate Smart Agriculture technologies.

Why Climate Smart Agriculture?

Climate change and global warming are a threat to the agricultural sector, which is the source of food and income for developing countries in Africa, Uganda being one of them. According to the Uganda Bureau of Standards (UBOS) about 70% of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture. So, climate change and global warming threaten the very existence of livelihoods in Uganda, which calls for adoption of climate smart agriculture approaches, strategies, measures and practices.

On Tuesday 6th December 2022, researchers, scientists and experts in livestock feeding and nutrition, animal science, agriculture, climate change, education and capacity building convened at CoVAB. The stakeholders’ meeting was held under the theme: Livestock feeding and nutrition as Climate Smart Agriculture option: Current status and future strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production systems in Uganda.

Mr. Muhammad Kiggundu from National Agricultural Research Organisation was one of the presenters at the workshop.

Opening the stakeholders’ workshop, Associate Professor Lawrence Mugisha, the Head, Department of Livestock and Industrial Resources, CoVAB, welcomed the partners to Makerere University.  Highlighting that climate change is a cross cutting issue, he was happy to note that this multi-disciplinary project brings on board staff and experts from other Colleges at Makerere University namely; the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and the College of Education and External Studies (CEES), and international partners from Universities in East and Southern Africa as well as Norway.

Representing Associate Professor Robert Tweyongyere, the Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Resources, CoVAB, Associate Professor Mugisha shared that the Government of Uganda was committed to mitigating climate change. He pointed out that Makerere University’s strategic approaches through this collaborative project that focuses on climate smart agriculture would further enhance Government efforts.

Associate Professor Mugisha reiterated the appeal from the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations, Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero to researchers at Makerere University. “On several occasions, Hon. Monica Musenero has encouraged us to conduct research that will solve the problems that Uganda is facing. The impacts and consequences of climate change are with us. We need researchers and experts to address the problem.  I am therefore glad that this collaborative project focuses on coming up with innovations in climate smart agriculture.”

He advised the research project team to widen the stakeholder engagements, write policy briefs, and translate research into conventional and popular formats for public consumption and usage.

Dr. Vincent Muwanika then invited the respective researchers, scientists, experts and partners to participate in round table discussions with key stakeholders in climate change, agriculture, animal science and capacity building.

Dr. Vincent Muwanika leading the discussion.

From the presentations, participants observed that a number of livestock climate smart agriculture initiatives were being undertaken in Uganda.  Some of these include:

  • Interventions addressing livestock feed quantities in order to produce nutritious feeds for livestock throughout the year.
  • Feed quality improvement innovations.
  • Forage conservation innovations and technologies aimed at providing enough nutritious feeds for livestock during times of scarcity especially as a result of the long dry spells.
  • Promotion of drought tolerant multipurpose tree species.
  • Promotion of livestock and poultry breeds that are better performing and tolerant high temperatures.
  • Innovations for improved grazing management especially in rangelands.
  • Water conservation and harvesting technologies that store enough water for both livestock production and household use.

Based on the informative discussions and interactive engagements, the participants resolved to establish a platform that includes key stakeholders who are engaged and interested in activities and initiatives that promote Climate Smart Agriculture practices and technologies. The platform will act as a mechanism to share experiences and lessons to further the resilience of farmers and promote activities that limit greenhouse gas emissions.

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Mak Management expresses readiness to work with 88th Students’ Guild

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By Ritah Namisango

Officiating at the Swearing-in-Ceremony of the 88th Students’ Guild held on Monday 5th December 2022, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe called upon the student leaders to work with the University Management, Senate and Council to promote a favourable brand of Makerere University that is renowned for research, innovations and excellence.

“The University exists because of students. We cannot exist without you students. Our goal is to ensure that students are handled well. So, I request that the Students’ Guild works together with the University Management to make the University a better place. Let us work together to promote the best practices such as excellence and intellectual discourse,” he remarked.

In a speech read by the Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, the Vice Chancellor further urged the student leadership to uphold dialogue in issues of management and conflict resolution.

“Issues can be solved amicably by use of dialogue and solutions can be found without necessarily using force or strikes,” he said.

Chairperson Mr. Edrine Nsobanyi (Right) together with Ms Joan Atuhaire, Vice Chairperson Electoral Commission

The Vice Chancellor congratulated H.E. Lawrence Alionzi, a student of Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) upon his election as the 88th Guild President of Makerere University. In the same spirit, he expressed gratitude to the students who took the bold step to contest for leadership at the different levels, and congratulated each and every one who emerged a winner at the Cabinet level, Guild Representative Council, Hall Chairpersons and Senior Common Room, Representatives of College Guild Council among other categories.

Prof. Nawangwe hailed the Students’ Electoral Commission led by Mr. Edrine Nsobanyi for conducting peaceful, free and fair elections in a shortest time possible.

“I have been briefed by the Chairperson of the Students’ Electoral Commission and the Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli that during the physical elections, we would have between 5,000 and 6,000 participants, but this time, when we conducted elections virtually, over 10,000 students participated in the polls. I thank the team that managed the University e-voting system led by Mr. Samuel Mugabi, the Director of DICTS and Ms. Ruth Eteu from the Department of the Academic Registrar,” he said.

Guild Representatives for Persons with Disabilities pose for a photo with Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Henry Alinaitwe and Dean of Students Winfred Kabumbuli

He reminded students to guard against unfortunate incidents such as the one that led to suspension of the earlier Guild elections, where a student of the Uganda Christian University lost his life while participating in Makerere University Guild campaigns.

Sharing lived examples as a student leader at various levels during his school days, Prof. Alinaitwe advised the student leaders to value their time, and the time of other people. He emphasized the need to respect time and rallied the student leaders to always keep time by starting meetings on time and meeting deadlines.

Guild Representative Councillors (Complex Hall) with Margaret Nattabi (Extreme Right) who doubles as Vice Guild President pose for a photo with Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, Mrs. Winfred Kabumbuli and Complex Hall Warden Ms. Donna Keirungi (Extreme Left)

“Leaders should lead by example. I encourage you to always consult and value time management. I was a time keeper in primary and secondary school. Time management is very essential in delivery of services, and ensuring that meetings, activities, programmes and projects are executed well,” said Prof. Alinaitwe.

In his remarks, Mr. Nsobanyi appreciated the University Management for the support rendered to the Students’ Electoral Commission.  “I thank the administration for restoring the students’ leadership. You have really supported activities of the elections including online elections which have been extremely peaceful, free, fair with no chaos,” he said.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Henry Alinaitwe (Center), H.E. Lawrence Alionzi (on his left), Dean of Students Mrs. Winfred Kabumbuli (on his right) together with out-going Guild President Shamim Nambasa (4th Left) join Alionzi’s family in a group photo after swearing-in.

Delivering his inaugural speech, the 88th Guild President H.E. Alionzi glorified God for the gift of life, studies and for his elevation to the position of Guild President. He saluted his parents, his uncle (Mr. Pariyo Albert), teachers, religious leaders and everyone who has significantly made a positive contribution to his life journey.

H.E. Alionzi appreciated the students for not only participating in the Guild elections, but also choosing him as their next leader. The Guild President expressed readiness to work with every student at Makerere University regardless of his or her political and religious affiliation.

“I was voted by the students. I believe in a Guild for the students, by the students. During the three months of the Guild Government, I will prioritise dialogue and intellectual discourse,” said H.E. Alionzi.

The Guild President is fully committed to working with the University Management to prioritise the renovation of Halls of Residence as well as proposals aimed at expanding teaching and learning facilities on campus.

Staff from the Office of the Dean of Students in the audience during the swearing-in ceremony.

While handing over the Office, the 87th Guild President of Makerere University, H.E. Shamim Nambassa congratulated the 88th Students’ Guild upon their election and appealed to them to be result oriented.

“In execution of your duties, please always remember the students who voted you into office. Prioritise the demands and interests of the students. Stand with Makerereans and remain accountable to them for the time you will spend in office,” she said.

Delivering the closing remarks, the Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli, informed the 88th Students’ Guild about an upcoming induction workshop organized by the Dean of Students where the Students’ Guild will interact/engage with key University officials and experts in different fields.

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Mastercard Foundation Scholars at Makerere University light up Agago community

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Mr. Batte, the Scholars Council Representative with a (muslim skulll cap) together with Ms. Betty Angom (in green attire) the Head teacher of St. Catherine primary School at the launch on 3rd December 2022 in Okudu-Teyaa Village, Adilang sub-county, Agago district.

By Bernard Buteera

On Saturday 3rd December 2022, residents of Okudu-Teyaa Village, Adilang sub-county in Agago district, Northern Uganda, were thrown into a frenzy of excitement, when they received unusual visitors- Scholars and Staff of Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, who had gone for the climax of this year’s Scholars Give Back by unveiling a two-class block they constructed for St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School.

Every year, Scholars of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University identify a community to support through giving back, in what is called the Scholars’ community day of service. This year, the Scholars identified St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School, a small community school, in Okudu-Teyaa Village, Adilang sub-county, Agago district in Northern Uganda, which lacked a proper classroom structure, instead the pupils were studying under tree shades and in a small grass thatched structure.

Ms. Grace Sennoga (centre) and scholars pose in front of the old structure where children used to study from.
Ms. Grace Sennoga (centre) and scholars pose in front of the old structure where children used to study from.

Through mobilization from amongst themselves and with support from the Program staff, and other partners such DFCU Bank, Kare hostel and Garden Courts hostel, Mentors and Alumni, Scholars were able to raise funds and constructed a two class block for St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School, to enable the young children study from a decent environment.

During the launch of the two classroom block, the local residents and local council officials of the area were visibly excited and humbled by the generosity of the Scholars, which had created an instant impact for the school and the area.

In his welcome remarks, the LC 1 Chairperson of the area, Mr. Robert Odong, thanked the Scholars, Makerere University and the Foundation for the spirit of giving back to the communities, especially the rural communities which lack a lot of infrastructure development.

“This class room block you have constructed for this school has given us a lot of hope that we are going to be able to educate many of our young children, who will even be able to reach even university level” Odong said.

The two-classroom block constructed by Scholars of Mastercard Foundation.
The two-classroom block constructed by Scholars of Mastercard Foundation.

Mr. Odong challenged the local community, especially the leaders to emulate Mastercard Foundation Scholars, and construct more class room blocks for the School, because one class room block was not enough.

“This class room block which these young people have constructed is key milestone and a good starting point for us, therefore as a community and especially the leaders, we need to emulate these Mastercard Foundation Scholars, and raise resources to construct more class room blocks for our school.” Mr. Odong remarked.

On her part, the Head teacher of the School, Ms. Betty Angom, thanked Mastercard Foundation Scholars at Makerere for having identified St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School, as the most deserving for this year’s give back beneficiary.

“We thank you Mastercard Foundation Scholars at Makerere for reaching deep down in your hearts and gave our children this classroom block, we very happy.” Ms. Angom said with tears of joy in her eyes.

Some of the pupils of St.Catherine Proimary School together with the Scholars and other offcials during the launch.
Some of the pupils of St.Catherine Proimary School together with the Scholars and other offcials during the launch.

Ms. Angom called upon the parents and the entire community to join hands and support the school, because it lacked a lot in terms of infrastructure in order to be able to offer a befitting learning environment for the young people. Ms. Angom went on to highlight a number of challenges the school faced, which required support from the government, the Catholic Church and well-wishers, if it is offer effective education to the young children.

The challenges she highlighted included; Lack of furniture, cooking utensils for children’s meals, Lack of water, Scholastic materials, staff quarters, more classroom blocks among many other challenges which required immediate attention.

The Guest of honour at the event, the LC 111 Chairperson of Adilang Sub-county, Mr. Okwir Muhammad, joined fellow residents and leaders to thank Mastercard Foundation Scholars for the support given to the school which he described as the cornerstone for the School and the area.

“As a community, we are very happy to see this new development in our area. You have turned our area into a very powerful one with this class block, I hope the community will take advantage and make good use of the class room block.” Mr. Okwir remarked.

Mr. Okwir pledged on behalf of the sub-county to support the school by mobilizing more resources from the district so that more class room blocks can be constructed for the School.

Mr. Muhammad Okwir, the LC111 Chairperson addressing the gathering.
Mr. Muhammad Okwir, the LC111 Chairperson addressing the gathering.

He thanked the community for donating the land on which the classroom block was constructed and also for contributing in making the bricks, he pointed out that if all communities could get the kind of partnership the Scholars forged with the community, Agago district and other areas in Uganda would be very far in terms of infrastructure development.

Speaking on behalf of the Scholars Community, the Scholars Council representative, Mr. Abubakar Batte, thanked the Scholars for the spirit of give back, which had enabled them to construct the class room block, which had brought smiles on the young pupils of St. Catherine, and the area residents.

“I thank my fellow Scholars for selecting this school as our area of give back this year, because it was well deserving. I am also delighted by the financial contributions you made together with PIT, Mentors, DFCU Bank, Kare Hostel, Garden Courts hostel, and the Alumni, which enabled us to deliver this classroom block for this community” Mr. Batte said.

Mr. Batte urged the community to join hands with Scholars and try to raise resources to finish up with the remaining work which included plastering the building and finishing up the construction of the Pit latrine for the School.

“I call upon the community especially the local council leaders to join hands with the Scholars in mobilizing more resources, so that we complete the remaining work, which included plastering the classroom block and also the construction of the Pit latrine for the School.” Mr. Batte urged.

Speaking on behalf of the Program Coordinator, Ms. Grace Sennoga, the Welfare and Support Services Officer on the Scholars Program, who is also the Coordinator of Scholars’ give back activities, joined the rest of the people in thanking the Scholars and all other partners who contributed generously to enable the construction of the class room block.

Ms. Grace Sennoga far right, together with other members of Program staff excited during the launch of the class room block.
Ms. Grace Sennoga far right, together with other members of Program staff excited during the launch of the class room block.

“As the Scholars Program staff, we are delighted by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Scholars, and we proud of what the young people have been able to do for this community.” Ms. Sennoga said.

Ms. Sennoga further informed the gathering that Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University was designed to foster transformative leadership through equipping Scholars with the requisite knowledge and skills, which has helped them become change makers in their communities.

“This classroom block is a clear example of the impact Scholars were making in the community. I therefore call upon the community to emulate the Scholars and start giving back to other people in our areas as who less fortunate in one way or the other” Ms. Sennoga urged.

St. Catherine Nursery and Primary School, is a small community school, which was established in 2019 under the Catholic Church. The School currently has 120 children, most of whom where trekking long distances to go schools in far off places.

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

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