2019 CHUSS Symposium underscores relevance of Humanities and Social Sciences to national development

With support from Gerda Henkel Stiftung and the Andrew. W Mellon Foundation, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2018 introduced Dr Kakumba, Prof. Olweny and Prof. Mukamaannual symposium series as one of the ways of fostering a vibrant academic environment in the university and the country.

The symposiums provide platform to scholars, policy makers and members of the general public to discuss issues affecting humanity. They also provide an opportunity to PhD students and post-doctoral fellows to discuss and exchange ideas on their research.

The 2018 symposium brought together the region’s Humanities and Social Sciences scholars to debate issues affecting the Eastern African polity in the Fourth Industrial milieu. The central thesis of the discourse focused on the new tools and methods needed to interrogate the new world order ruled by information technology.

Organized under the theme,  “A New East African: Agency and Identity Debates in the Region”, the 2019 CHUSS Symposium took major shifts in the East African society that have occurred in the last two decades as its point of departure in order to explore how agency and identity of the regions subjects have morphed during this period.

The two-day symposium held on 15th-16th May 2019 in the Makerere University Main Hall drew participants from across the region. It was presided over by Prof. Charles Olweny, former Vice Chancellor of Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi and currently Chancellor of Mbarara University of Science and Technology.

The symposium featured a number of activities including a keynote address titled, Is there an identity and agency crisis in the humanities?” delivered by Prof. Ruth Mukama and research presentations by Professors and doctoral students at Makerere University.

Dr Umar Kakumba represented the Vice ChancellorDelivering the keynote address, Prof. Mukama, formerly member of staff at Makerere University and currently working at Kabale University, decried the increased marginalization of Humanities and Social Sciences. “The humanities play a critical role in the development of nation states. However they are in peril of systematic defunding. Marginalization of the humanities is even more oppressive in the Ugandan context where government recast university sponsorship in favour of programmes critical to national development especially the natural sciences. The most recent poignant act of marginalization came as a blow in 2016 with the enhanced salaries, when I realized that as a humanities professor my salary was not even equivalent to that of an Associate Professor in sciences, but was merely at par with that of a science Senior Lecturer,” she explained noting that this has dire consequences to national development as it resulted into lesser commitment and productivity.

She further explained that marginalization had driven humanities students into a state of despair with many now bearing a cavalier attitude towards their studies.  

Prof. Mukama however observed that not all hope is lost for humanities and social Sciences since they are repositories of the foundation skills and providers of global competencies.

She urged scholars to endeavour to invoke the power of the humanities by informing, empowering, and inspiring citizens on themes of concern.  She also called for increased advocacy for the redirection of the attention of East African higher education institutions towards the humanities.

The Guest of Honour Prof. Charles OlwenyIn her presentation, the Interlocutor, Prof. Joy C. Kwesiga, Vice Chancellor Kabale University appealed to government to strike a balance between the humanities and natural sciences noting that they are equally important. She called for concerted efforts in addressing the challenges that undermine the relevance of humanities and social sciences. “Humanities and Social Sciences units in institutions of higher learning should review their curriculum to strengthen the disciplines so as to match the demands of the job market and to increase contribution to national development,” she explained. 

Addressing participants, the Guest of Honour, Prof. Charles Olweny, appreciated Gerda Henkel Stiftung and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the financial support towards graduate training and research activities in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS). He underscored the relevance of research to national development noting that the support received from the development partners was critical in addressing the funding gaps that have for long negatively impacted humanities and social sciences research output.

The Vice Chancellor represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Dr Umar Kakumba also appreciated the development partners for the support rendered towards graduate training and research activities at CHUSS.

“Gerda Henkel Foundation committed 1.7 million Euro towards the training of 30 PhDs in Humanities and Social Sciences. The beneficiaries of the scholarships are students drawn from all over Africa and are trained here at Makerere University. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation committed 4 million US dollars for a period of 5 years. So far, 1.5 million USD has been given to Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) for research on decolonization (Decolonization Project), 800,000 USD for the Early Career Scholars Research project and 800,000 USD for the Building Capacity for Dr Ahikire addressing participantsResearch project. The Foundation is also committed to the establishment of a centre of learning and teaching at Makerere University. We are indeed grateful for the support and hopeful that this will go a long way in advancing the research agenda of our University,” he noted.

He also appreciated the Government of Uganda for its commitment and support towards promoting research at Makerere and other institutions of higher learning in the country.  The Government of Uganda has in the next financial year (2018/2019) committed UGX30 billion for research at Makerere University

Commenting on the theme of the symposium, the Vice Chancellor noted that it was timely for assessing the changes that have transpired in the region over the years so as to plan better for the future. “Over the years, the East African region has greatly transformed. We have witnessed several developments but also many challenges that need to be addressed. We should therefore use these platforms to critically analyze and find solutions to the many challenges like civil wars, unemployment, disease outbreaks, terrorism and climate change that are causing a lot of human suffering and hindering development in the region,” he advised.  

The Acting Principal of CHUSS, Dr Josephine Ahikire emphasized the need for academics, policy makers, analysts and researchers to popularize the relevance of teaching humanities in African universities. Speaking at the closing ceremony of the symposium, Dr. Ahikire explained that the current trend of favouring science disciplines presents a feeling of victimization of humanities that needs to be addressed. “Humanities instill fundamental values and essential knowledge on which societies and civilizations are built. The disciplines reflect our societal soul. They are central to who we are The Keynote Speaker, Prof. Ruth Mukamaas dreamers and storytellers, creators and visionaries. It is therefore important that governments invest in the humanities and social science disciplines,” she said.

Dr. Ahikire urged African universities to improve the quality their academic output by making humanities research and study programmes as relevant as possible. She called upon Higher Institutions of Learning to support young scholars and researchers to realize their full potential. 

“We need to increase our presence in terms of publication. To keep our research relevant, we must ensure that our work addresses some of the societal problems such as trans-border crime and terrorism, extreme weather events and digital attacks, culture and language diversities, global poverty and population growth as well as health services,” she noted.

During the two day symposium, academic staff and PhD students presented their research. The themes of the panel presentations included, East African Identities across times, Historical and Socio-Cultural issues, Popular Culture, Education in a meta-colonised East Africa, Governance and democratic Issues, Challenges of Employment, Print and Social Media, Kiswahili as a lingua franca in East Africa, Sustainable Development, Language and Development, On Communal Life and Selfhood in Mental Health, Gender and Peace and Conflict.

The symposium was funded by Gerda Henkel Stiftung and the Andrew W. Mellon. Foundation. It was coordinated by Dr Edgar Nabutanyi and Dr Levis Mugumya with support from the Office of the Principal and members of staff from various Units of the College.

Prof. Joy KwesigaPapers presented

East African Identities across times

1. Research quality as a challenge for academic freedom - Peter Baguma, Makerere University

2. Disability identity among elderly persons in Uganda: A sociological and historical perspective- Anthony Mugeere, Makerere University

3. Historical relationship between migrancy, nativism and citizenship in Uganda, 1894-1995 - Nicholas Tunanukye, Makerere University

4. Indigenization of Mission Christianity: the Roman Catholic Church’s perspective - DeogratiusKannamwangi, Makerere University

Historical and Socio-Cultural issues

1. Politics and the changing Lwo Identity in East Africa: A case of the Acholi people of Uganda - Charles Amone,  Kyambogo University

2. Myth and Political Mythmaking in Narratives about Mwalimu Julius Nyerere among the Banyakyusa-IgnasFedeo, Makerere University

3. Salvaging the Sangoan industry at the type-site of Sango bay in southern Uganda - Ssemulende Robert, Makerere University

Critical Analysis of Archaeological Research Trends in Uganda (1920-2018) -Charles KinyeraOkeny, Makerere University

Popular Culture

Dr Nabutanyi coordinated the event1. The Trajectory of Popular Music’s Contribution to Young People’s Participation in National Politics (1962 – 2018) - Evelyn Lutwama-Rukundo, Makerere University

2. Performing East Africa in Competition Music Performance in Secondary Schools in Uganda - Isaac Kiiza Tibasiima, Makerere University

3. Mother Centred Africa (Documentary Film) – Prof.Dominic Dipio, Makerere University

Education in a meta-colonised East Africa

1. Overview - Assoc Prof Julius Kikooma, Makerere University

2. Community Capitals and University-Community Engagement for Total School Enrolment and Retention in Uganda - Firminus Mugumya, Makerere University

3. Children’s Experiences and Perspectives on Gender-based Violence in Schools in Selected Districts in Busoga, Uganda: A Sociocultural Exploration - Richard Balikoowa, Makerere University

4. Beyond Conventional Retention Discourse: Re-examining Academics’ stay in Uganda’s Public Universities - Nansamba Joyce, Makerere University

5. Writing Competence in English: A Genre Based Analysis of University Students’ Lexical- Grammatical Features – Maywood Namuddu, Makerere University

6. Exploring Youth Agency in Uganda’s Youth Livelihoods Program: A Social-Cultural and Historical Perspective on Mindset Change - Nakalawa Some of the participantsLynda, Makerere University

Governance and democratic Issues

1. Determinants of users’ satisfaction under demand-driven water governance: Reflections on domestic rural water supply in Uganda - Resty Naiga, Makerere University

2. Collective Diplomacy and Economic Partnership Agreement: A case for EAC integration – Mr Mwambustya-Ndebesa, Makerere University

3. A Philosophical Assessment of Constitutional Democracy in Legislations in Uganda –Wamamela Nixon, Makerere University

4. The Myth of East African Agency in an Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - Julius Kiiza, Makerere University

Challenges of Employment

1. When the labouring poor are perceived as rehabilitated primitive? Addressing poverty in Kampala’s ameliorated urban space - Monica Agena, Enqueth Research Consultancy and Development Centre ECODEC

2. Solving unemployment through social entrepreneurship among social workers in Uganda: Opportunities and challenges - Justus Twesigye, PhD

3. Interrogating Workplace Violence against Nurses in Uganda’s Public Hospitals – Patrick Mwase, Makerere University

4. Skilling Uganda, are the youth interested? Integration of Work Psychology into human capital development initiatives in Uganda - LoiceNatukunda, Some of the PhD students who presented their workMakerere University

Print and Social Media

1. When Stella Nyanzi Dared Nairobians for Love: Facebook Posts as an Occasion for Critical Speech - Danson Sylvester Kahyana, Makerere University

2. Israel attack on Uganda: The Western Newspaper coverage of the 1976 Entebbe incident(s) - Zaid Sekito, Makerere University

3. What Do they Say? Ugandan Women's Narratives on Facebook - Aisha Sembatya Nakiwala, Makerere University

4. Television Local Content Quotas in Uganda: Exploring Regulation, Understanding and Implementation–John Baptist Imokola, Makerere University

Kiswahili as a lingua franca in East Africa

1. The Effectiveness of Methods Used in Developing Swahili Food and Nutrition Terms - Nelson Nsereko, FridahKatushemererwe&SaudahNamyalo, Makerere University

2. Kiswahili Soft Power as a tool for Agency and Identity in East Africa – Carol Asiimwe, Makerere University

3. Analysing the realisations of Kiswahili pedagogies in Uganda within the dispensation of the current East African Community - CeasarJjingo and Carol Asiimwe, Makerere University

4. Kiswahili: Language Ideologies and Ethnic/National Identity in East Africa - Patrick LugwiriOkombo, Makerere University

5. A Chronicle of Language Policies in Uganda and the status of Kiswahili - Arinaitwe Perpetua, Makerere University

Sustainable Development

1. Sustainable Development for Eastern Africa: A Switch to Followership Model–RobinahNakabo S., Makerere University

2. To Relocate or Not? The dilemma of the survivors of Bududa landslides in eastern Uganda - Pamela Khanakwa, Makerere University

3. Naming a disease is framing: the constructions of an epidemic as a dynamic process - Jerome Ntege, Makerere University

On communal life and selfhood in mental health

1. Overview - Assoc Prof Julius Kikooma, Makerere University

2. Readiness for Community Reintegration: Investigating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder among Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria - Gyang Tony Rwang, Makerere University

3. Enhancing Psychological Wellbeing of Adolescents in Kampala Slums Using Positive Psychological Interventions - NamugenyiMasitula, Makerere University

4. Quality of Life of Mental Health Practitioners in Nigeria - Igbende Dorothy Aumbur, Makerere University

Dr Julius Kiiza and Mr. Mwambutsya Ndebesa presented papers5. Beyond Conventional Learning:Implications for sociocultural perspectives for agentic learning -Eboyu Francis, Makerere University

6. Career choice and Career Transitioning in Uganda: Students’ experiences in schools - Ampaire Anne, Makerere University


1. Gender Identity Reconstruction and Re-signification in Acoli songs - Benge Okot, Makerere University

2. On masked vulnerability: Interrogating Costs of fractured masculinities in Western Uganda - Peace Musiimenta& Josephine Ahikire, Makerere University

3. Interrogating the Representation of Women in Selected Plays of Euripides And Ghanaian Playwrights: A Liberal Feminist Approach - Stella Antwiwaa, Makerere University

4. Empowerment of Women Farmers through Network Governance in Agricultural Programs in Ethiopia - HelinaBefekadu Bekele, Makerere University

Peace and Conflict

1. The Politics of Postcolonial Tribalism in Toro and Kigezi in Uganda - Evarist Ngabirano, Makerere University

2. Peace building and local ownership in Kenya: from hybridity to subsistence - Samuel AuchiNgonela, Makerere University

3. History of Conflict Management in Nigeria’s Middle-Belt: State, Society Responses to Insecurity (1979-2019) - Gloria

See pictorial of the event below

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