The Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma while delivering his remarks at the opening ceremony of the Fourth Edition of the Kampala Geopolitics Conference has called for reflection on how COVID-19 demonstrated our interconnectedness as a human race, hence the need to work more closely together. The ceremony held in the Central Teaching Facility 2 (CTF 2) Auditorium on 10th November 2021 marked the beginning of the three-day conference on the theme; Crisis and Opportunity: Mapping the Geopolitical Importance of Africa.
“I am delighted to note that we indeed have people from many continents and as I was reflecting on this topic, it became clearer to me that indeed we live in one world. We may have lines drawn on the map and say this is Uganda, this is DRC and this is Egypt but these are lines on paper. In reality, we live in one global world” remarked Prof. Suruma.
He observed that the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the globe and the struggle to combat it through vaccination had led to a rise in vaccine nationalism. Prof. Suruma was therefore happy to learn that this topic would be discussed in depth at the conference.
The Chancellor further said that Uganda, given its location as a landlocked nation and the political developments in surrounding countries has a keen interest in geopolitics.
“Our hosting of large numbers of refugees, for example, is clear evidence of this fact. Geopolitics therefore is not a matter of indifference for Uganda. As seen historically and in contemporary history, Uganda has a great deal to ponder” said Prof. Suruma.
He thanked the partners Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the French Embassy in Uganda, French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, UN Women Uganda and Alliance Française for their commitment to ensuring that this important conference is held annually.
“And thank you especially for choosing Makerere University. We appreciate this vote of confidence at this time that Makerere is celebrating 100 years of service to Uganda and to the world. This year-long celebration through a series of events will be an occasion to reflect on our achievements, our successes and our failures in the past century. It will also an opportunity to lay strategies for the future” shared the Chancellor.
In his address, the Ambasssador of France to Uganda, H.E. Jules-Armand Aniambossou noted that as Makerere University commemorates 100 years of existence, the topic on Re-imagining Higher Education for the Post-COVID-19 Era would be of special interest to the institution and conference.
“This specific panel will open up an opportunity to re-imagine the future of Education for Africa in the context of the global family especially through the lens of digitalisation” added the Ambassador.
H.E. Aniambossou reminded the audience that one of the main ideas behind the Kampala Geopolitics Conference was to promote freedom of speech. “And I believe that as every challenge brings an opportunity, this year’s hybrid edition will enable us to give the chance to more people to enjoy this freedom of speech by interacting both physically and virtually with our guest panelists.”
The opening ceremony was also addressed by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Country Representative, Ms. Anna Reismann who noted that a university does not exist in a vacuum but is embedded into society and has impact on its development, just as society has an impact on the institution’s life.
“Therefore, also my congratulations on successful 100 years of navigating Makerere University through different political challenges, social developments and surely, some administrative constraints. Looking into the future of the university, one is certain the challenges might change but they will also always remain” said Ms. Reismann.
Turning to the Conference theme, she noted that the crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the opportunities that are arising from it have placed Africa as an important region on the global map. She added that Africa is an important player in the peace and security dialogue, as an investment destination and trading partner, as a contender in addressing global challenges as well as an arena where different powers compete for influence.
Still on the topic of influence, Ms. Sylvie Matelly, Deputy Director of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS) who addressed the conference virtually admitted that it was a source of great pride for her institution, that their annual conference on contemporary international relations held in Nantes, France had birthed the idea of an annual Kampala Geopolitics Conference.
“Moreover, people used to think that because of the complexity of such topics the debate is just a private one but we are privileged that this is a public one and that is exactly why the Geopolitics of Kampala is a success year after year and I hope it will continue for a long time” remarked Ms. Matelly.
“After a very difficult period, we are pleased that we can again hold this event in person at Makerere University as we approach the 100 year celebration of the University as well as the 30th year since the foundation of Makerere University School of Women and Gender Studies” said Ms. Adekemi Ndieli, Deputy Country Representative UN Women, Uganda as she commenced her remarks.
Quoting the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Ms. Ndieli said “The world is wasting a precious resource as the dramatic underrepresentation of women which results in exclusion of talents and skills in the economy.”
She therefore said that the Kampala Geopolitics Conference is an important opportunity for UN Women to elevate women’s voices and hear their input and solutions across a broad range of topics. The topics range from climate action to feminist movements building to transitional justice and to engagement in outer space. The elevation, she noted, should be viewed in the light that gender equality is not only a pressing moral or social imperative but is a critical economic challenge.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in unprecedented times as we all know and the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us one of the greatest challenges of our generation. Beyond the virus itself the response to COVID-19 has exposed deep inequalities in our societies and in global partnerships across the world” she added.
Ms. Ndieli continued to say that whereas COVID-19 had had disproportionate and devastating effects on social and economic life, these effects were more pronounced among the most vulnerable and as such, had tested the ability of states to come together to address the global challenges. “However, it has also presented us with unprecedented opportunities to build back better.”
The opening ceremony was followed by a panel discussion on Re-imagining Higher Education for the Post-COVID-19 Era, where the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe was joined by Ms. Sylvie Matelly, Mr. Benjamin Rukwengye, Founder and CEO – Boundless Minds Uganda and Moderator Mr. James Kassaga , ED and Co-Founder – Teach for Uganda.
The Vice Chancellor shared that through partnerships with international collaborators, Makerere University had built a formidable force of academics that do research in all areas, and in the case of COVID-19, were very much aware of issues to do with online education.
“Online education is the future, even without the pandemic” said Prof. Nawangwe. “If Uganda’s population doubles, with the infrastructure we have now, we cannot take in all those children who will be seeking higher education” he added.
Prof. Nawangwe said the university had taken advantage of the resources it had to train all staff in online education as well as alternative methods of education. This, he said, had ensured that Makerere had not suffered as much as the rest of the Ugandan education sector during COVID-19.
“We as the leading university have got the responsibility and obligation to support the other universities and other institutions to come out of this. And we are currently working with organizations around the world to train our colleagues at other universities on online education” said Prof. Nawangwe.
This panel was followed by another on Vaccine Nationalism and Diplomacy in the Times of the Pandemic, moderated by Dr. Milton Mutto, a Global Health Research Scientist. Panelists included Ms. Anne Senequier (IRIS), Dr. Alfred Driwale (MoH), Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze, Dean, Makerere University School of Public Health, Dr. Olaf Wientzek (KAS Geneva) and Mr. Andrew Bakainanga (WHO).
Prof. Wanyenze in her submission had noted that the struggle of who wins the vaccine war had given rise to a vaccine infodemic characterized by misinformation about the efficacy of some vaccines, resulting in their rejection by some sections of the public.
Touching on vaccine equity, she noted that up to 90% of the world vaccine market is controlled by a few companies, resulting in scarcity of vaccines such as the Covid-19 one, even for nations that had the money to purchase them.
“We talked about test kits for COVID-19. At the beginning you could hardly get them and buy them even when you had the money on the table. It was just the same dynamics as what you see for the COVID-19 vaccines. The same is true for the new COVID-19 drugs” she shared.
The Fourth Edition of the Kampala Geopolitics Conference that runs until Friday 12th November 2021 has adopted the format of Twitter Spaces at 12:30 PM on Day 1 and Day 2 as well as at 7:00 PM on all three days.
Join the Conversation using the #KampalaGeopolitics hashtag.
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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