On Thursday, 2nd April, 2015, the staff and students of the Department of Performing Arts and Film together with the performers of Uganda Heritage Roots held the inaugural Makerere Music Scholarship concert. The Concert is a performance project intended to raise funds into a Music Scholarship Fund for academic sponsorship of talented students in Performing Arts and Film at Makerere University. The project is a brainchild of staff from the Department of Performing Arts and Film, Mr Milton Wabyona, Ms. Anita Asaasira Desire and Mr. Michael Mubiru (RIP) who died in a car accident three days after the concert. It was born out of the realisation that several talented students could not afford tuition fees. It was further influenced by the Chancellor’s remarks at the 65th graduation ceremony, “You will sing the Makerere University Anthem on the graduation day. Think about the lyrics. How much of what is said means anything to you? I ask you to reflect on these words and begin to act on some of them. …Makerere has helped you build a rock foundation on which your future can be built. It is time for you to give back.”
The Chancellor, Prof. George Mondo Kagonyera, presided over the concert. In his remarks, he reiterated the relevance of the performing arts in the development of any nation. “Although at one point the performing arts belonged to the marginalised category of disciplines, am glad the trend is changing. No-body can underrate the importance of the performing arts. Music is medicinal. A lot of money is now being generated from the performing Arts and they are at the centre of promoting our culture. We should therefore give them the dignity they deserve,” he said. He urged members of staff and students in the Department of Performing Arts and Film to use music to proclaim the glory of Makerere University. He applauded the initiators of the project saying supporting the needy was at the centre of his heart. He pledged to contribute Shs3 million towards the Fund.
On a slightly different note, the Chancellor condemned hooliganism amongst students. He commended the students of Performing Arts and Film for displaying the highest level of discipline at Makerere University graduation ceremonies.
In his speech read by the Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira, the Vice Chancellor applauded the Department of Performing Arts and Film for initiating the project. “This is a brilliant idea, and as Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, I applaud you. It is even more exciting to learn that the idea of the project was propelled into reality by the Chancellor’s inspiring remarks on the classic University Anthem at the 65th Graduation Ceremony of Makerere University. The University Anthem is a rousing tale, capturing in its lyrics the true spirit of a Makerere University graduate. Indeed, one of the core objectives of the concert is to rally this spirit of belonging and pride amongst our Alma Mater. This is a noble cause that the University Management fully endorses,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor further noted that the Department of Performing Arts and Film has special ability that can be harnessed to boost the resource mobilisation efforts of the University. As the University lays strategies for resource mobilisation towards financial sustainability, we recognise that performing arts have great potential to generate revenue for the University. With world standard theatre halls, studios and teaching facilities, Makerere University would certainly gain so much. We therefore encourage the Department to work harder to help the University achieve this,” he said.
Prof. Kirumira said the Music Scholarship Fund was a wonderful project that would greatly contribute to generating funds for talented but disadvantaged students. He pledged support towards the implementation of the project.
The Dean of the School of Liberal and Performing Arts, Assoc. Prof. Patrick Mangeni, underscored the importance of supporting talented but disadvantaged students. “So many people out there are talented but cannot afford school fees. The Music Scholarship Fund together with other initiatives already in place will tremendously contribute to the promotion of these talents through quality education.
Currently, Uganda Heritage Roots (UHR) is co-sponsoring four students at Makerere University in the Department of Performing Arts and Film as part of the music education initiative for social change. This was partly influenced by the realization that some of the very talented students could not sit for their examinations due to lack of school fees. The areas supported include tuition, functional fees, accommodation and meals depending on the most pressing need of the student. Since its inception in 2003, UHR has now supported over 150 youths from disadvantaged backgrounds for education at various levels and disciplines. Many of these have now established themselves in various careers both in Uganda and abroad, while others have even started similar initiatives such as Community Based Organizations.