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The Second Martin Luther Nsibirwa Annual Public Lecture




 The 2nd Annual Nsibirwa Public Lecture

Situating the Role and Relevancy of Cultural Institutions in Modern Uganda[1]


The guest of honor, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Officials of the Government of Uganda and the kingdom of Buganda, the family of the late Martin Luther Nsibirwa, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I thank you all for the warm welcome and I particularly thank the Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe for inviting me to speak at the second annual Martin Luther Nsibirwa Lecture. I want to acknowledge his leadership in marking and celebrating 100 years of Makerere University. Many congratulations.

Today, we gather—not only to pay tribute to a remarkable man who played a pivotal role in the history of Buganda, Uganda and indeed the African continent — but to continue, in the celebrations of the centenary of Makerere University.  It is a double celebration of knowledge, history, and progress and an opportunity to explore the dynamic role and relevance of cultural or traditional institutions in modern Uganda.

I cannot think of a more fitting occasion to commemorate these significant milestones. Because, even as we reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther Nsibirwa and the journey of Makerere University, we do not just revisit the issues that shaped our past but reflect on current ones so we may imagine a future of peace, prosperity, and progress for our country. At this moment, we are reminded of the power of education, vision, and resilience — values championed by Nsibirwa, and Makerere.

I am therefore deeply honored for the privilege accorded to me by the University to deliver this lecture.  Makerere University, standing tall at a century of existence,  has been the cradle of knowledge, a beacon of progress,  and a source of pride  for  Uganda and Africa.

Makerere has shaped minds, fostered creativity, and ignited flames of change that continue to burn brightly today. Makerere’s journey has not been without hurdles, but each hurdle was an opportunity for growth and introspection, a testament to resilience of our people, the tenacity of our scholars and the dedication of University leaders, past and present. I salute the service of the late Frank Kalimuzo, Sentenza Kajubi,  Asavia Wandera, George Kirya,  John Sebuwuufu and others that have led this great University.

As a product of Makerere University, I was able to join and thrive at the University of Cambridgein the UK.  While there I was mostly asked about Idi Amin Dada and Makerere University. I know many Makererenians that that have left a mark in the world including:  Prof. Opiyo-Oloya at the University of Toronto, Canada, Professors Oloka-Onyango and Sylvia Tamale at the University of Harvard, Prof. Kanyeihamba and John Jean Barya at the University of Warwick UK., Prof. Dan Wadada Nabudere at the University of Dar es Salaam; Benjamin Mkapa ex-president of Tanzania; Prof Edward Khiddu Makubuya at Yale and Prof Mamdani at Colombia and numerous others anti Omuto Gyamanyi….

I extend my gratitude to the Nsibirwa family for preserving Nsibirwa’s legacy, and commend individuals like Hon. Rhoda Kalema, Owek. Robert Waggwa Nsibirwa, Hon. Maria Kiwanuka, Dr. Gladys Zikusooka, Dr. William Kalema, Susan Nsibirwa, and other Nsibirwas  for their outstanding contribution to Uganda and the world.  

Unlike the professors I mention above, Martin Luuther Nsibirwa, had no formal education. He grew up under the patronage of Sir Apollo Kaggwa and taught himself how to read and write.  He served  the kingdom of Buganda for an uninterrupted period of 41 years. He started as a land clerk, became a Gombolola chief and later as a Ssaza Chief  (Mugerere and Mukwenda) he was appointed as the Omuwanika in 1935 and later as Katikkiro by Sir Daudi Chwa in 1936, and by Sir Edward Muteesa in 1945.

I joined Makerere University in 1987 and was admitted to Northcote Hall. I suspect there are some Northcotters  (noise makers?) in this room! This hall of residence was named after Sir Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote a British colonial Administrator.[2] I was at once immersed in the culture of the Northcote Spirit –  a spirit that invariably involved singing, drumming and a culture of militancy  and defiance under what was known as the Northcote Military Supreme Command Council. I rose in the Northcote military ranks to become a speaker for the Northcote Colloquium. But even at the height of my Northcote officialdom, I never knew, or questioned who Northcote was or what he represented. It is only recently, in my campaign to end the celebration of colonial subjugators and to remove street names like Fredrick Lugard, Henry Colville and Trevor Ternan that I discovered the true history of Northcote.

Northcote was posted to Nyanza Province which was then part of Uganda. In early 1905, he  was part of a punitive expedition to Kisii land in South Nyanza. The expedition carried out a month-long orgy of violence as punishment for raids the Kisii had carried out. In 1907, Northcote was deployed as the District Commissioner of Kisii. The Kisii, who nicknamed him Nyarigoti, considered him their mortal enemy. On 18 January 1908, in the middle of a punitive expedition he was leading, Northcote was attacked with a spear and injured by a warrior called Otenyo. When Otenyo was caught, he was tried in public, dragged by a horse and executed in public by a firing squad. He was then beheaded and his body shipped to London. Northcote’s expedition was responsible for the death of hundreds of Kisii’s.  On his recent visit to Kenya, King Charles III stated that Britain’s “wrongdoings of the past are a cause of the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret.” He said these actions were “abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans”.

It is therefore curious that the leadership of Makerere University at the time found it fitting to name a major hall of residence after Sir Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote. This brings to light the question of why we continue to honor and celebrate such figures in our universities and public spaces across the country.

 I applaud the decision to change the halls name from Northcote to Nsibirwa and Makerere’s leadership in recognizing heroes like Okot p’tek, Yusuf Lule, Kwame Nkrumah, and Patrice Lumumba. I hope they will find some space for other notable alumni like Ngugi wa Thiong’o one of Africa’s leading writers and the author of “Decolonising the Mind”.  

As a part of decolonising the University, I consider that an  individual that ought to be celebrated is the late Joan Namazzi Kagezi an alumni of this University— assassinated in line of duty. Joan, like my wife here, Omumbejja Anne Nakayenga Juuko a granddaughter of Ssekabaka Basamula Ekkere Mwanga, was a beautiful, brilliant, and a brave woman. As a heroine of our generation, she deserves our admiration and honour.

  Vice Chancellor, embracing decolonisation in the teaching and learning at Makerere and beyond, is essential to debunk Eurocentric narratives of our history and society, and  to provide  a more accurate representation of our heritage.

Nsibirwa, along with other Baganda leaders such as Apollo Kaggwa, Ham Mukasa, Wamala, Semei Kakungulu, Gabriel Kintu, Matayo Mugwanya, Micheal Kintu , Eridad M. K Mulira and  Ignatius Musaazi  led Buganda at a turbulent time, marked by the struggle against British imperialism in Uganda. It was a time of profound contradictions between traditional leadership and colonial rule; traditional religion and Christianity; and African nationalism and imperial domination. Difficult choices had to be made either to preserve a traditional order or embrace a foreign and modern one. The clashes that arose in this context were numerous and often resulted in protests and loss of lives.

For Nsibirwa, these contradictions proved costly. His views as a devout Christian and a progressive leader, on matters like the remarriage of Namasole Drussila Namaganda  (Kabaka Muteesa II’s mother) to Simon Peter Kigozi  cost him his Katikkiroship.  This is because the remarriage of a Namasole was a taboo in Buganda.  Nsibirwa was replaced by Katikkiro Wamala an ultra-traditionalist and anticolonialist. He is said to have been behind 1945 protests in Buganda.  Once Wamala’s group was ousted from power and summarily deported, the colonial government weighed on Kabaka Muteesa II to reinstate Nsibirwa as Katikkiro. Once back in power, Nsibirwa immediately embarked on implementing the not so popular land reforms in Buganda. In this effort he championed the grant of the land at Makerere for the construction of a Technical College. For this and other reasons he was assassinated at Namirembe Cathedral on 5 September 1945.

The date of 5 September is ominous to the Nsibirwa family because on that same date it lost Stella Nansikombi Mukasa to cancer. Stella, an alumnus of Makerere University, was a leading light in the advancement of women’s rights in the world. A conference hall has been named after her at the headquarters of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)  in  Washington DC.

The fate suffered by Nsibirwa at once illustrated the challenges faced by traditional leaders in serving the interests of their communities while accommodating the interests of the colonial power. The interest of the two entities were dichotomic and opposed to each other. While the objective of colonialism was to supplant traditional authority and replace it with a political and economic structure that served its exploitative interests; the aspiration of African traditional entities was to end colonial domination and to reinstate traditional sovereignty. In this contest and given the power relations between the two the imperialism prevailed leaving traditional entities emasculated.

This is seen in the draconian deposition and deportation of Kabaka Mwanga, Omukama Kabalega and Muteesa II who were resistant to the colonial domination. The weakening of traditional entities continued in various forms right up to the time of Independence. And although the kingdom of Buganda tried to break free in 1960, its attempts were thwarted resulting in its incorporation into the country what we know as Uganda today. But the sacrifices and resilience of leaders like Nsibirwa led to Uganda’s independence in 1962.

The fate of traditional leaders and Institutions did not improve  after Uganda got independence. In fact, traditional institutions were abolished in 1966.  This was because after independence,  Uganda’s new political elite faced the complex challenge of reconciling traditional governance with western democratic ideals.  The clash between traditional governance structures and Western-style democracy presented a dilemma. The new leaders faced a conundrum in managing traditional leaders with ancient institutions and traditions in a new country.

Striking a balance was no easy task especially because there was mistrust between the new politicians and traditional leaders. This mistrust gave birth to the notion that African tradition and governance were the antithesis of democracy and thus an obstacle to development and modernity. Like the colonialists that preceded them, frowned upon traditional institutions¾relegating them as outdated, parochial, and tribal. They entrenched autocracy, centralised state power, and relied on legal and political systems inherited from the colonial era upholding Western ideals over indigenous ones.

However,  the diminution or abolishment of traditional leadership in Africa did not lead to peace and progress – instead many African countries, Uganda included, ended up in failure of Western models of democracy leading to political crises, military coups and in some instances, state failure.  

Today, 60 years after independence, Africa grapples with  a crisis of governance, corruption, and underdevelopment. It is in this context that we see a resurgence of traditionalism driven by a renewed interest in  cultural heritage and the wisdom and knowledge of our ancestors.  This trend offers a sense of identity and stability in an ever-changing world. It is a testament to the enduring power of Africa’s cultural heritage. This trend raises critical questions:

  • Can kingdoms or traditional institutions coexist with within a modern postcolonial state?
  • Do they provide solutions for service delivery, poverty eradication, conflict resolution and governance? [3]
  • Does their resurgence challenge modern states and inherited notions of democracy?
  • Can a blend of modern and traditional systems foster political stability and development?
  • If so, are there  justifiable constitutional limitations on these institutions?

To answer these questions, we must consider  the  significance of the restoration of traditional rule in Uganda in the last 30 years. What do we see?

  •  A proliferation of traditional institutions beyond the Buganda, Busoga, Ankole, Tooro, and Bunyoro kingdoms that were recognised at independence.[4] As of 2023, excepting the ambiguous statuses of the Omugabe of Ankole,[5] the Banyole Cultural Institution,[6] and the Bunyala Cultural Institution,[7] fourteen traditional institutions or leaders have been officially recognised.[8] Fifteen others have applied for recognition.[9] If these were to be admitted the total number of traditional institutions in Uganda would be twenty-nine, almost half of Uganda’s sixty-five indigenous communities.[10]  But the growth in number of traditional institutions has not meant that they have become more influential or powerful actors in the political economy of Uganda.  Most traditional institutions are marginalised, fragmented, and dependent on the state for survival.
  • Some face internal conflicts and crisis of legitimacy of its leaders.
  • There exists discordance with the central government on several issues including the non-return of expropriated assets, on land tenure,  and the creation or support of sub traditional entities such as the Burulri, Bunyalas and Kooki in Buganda. Discordance on these policies has sometimes resulted in violence as was seen in the  2009 protests in Buganda and killings in the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu and the arrest and detention of its king, Omusinga Mumbere, in 2016. These tensions showcase the delicate nature of power sharing  in modern Uganda and a need for reconciliation and dialogue.
  • Evidence of collaboration in noncontentious fields —education, poverty alleviation, health, environment, and culture. Covid, Fistula, Vaccinations, HIV and Aids etc.
  • Evidence of growing popularity of the Kabakaship in Buganda. The Kabaka and Buganda kingdom  continue to  be popular and to exercise considerable soft power. The Kabaka is revered as a custodian of culture and a source of guidance and inspiration for his people. This is evidenced by the high numbers that turn out at cultural and other kingdom ceremonies. Additionally, the involuntary financial support given to the kingdom suggests that it enjoys both legitimacy and credibility. Buganda kingdom serves as a significant pressure group for politicians despite its constitutional limitations as a cultural entity.
  • The support enjoyed by Buganda kingdom today at once highlights nagging political questions in Uganda and problematises its governance and constitutional model. Can the kingdom’s popularity be harnessed for political stability and socioeconomic development for all? The kingdom argues that through a federal system of government it can make a more meaningful contribution to its subjects as well as to the country.

From the above, traditional institutions continue to play a vital role culturally, economically, and politically. They bring stability, cultural preservation, and a sense of unity. They deserve attention and recognition for this role. But at the same time manty face limitations in adapting to the complex challenges of the modern world.

In the case of Buganda, two issues stand out for discussion namely, the Federal Question and the Land Question. These remain thorny unresolved issues in Buganda and Uganda’s relationship. Why ?

The Land Question:

In the context of increased pressures on land due to population and economic growth, Uganda is witnessing unprecedented levels of land grabbing[11] and the violent eviction of people from land across the country. Yet the state’s responses to stem the evictions and to reform land laws have not always provided effective solutions to the problem but have instead aggravated it.

  1.  A clash on laws and policies on land tenure between the central government and the kingdom of Buganda. Specifically, the government’s policy intentions to create radicle title of land; to abolish mailo[12] land tenure and to compulsorily acquire land without prompt and due compensation.
  2. Competing interests of land rights between the landlords and lawful (kibanja holders) or bona fide occupants of land. The fixing of land rent at nominal rates regardless of the location (rural or urban), user (commercial or residential), and size of the land. This is related to the scourge of land grabbing and forceful evictions of occupants of land, and has contributed to the escalation of disputes involving Kabaka land.[13]
  3. Refusal and or delay in the return and/or compensation of expropriated lands. The government’s ambivalence to account for the 9,000 sq. miles[14] and other confiscated lands to the kingdom of Buganda and its refusal to hand over all the public land in Buganda to the kingdom has been a source of conflict. This problem has been exacerbated by the conversion of public land into freehold land tenure.
  4. Weak mechanisms for the resolution of land disputes. This is despite the many bodies that have been created to address land disputes under the police, judiciary, President’s Office, the Land Fund and the Ministry of Lands.
  5. The disputed boundaries and ownership of Kampala capital city.
  6. The disposition and privatisation of clan lands (Obutaka) under the 1900 Agreement.  

The Federal Question:

The quest for autonomy and federal rule in Buganda has been fraught with challenges, symbolising the difficulties in balancing traditional authority with central governance.From its restoration to the present day, the kingdom of Buganda has resisted a unitary arrangement demanding instead federal rule. Why? Its reasons are set out in various memoranda to the government,[15] but may be summarised in its interest in power sharing and self-determination, the accommodation and respect for Uganda’s ethnic diversity, the preservation of cultural heritage, the protection of its natural resources¾especially land¾and the promotion of its indigenous institutions and governance systems that served it well in the past. The kingdom points to the conflicts and failures of unitarist governance founded on a colonial legacy and advocates for a constitutional order that recognises and respects traditional authority. It believes that federalism leads to better representation and local accountability, and that it ensures the equitable distribution of resources and reduces disparities in development. In a nutshell, the federal question is a governance question—relating to a suitable system of government that respects the will and aspirations of the people.

In an undemocratic way, the government disregarded the overwhelming support for the adoption of federal rule and imposed a unitary system in the 1995 Constitution. It argued that the objectives of federalism could be attained through decentralisation.[16] A disappointed Buganda disagreed with this view, arguing that decentralisation was a ploy to defeat or delay its demands. Today, the federal question in Uganda remains in a stalemate. Neither the central government nor the kingdom of Buganda has changed its position, and there is little likelihood that this will change soon. There is a need to find solutions to this problem. Africa is replete with examples of successful integration of traditional institutions into modern governance structures, striking a balance that respects tradition while embracing modern forms of governance. In its search for solutions, Uganda needs to study and take lessons from experiments of federalism and devolution in Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Sudan.

A national dialogue? Besides the federal question, Uganda has many unresolved issues, such as land tenure and the militarisation of politics, that require nation-wide consultations and consensus outside the present political and constitutional structures. For this reason, citing the lack of constitutionalism, intolerance of political dissent, increased poverty levels, poor performance of the social services, rampant corruption, and contested elections marred by violence in Uganda, religious leaders and elders have called for a national dialogue to build a consensus on the achievements, failures, and future of an independent Uganda.The goal of the dialogue is to “agree on a new national consensus to consolidate peace, democracy, and inclusive development to achieve equal opportunity for all.”[17] In September 2018, President Museveni launched the National Dialogue, but little progress has been made on this matter since then.[18] While the reasons for the stagnation of dialogue are unclear, the need for it remains undeniable.

30 years later – Traditional institutions still at sea? The case of the Buganda kingdom exemplifies how the authority and legitimacy of traditional leadership warrant a reevaluation of the governance and constitutional models adopted in Uganda and in other African countries. By recognising and incorporating traditional institutions into the fabric of governance, justice, and social cohesion efforts, some persistent and complex issues, such as the Buganda Question, can be addressed in the postcolonial era. It is important to acknowledge the internal weaknesses and lack of homogeneity within these institutions, matters which undeniably present challenges as to how they may be viably integrated into modern governance systems.


The challenges of governance and underdevelopment in Africa are vast, but traditional institutions and leaders have a significant role to play. The future of Africa is promising provided we adapt it to meet the evolving needs of our societies while preserving our identity and values.

By addressing limitations of traditional entities, shedding the legacy of colonialism, and embracing a dual approach that combines both traditional institutions and modern systems, Africa can chart a path towards inclusive development—one rooted in its rich cultural heritage and diverse traditional practices.

Leaders like Nsibirwa and institutions like Makerere University inspire us to tackle the challenges of development and governance with education, innovation, and a commitment to our people’s well-being. We must preserve these legacies and carry the torch of knowledge forward. It is up to us to shape the future and illuminate the path for generations to come.

Hillary R. Clinton, former US Secretary of State, and first lady, in a speech delivered in here at Makerere’s Freedom Square in 1998,  stated that the struggle  to protect human rights (and overcoming the challenges we face as a country) depends upon the millions of actions that are taken every day by ordinary people like us.  She said that “those of us who have the power to speak, and all of you here who are affiliated with this great university, by virture of you being here and attaining this education, not only have the power to speak, but the obligation to do so.”  

As our country’s history shows, there is much we can speak against in Uganda. There is so much that needs to be done.  We have a duty to do so.Like the Nsibirwa’s before us, we must stand up,  we must speak up, and together,  we must build our country and our University for a brighter and better future!

Back in the day, at this point I would say, “Northcote OYEE!!”   but I believe it is more fitting to say “Nsibirwa OYEE!! “

Thank you very much and may God Bless you all.

Apollo N. Makubuya

Kampala, 9 November 2023.

Download the Keynote Address.

[1]  Apollo N. Makubuya , The Nsibirwa Annual Public Lecture, Makerere University, 9November 2023.

[3] The governance crisis is multifaceted and affects various African countries differently, but essentially entails the failure of democratic rule, autocracy, military rule, and corruption leading to poverty and underdevelopment.

[4] Article 89 of the 1962 Constitution provided for the creation of constitutional heads for districts. These could be chiefs.

[5] The non-recognition of the kingdom of Ankole is contested, as it contradicts the restoration policy and has contributed to further division within the Bahima and Bairu groups in Ankole, leading to the loss of the kingdoms prominence. See John-Jean Barya (1998), “Democracy and the Issue of Culture in Uganda: Reflections on the (Non)Restoration of the Ankole Monarchy,” East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights Vol. 4, Issue 1: pp. 1–14.

[6] See “Why Banyole Have Failed to Have a King for 14 Years,” Daily Monitor, 11 May 2023.

[7] See “Kabaka Restates Case for Federo,” The Monitor, 17 December 2009.

[8] Namely, the Kabaka of Buganda, the Omukama of Tooro, the Omukama of Bunyoro, the Kyabazinga of Busoga, the Omusinga of Rwenzururu, the Ker of Alur, the Ker Kwaro of Acholi, the Te Kwaro of Lango Cultural Foundation, the Tieng Adhola of Japadhola, the Emorimor Papa of Iteso Cultural Union, the Isabaruli of Buruli, the Kamuswaga of Kooki, Inzu ya Masaba of Bugisu, and Obudhingiya bwa Bamba.

[9] Namely, the Kitisya of Bugwere/Nagwere Kimadu, Bagwe of Tororo, Babukusu of Bududa, Banyala, Basongora, Jonam Koc Chiefdom (Wedelai Koc), Dikiri pa Rwodi Mi Cak Jonam (Ker Kwaro), Banyabindi, Lugbara, Ker Kwonga of Panyimur, Kebu- Rirangi-Zombo, Ambala Aringa of Yumbe, Ntusi/Bigo bya Mugenyi, Kusaalya bya Kobhwamba and Obwenengo bwa Bugwe.

[10] See 3rd Schedule of the Constitution of Uganda.

[11] Land grabbing takes the form of powerful individuals with political influence and/or money or the military taking advantage of peasant populations to purchase their land at giveaway prices and/or evict them from land.

[12]  The word ‘mailo’ is the Ugandan expression of the English word “mile.’  Mailo land tenure has characteristics similar to English freehold land tenure.

[13] At the time of publication of this paper the Kabaka and/or Buganda Land Board was involved in more than fifty court cases on competing claims on ownership, trespass, criminal violence, and lease rights.

[14] See Ministerial Statement to Parliament: 9000 Square Miles of Land in Buganda by the Hon. (Dr) Edward Khiddu-Makubuya, Attorney General/Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, dated 5 March 2008.

[15] In August 1991, Ssaabataka Supreme Council met with Museveni in Entebbe to discuss the restoration of the monarch and the return of Buganda’s expropriated assets (Ebyaffe). It was agreed that Buganda should submit detailed proposals on these issues to the UCC. On 30 August 1991, the Council, led by Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, submitted Buganda’s proposals on the restoration of traditional leaders in areas that wanted them and a federal form of government amongst others.

[16] See Odoki J. Benjamin (2005), The Search for National Consensus: The Making of the 1995 Uganda Constitution (Kampala, Uganda: Fountain Publishers), p. 204.

[17] See The Uganda National Dialogue Process Framework Paper,December 2017.

[18] See “Museveni Launches National Dialogue, Lists Four Issues,” Daily Monitor, 18 December 2018.


Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda calls for full involvement of men and boys in achieving Gender Equality



The Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda Her Excellence Maria Håkansson has emphasized the need to fully engage men and boys in all the initiatives geared towards achieving Gender Equality in Uganda and other parts of the world. She said this on 28th November 2023 at a press conference organized by the Embassy of Sweden in close collaboration with Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to unveil the National Orange Pledge campaign and officially launch the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

The press conference was headlined by a Ugandan rapper and record producer Daniel Lubwama Kigozi, popularly known by his stage name Navio and his fellow from Sweden Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu. Over 200 students both male and female from Makerere University and other institutions of higher learning attended the press conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds.

According to Her Excellence Maria Håkansson, Gender Equality cannot be achieved without involving men and boys to take their responsibilities and be the drivers of change. “For real change to happen, we need to change attitudes and norms that might cause Gender Based Violence, one of the social ills in Uganda and an extreme of gender inequality that occurs at all levels of society,” she said.

 Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda Her Excellence Maria Håkansson
Swedish Envoy to Uganda Her Excellence Maria Håkansson.

Referring to the national survey conducted in 2020, the Ambassador was concerned about the escalating burden of gender based violence in Uganda when she said, “the Survey highlighted that 95% of women and girls experience physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.”

 She therefore emphasized the Global 16 Days of Activism as key international movement to increase awareness and advocate for an end to Gender Based Violence. The Ambassador also mentioned that preventing and responding to Gender Based Violence is a cornerstone for Sweden’s commitment to promote democracy, human rights and gender equality and this is done as an investment in a society that upholds the principles of equality, dignity and justice.

She acknowledged the full participation of university students in all campaigns and activities geared towards achieving gender equality as well as ending Gender Based Violence when she said, “You are the leaders of tomorrow and you have an opportunity to build a future where everyone can thrive. So please use today to take an active stand against Gender Based Violence.”

Every year Uganda joins the rest of the world to enhance the global campaigns on 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and also add a voice to the call for an end to violence against women and girls.   These campaigns run from 25th November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until 10th December of the Human Rights Day.

The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 initiative calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations to help end all types of violence against women and girls.  This year 2023, the UNiTE campaign theme is; Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls.

UN Women Country Representative Paulina Chiwangu

Over the years, Makerere University through its Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and School of Women and Gender in partnership with UN Women and many other partners have been at the fore front to support the campaign on 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence in Uganda. This has been done through debates, theatre forums, student dialogues, thematic artistic presentations, media exposures, drama and music skits presentation, and student peer led discussions and quarterly competitions.

This year 2023, the University in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) unveiled the Orange Pledge. According to Eric Tumwesigye the Senior Gender Specialist at Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, this campaign calls upon government, policymakers, activists, civil societies, academicians, students and all members of community from all parts of the country to make their heartfelt pledges towards ending Gender Based Violence in Uganda and the rest of the world.

The UN Women Country Representative Paulina Chiwangu recognized the investment Makerere University, the Embassy of Sweden and UNFPA have made to end violence against women and girls. “Thanks to our collective efforts, the silence that used to shroud violence against women has now been broken” said.

In the same spirit, she acknowledged the progress Makerere University has made in establishing and implementation of the University’s Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment to protect students and staff from potential abuses of power and conflict of interest.  She also applauded  the increased support  and training  for students  and the  strengthened mechanisms for investigations that allow  students  and  staff to anonymously  report  sexual  misconduct.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe

“We are however, aware that despite this, sexual harassment is still happening in the university and that not many students report to the authorities when they experience it. It is therefore, our humble appeal to the university leadership  to continue monitoring  the implementation of the  Policy and Regulations  Against Sexual Harassment, take  all allegations of sexual  harassment  and violence seriously, ensure that all personnel  have information on available  support services  and take action to ensure that perpetrators  are held accountable.”

Reaffirming the University’s position in fighting GBV and particularly sexual harassment, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe was highlighted  the various measures Makerere University has put in place to prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence. To him, the Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment; the appointment and capacity building for the Vice Chancellor’s Roster of 100 eminent people from the various colleges and administrative units; recruitment and training of the Gender Mainstreaming Programme Student Peer Trainers and setting up Sexual Harassment Investigation Committees are bigger milestones to celebrate.

He appreciated the move by the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and all the partners to embrace entertainment and artistry as a critical advocacy and awareness tool to reach several communities especially the youth.

“We firmly believe in the transformative power of music and the arts in promoting social change. Music and art does serve as a powerful medium to advocate for the world free from violence especially violence against women,” said to Mr. Dainel Alemu, the UNFPA Deputy Country Representative.

“It is heartening to see artists like Navio taking a stand and using their influence to challenge harmful norms.  As we revel  in the beats and melodies, let us not forget  he underlying message that everyone , regardless  of gender, has a role  to play  in fostering  a world  where everyone  is free from shackles  of gender based violence,” he added.

Speaking at the Press Conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds,  Navio said that for the 20 years he has been an activist of Gender Based Violence, he has faced the reality of many young girls and women in Uganda being victims of sex and physical abuse.  He therefore sent a huge condemnation to men especially artists that who are perpetrators of Gender Based Violence and called for serious government action and clear policies and laws against such injustices. 

 Navio applauded the women and men who have stood tall over the years to fight against Gender Based Violence in Uganda  when he said, “ As we  launch the 16 days activism  in Uganda  and through  these pledges we are making, let us be accountable for our actions. For long in our cultures, men have considered force and violence as power and protection.  They have been tough to their children hence instilling fear to the extent that the children cannot freely interact with them on serious matters such as abuse and torture.”

Eric Tumwesigye

He applauded all families that have adopted the new parenting model of free conversations and interaction hence encouraging children to freely open up whenever they have challenges.  Navio also acknowledged the role of his mother Mrs Maggie Kigozi as a human rights activist and a champion in fighting against Gender Based Violence in Uganda.

 Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu from Sweden appreciated the wider platform provided by the music industry globally for artists to act as role models and champion of change.  The rapper highlighted the need to respect women for their roles and support towards community development.

“I am a son and it is extremely important for me to respect my mother and all women.  Also being a father to a beautiful daughter, I am always eager and looking forward to seeing the best future for her. I want daught to grow up in the world where she is able to feel safe and be allowed to freely associate without being discriminated or threatened because of her gender,” he said.

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Scholars & Alumni of Mastercard Foundation light up Achukudu Community, Napak District



Scholars, Alumni and the community of Achukudu Primary School during the commissioning of the classroom block on 2nd December 2023. Makerere University Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Alumni Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback), 2nd December 2023, Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District, Karamoja, Uganda, East Africa.

By Bernard Buteera

On Saturday 2nd December 2023, all roads led to Achukudu Community Primary School in Napak District, Karamoja sub-region, as the Scholars and Alumni of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University commemorated their Scholars’ Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback). The 2023 Scholars Annual Day of Community Service was held at Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District in the Karamoja sub-region. Established in 2013, Achukudu Community School serves two ethnic communities—The Iteso and Karamojong.

With a total population of 1,097 pupils only three government-paid teachers, and nine community-paid teachers, the School faces a plethora of challenges. Key among the challenges is the lack of Classrooms, decent Ventilated Pit Latrines, and Desks. Therefore when the Scholars identified the School as one that deserved to be given a gift of a classroom block, it was a befitting choice!

The Scholars with support from the alumni, the Program Team, Members of the Steering Committee, and partners of the Scholars Program at Makerere University intervened by constructing a two-classroom block, which was supervised by one of the alumni who is an Engineer. Alongside the classroom block, the Scholars also provided 40 desks, helping the school meet UNEB Center eligibility criteria.

Hon. John Bosco Ngoya, the area MP (Right) who was the chief guest, addressing the gathering. Makerere University Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Alumni Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback), 2nd December 2023, Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District, Karamoja, Uganda, East Africa.
Hon. John Bosco Ngoya, the area MP (Right) who was the chief guest, addressing the gathering.

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.

Ms. Joyce Nakoya, the District Education Officer, Napak District. Makerere University Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Alumni Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback), 2nd December 2023, Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District, Karamoja, Uganda, East Africa.
Ms. Joyce Nakoya, the District Education Officer, Napak District.

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.

Ms. Jolly Okumu, the Program Manager of Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University. Makerere University Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Alumni Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback), 2nd December 2023, Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District, Karamoja, Uganda, East Africa.
Ms. Jolly Okumu, the Program Manager of Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.

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.

The new classroom block and desks that were donated by the Scholars and Alumni of Mastercard Foundation. Makerere University Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Alumni Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback), 2nd December 2023, Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District, Karamoja, Uganda, East Africa.
The new classroom block and desks that were donated by the Scholars and Alumni of Mastercard Foundation.

“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.

Mr. Raymond Eryebu, the Headteacher of Achukudu Primary School addressing the gathering. Makerere University Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Alumni Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback), 2nd December 2023, Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District, Karamoja, Uganda, East Africa.
Mr. Raymond Eryebu, the Headteacher of Achukudu Primary School addressing the gathering.

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.

The old grass thatched structure that the pupils were using as their classroom block. Makerere University Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Alumni Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback), 2nd December 2023, Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District, Karamoja, Uganda, East Africa.
The old grass thatched structure that the pupils were using as their classroom block.

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.

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Engineering, Art & Tech

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.

Click here for more details

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