Every each academic year since 1963, students of Makerere University have been and still go to the polls to elect a guild president.
The guild serves as a link between the students and the university administration. Whoever is elected serves for one academic year. First year students are not eligible to contest for the position. Many who have served as guild presidents have gone on to contest for national positions. In this article, Sunday Monitor looks at some of the former presidents and what they are currently doing. The list is not exhaustive. The names were randomly selected. In other cases, the presidents stood out yet in others it was easy to establish where they are and what they are doing.
Dr Olara Otunnu
Dr Otunnu, who served as president from 1972 to 1973, has been silent for some time. According to one account, he is one of the politicians who will take part in the national dialogue that the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) is spearheading.
The aim of the national dialogue, according to IRCU, is to create a platform for Ugandans, in all their diversity, to agree on a shared transformative and development agenda that accelerates the consolidation of peace and justice, sustainable development and shared prosperity. The dialogue is slated to take place next month.
Dr Otunnu once served as the UN under-secretary General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, a role through which he, according, to information on a UN website, led a campaign to develop and mobilise international action on behalf of children. He served as Uganda Peoples Congress president for five years only to ‘retire from politics’ in 2015.
Norah Njuba Bwaya
At 22, Norah Njuba Bwaya became the first female guild president of Makerere University in 1987. Njuba came from a political family and seeing her parents (Sam and Gertrude Njuba) run into exile raised many questions in her young mind. She might have headed the university guild, but Njuba’s interest was more in leadership than politics. She was replaced by Andrew Kasura in 1988/89 after her term in office. After her, it would take the university many more years before it got other female guild presidents mentioned elsewhere in this article. Ms Njuba is now an organisational development consultant and an executive coach, facilitator/trainer and public speaker with more than 26 years working experience across four careers (accountancy, marketing, insurance, coaching) in 14 countries.
Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o
The Kenyan, who was the president of the Makerere University Guild from 1970 to 1971, is currently the governor of Kisumu County, Kenya. Among other things he is remembered for is that he was the first to obtain a first class degree in Political Science and Philosophy.
Currently the president general of the Democratic Party, Mr Mao was Makerere University’s guild president from 1990 to 1991. He in 1996 became MP, representing Gulu Municipality for 10 years before contesting for Gulu District chairmanship where he served for five years. Mao would go on to run for president in 2011. Mao, a lawyer, according to his Twitter handle, seeks to lead Uganda into a united, democratic, peaceful and prosperous nation. He is a columnist with Sunday Monitor.
From 2011 to 2012, Onekalit was the students leader of Makerere University. Mr Onekalit would later in 2016 contest for the Kitgum Municipality parliamentary seat on an FDC ticket but he lost to Beatrice Atim Anywar, an Independent candidate.
Anne Adeke Ebaju
Anne Adeke Ebaju, the current National Female Youth Member of Parliament, served as guild president from 2013 to 2014. Aside from legislating at Parliament, she does some lawyering.
After Dombo, in came Charles Rwomushana who served from 1992 to 1993. Rwomushana is now a commentator on political and security issues. This newspaper reported in 2007 that upon being declared the winner of the guild elections, Mr Rwomushana looked for Mr Dombo and demanded, there and then, for the key to the guild office on campus.
This newspaper reported then that it is Mr Rwomushana who proposed the Needy Students Work Scheme in place of the scrapped student’s allowances.
“It is said that Mr Rwomushana proposed the scheme during a visit by the President. Mr Museveni reportedly accepted it and Mr Rwomushana became its president.
“It was that single event that would lead to a long, relationship with Mr Museveni. It would also usher Mr Rwomushana into the thick of this country’s politics,” the paper said.
The guild president from 1991 to 1992 went on to represent Bunyole East from 1996 to 2016. Going by his statements after he lost in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Bunyole East parliamentary primaries in 2016, is now an opinion leader in Butaleja District in eastern Uganda. He is also into farming.
Ms Kagingo, now the president of the Public Relations Association of Uganda, was the guild president from 1997 to 1998 after taking over from Galo Githo who was president for 1995/1996 academic year. She is also the proprietor of SoftPower Communications LLC, a Public Relations and Communications firm and the parent company for SoftPower News, an online news site. Ms Kagingo has previously served as the Special Presidential Assistant in charge of Communications and was recently awarded for promoting Uganda's tourism.
Rutaro, who was guild president from 2008 to 2009, is currently into private legal practice. He is also an NRM youth leader. Last year, it was reported that Mr Rutaro was also preparing to challenge President Museveni for the NRM party chairperson post and party flag bearer in the 2021 presidential election.
In 2016, he petitioned the Constitutional Court to block the trial of Gen Kale Kayihura, then the Inspector General of Police, at the Makindye Magistrates Court. He argued that charging the IGP and other officers with torture arising from the execution of their duties contravened the Constitution. Steven Kavuma, then Deputy Chief Justice, issued an interim order stopping ongoing criminal proceedings against the IGP.
Mr Basalirwa was Makerere University’s guild president from 2000 to 2001. He is presently the Member of Parliament of Bugiri Municipality, a seat he got after beating the National Resistance Movement’s Francis Oketcho and the Forum for Democratic Change’s Eunice Namatende. Mr Basalirwa, a practicing lawyer, had in the past run for the Bukooli North parliamentary seat which during the 2016 parliamentary election he lost to Gaster Kyawa and during the 2008 by-election to Stephen Baka Mugabi.
Fred Mukasa Mbidde
From 2001 to 2002, Mukasa Mbidde was the guild president. Mukasa Mbidde is now one of Uganda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly, the legislative arm of the East African Community (EAC).
Henry Maurice Kibalya
Mr Kibalya is currently the Member of Parliament of Bugabula South. He was the guild president from 2005 to 2006. At the time he was campaigning for the seat, he was associated with the Democratic Party though the FDC was said to have supported his candidature to spite the NRM.
His win was followed with drama after the university’s guild electoral commission chairman Njugo Mungayi was said to have later told court he never declared Kibalya the president-elect. Mungayi, according to a New Vision article, accused then vice chancellor Prof Livingstone Luboobi of influencing the EC to announce the results prematurely.
Mr Kibalya is now affiliated with the NRM on whose ticket he contested for the Bugabula South parliamentary seat during the 2016 elections.
Ms Abbo was Makerere University’s guild president from 2007 to 2008. While at Makerere, she was associated with the Uganda Young Democrats, something some believe could have contributed to her clinching the post that often goes to candidates associated with the political opposition. Nowadays, she works with the National Resistance Movement. She is currently a private secretary to the President in charge of land matters. According to Mulengera Express, an online news site, Ms Abbo as of February 2018, was running Alter of Righteous Ministries in Namugongo.
The MP of for Ntungamo Municipality headed Makerere University’s students’ body from 2006 to 2007. During his days on campus, Mr Karuhanga was affiliated with the Forum for Democratic Change. He is currently an Independent MP. Additionally, he is closely associated with Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, the former president of FDC. Mr Karuhanga once in the past worked as a personal assistant to Maj Gen Muntu.
He was the guild president from 2003 to 2004 and is presently a co-director of Centre for Development Initiatives, a think-tank whose goal is to foster home-grown ideas that drive economic, political and social transformation in East Africa.
History. Established in 1922 as a humble technical school, Makerere University is one of the oldest and most prestigious English universities in Africa. In January of that year, the school, which was later renamed Uganda Technical College, opened its doors to 14 day students.