By Ritah Namisango
“We are at war-an economic war; we are also at war with our own mind. Wake up Africa, have a conversation with the image in the mirror and what you believe. We have to continuously and constantly remind ourselves that we have this ailment and we were programmed to feel inferior. That is the part of mind and a continuous battle. You and the image in the mirror are the only ones who can decide whether it is a battle that you are determined to win,” H.E Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao tasked the youth and student leaders at a cross-generational Fireside Conversation (Ekyooto) organized by Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC) at Makerere University on July 26th 2023.
The Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC) is named after a great Pan-Africanist and former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. The Centre, established as a Presidential Initiative, was launched on October 6th 2018 to honor his legacy as a true African leader and activist. The Centre was expected to spearhead intergenerational dialogues on African history and the study of Africa’s revolutionary movements. As a knowledge and research hub, the Centre was to provide a platform for distinguished African intellectuals, scholars and other accomplished Africans to share, nurture, mentor, challenge and account to the next generation of African leaders.
Delivering the keynote speech, H.E. Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao reflected on the past ideas and current leaders’ ideals to build Africa’s self-sustenance. While sharing with the vibrant young minds at ‘Ekyooto’ about the gift of the African Continent, the Ambassador emphasised the need to go back to the genesis and root of why Africa is where it is today. In her view, we can never know where we are going if we don’t know where we come from.
H.E Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao is a medical doctor, public speaker, educator, an entrepreneur and a staunch Pan African Activist who originates from Chivu, Zimbabwe, but based in the United States of America (USA). She served as the African Union representative to the United States of America (USA), 2017-2019.
“Brothers and sisters, let us try to understand that Africa is a tree of life. It reminds me about how this great African continent was and is the mother of humanity and life. Let us have a deep understanding of the issues of the root and not waste time to only understand the issues above the ground. Much as they matter too, the most fundamental issue is to understand the matters of the root on this African tree of life, because if we don’t, we will continue to fight about the issues above the ground of this African tree of life,” said the Ambassador.
Ambassador Arikana expressed the need for Africans to understand the root cause of Africa’s ailment, which would put the continent in a better position to strategise and push back against the Western and now the Eastern worlds which have systematically strategised to keep Africa in a position that leaves it prone to further exploitation.
“The question is, what happened to this beautiful, once vibrant African tree of life? We have to get back to the time when we were invaded by the West. They came and found an amazing continent and took away whatever they could. They wondered about how on earth they could conquer such a people. So, they decided to put in place certain fundamental root causes of African destruction. According to Dr. Arikana, they are the same people who set up the stage on how to destroy us systematically.”
Describing how the West strategised to destroy and conquer Africa, she mentioned six (6) strategies that included religion, colonization, slavery, foreign aid, trade policy and multinationals. She revealed that the six (6) strategies were used to brainwash Africans, capture their minds and to make them feel inferior, in addition to dissolving the African culture. “When the missionaries come to Africa, they had a mission to brainwash Africans. They were instructed to teach the Africans how to read, but not to reason. They were trained to systematically abuse and mistreat Africans in a way that could easily lead them into submission. They used religion to brainwash us,” she explained.
Talking about the mindset, the Ambassador explained that Whites used slavery as a destructive tool and trained slave owners to use the slaves’ bodies to control their minds. She said that once you mistreat the body, the mind is affected and once you control the minds, you put them on an automatic pathway to self-destruction. She added that these days, Africans continue to suffer due to the legacy of colonialism. Most of them believe that they cannot perform as those who don’t look like them. This makes Africans to feel inferior, a belief and practice that has been going on for centuries. Ambassador Arikana disclosed that Whites and colonialists defeated us with our own minds, adding that Africans should remember that the battle for us to gain our economic liberation starts with the mind.
She pointed out that the battle for true liberation must go on and for that to happen, the Africans especially the youth must be empowered with knowledge, facts and the truth. She advocated for serious conversations with the image in the mirror and begin to understand that we feel the way we do because we were systematically put in that position. The Ambassador stressed that we all have the responsibility to recreate and rebuild Africa to where it once was when we ruled the world. This is a warfare that the entire African community should embrace.
She reiterated that no one should ever tell us that we are not good enough. No one should let us feel inferior because we are the mothers and fathers of humanity. It is a fact that without the black man and woman, there would be no life and humanity. She stated that the Whites also realised that the gene for blackness is the only dominant gene, a finding that scared them the most.
“So, their fear of a black man and woman is real which proves that we are indestructible. Once we know all these facts, we shall never feel inferior. In fact, we should be standing tall and proclaim to the world who we are; the proud, beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated, highly adaptable and above all, totally indestructible,” the Ambassador firmly stated.
Ambassador Arikana spoke about the implications of the Berlin Conference that took place in Berlin, Germany, in 1884 on the African continent. She lectured about the outcome of the divisions on the continent of Africa that left many families, communities and kingdoms separated. She disclosed that these divisions explain the causes of some of Africa’s problems that are still in effect today. She then advocated for the reunification of Africa.
Sharing experiences and historical facts, Mr. Damian Courtland Cook, the Vice to the Ambassador, pointed out that the Whites used slavery to control Africans with a program they used to manipulate the mindset of young Africans. He disclosed to the student leaders and African youth at the Fireside Conversation (Ekyooto) that the Whites conducted a program within the plantations. “When new slaves would arrive at the plantation, they would take the strongest black man, tie him up and put him between two horses. They would take the females and line them up, preferably the pregnant ones or ones with young children. They would then rip this man apart to psychologically create a disturbing program in the mind of a child, they would then take all the men there and beat them half to death. These acts caused the mother to keep the child from becoming a dominant child and that was the intention of the program.”
Having stayed in Africa especially in Zimbabwe, Mr. Damian Cook has known and seen the beauty of this great continent of Africa. He wondered why the West chose to portray a wrong image of Africa and whether they should still be called White. He said, “The image that Whites shed about Africa is not real, what is being given by the media is so different from the truth. The stories that were supposed to be told were not told to us about Africa, and the truth was never said. We only received images of young Africans found dirty and wandering around with flies, asking for donations. What was troubling was that the person asking for donations for these African children was a white person! If we say white, in our instincts we think of something pure, which is not the case here.”
Mr. Cook added that we have the brains and we should focus on bridging the technology gap for us to unite this continent. He said that the program is running in us, therefore, we must first recognize that there is a problem, and once we do so, then we must monitor it. He also advocated for the love and trust for each other.
“Why do we not trust one another? Why do we not trust our brothers and sisters, why do we not love each other, why are we so divided? We were programmed that way, it’s a program which is like a computer program. When it runs, it won’t stop unless you are aware of it, it will run, move you and you will think that it is your own fault. Mr. Cook said that these are thoughts that were planted in Africans.”
In her remarks, Dr. Suzie Nansozi Muwanga, the Executive Director, JNLC revealed that the Fireside conversations (Ekyooto) will be a great tool to bring together young and old people. Most importantly, the fireside conversations will awaken the minds of the youth to work on the image in the mirror. She advised the youth about the importance of self-discipline, the ability to hold themselves accountable and to always look out for their sister or brother to protect each other’s interests.
The Executive Director stated that “the mindset needs personal commitment. If you can commit yourself as a youth, a leader and an elder and always question and hold yourself accountable, there is no way you can go wrong, especially when you wrap it up with good discipline. All these happen to be in our good cultural norms of Africa,”
Professor Sarah Ssali, an Associate Professor at Makerere University and Dean-School of Women and Gender Studies and JNLC Board Member emphasised the need for Africans to play a part in the definition and re-definition of the narratives about Africa. She said that they have a role to play and the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC) provides a place and space they could sit and have these conversations, about what it means for us to be located on the continent at this particular time in history.
Associate Professor Sarah Ssali said “this is a time when we cannot afford to be complaisant, it is a time when we cannot afford to ignore and leave the definition and narratives to others. We are very happy that the JNLC came up with leadership and presidential leadership series.”
Associate Professor Sarah Ssali reiterated the fact that Africa is in an economic war and war of the mind that call for immediate action. She called upon the young and future leaders to stay focused.
She remarked that “much as there is a mind war that we experience individually, there is also a structural plan which shapes and determines what we experience as individuals. As we contemplate, the image in the mirror should not be forgotten.”
In addition, Mrs. Esteri Akandwanaho Muhoozi, a JNLC Board Member emphasised the need for Africans to understand their history and called upon the present generation to write the past roles and make better choices for a united and better sustaining African continent.
“Let us draw on the lessons learned here and those from our past leaders namely Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and we remain resolute in our commitment to make better choices for our continent and families,” she said. Mrs. Esteri Muhoozi noted that this generation has an opportunity and obligation to write these roles and forge a new path towards unity, prosperity and self-sustenance. The wounds of the past are healed; the choices we make now serve as beacons for hope tomorrow.
She added that strategic security plays a paramount role in this pursuit. She believes that if we invest our time and physical resources into Africa, we will be able to safeguard the continent. She articulated the need to be more organized as well as the need for more effort and purpose on our part to use our freedoms to make sense. “Strategic security is something that means that we should protect and ensure that we can secure what we have complete control over. We should then secure our communities which include our minds, children and resources against what we know are the internal and external threats.”
She thanked Dr. Arikana for her dedication to Africa’s progress and commitment to unity, her contribution towards the life journey to the Pan African cause and her inspiring words that ignited a call for action. She also thanked the young and everyday leaders for their devotion to Pan Africanism and raising issues that provided them with the campus to navigate the challenges that lied ahead of Africa. She commended the management and team of JNLC and the entire Makerere University leadership for the tireless work they do in promoting Pan Africanism.
Mr. Andrew Tumusiime, a founding board member of JNLC said he was really honoured to be part of the Fireside conversation (Ekyooto) with Ambassador Arikana. According to Mr. Tumusiime, the JNLC at Makerere University is the best “Pan African Centre currently active on the continent.”
Mr. Tumusiime stated that gathering to talk and reflect on our culture, identity and effective development is a great move and if we need to store and have a strong foundation to tag along and not behind, there is need to move side by side with the women in Africa. In his view, when it comes to Pan African affairs, women have proved that they can stand to be so loyal more than men when it comes to building homes and nations. “Many women especially in West Africa fought the colonialists, some of whom are in history books and never spoken about, but they set a foundation for many of those countries that were liberated.”
In Africa, Mr. Tumusiime noted that culture was the only fortress that had remained. According to Mr. Tumusiime if we start with identifying ourselves as Africans who are brothers and sisters and agree that identity with one another is what’s going to be our next fortress, then that will be the best.” He noted with concern that “some parents do not even wish to give their children African names, but foreign names with hardly a meaning, yet for a long time we have preserved our culture through our names and our stories; it’s now high time we returned to our roots.
Focusing on being young, African and Free, Mr. Jacob Eyeru, the Chair of Uganda National Youth Council said there is more freedom among many young Africans today than ever before. There has never been a connected generation in Africa as they are. They have a privilege of the Internet where they could ably communicate to fellow youth near and far, but the choices of what they speak about, the agenda and direction of the conversations they hold are what still need to be worked on. In that regard, he urged his fellow young Africans to use their freedom to interact on the questions of the generational consequences for Africa.
“As young African leaders, let us challenge ourselves to be a driving force to unite us to the Africa we want. When we talk about agenda 2030, 2063, it is not for our fathers, but for us and our children. We are the future leaders of Africa, not our fathers. So, shall we be speaking of the same challenges that our fore fathers spoke about? Mr. Eyeru remarked that “we need to carry on our own generation in our youthfulness to make Africa a better continent for us and our children.”
He added that young Africans can build a generational consensus to devote sometime away from their economic needs to the needs of the future of Africa in the global space. The globalisation agenda did not start today, it started way back, but is only to the effect that opportunities are brought to the countries that are already ahead of others. That is the globalisation journey and the kind of world of liberalisation that Mwalimu Julius Nyerere spoke about.
Contemplating on the struggles their fore fathers and mothers passed through and the contribution they made in a time when there was no technology like today, Mr. Eyeru felt his generation has not made good use of the freedom and opportunities they have to full capacity in creating a better Africa. He then wondered what the young people now use their freedom for and how they would take Africa to a position where it has to be. He said, that is where his interest has been in the entire term of his leadership.
“Our generation is not organising around the freedom that we have. Everything from around 1960 to about 1980 in Africa was a struggle and people were organising without telephones, internet and other technologies. When Uganda was getting its independence in 1962, the country had less than 100 graduates at University level, but these graduates were talking about what was happening in Apartheid South Africa and how Uganda must contribute. That’s Pan Africanism. Mr. Eyeru concluded that we should also emulate that in our generation, and the freedom to interact we have as young Africans must mean something for the future of our continent.”
H.E. Mariat Namiiro, the Vice Guild President of the 89th Students’ Guild at Makerere University and a vibrant Pan-Africanist revealed that the youth in Africa still lacked the sense of feeling the sense of Africanism in them. She disclosed the need to learn from those leaders who had gone through it and understood Pan Africanism as well as the need for African economic liberation. She said that Africans should start by accepting who they are.
H.E. Namiiro said, “as a young leader, I can stand up for what I believe is right. As an African, I can stand up for Africa because I believe that Africans are the best. In this world of trying to grapple with economic and environment changes and resource challenges, I do believe that we as young leaders have a great role to play. We have a lot to do to ensure sustainable practices that can develop and spread within Africa.”
The Vice Guild President noted that the youth shouldn’t wait to be given authority and leadership positions to feel that they can change Africa to what we want it to be. She thus called upon fellow youth leaders to embrace the mantle of everyday leadership with determination and hope together. This was because she believed that they could create a world where self-sustenance and economic liberation are not just an aspiration to them, but a reality in Africa like how our fore fathers and mothers wanted it to be.
According to Hon. Moses Jok Aluong, an international student from South Sudan and the Minister for International Students in the 89th Students’ Guild at Makerere University, the African youth can leverage their identity with other Africans to better position the continent. Having come from a country with a diversity of identities, 64 tribes in total, he realised that the way they make use of that opportunity as Africans is not the best. They use that diversity of identity to foster vices such as corruption, nepotism and favoritism which he thinks should change.
Hon. Jok said that the African youth should understand that despite the diversity of identity, they have a common background. In his opinion, they can use their history and identify to contribute to self-sustenance in Africa and to rebrand and reshape the narrative of the African Youth, “If I belong to one ethnicity, it does not mean that we are different. It should be more of how we can make good use of this, having come from different backgrounds to better tell our common story as Africans. I believe we as the youth leaders can change that.”
He advised that the youth should embrace and leverage on the available opportunities namely the Internet and other technologies to constructively position themselves. He stressed the point that the youths from other spheres of the world such as China who are making research every day to come up with new inventions are not more intelligent than them. He implored his fellow youth to make use of what they have to better reposition Africa than going with the flow of how the West defines us.
“We have to better position ourselves to make good use of available opportunities to retell our story. We can also emulate countries that have made it yet they were once in the same position with us. These people decided to redefine themselves. We can redefine ourselves by making use of what we have because we have it all. What we need is to put it to good use,” said Hon. Jok.
Wrapping up the Fireside conversation (Ekyooto), the JNLC Executive Director, Dr. Nansozi Muwanga thanked H.E. Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao for the wonderful submission to the youth and young leaders as well as her exemplary role as a Pan Africanist. She also commended Makerere University for providing the Centre with the physical space as well as the Uganda Management Institute (UMI) for their consistent support and partnership. Dr. Muwanga equally thanked the young leaders present for their active participation in the Ekyooto – the Fireside conversation.
Ambassador Arikana Chihombori expressed her sincere gratitude for the invitation to Makerere University to speak to the young bright minds and the future African leaders. She believed that the cross-generational conversation presented her with a platform to fulfill her responsibility as an elder by teaching the youth and young leaders the truth.
The Ambassador gifted JNLC with copies of one of her famous books titled “Africa 101: The Wake Up Call.” The book is about the “hunters” and the “hunted.” The hunters are Africa’s exploiters, slavers, colonizers, and neo-colonisers, and the hunted are the African people who have survived against severe odds. In this book, Ambassador Arikana confirms that the hunt is still ongoing and calls on Africans and people of African descent all over the world to rise up in defense of Africa-our beloved continent.
The front cover states, “Wake up from the slumber of 400 years, free yourself from the mental shackles of colonialisation and slavery, black lives matter, I can’t breathe, get off my neck.” This book contains the naked truth that our children must read. Every chapter is a subject matter. It will make you think deep about what is really going on in Africa. Ambassador Arikana said: “So, this is my gift to the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC).”
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 1,907 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.
Apac District gains from CEDAT’s Research on Piloting a Rural Broadband Connectivity Model and Efficacious patient management system
The School of Engineering at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) shared findings of research that was conducted in Apac Districts through two projects namely Piloting a Rural Broadband Connectivity Model (RCBM) and Efficacious patient management system (EPMS).
The findings of the research sponsored by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University research and Innovation Fund(MakRIF) were disseminated during a dissemination seminar held in the College on Friday 24th November 2023, where it was revealed that Apac the host District greatly benefited from the services that not only led to the increased uptake of internet services but also gained through other socio economic areas.
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