On Tuesday, 10th March, 2015, the Department of History, Archaeology and Heritage Studies held a Memorial Lecture to commemorate the good works of fallen History Professor Joseph Adebowale Atanda. Prof. Atanda was a revered scholar, teacher and administrator whose contributions to historical education, particularly his enthusiasm for the teaching and writing of aspects of Nigerian History and Culture as well as Baptist Mission Studies are quite extensive and impressive. His primary area of research interest was African History, specialising in Nigeria with emphasis on Yorubaland in Western Nigeria and Buganda in East Africa. He taught in the Department of History at Makerere University between 1967-1969.
During the memorial lecture held in Senate Conference Hall at Makerere, University of Chicago Professor Ralph A. Austen gave a keynote address in honour of his fallen colleague’s extensive research on colonial rule. In his presentation titled; “Indirect Rule Revisited: Nigeria, Uganda and the Indian Model”, Prof. Ralph advised that African states need to get beyond the colonial politics of chiefs and European officials and adopt the managerial style of leadership that views a politician as a manager in the modern society.
In his remarks presented by the Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira, the Vice Chancellor underscored the relevance of history to national development. “Historical knowledge in Uganda today is taken for granted by many, although it continues to play a critical role in shaping the way we perceive politics, our economy and the general development of our nation. Let us continue to celebrate the special role that History plays in our lives and in the same way continue to implore more historians to constantly challenge themselves to write, document and research historical events that shape our lives,” he said.
Prof. Kirumira commended Prof. Atanda’s family for carrying on their father’s legacy through annual memorial lectures. “The worry of most parents is whether their children can be able to sustain what they have worked for,” he said. He re-echoed the importance of History, saying it should reclaim its position in national development.
The Dean, School of Liberal and Performing Arts, Assoc. Prof. Patrick Mangeni, urged the academia to emulate Prof. Atanda’s scholarly work, noting that “our value is measured by our capacity to impact in life and after death”.
Prof. Atanda’s children expressed gratitude to the Makerere University community for the warm reception and willingness to honour their father. They described their father as a frontline advocate of education and academic excellence.
The vision of the Atanda Memorial Lecture Series is to attempt to recapture the horizons of Joseph Adebowale Atanda’s scholarly travels across institutions where he taught and had the opportunity to impact students of diverse cultures. According to his contemporaries, Prof. Atanda frequently warned that “the greatest lesson of history is that we do not learn from history”. With this as reference, the objective of each lecture is to engage the minds of history scholars and participants in discussions of historical events so as to elicit their applications to issues of contemporary days. The lecture series will run in seasons, rotating through each of the five institutions where Prof. Atanda served. The Joseph Atanda Memorial Lecture Series started in 2013 and has rotated through three Institutions including the University of Ibadan and Makerere University.
Launch of the Uganda History, Archaeology and Heritage Association
The Memorial Lecture was crowned with the launch of the Uganda History, Archaeology and Heritage Association by renowned History Professor Moses Luutu Golola. According to the Patron, Dr Katono Nzarwa, the major goal of the association is to promote the disciplines of History and Archaeology through intensive research and quality publications. He said the Association will support the current regime of historians to “fit in the shoes of eminent scholars”.
The lecture was moderated by Dr Charlotte Karungi, Lecturer in the Department of History, Archaeology and Heritage studies.