As Barnabas Nawangwe’s stranglehold tightens, Makerere abandons debate, gives way to dictatorship
By Andrew Karamagi
If Makerere University must continue advancing her stated objective of “building for the future,” the institution’s current Vice Chancellor must shed off the character traits of insecurity, low self-esteem and blind arrogance that define village chiefs who never expected to hold such offices and now that they find themselves in such a position, suddenly think that a university for instance, is their personal fiefdom over which they must rule and reign with unfettered power.
I cannot think of any other development stage that impacts upon the life of an individual like tertiary education: these years of unprecedented liberty present daily occurrences for self-discovery on the intellectual, social, cultural and even political planes.
In my own experience, I was awestruck at the kind of latitude I had in terms of doing what I wanted, managing the fairly abundant financial resources at my disposal because of my generous and multiple sources of ‘pocket money’, the diversity of friends from all backgrounds, the thrill of student guild politics, electioneering, spirited debates about everything and the daily realization of how little I knew about the world with every lecture that extended my intellectual horizons.
Lest I forget, I was in equal, if not more measure fascinated by the stunning, spectacular and dazzling looks of the girls who had magically transformed from wearing tepid school uniforms to well-tailored outfits that transfigured them into goddesses in human form. In the midst of a rush hour as the day gathered pace, I once stopped a young lady who was evidently rushing to a lecture, introduced myself and without hesitation, told her that after seeing her, I knew that the sun rises off her dainty feet each morning—her chocolatey cheeks turned bright red as she blushed and revealed a set of cute dimples. She managed to mumble something along the lines of “…let’s catch up sometime soon” and skittered away, leaving in her wake the soft alluring and hypnotic hint of Chanel or some high-end body splash. Unfortunately, I never saw her again after that encounter—in hindsight, I think she was a finalist who, in a few months, would be well on her way out of school and into the real world.
But I digress.
My point here is that the university experience is a critical, formative and memorable touchstone for those who are fortunate enough to have that opportunity. Its benefits cannot be gainsaid.
The word ‘university’ has been severally defined but the simple and unassuming phrase that explains the term to mean “a market place of ideas” is one that I have always found apt and will stick to for the purposes of this article. It is a terrain of the clash of ideas to generate new ideas. It is not a profit-making machine to package products in fancy certificates to make them marketable.
At the risk of redundancy, I must state the obvious by noting that the word ‘university’ denotes universality. Its root word is ‘universe’. The etymology of the word presupposes plurality, not unanimity of thought.
The history of the establishment of universities, as the MUASA Chairman Deus Muhwezi, Ph.D., eloquently reminded us recently, is steeped in the rejection of the rigidities of dogma and the vagaries of tyranny. These institutions are as much physical edifices against raw power, brute force and empire in whatever shape or form as they are embodiments and stewards of intellectual rigour, endeavour and pursuit. Thanks to centuries of upholding these ideals, we can look back and say gone are the days when Galileo Galilee who dared to advance heliocentrism (the theory that the sun is at the centre of the solar system about which all planets and celestial bodies revolve) whereas the infallible Church argued otherwise, earning him a conviction for heresy and was consequently kept under house arrest until his death in 1642.
In the circumstances, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe is misplaced given his default response to student activism, dissenting opinions by members of different faculty which has invariably been to summarily and indefinitely suspend students, write threatening letters to staff or institute kangaroo disciplinary proceedings against perceived miscreants.
That great institution should not be reduced into an insular hamlet lorded over by a man who is obsessed with power and, like a drunkard who uses streetlight lamp posts for support—rather than for illumination—misuses the powers of his office to support his insecurities and obsessions.
Those close to Prof Nawangwe should draw his attention to the remarkable exploits that other African luminaries like Professors Samir Amin, Issa Shivji, Nobel Prize Laureate Wole Soyinka and younger ones like Joe Oloka-Onyango, Josephine Ahikire, Frederick Jjuuko, Sylvia Tamale and the recently deceased innovator, Dr Moses Musaazi, have executed in the service of humanity and their respective disciplines of study.
He should also be reminded that people in positions of authority ought to develop a thick skin, be more tolerant of criticism, dissent and exercise restraint when dealing with the kind of youthful energy that many a university student naturally possess. Every student deserves their fair share of a fulfilling learning and sharing experience. Society progresses on the wheels of contestation and debate, not repression and silence.
In my freshman year, I had very radical and absolute views on economics, politics and culture but my professors deftly chiseled away at the irregular mould of extremist fervor that characterized my views by showing me that there was a lot more to the world than I thought I knew. They didn’t expel me from their classes or sanction disciplinary measures against me or those of my ilk. It is not unheard of for American Universities, for example, to host debates featuring people like the former President of Iran, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, whose views about Western Culture are considered anathema by millions of Americans.
Matter of fact, several past and present leaders of the Great
Lakes Region and beyond honed their leadership skills, oratory and owe their exposure to the rest of the world at our country’s premier public institution of higher learning. Prof Nawangwe should not be allowed to extinguish this flame that has been glowing brightly under the successive leadership of the ten individuals who have assumed that Office before him.
At a time when MV Uganda is being buffeted by the choppy waters and vicious gales of family rule, dictatorship and criminal oligarchy, one would expect that our community of scholars, led by Nawangwe et al, would provide leadership, speak up and act against the misrule of our society. That would be a more constructive use of energy as opposed to harassing students and staff for their views.
The only place where there is unanimity of opinion is a cemetery.
Singer Bruno K Exposed For Neglecting His Son, Claims He Only Has One Child
The internet has been abuzz following accusations leveled against Bruno Kiggundu, popularly known as Bruno K, over his alleged neglect of his son, Seth Kiggundu. In a tweet, a user identified as Keith alleged that Bruno K had abandoned his only son, Seth, and only pays attention to his daughter, Briella.
Keith claimed that Vanessa, his best friend, had a baby boy with Bruno K, and the singer had refused to fulfill his parental responsibilities towards Seth. He further accused Bruno of making Vanessa’s life difficult in 2022, which caused her to loathe the singer.
While it is essential to respect the baby’s privacy, it is crucial to hold public figures accountable for their actions, especially when they involve the welfare of children. The allegations against Bruno K are serious and should not be taken lightly.
Child abandonment is a severe issue that affects many children worldwide. It is a form of child neglect that can lead to adverse effects on a child’s development, including emotional and behavioral problems. Children who are abandoned by their parents may experience feelings of rejection, anger, and low self-esteem, which can lead to depression and anxiety.
As a public figure, Bruno K has a responsibility to set a good example for his fans and followers, especially young people. Neglecting one’s child is not only morally wrong but also illegal under Ugandan law. The Children’s Act of Uganda provides that every child has the right to parental care and protection, and any parent who neglects their child can be charged with child abuse.
It is not clear whether the allegations against Bruno K are true, but if they are, he should take responsibility for his actions and do the right thing for his son. Children need both parents to grow up happy and healthy, and neglecting one’s child is unacceptable.
In conclusion, the allegations against Bruno K are serious, and if true, they represent a worrying trend of child neglect in Uganda. As a society, we must hold public figures accountable for their actions and demand that they do the right thing for their children. Let us all strive to create a safe and nurturing environment for all children, regardless of their family background.
Speaker Rt. Hon. Anita Among Orders Minister Dr. Chris Baryomunsi To Stop Making Excuses For Not Establishing The Tribunal
Speaker of parliament Rt. Hon. Anita Among has ordered the Minister of Information, Communications, Technology, and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi to stop making excuses for not establishing the tribunal which she said has been pending for a long.
The speaker’s order followed Dr. Chris Baryomunsi’s attribution of the delay to create the Uganda Communications Tribunal to the recent Cabinet decision on the rationalization of agencies.
The speaker of Parliament Among emphasized the need for the tribunal in place.
“We need a tribunal. How sure are you that we are going to rationalize [government agencies]? We want a tribunal in UCC; we cannot do ad-hoc kind of operations,” Among said.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Act makes provision for the creation of a tribunal that is supposed to handle complaints relating to the decisions of UCC as provided under Sections 60 and 64 of the Act.
He said this during the Wednesday, 22 March 20223 plenary sitting where he tabled the Uganda Communications (Fees and Fines) (Amendment) Regulations, 2023.
The regulations provide for fees and fines to be paid by telecommunication and broadcasting companies for spectrum or frequency access in order to improve telecommunication services.
His response was prompted by the Leader of Opposition (LOP), Hon. Mathias Mpuuga who accused the minister of ‘sleeping on the job’ by failing to fulfill the provisions of the UCC Act in regard to the creation of the communications tribunal.
“We have raised severally in our alternative policies the question of the minister failing to appoint the UCC tribunal. The minister is now the tribunal; he is acting as the complainant, prosecutor, and judge at the same time. The Ministry [of ICT] is holding media houses at ransom with no recourse to this tribunal,” Mpuuga said.
The Speaker referred the Regulations to the Committee on ICT and National Guidance for scrutiny with a strong caution to UCC not to start collecting fees until Parliament approves the regulations.
Section 93 of the UCC Act, 2013 states that, ‘the minister may, after consultation with the Commission and with the approval of Parliament, by statutory instrument, make regulations for better carrying into effect the provisions of this Act’.
Anti-gay Bill Will Impinge Upon Universal Human Rights, Jeopardize Progress In Fight Against HIV/AIDS In Uganda-White House
The White House and the European Union (EU) have joined the United Nations (UN) and other human rights groups in condemning the just passed Anti-homosexuality Bill.
The Bill that awaits assent from the president was passed by MPs on Tuesday night after a seven-hour heated session.
The bill introduces stricter penalties for people engaged in same-sex activities in Uganda including the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality.
It also proposes life in prison for the offense of “homosexuality” and up to 10 years in jail for attempted homosexuality.
Now White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre says the Bill is one of the most extreme laws targeting homosexuality in the world.
She warns that this will not only impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS but will also deter tourism and damage Uganda’s international reputation.
“We have great concerns with the passage of the Anti-homosexuality Act by the parliament of Uganda and increasing violence targeting LGBTQI+ persons,” Karine said.
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