“Peace be upon everyone at Makerere University. With your support, we shall do everything possible to ensure the University remains peaceful”. This was the key message by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, as he delivered his speech at the Department of Performing Arts and Film (PAF) Christmas Carols Concert held at St. Francis Chapel on 16th November, 2017.
Impressed by the thrilling performance displayed by PAF staff and students at the concert, the Vice Chancellor pledged to support the promotion of talent in various fields at Makerere University. “If I was to award marks for today’s performance, I would give 100%. Makerere has great talent in various fields including the performing arts, and sports but little attention has been paid to it yet it can immensely boost the image of the University. With everyone on board, we shall do everything in our means to promote these talents,” he said.
In recognition of the great performance, Prof. Nawangwe promised to host the PAF choir for a Christmas Carols concert at the Vice Chancellor’s lounge. “We shall invite several dignitaries to this concert aimed at showcasing the wonderful talent at Makerere University.” The Vice Chancellor also requested the Public Relations Office to flag the photograph of the choir on the University website for a month. In addition, he pledged to improve the learning environment at the Department of Performing Arts and Film.
To the Makerere community, the Vice Chancellor pledged to work with everyone to transform the University and country at large. “The country has heavily invested in us. It is therefore our responsibility to transform the lives of our people. 2017 has been a good year with several achievements registered, especially in research and innovations as well as infrastructural development. I am hopeful that 2018 will be a much better year,” he said.
Prof. Nawangwe congratulated the Chaplain and congregation of St. Francis upon the newly refurbished Chapel. Following its refurbishment, the capacity of the beautifully designed Chapel expanded from 450 to 1,350 seats per service.
This year’s Classical Christmas Carols Concert repertoire included traditional Christmas Carols and works of the world’s famous composers like G.F. Handel, J.F Haydn, F. Mendelssohn and J. Brahms. According to the Head of the Department of Performing Arts and Film, Dr Sylvia Antonia Nannyonga – Tamusuza, the spirit of the Joy to the World Christmas Concert is summed up in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony Ode de Joy, which was premised on two major ideas; “the universal brotherhood of man through joy and its basis in the love of an eternal heavenly Father”. “Unconventionally, this symphony includes a chorus within a conventionally instrumental genre. This perhaps was intended to re-emphasize the humanistic aspect in music through the human voice. This can partly explain why the movement was adapted as the Anthem for the European Union. The coming and birth of Jesus through Christmas was premised on the objective of bringing peace to all mankind, hence the name “The Prince of Peace”. With view of the so much social strife around us, especially in the Great Lakes Region, there is need for us to re-collect ourselves and reflect on the values, aspirations, struggles and desires as people, all created in the image of God. As part of our Christmas celebration, Joy to the World Christmas Concert should help us reflect further on our relationship with God and with one another so that we bring joy to the whole world.”
Dr Tamusuza expressed gratitude to the Vice Chancellor for the facelift at the Department and his continued support towards various projects at PAF. Explaining the reason for the choice of St. Francis Chapel as venue for the concert, Dr Tamusuza noted that Church is core to the wellbeing of everyone regardless of their status. She informed the congregation that the concert was a practical examination for the students and that they would be assessed according to their performance.
She further noted that the concert was in line with PAF’s outreach strategy not only to extend Makerere University’s influence as a Centre of Excellence in performing arts, but also in hope of attracting potential students to the University.
During the concert, the Chaplain of St. Francis Chapel, Rev. Onesimus Asiimwe, delivered a sermon specifically on the meaning and relevance of Christmas. “To some, Christmas is about drinking and eating a lot of good food, buying new clothes, exchanging gifts, meeting with lovers, and family reunions. To others, Christmas is about hiking transport fares and extortion of money. Regardless of the way each and every one of us interprets it, Christmas in its true meaning is about the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. Christmas is about preparing our hearts for the Saviour and renewal of our faiths. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. In fact God regretted why he created man and was determined to destroy humankind. As we reflect on Christmas, we should know that Jesus is the monopoly of peace. We should therefore seek the Kingdom of God,” he explained.
The Chaplain commended the staff and students of PAF for the “excellent performance”, noting that it had sparked off the Christmas mood.
The choir was conducted by Mr. Milton Wabyona, Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Performing Arts and Film.