The Centre for Teaching and Learning Support, CEES in collaboration with the University College London, UK organized an Educational webinar entitled: Omissions in Sloane’s Jamaican collections: African slave trade and modern slavery building shared futures. The webinar held on 28th July, 2023 saw over 40 participants; lecturers, students from Makerere University and other Public and Private universities engaging in debates on addressing contemporary challenges as such Modern Slavery.
The Educational webinar was spearheaded by Dr. Dorothy Sebbowa and panelists; Dr. Mary Kakeeto and Dr. Zaid Sekitto all from Makerere University.
Dr. Dorothy Kyagaba Ssebowa who is a Sloane Lab Community Fellow began the webinar with a citation from William Wordsworth who once said: ‘Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, to live better in the future.’
Dr. Kyagaba noted that, Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) was a significant historical figure of the 18th Century who collected artifacts (flora& fauna) from Jamaica on the enslaved Africans during the Transatlantic Slave trade. Upon his death in 1753, Sloane bequeathed his collections which laid the foundations for the establishment of the world’s first free national and public museum, the British Museum. That is why his role as a pioneer cataloguist is remembered in museum, archival research and history education scholarship. Dr. Kyagaba argued that, although Sloane frequently included information about how locals such African Slaves used objects, herbal medicine, cultural and life experiences, this information is not only filtered and interpreted through Western lenses, but it is often viewed and dismissed as misinformation substantiating superstitious practices. Additionally, the history of slavery and the experience of enslaved people in museum, archival and history education scholarship has been largely un-investigated with notable gaps and omissions as reflected in the Specialist Guide to the Sloane Jamaican Database. Using Sloane’s guide as a key unit of analysis, the project examined the historicity and methodologies through the lens of Sloane’s involvement in the local of Jamaica the African Slave trade and enslavement (previously ignored or marginalized histories).
Okra and Kola Nut
To this end, two objects identified from Sloane’s Herbaruim: Okra and Kola all from the West African origin. The rationale for obtaining the two plants/objects were transported by the enslaved Africans from Africa to America as during the Transatlantic Slave trade. They are catalogued as Sloane’s Herbaruim collections 1687-89 (Natural History Museum, London). Okra particularly bears a West African name ‘ Okuru’. Okra is rich in vitamins B, C and it a source of lubrication among women.
Kola (Cola ntilida) from West African origin also bears an indigenous name ‘Bichy’. During the Transatlantic slave trade, it was used as a herb and medicine for taking away poison. It is currently useful in different parts of Africa as a medicine, trading commodity and the nuts help the body to get rid of excess water. These plants attach significance to African plant knowledge transfer and medicines. Such local medicines have since been useful in managing COVID 19. Accordingly, Historical hermeneutics emphasizes the conversation, relevance between the past, present and anticipated future
Dr. Kyagaba in her study of Sloane’s works found that Sloane does not recognize that plants such as Kola Nut and Okra were brought into Jamaica by slaves from West Africa during the Transatlantic Slave trade.
She contends that “although Sloane frequently included information about how locals such as African slaves used objects, herbal medicine, cultural life, and experiences, this information is filtered and interpreted through the Western lens. It is also often dismissed as misinformation substantiating superstitious practices.”
Okra, as she discovered originated from west Africa and was called Okuru. It is to this day still being eaten as a soup in west Africa. Okra is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants that help reduce the risk of serious health conditions like cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Okra is also a good source of Magnesium.
The research speaks to a relationship between the past, the present and the future.
The other herb that was investigated was Kola Nut, which is also said to have originated from West Africa.
In Igbo Culture in Nigeria Kola Nut is the first thing to be served to a visitor as they believe that it symbolizes peace and shows one is welcomed in peace. It symbolizes peace, unity, reconciliation, integrity, life, fraternity, hospitality, goodwill and kindness.
Dr. Kyagaba said that there is an argument that non-European peoples may have served on projects of imperial medicine, but the full extent of their pharmaceutical and medical knowledge was concealed, ignored, and sometimes lost. This contribution by the slaves ought to have been documented, Dr. Kyagaba argues.
The researchers found that Sloane’s writings were biased and prejudiced. The contribution of African slaves or their names were omitted from Sloane’s catalogue and yet they had a big role to play in the civilization of the Americas.
Between 1517 and 1867, about 12.5 million Africans were forced into slavery. These Africans were purchased by Europeans and sold in the Americas for a profit. In spite of their contributions to civilization, there is not enough documentation of the same. Dr. Kyagaba in her submission called for documentation of these forgotten history. ‘It is important for African historians to write and reconstruct and deconstruct history that has been given to us. Above all let the learners together with their teachers engage in a collaborative interpretation of the historical narratives presented to them.’
Dr. Kakeeto Mary a key panelist of the webinar joined the conversation and conceptualized Modern Slavery. She said that Slavery is not only historical, today over 50 million people are victims of modern slavery which is mainly affecting the Global South.
She defined modern slavery in a number of ways: when an individual is exploited by others, for personal or commercial gain. Whether tricked, coerced, or forced, they lose their freedom. That manifestations of modern slavery include but is not limited to human/child/drug trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, force marriages, sex slavery among others.
Many people who joined the online discussion through the metimeter link chats agreed with Dr. Kakeeto that modern slavery exists in many countries citing the enslavement of Ugandans who travel to the Arab world in search of employment. ‘Unlike the historical slavery, Modern slavery is disguised!’.
Additionally, Dr. Zaid Sekitto remarked that, youths are taken to the Arab world by labour companies that pay little or no attention to them, their health insurance once they get to the homes of their employers. That, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre recently reported a family of a Ugandan lady that had allegedly been physically harmed by her employer in Saudi Arabia until her death. That, the most vulnerable groups are: women, young girls and children.
Discussants of the Webinar proposed solutions for addressing modern Slavery by calling on the government to create employment for Ugandans, enforce skills as reflected in the Competency based curriculum at the secondary level, empowerment, respect for cultures and women, create awareness and sensitization about the modern slavery and its ills, as well as implement anti-slavery laws and promote fair labor laws and practices.
Over 600 awarded UBTEB certificates
Over 600 students of Makerere University Centre for Lifelong Learning and Makerere University Jinja Campus have graduated with diplomas and Certificates from the Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB).
Speaking during the graduation ceremony on Feb 3, 2024, at Makerere University Yusuf Lule Auditorium, Prof. Anthony Muwagga Mugagga, the Principal of the College of Education and External Studies, where the Centre for Lifelong Learning is housed, said the college seeks to address all education levels including tertiary Education, thus the formation of CLL, which caters for those people who may not have been able to join mainstream university education.
Prof. Mugagga said the university is trying to reduce school dropouts by offering UBTEB courses, respond to the government’s call for science education in Uganda and also address the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) which calls for education for all.
“This academic achievement has launched your real beginning in higher education academics and career growth. For those who had challenges with Advanced Level as a prerequisite for University or academic progression, the diploma comes handy and will enable you to now register for your desired degree course,” Prof. Mugagga said.
He cautioned the graduands against reckless behavior which could lead to sickness and early death. “Be very cautious and protective of your lives. You have one life; therefore, you cannot afford to waste it. Hold your life very preciously and jealously.”
Mr. Geoffrey Kawanguzi, the Deputy Executive Secretary, admonished educational institutions against illegally awarding qualifications to students.
Mr. Kawanguzi, said many institutions are hoodwinking students and awarding them certificates and diplomas which are not recognized by the government.
Mr. Kawanguzi urged parents to be cautious while selecting higher institutions and to check that the institution qualifies to provide national exams.
“Before you pay school fees to an institution where you want to take your child, first ask whether that institution offers national exams. Certificates offered by illegal Institutions end in that school, you cannot take them anywhere,” Mr. Kawanguzi said as he conferred 613 students from the university’s main campus and Jinja campus with national certificates and diplomas in technical and business education.
Students received National diplomas in Mechanical Engineering, Architecture, Planning and Management, Business Administration and Management, Civil Engineering, Procurement, Electrical Engineering and Logistics, among others.
Mr. Kawanguzi said it is only UBTEB national exams that are recognized by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC).
He encouraged graduands to make good use of the knowledge they have acquired from their respective disciplines to develop their communities and create job opportunities for their communities.
“The world has a lot of opportunities for each of us to explore according to our talents and gifts. Let’s put to good use our knowledge and skills to fulfill the use and continue to pursue the journey of acquiring more knowledge to better our areas for professional growth and development.”
The Deputy Director of the Graduate School, Dr. Wamala Robert, who represented the Vice Chancellor urged graduands to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained to face the world and solve its challenges.
“The world you have entered is dynamic and ever challenging. Use the education and the experience you have gained here to navigate the complexities of the global landscape,” he said.
He added: “As you step into this new chapter of your lives, I urge you to continue embracing curiosity, pursuing knowledge for excellence. Be bold in your ambitions, compassionate in your endeavors, and always mindful of the impacts you can have on the world around you. Remember that the values instilled in you during your time at Makerere will serve as a compass guiding you through the diverse path that lies ahead of you.”
Prince Immanuel Oluka, a graduand of a diploma in Civil Engineering, said he doesn’t regret taking up the course because he has acquired the necessary skills to go out and address world challenges.
“We have been doing real life projects which are hands-on, even now there is a site we are working on. We are confident we can go for government contracts of constructing buildings and roads,” Oluka said.
Risper Atwine Twinomugisa, a graduand of a national diploma in Architecture, said she has specialized in drafting and drawing plans for houses and her future is bright with the skills at hand.
CEES graduates 1,000 students as best researchers are awarded
The College of Education and External Studies has today January 30, 2024, the 2nd day of the 74th graduation ceremony, graduated 1,019 students. At the same function, five of the college’s senior researchers received the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award 2023.
The researchers, Prof. Paul Muyinda Birevu, Dr. Sekatawa Kenneth, Assoc. Prof. Jude Ssempebwa, Dr. Nambi Rebecca and Dr. Bateganya Lukoyaa Najib, were recognized for having the highest number of publications, in the last 5 years, in the college.
This year’s graduation saw 7 people graduate with PhDs, 51 with Masters, 81 with Post graduate diplomas and 880 with undergraduate degrees from the College of Education and External Studies. Of these 618 are female while 401 are male representing 60.6% and 39.4% respectively.
During the course of the 74th graduation ceremony, a total of 12,913 graduands will receive degrees and diplomas of Makerere University. Of these, a total of 132 graduands will graduate with PhDs, 1585 with Masters degrees, 11,016 with Bachelor’s degrees, 156 with postgraduate diplomas, and 24 with undergraduate diplomas.
53% of the graduands are female and 47% are male. In the category of PhD graduands, 46 are female and 86 are male. In the category of students graduating with Master’s degrees, 699 are female and 886 are male.
While addressing the graduands, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, said the university’s goal is to graduate at least 200 PhDs per year in response to the World Bank’s call for at least 100,000 PhDs for Africa over the next 10 years, to pull the continent out of poverty.
He also congratulated the college upon the various milestones achieved in the last one year. He appreciated the Institute of Open, Distance and e-Learning (IODeL) which has continued to provide backstopping support services to all Colleges in the University for transforming the classroom-based course content into well-instructionally designed online course content for blended teaching and learning.
“In the last year, with support from the Government of Uganda, and development partners such as Mastercard Foundation, Norad, DIKU and among others, the College of Education and External Studies has supported and mentored lecturers in developing 1,300 quality and inclusive online learning courses across all colleges. By June 2024, more than 3000 courses will have been transformed. The University has acquired five (5) multimedia studios to aid in the production of multimedia content for pedagogy,” Prof. Nawangwe said.
Makerere University Transcripts and Certificates
In the past two years, Makerere University has come up with measures aimed at making the issuance of academic transcripts and certificates very fast and convenient by shortening the clearance process. In November 2022 the university organized the Public Fair on Transcripts and Certificates during which more than 4,650 certificates and 4,113 transcripts were issued. This year, with the support of the University Council and Senate, the Department of the Academic Registrar, the Directorate of ICT Support Services, and the leadership at the Colleges, the academic transcripts for students graduating during the 74th graduation ceremony were printed before graduation. “The academic transcripts are ready and they are due for issuance to graduands who have satisfied the academic and financial obligations I therefore urge all our graduands to pick their transcripts from their respective colleges,” the VC said.
The Vice Chancellor congratulated all graduands and called on them to Cherish the knowledge and experiences they have received, but remember that learning never ends.
Call For Applications: 8 Masters Scholarships under CABUTE Project
Makerere University, Kyambogo University, Uganda National Institute for Teacher Education (UNITE), University of Bergen and Western Norway University of Applied Sciences are implementing a project titled, Capacity Building for Research Based Teacher Education (CABUTE).
In 2024/2025 Academic Year, eight (8) masters scholarships will be competitively awarded to qualifying Ugandans as one of the activities.
For the detailed advert and application process, please visit the URL below.
Please note that the scholarships are tenable at Makerere University and Kyambogo University but will include a 3 weeks stay at the University of Bergen during the course of study.
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