The three-day International Humanities Conference organized by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) was on 23rd August 2022 opened with the Graduate Mentorship session, followed by planting a tree in honor of Makerere University Alumnus Prof. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe At the Arts Quadrangle.
Prof. Nawangwe also launched a book titled, “ Historicising Humanities at Makerere: Trends, Patterns and Prospects”. The book authored by over 20 people with 16 chapters is an outcome of a project on historicizing the humanities at Makerere supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation of New York.
The conference convener Dr. Levis Mugumya said the key goal of the project was to rethink and reshape the role of humanities in Uganda and reexamine the basis and significance of humanities and humanistic social sciences at Makerere University from a historical perspective.
“The sixteen chapters have taken a slice of the history of some disciplines and raised questions around their basis and trajectory. It is an attempt to renew conversation and debate as well as ideational leadership of the academy “, Dr. Mugumya said
The three day Humanities conference 23rd－26th August 2022 was part of the activities to celebrate the 100 years of Makerere University service to Humanity, held at the Yusuf Lule Auditorium.
The overriding thrust of the conference was to explore how the knowledge revolutions have impacted university practices and transformed the teaching of and research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The conference also acted as a discursive zone to interrogate innovative ways through which Humanities and Social Sciences scholarship has refocused beyond the knowledge revolutions to imagine the inevitable future economic, social, biological and political challenges to humanity.
The conference was blended to enable physical and virtual engagements, presentations, and insightful and vibrant discussions. It will consist of keynote addresses, individual and panel presentations, and graduate student panel discussions.
It attracted key note speakers:- Prof. Ngungi Wa Thiong’o – a distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature from the University of California;Derrick Peterson – Ali Mazrui Collegiate Professor of History from the Afro-American and African Studies University of Michigan and; Nakanyike Musisi – a Professor from the African Women Education and Development, Makerere University/ University of Toronto
It would be a mistake to discredit humanities as a second class subject
The conference was officially opened by the German Ambassador to Uganda H.E Matthias Schauer. The ambassador underscored the role of humanities in society saying, it is un imaginable to create a legal regulatory system without a profound knowledge of history of society and language which is part of the humanities.
He observed that scholars in humanities and social sciences have witnessed three major knowledge revolutions since 1945 from Area studies, cultural studies and global studies. Ambassador Schauer noted that today, there are signs that scholars may be at another brink of the fourth revolution as witnessed by problems in maintaining global production process, amidst rising transport costs, political unrest and the realization that countries may not be dependent on one other.
“We have been fooling ourselves that economic interdependence would prevent out conflicts but this is not the case. We may now need a new focus on global cooperation and create new fields of research in humanities and social sciences”. He said.
He said humanities attracts a huge number of students at universities because of the diversity of subjects and rich menu for offer. On the political debate on education, Ambassador Schauer noted that its common to hear that countries may need natural scientists, engineers and technicians to increase economic performance.
Though that may be right to some extent, Ambassador Schauer described the humanities and humanistic social sciences as vital to society saying, it would be a mistake to discredit humanities as a second class subject. He advised that young people should do what they feel passionate about.
“First of all they (Humanities) help us understand each other. Language, history and culture shapes each one of us. Without communication that works, nothing much else can work. Humanities also teach us to approach new complex issues in a systematic way to assess information and considering different facts from all sides, Humanities make us informed and critical citizens and, without humanities, democracy would not work. Humanities also foster social justice and teach us empathy and make international relations broader and stronger. Humanities encourage us to think creatively, to reflect upon ourselves and human nature and to think outside the box. Humanistic services enrich the soul and make us a cultured individual,” The ambassador asserted.
The ambassador also described as false the thinking that humanistic degrees are not marketable as degrees in STEM, business management and other natural sciences.
“At sight that might seem true, but in my experience a student who diligently study in humanistic subjects will always carry this energy and motivation successfully into his professional life and sell more as in finding a good job. Almost all employers desperately need employees who can communicate fluently, intelligently and persuasively and, employees who can organize their thoughts and synthesis their scattered information into a coherent story.
Employers need employees who are equipped with soft skills such as the ability to converse with difficult topics in a constructive manner and it is the humanities that helps them to express very well. Humanistic education will enrich you very well, emotionally, socially and intellectually and gain a wide experience while at college”, The ambassador asserted.
The Ambassador hailed the long standing relationship and collaboration that Germany enjoys with Makerere University especially with CHUSS.
He said it was now over 60 years when Germany was taught in the evening class at Makerere University as an extracurricular language program that continued till 1967 when the first bachelor of arts was established and it became the first German phonology in East Africa.
He highlighted a number of advantages of studying Germany including teacher employment opportunities in education sector, participation in internships, huge range of opportunities in tourism, training opportunities and on job trainings in companies and unique connections, interaction and demand across the world.
The ambassador encouraged the university leadership to foster the teaching of foreign languages at Makerere in prominent way at CHUSS department of European and Oriental languages and proposed the establishment of Master of Arts program in Germany as the most appealing to him.
He expressed the Germany commitment to continue funding the Ugandan students and staff in their academic and other endeavors.
CHUSS reputed for producing eminent scholars
The Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe reported that the Humanities and Social Sciences have been at the heart of Makerere University since the introduction of History in 1946, and the East African Institute of Social Research in 1948.
He explained that the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is reputed for producing eminent scholars and political leaders, including Julius Nyerere, Milton Obote, Mwai Kibaki, Benjamin Mkapa, Oginga Odinga, Okot p’Bitek, Ali Mazrui, David Rubadiri, Nuruddin Farah, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, John Ruganda, V. S. Naipul and Wole Soyinka among others.
Prof. Nawangwe informed participants that CHUSS has championed the critical role of humanities and humanistic social sciences in comprehending, interpreting, and recognizing societal commonalities and differences as well as fostering critical thought, social justice, equity and democratic practice stressing that, in the 1960s and 1970s before the onslaught of neoliberalism and the emphasis on STEM, the humanities and humanistic social sciences were vibrant.
In spite of this rich history, Prof. Nawangwe pointed out that the current positionality and relevance of the disciplines of humanities and humanistic Social Sciences has come under scrutiny as compared to the natural scientific disciplines.
While the University is prized in scientific research, Nawangwe said, today’s complex global challenges such as ‘global warming, global poverty, global epidemics’ and gender inequality cannot be solely explained or resolved by natural scientific disciplines.
“It is therefore important to understand the human factor, which is central in most of the modern scientific glitches. Not only do the humanities and humanistic social sciences explicate our existence as human beings, but they also contribute to creating “tolerance and understanding between citizens”, which promote social cohesion, and challenge established positions, social norms and traditions through critical thinking, and preserve heritage, cultural memory and identity”, He said.
The Vice Chancellor was optimistic that the knowledge and strategies generated through the conference will go towards uplifting the lifestyles of the people and also aid in conducting a comprehensive review of all aspects of teaching, theorizing, research and practice in the humanities and social sciences disciplines.
Prof. Nawangwe extended appreciation to development partners for the support extended through generous acts such as sponsoring this fora, capacity building, research and developing infrastructure with particularly recognition to the Andrew Mellon Foundation and Gerda Henkel Stiftung for supporting academic activities in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences as well as the Government of Uganda for supporting research and creating an environment conducive for the same to thrive at Makerere University.
The Vice Chancellor also appreciated keynote speakers, Prof. Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Prof. Nakanyike Musisi and Prof. Derek Peterson, the participants, and all guests for honouring the invitations.
To the students (PhD and Masters), The Vice Chancellor expressed happiness that that the International Humanities Conference 2022had commenced with the Graduate Mentorship session.
“You are being nurtured and mentored to not only become the next generation of academics, but to also provide leadership and championship towards Uganda’s development and transformation of your communities.
I encourage you to actively participate in the conference so that you learn more as you pursue your PhD and Masters” Nawangwe said and applauded CHUSS management under the leadership of the Principal, Associate Professor Josephine Ahikire for hosting a number of activities in line with the centenary celebrations.
The conference looked at the world with resolve for greater humanity
The Principal CHUSS, Associate Prof. Josephine Ahikire welcomed all to the conference saying, this was the first Conference to be held after the serious lockdown for two years as the university celebrates the Humanities and Social Sciences and make a mark on the nation, continent and the world at large.
This conference themed: Knowledge revolutions and Practices: Area, Cultural and Global Studies she said , is structured as part of Makerere’s Centennial celebration aimed at exploring how the knowledge revolutions have impacted university practices, the teaching of and research in the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as human praxis.
“We use this space as a discursive zone to interrogate innovative ways through which Humanities and Social Sciences scholarship has refocused beyond the knowledge revolutions to imagine inevitable futures. We use this very space to foster critical thought about life, its afflictions, and ideals of human society – to debate and rejuvenate theory and practice”, The Principal said.
Prof. Ahikire acknowledged the friendship and partnership between Germany, Makerere and the country at large and specifically, the support by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung to the college that has soared the capacity of PhD training at CHUSS.
On behalf of CHUSS and Makerere University, the Prof Ahikire thanked the keynote speakers: Prof Ngugi who was not able to join, saying that he was and is still enthusiastic about this Conference and what happens at Makerere adding that , Prof. Ngungi has always believed/ and openly confessed that Makerere made him and Perhaps he also made Makerere.
“This symbiotic relationship is one we greatly cherish at CHUSS. Prof Nakanyike Musisi – a gem- renown historian of our time. Welcome home- proud alumnus. Prof Derek Peterson, we treasure your commitment on restoring and conserving history”, Prof. Ahikire commended.
Prof. Ahikire emphasized that the humanities have been at the heart of Makerere University since its birth and is reputed for eminent scholars, post-independence political leaders and activists. Under the ambit of the CHUSS program dubbed Humanities@ Mak 100, the Principal said, this conference was part of the efforts to galvanize humanities scholarship for even greater human utility on the African continent.
“As humanity continues to grapple with challenges such as mis -governance, conflict, climate change, and pandemics there is need for more ingenuity and inventiveness. In very specific ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for a multidisciplinary approach to this unprecedented global health challenge, with the human subject at the centre.” She said adding that:“These conversations are important because our disciplines allow us to experience humanity at its best. This Conference is therefore aimed at facilitating these debates and key issues in the Humanities and Social Sciences. It is our hope that the conversations that start here do not stop here, but help us critically look at world we live in with resolve for greater humanity”.
Prof. Ahikire acknowledged the generous support of the Mellon Foundation (USA) which allowed the college to dream three years ago – when the idea of the book was proposed. The Mellon Foundation she reported has also supported various research efforts by Early Career and Senior Scholars in the college including the support for this conference that was also committed three years ago.
She thanked the University management for enabling the college to meaningfully pursue the strategic goal of a truly research led university and, the chair of the Organising Committee, the Convener of the Conference and all members of the organising committee for the job well done.
Conference planned to discuss issues important for the survival of human race
The chairperson CHUSS organizing committee Prof. Grace Bantebya said each year the college organizes a conference adding that what started as symposia has metamorphosed into great and rich academic conferences.
Prof. Bantebya hailed the college leadership for the support and the organizing committee for the commitment that led to the success of the conference noting that they have tirelessly worked in their different committees to see to it that it materializes.
She also thanked the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the Gerda Henkel Foundation for the support to the conference as well as the different doctoral students cohorts over the years.
“The issues this team has prepared for you to chew are those that are pertinent to our being human. It is for this reason that we are sometimes looked at as activists because issues of urgency within the global context are important for the survival of human race and this is why conferences of this nature need to keep happening”. Prof. Bantebya said.
CHUSS Researchers to Publish a Book on Teaching Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere University
Researchers from Makerere University College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) through its Centre of Excellence in Research, Teaching and Learning (CERTL) have conducted research in different aspects of teaching and learning of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere University.
With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York, the team is working on their data and gathering comments.
The research will be compiled as manuscripts for a new publication named, the “CERTL Book,”
The CERTL Book is provisionally titled, “Teaching and Learning Humanities and Sciences at Makerere University: Challenges, experiences and innovations”.
On Monday 27th November 2023,CERTL held its second pre-publication workshop to solicit comments and review the authors works that will constitute the CERTL Book.
The workshop held at Fairway Hotel in Kampala brought together over ten researchers, CERTL leadership and CHUSS project Coordinators including Dr. Levis Mugumya who shared his experience on the process and challenges of a collected book and Dr. Pamela Khanakwa who shared the structure and citation for the CERTL book.
The function was also graced by representatives from Fountain publishers who guided on what the publishers want in a manuscript.
Speaking on the genesis, the Director CERTL, Prof. Andrew Elias State said, the center looked at the Vision and Mission of Makerere University to be a Centre of Excellence for Learning and Teaching.
Prof. State however noted that, many courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences were affected by the policies implemented earlier on by the Government of Uganda and global forces such as liberalization.
The Director acknowledged that in the event of the structural adjustments, governments and institutions either over- liberalized or did not consider issues that came with liberalization.
“The center was established to explore and develop mechanisms of strengthening and promoting teaching and learning in Humanities and Social Sciences. As a center, we were given grants for which we must have outputs and, in one of the MoUs, we agreed to have a minimum of two publications and the CERTL book is one of them”, He said
He explained that researchers were given fellowship grants to conduct the research. He expressed happiness that researchers had progressed well with research works which will later be published. He stressed the need for researchers to observe deadlines in order to be part of this CERTL Publication.
The CHUSS Projects Coordinator Dr. Edgar Fred Nabutanyi said, researchers are expected to submit their draft papers by 12th January 2024.
Nabutanyi implored researchers to look at the comments received and work with the data they have and send the draft for further improvement.
“Because of the time constraint we intend to make this an intensive hands on peer review. The center got commitment from for senior editors who will come and workshop your papers on 7th February 2024.
When you submit your paper, we shall pair you with an editor, who will read your paper and give you personal comments and after that, we shall have just one more review”, Nabutanyi explained.
Within a week, Dr. Nabutanyi pledged that the center will be working on the citations and the tentative structure on how the chapters will look to have a tangible product.
Authors and research topics for the CERTL Book
Authors presented their research findings that will form book chapters. They include:
- Dr. Sarah Nakijoba K – The Art of Academic writing to undergraduate students: Voices from students and mentors.
- Dr. Peace Musiimenta – Documenting existing transformative pedagogies with potential to disrupt relations of dominance in gender studies at Makerere University.
- Dr. James Mangeni Wasike – You will be around but hardly learning, “Visually impaired students’ experience of e-learning at Makerere University.
- Dr. Julius Niringiyimana – Think Pair Share(TPS) as cooperative learning strategy in large classes: Contextualizing political science class at Makerere University.
- Mr. Eric Jjemba – Musical connotation as a conduit for ethnic dance teaching and learning transformation in a university classroom
- Prof. Julius Kiiza – Does Digitised teaching deliver its promise? A readiness assessment of BASS program at Makerere University.
- Dr. Nkonge Kiyinikibi – Using the blended learning approach to teach and learn Luganda (BLATALL) at Makerere University.
- Dr. Nicholas Mugabi – An integrated blended field experiential learning approach: Opportunities and challenges amidst CoVID 19 disruption at Makerere University.
- Dr. Isaac Tibasiima and Dr. Ceasor Jjingo – Writing centres as avenues for meeting students’ academic writing needs and challenges at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Makerere University.
- Dr. Boaz Mutungi: – Enhancing second language oral expression; Interventions for Kiswahili for Beginners program at Makerere University.
Anthems of the World Concert for the United Nations Day, 2023, in Uganda
The “Anthems of the World” concert was a choral music presentation that featured national anthems of selected countries of the world in commemoration of the 2023 United Nations Day celebrations in Uganda. This concert aimed to explore connections between music and nationalism as embodied in the national anthems of different countries of the world. In line with this year’s United Nations theme: “Home and Belonging,” the concert aimed to help the public build mental images of their respective home experiences and shared values of sovereignty through the singing of select national anthems in their respective native or official languages. Ultimately, the purpose of the concert was to further contribute to the public’s appreciation of the global cultural diversity, respect and understanding for one another, and to the enhancement of the world’s social harmony and universal peace, as emphasized in the United Nations Charter. The repertoire list comprised of 24 national anthems representing countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe, the UN Hymn and the Makerere University anthem.
The performance procedure for the Anthems of the World concert was participatory in nature, involving the choir and the audience for the various roles of the performance. For clarity purposes, the anthems in this concert were not used in their traditional sense of performing a political function, but rather, as pieces of a country’s heritage for purposes of sharing a bit of that heritage with the public. Therefore, it was not mandatory for people to remain standing while all national anthems were being sung. Each national anthem was introduced by a national (mostly Ambassadors) by providing the inspiration behind it and a brief about the country. All nationals and associates of that country were invited to stand while the choir sung their national anthem, and thereafter, everyone celebrated that nation.
Dr. Milton Wabyona, Convener and Choir Director
In his introductory remarks, Dr. Wabyona, referred to the notion that national anthems are compact summaries of a country at its people. He thus posited that through the singing of these anthems, we are more likely to know more about others, and more likely to understand others, hence the more likelihood to appreciate and respect others. Music provides us with an honest and universal medium of communication for all of us.
Dr. Wabyona made reference to a line in the UN Hymn: “Let music for peace be the paradigm,” as support of the ideology of music as a medium of peace for humans. He believed that through this concert, each one of us will have a little knowledge and understanding of the other, which is a sure way towards the world’s social harmony and to fostering of genuine universal peace. This is the same ideal that inspired the formation of the Makorale Choir. The Makorale, is a Makerere University community ensemble comprised of current and former students of Makerere University, faculty and other members of the university community. The overall goal of the ensemble is to harness the vast benefits of music in shaping a peaceful society and cultivating education opportunities in the performing arts for students.
Dr. Pamela Khanakwa, Dean – School of Liberal and Performing Arts (Representing the Vice Chancellor, Makerere University)
Dr. Pamela Khanakwa welcomed everyone to Makerere University. She expressed how proud Makerere was in hosting this prestigious United Nations Day celebration on the 78th anniversary of the UN formation. Dr. Khanakwa recalled that in her early years of school, the UN seemed a distant and an abstract concept but as we grew, we got to realize that we are part of the United Nations. She reiterated the core mission of the UN as about humanity, peace and unity.
Dr. Khanakwa was touched by the UN theme of “Home and Belonging,” which she said speaks deeply to our hearts. And here at Makerere we feel as small United Nations of sorts because of the diversity of our staff, students and the multiple collaborations that we have, she added. As a university, we tow in the same line with the ideals of the UN, because Makerere is home to many students from different countries, both neighboring and beyond. Our curriculum is not only about teaching and research, but we’re also actively engaged in initiatives that promote peace. In the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, we have a department of Religion and Peace Studies. Makerere University also hosts a prestigious Rotary Peace Center, which is highly recognized around the world, and is involved in training different scholars from around the world in peace initiatives. Makerere also provides space for national, regional and international dialogues that champion the cause of peace in the world.
In regard to the day’s main activity, Dr. Khanakwa spoke passionately about anthems as part of our heritage and inspiration as a people. “There is a way we feel when we listen to anthems.” She drew from her personal experience of how she felt when she heard the Ugandan national anthem sung while she was in United States. She reaffirmed that anthems give us a sense of belonging and our identity. Dr. Khankwa concluded by thanking the UN Uganda office for supporting this event, Makerere University Innovation Hub for hosting, the Makorale choir and Dr. Milton Wabyona for making CHUSS and Makerere proud. She looked forward to listening to different national anthems of different countries and hoped the experience would help us reflect on the power of music, the power of unity and how these anthems promote nationalism and humanity.
Ms. Susan Ngongi Namondo: UN Resident Coordinator, Uganda Office
Ms. Susan acknowledged their Excellency, the Ambassadors and Heads of the various Diplomatic missions present. She thanked Makerere University, Dr. Pamela Khanakwa, representing the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe and the general Makerere University staff and the students for hosting the concert. The Anthems of the World concert at Makerere University was organized in celebration the 78th anniversary of the UN Charter’s entry into force in 1945. Ms. Susan commended the Makorale – a Makerere University community choir for putting together this incredible musical show piece, which further underlined Makerere’s leadership in various spheres.
The UN Resident Coordinator made reference national anthems described as compact summaries of a country’s heritage, history, struggles, and aspirations. She posited that the Anthems of the World Concert aimed to offer a glimpse into each other’s cherished heritage, fostering a sense of interconnectedness. She hoped that, beyond enjoying the musical performance, attendees would reaffirm their commitment to sustainable development goals, addressing global challenges such as pandemics, climate change, and economic issues. The importance of recognizing a shared humanity and interconnectedness, as much as she encouraged efforts towards a safer, greener, and more sustainable Uganda and world. Ms. Susan concluded by encouraging students to learn more about the United Nations and contribute to its development.
President Museveni underscores political & economic integration as permanent cure for Africa’s marginalization
The President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has emphasized the need for African countries to strengthen both political and economic integration as a permanent cure of Africa’s weaknesses and marginalization around the world. In a speech read by the former Prime Minister of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda on 14th October 2023 at the Annual Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Symposium, the President said that Africa must cure herself of the victim mentality and take the initiative of shaping her own destiny.
“We have an unprecedented advantage of a market of 1.3 billion people. This is a formidable treasure in our hands, it has the potential of not only making us richer, but also earning us respect in the world as a power to reckon with,” he noted.
Reflecting on the times when NRM captured power in 1986, President Museveni said that Uganda’s population by then was a paltry 15 million people and the East Africa Community which would have compensated for Uganda’s small market had been brought to its knees. He was however, happy that the NRM government did not waste time in working with Tanzania and Kenya to revive the East Africa Community. To him, the concerted efforts paid off in 1999 when the original members of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania signed the treaty which re-established the East African Community. The community has since grown with the addition of Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He acknowledged the regional blocks such as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East Africa Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for increasing the volume of trade among African countries. And with the signing and ratification by individual member states of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the President was happy that Africa now boasts of the largest free trade area in the world.
“It must be remembered that Africa was forcefully integrated into the world economy as a source of cheap labour and raw materials for western industries. Africa has donated enough wealth to the rest of the world. It is time to cut off the proboscises of parasites, whose wealth has been sucked from our mines, soils, forests and lakes,” he said.
“Our chief interest should be on securing the survival and prosperity of our children and their children. There is no better guarantee for their future than working towards the political and economic integration of Africa. For the first time, we have the opportunity of safeguarding our great human and natural resources under the African supernatural government. The African leaders, therefore need to work hard so as not share the fate of the pre-colonial tribal chiefs that let down their people,” he added.
President Museveni saluted the contribution of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere to the liberation of Africa and urged young people to carry on Mwalimu’s vision of a strong and united Africa. To him, every year, he eagerly looks forward to this day, that was set aside to commemorate the life and legacy of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. He was happy that Uganda joins Tanzania and the rest of the entire African continent to celebrate an African hero. “As we celebrate this day, it is important to remind ourselves of the unfinished work, which Mwalimu pioneered, and carry it forward to its logical conclusion. This will be the most befitting tribute to his great legacy,” he emphasized.
According to him, Mwalimu Nyerere was a true champion of African freedom and liberation. Mwalimu Nyerere unlike most of the African nationalist fighters, espoused the idea that attainment of independence, by the respective African countries, was not an end in itself. His true legacy lies in the fact that he, first and fore most supported liberation struggles to break the shackle colonialism and neo-colonialism, which had unfairly parceled the powers.
Additionally, Mwalimu Nyerere recognized the urgency of uniting the small independent African states to create for the first time Africa’s Centre of Gravity. He rejected the notion of arrivalism, which gripped the ruling elites once they took over the 53 colonies that the imperialists had organized for easy exploitation. “They imagined that they had arrived and the idea of Pan-Africanism was thrown out of the window. Mwalimu’s commitment to the goal of Pan-Africanism was demonstrated through the unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to create the United Republic of Tanzania. He was equally committed to the formation of the East Africa Federation,” said the President.
Every year the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre in conjunction with its co-promoters, Makerere University and Uganda Management Institute organizes a symposium to honor and celebrate the legacy of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. The Annual Symposium which brings together students, academics, researchers, business people, experts and political thought leaders from across the African region provides a platform for them to reflect on how to regenerate and keep alive the powerful efforts of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere on Pan-Africanism.
Representing the Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Prof. Josephine Ahikire noted that the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Annual Symposium provides a wider platform to deliberate and conduct powerful discussions on the challenges and opportunities faced by East Africa and Africa at large.
According to the Vice Chancellor, the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Annual Symposium 2023 that was held on 13th – 14th October 2023 created space for participants to envision and interrogate the challenges, opportunities and strategies needed to foster collaborations and unity in pursuit of shared prosperity under the theme: Building a Borderless East Africa: Championing Unity, Youth Employment, culture and Climate Resilience.
The Chairperson, Board of Directors of the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC) Dr. Mulindwa Kasozi Saturninus also noted that the rich conversations were built on the success of the 2022 Nyerere @100 Symposium that put the youth at the fore front of the debates and proposals on development.
Ms. Stella Agara, a renowned governance and youth development specialist was the Keynote Speaker on the theme; Building a Borderless East Africa: Championing Unity, Youth Employment, culture and Climate Resilience. She reflected on some of the strong and memorable words of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, “without Unity there is no future for Africa.” According to Ms. Stella Agara such words call for African countries to deepen and widen regional integration with a greater focus on prioritizing regional freedom of movement.
She questioned the essence of a borderless East Africa when some countries like Burundi and South Sudan still face hiking costs of Air tickets when accessing other countries within the region? She questioned the idea of a borderless East Africa when African nationals are still considered “aliens” in the respective African countries and students still face long process of residential identifications to access education within the region. Furthermore, it is still difficult for African nationals to acquire a residence or work permit in most of the African countries.
Ms. Stella Agara said that “the only way I am able to work in Tanzania is when I access a business permit at USD 100 and in the event I happen to fly out of the Tanzania before the expected exit date, I have to buy another one on return.”
She noted that traditionally, Africans were great at hosting strangers and it is this African culture of hospitality that our society demands today. She was puzzled by the fact that Africans can refer to fellow Africans as foreigners on the African land. To her, the sentiments that fellow Africans are flowing into different African countries as foreigners to take up jobs meant for nationals still stands with disbelief.
“As a region, we need to accept the fact that we need each other since each one of us is more endowed than the other in certain areas. We need to appreciate the fact that we are all members and citizens of this continent. We are citizens of the East African community and we cannot be foreigners on our soil. Young people now are more courageous about trips and taking opportunities across borders, therefore, there is much more room for integration,” she said.
Looking at some of the frameworks that have been put in place to foster a borderless Africa, Ms. Agara acknowledged the Revised Migration Policy Framework of the African Union and its Planning Action adopted in 2018. The Framework reflects on the migration dynamics in Africa and guides African Union member states and regional communities on the management of migrants. It further provides binding legal frameworks upon which member states link their migration policies to development needs and protection of migrants’ rights.
“This policy was however developed with a lot of thinking inclined towards addressing challenges of African young people who are dying on seas trying to access Europe. The AU has engaged in conversations to develop the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which speaks about the single passport, opportunities across borders, movement of services and goods and this brings quite great opportunities for managing migration but also collapsing our borders to create space,” she stressed.
She however highlighted the responsibility of the East Africa Community to cascade some of these policy frameworks and actions down to the East African Region noting that the East Africa Community has worked fast towards a Customs Union and common market protocol to create space and opportunities and making it easier for business carried across borders.
Ms. Agara called upon African countries to address extensively the issues of poverty and corruption that have created very strange differences when it comes to borderless movements within the region. In the same spirit, she urged them to break the barriers of strict cultures, behaviors and manners that create a rift to regional integration. She also encouraged African countries to appreciate the gendered face of borderlessness.
“Our borderlessness is going to promote conversations on climate change and also create opportunities to address the climate crises in solidarity. Young people today unlike our predecessors, have more international friends, spaces and people that they have not actually met by virtue of the fact that they control the digital space. This power from the youth can be harnessed for positive purposes or end up affecting how we view issues that we need to address today,” she said.
According to Ms. Agara, climate conversations are more narrative based and depend on who is controlling that narrative. Africa has done quite a lot of work and the leaders have actually developed a framework of how the Africa Union is going to approach the climate crisis. They have adopted the adaptation as the main mechanism through which countries should address the climate crisis and this is extremely important to the continent because it is being pushing towards resilience and tolerance.
“Africa has not contributed much to the carbon emission conversations, yet we are now being asked to stop mining oil, gold among other mineral resources and we are saying if we are to stop doing so, there is a conversation we must drive, it is impossible for us to engage in conversations without having addressed cross border relations,” she said.
The Keynote speaker called upon African countries to reflect on how they can replicate the Doom’s Day Seed Vault noting that the relevance of preserving African seeds on the African continent should be prioritized.
Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere
Julius Kambarage Nyerere was born on April 13th 1922 in Butiama on the eastern shores of Lake Victoria in North Western Tanganyika. His father was the chief of the small Zanaki tribe. He was 12 years before he started school (he had to walk 26 miles to Musoma to do so). Later he was transferred for his secondary education to Tabora Government Secondary School. His intelligence was quickly recognized by the Roman Catholic Fathers and with their support, he trained as a teacher at Makerere University in Kampala-Uganda. On gaining his certificate, he taught for three years and then went on a government scholarship to study history and political economy for his Masters of Arts at University of Edinburgh. He was the first Tanzanian to study at a British university.
In Edinburgh, partly through his encounter with Fabian thinking, Nyerere began to develop his particular vision of connecting socialism with African communal living. On his return to Tanganyika, Nyerere worked towards bringing a number of different nationalist factions into one grouping and he achieved this in 1954 with the formation of TANU (the Tanganyika Africa Union). He became the President of the Union and joined the Legislative Council in 1958. He became the Chief Minister in 1960. A year later Tanganyika was granted internal self-governance and Nyerere became Premier. Full independence was attained in December 1961 and he was elected President in 1962.
When paying tribute to his legacy Uganda’s High commissioner to the Republic of Tanzania H.E., Rtd. Col. Fred Mwesigye described Mwalimu Julius Nyerere as a civilized, considerate and courteous person. Mwalimu Nyerere was persuasive, kind and empathetic
“He was a teacher, who was able to simplify complex issues; a peacemaker and a peace builder. He had the capacity to persevere and he was a consensus builder. He appreciated different opinions and he was studious, he had enormous capacity to debate, he was a Pan-Africanist and yearned for a federated East Africa,” he said.
According to the acting High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania to Uganda, H.E. Mr. Lucas Mayanga, the Charge d’Affairs, Mwalimu Nyerere’s idea of Pan-Africanism was gradual whereby he stressed the significance of nation building and regional integration before continental unity. To promote his idea, he was willing to delay the independence of Tanganyika in order to enable by then Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya achieve their independence together as a single federal state.
“While he fell short of realizing this vision, he united Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania shortly after the independence of these two countries. This Union remains until today. It is in this regard that we welcome today’s Symposium theme of Building a Borderless East Africa Region,” the Commissioner stated.
The Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC)
In 2018, the President of the Republic of Uganda advocated for and supported the establishment of the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre as a Presidential Initiative. Hosted by Makerere University and Uganda Management Institute, the Centre is responsible for inter-generational dialogues on African history and study and conducting research on Africa revolutionary movements.
On October 6th 2018, President Museveni established the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC), at Makerere University, as a Presidential initiative. Co-promoted by Makerere University and Uganda Management Institute, the Centre was to provide leadership skills, training and mentorship to young people. Specifically, it was to conduct Leadership training of a new and emerging generation of African leaders; to foster Cross-generational dialogue and conversations on African history and revolutionary movements in order to align needs and plans for the future as one; and to conduct Policy leading Research that aspires to close that gap between academia and practical policies.
Dr. Nansozi K. Muwanga, the Executive Director of JNLC reveals that since it was established five years ago, the Centre has strived to fulfil these ambitious objectives and also to put students at the center of its activities as an important part of JNLC’s mission and vision.The Centre has thus provided trainings and mentorship sessions to young people on selfless leadership as part of historical and political perspectives of the African continent.
In addition to customized leadership training, the Centre also holds regular cross-generational fireside (Ekyooto) conversations on unity and Pan-Africanism as well as supporting student leaders to attend regional conferences, student debates on issues that affect them, national and regional development. To illustrate its commitment to Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy and unity agenda, the Centre, with the support of the Language Department, has developed a Basic Kiswahili course to be implemented alongside its leadership training. Dr. Muwanga says that “these activities provide students with important eye-opening experiences, exposure and skills, which the recent drastic 80% budget cuts of the JNLC’s funding undermine. Muwanga says that these budget cuts notwithstanding the JNLC as a Presidential initiative has gained traction among students and Makerere University management. The JNLC’s leadership training has been endorsed by Makerere University Council that has made it mandatory for all those aspiring for leadership positions. Furthermore, “the Centre’s relevance is in ensuring it responds to students’ needs as it evolves to take into account emerging national and geopolitical issues whilst staying true to the legacy and aspirations of Mwalimu Nyerere.”
She acknowledged the support and contribution of long standing partners including the President of Uganda who is the Patron for his tremendous support towards the creation of the Centre; Makerere University and Uganda Management Institute for their steadfast financial and logistical support; the High Commission of the Republic of Tanzania to Uganda; Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS); NBS and Afro Mobile; Simba Telecom; United Nations Development Programme; the Tanzania Community in Uganda; the Private Education Development Network; Future Generation Trust; aBi Development among others.
In the same spirit, she appreciated the Board of Directors of the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre chaired by Dr. Kasozi Mulindwa for the invaluable support and constructive guidance. “To the staff of Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre, I thank you very much for your hard work and your consistent and committed efforts.”
Article by: Mak Public Relations Office and JNLC
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