We were sidelined in Makerere at 100 celebrations – staff, students

President Museveni (centre) with government and Makerere University officials at the university’s Freedom Square in Kampala on October 6, 2022 during celebrations to mark 100 years of existence of the country’s oldest institution of higher learning. Photo/Stephen Otage

What you need to know:

  • All staff who attended the celebrations were mandated to test for Covid-19 and attendance was strictly by invite.

It was all rosy yesterday at the celebrations to mark 100 years of Makerere University at the main campus in Kampala. 
The celebrations graced by President Museveni were a climax of the university’s many events lined up since August last year. 
However, some key stakeholders claim they weren’t invited for the historic event organised by the university management. They wondered why such an event was held during holidays when students and employees were away.

 “Makerere is celebrating Mak@100 when the top leadership of the Makerere University Administrative Staff Association (Masa) is not invited,” Mr Robert Kakuru, the chairperson of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa), said.
“The few that attended got invitations in their individual capacities,” he said.
Muasa leaders protested what they called the “selective and discriminatory” manner in which some teaching and non-teaching staff were invited. 

Mr Kakuru said organising such an event during holidays was a deliberate move to keep away students and staff at a time when the Students’ Guild was suspended.
Makerere University Council in July suspended the 88th guild elections indefinitely following the death of Bewatte Betungura, a second-year law student at Uganda Christian University (UCU) Kampala campus, during the campaigns.
Similarly, the leadership of Masa was disappointed after they were not invited to attend the event.
Masa chairperson Bennet Magara said: “I was invited in my individual capacity not as Masa chairperson.” 
In an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday, Ms Specioza Kajumba, a fourth year student of journalism and communication, said: “I am disappointed that students weren’t part of the celebrations.”

 Mr Deogratius Zerongo, another student, said they were segregated against.
“This celebration was about them and not us,” Mr Zerongo said.
Ms Noeline Nabukenya, another student, said such historic celebrations are meant to motivate them. 
In response, however, Makerere University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said it wasn’t possible to invite everyone to attend a virtual event.
“It was a small congregation due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Not everyone could attend,” Prof Nawangwe observed.
All staff who attended the celebrations were mandated to test for Covid-19 and attendance was strictly by invite.

Student leaders shun celebrations 
However, former guild representatives, who were invited to be part of the celebrations, shunned the event.
Ms Shamim Nambasa, the outgoing guild president, said student leaders were not granted a platform to address the congregation, which is why she did not attend.
“Were we viewed as mere observers? To just sit and clap our hands? This is absurd,” Ms Nambasa said.
She asked management to address students’ grievances.
Mr Ivan Ssempijja, the 86th guild president of Makerere University, also shunned the event, saying the institution’s bid to extend the dates for the university’s reopening was suspicious.

“Students were to report on October 1 but the dates were pushed to October 8 so they wanted to celebrate alone without students on campus and yet students are the biggest stakeholders, they are supposed to have a say at the event,” Mr Ssempijja said. 
 Meanwhile, Prof Nawangwe said student leaders were given an opportunity to speak at the event.