Dr Mark Okot Benge has been appointed Head of the Department of Literature, Makerere University effective 1st May, 2016. He takes on from Dr Susan Kiguli who has held the position since 9thMarch, 2012. He will hold the position for the next four years.
Dr Okot Benge is a Senior Lecturer and has taught in the Department of Literature since 1991. He holds a PhD in African Literature from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. His specialty is Ethnopoetics and Gender Dynamics.
Speaking at the handover ceremony held in the CHUSS Principal’s office this morning, Dr Kiguli expressed gratitude for the support rendered to her by several Units of the University. Serving as Head of Department has taught me a lot about leadership, mentorship and teamwork. I wish to specifically thank colleagues in the Office of the Vice Chancellor, the Principal’s Office, the Human Resource Office and the Dean for the support rendered to the Department during my tenure. The Literature team is, in my opinion, an indomitable one. Colleagues have been very supportive of my position as their Head of Department and in their various roles, they have been willing to take risks for the good of the Department. Whenever we have had to deal with any challenge, I have valued the fact that we have focused on the challenge as a group and found ways to move ahead,” she said.
During Dr Kiguli’s tenure, the Department has registered a number of achievements. In a bid to consolidate academic debate, the Department has held a number of seminars and public talks featuring renowned literary scholars namely: Malawian Poet Dr Jack Mapanje, Prof. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Prof. Molara Ogundipe- Lesilie, Prof. Simon Gikandi and Prof. Taban lo Liyong. The Department has also had a number of staff win awards and research grants. Since the commencement of the CAPREx fellowships in 2012, five members of staff from the Department have been awarded this Fellowship, three members of staff have won the African Humanities Programme Fellowship and one member won the Fulbright African Senior Researcher Fellowship. The Department has had the privilege of launching a number of books published by senior members of staff. These include: Oral Literature for Children: Rethinking Orality, Literacy, Performance, and Documentation Practices (Rodopi Press, 2012) by Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi; Home Floats in a Distance/Zuhause Treibt In Der Ferne (Gedichte): Biligual Edition – English – German: Collection of Poems, (Afrika Wunderhorn, Heidelberg, Germany, 2012) by Dr Susan Kiguli; “Gender Terrains in African Cinema (UNISA Press, 2014) by Assoc. Prof. Dominic Dipio and Omulanga gwa Lawino translated by Prof. Abasi Kiyimba (Fountain publishers , 2014) . It has also launched a number of films including the most recent one by Assoc. Prof. Dominic Dipio titled Rainmaking: A Disappearing Practice.
Acknowledging research and outreach as significant components of the functions of the University, members of staff have engaged in a number of productive research activities that have tremendously benefited the Department, individual researchers and communities. The most outstanding of such activities was the 2nd Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies Conference: Textualities of Space: Connection, Intricacies and Intimacies held at Makerere University on 20th-22nd August, 2015.
In his remarks, the Dean School of Languages, Literature and Communication, Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, praised Dr Kiguli as one the best serving heads of the Department. “We look forward to a cordial working relationship with the new Head and hope that his term in office will be equally glorious.”
The incoming Head, Dr Okot Benge, expressed commitment to carry on the good works of his predecessors.
The handover ceremony was presided over by the Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira, and witnessed by among others, Mr Aggrey Luwunza from Internal Audit, Mr Ssanyu Lawrence from the Directorate of Human Resources and the College Registrar, Mr Vincent Ekwang. Ms Ssozi Priscilla represented the CHUSS Human Resource Officer.