Makerere University and Rotary International on Thursday 9th January 2020 held a signing ceremony marking the official launch of the First Rotary Peace Centre on the African continent. The Centre will run a postgraduate certificate program in Peacebuilding, Conflict Transformation and Development. The hands-on program will entail coursework that addresses topics including human rights, governance, and the role of the media in conflict. Other studies will focus on refugees and migration, as well as resource and identity-based conflicts.
Addressing delegates at the launch, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe expressed delight that the Rotary Governing Board had found it deserving that Makerere hosts the Rotary Peace Centre after beating worthy competitors; the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Centre, Ghana and University of Nairobi-African Leadership Centre.
“Makerere University is situated at the heart of the Great Lakes region, which has experienced the most strife and the most conflicts in Africa,” said the Vice Chancellor. “We’ve had frequent experience with conflict, so we established our peace program more than 15 years ago to expand our expertise and augment our engagement in the area of conflict and peace.”
Prof. Nawangwe admitted that Makerere's selection would not have been possible without the support of Rotary District 9211 led by District Governor (DG) Francis Xavier Sentamu. He also paid special tribute to Past District Governor (PDG) Emmanuel Katongole, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) led by Dr. Josephine Ahikire and the Local Organising Committee led by Dr. Hellen Nkabala supported by Past Assistant Governors (PAGs) Hon. Mike Sebalu and Ann Nkutu for selflessly supporting the University’s bid.
The Vice Chancellor shared that Makerere University has already put in place the necessary infrastructure to support smooth running of the programme. “The Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Prof. William Bazeyo has already made space allocations for student lecture rooms and accommodation.”
He then introduced members of the Rotary Peace Centre Advisory Board notably;
- Prof. William Bazeyo (Chairperson)
- Dr. Umar Kakumba, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs)
- Dr. Josephine Ahikire
- Prof. Grace Kyomuhendo Bantebya, School of Women and Gender Studies (SWGS)
- PDG Emmanuel Katongole
- PAG Hon. Mike Sebalu
- PAG Ann Nkutu
- PAG Fred Masadde-Kabuye
- Mr. Henry Mwebe, Director Legal Affairs
- Dr. Patrick Mangeni, Dean School of Liberal and Performing Arts
- Prof. Sylvia Antonia Nannyonga-Tamusuza, Head Department of Performing Arts and Film
- Ms. Victoria Kirunda Kobel
In her remarks read by Council Member and Dean SWGS, Dr. Sarah Ssali, the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara noted that establishment of a Rotary Peace Centre provides Makerere University with an opportunity to offer research leadership and capacity development in a critical topic of development.
“The Peace Centre initiative is especially important for Africa and several parts of the world where several nations remain trapped in the shadow of violence with disastrous consequences of loss of life and property and other human rights violations. Building a knowledgebase and capacity for sustainable peace on the continent is a matter of urgent necessity for African development and human rights protection” added the Chairperson.
The Vice President (VP), Rotary International Board of Directors, Olayinka Babalola expressed great pride as an African at witnessing the launch of the First Rotary Peace Centre on the continent at Makerere University, during his term.
“For centuries, we have looked at peace as the absence of violence, without fully considering the other drivers in play. Instead of merely examining the causes of war, Rotary Peace Fellows at Makerere University will explore the underpinnings of peace to achieve tangible measures of human wellbeing and progress” said the Vice President.
VP Babalola took note of the great strides made by Rotary’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative over the last 30 years and that as a result, Africa was on the verge of being declared polio-free. He added that with this nearly achieved, Rotary was now turning its focus to global peace by using the Centers as a vehicle for training peacebuilders from all over the world.
The Chair Rotary Peace Centers Committee, Bryn Styles shared that serving on this body had been one of his most rewarding honours. He added that peace holds a unique status in Rotary and as such, the organization remains committed to addressing the root causes of peace and conflict in the world by training the next generation of peace advocates.
“Every year, Rotary awards up to 130 fully funded scholarships for dedicated peace and development leaders from around the world to study at any of its seven peace centers programs. In just over 15 years, Rotary Peace Centers have trained over 1,300 individuals for careers in peacebuilding in more than 115 countries” he shared.
Mr. Styles said that in choosing Makerere University to host the 7th Peace Centre, Rotary wanted to give students and future peace advocates the credibility of studying in an institution with a rich history in peace and conflict management and research. “Rotarians in Uganda and Staff at Makerere University have been wonderful to work with and I think we made the right choice.”
DG Francis Xavier Sentamu in his remarks recognized other PDGs present at the ceremony namely; Hon. Henry Kyemba, Dr. Francis Tusubira, Kenneth Mugisha, Steven Mwanje as well as other leaders. He reiterated the readiness of Rotarians from District 9211 to help identify prospective scholars, provide the right mentorship and participate in all ways that will guarantee that the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University succeeds.