Mak Set to Celebrate Literary Legends: Gakwandi and Bukenya@80


The Department of Literature in collaboration with the School of Languages Literature and Communication and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences is organising a half day literary event codenamed: Celebrating Literary Legends : Gakwandi and Bukenya@80.  The organising Committee is being chaired by Assoc. Prof. Susan Nalugwa Kiguli assisted by Dr. Isaac Tibasiima. This academic event is aimed at recognizing, celebrating and debating these two literary legends as part of Makerere’s literary luminaries that have contributed to her indisputable literary iconicity. The celebrations  are scheduled to take place on 5th April 2024 at Makerere University's Yusuf Lule Auditorium  from 2.00pm- 6.00pm

Head Department of Literature Dr. Edgar Nabutanya said, Arthur Gakwandi and Austin Bukenya are seminal writers and literary scholars in Makerere University and Uganda’s history,  widely celebrated beyond Uganda’s borders. 

"Mwalimu Bukenya as he is famously known is a household literary name in Uganda,Kenya and Tanzania.  He is acclaimed for his foundational work together with his teacher Pio Zirimu on orature, and particularly for coining the term that has proved pivotal in defining and developing the crucial field of African literature. Mwalimu Bukenya  has been hailed as a strong symbol of the spirit of East African unity, having started at the University of Dar es Salaam and graduating with a First Class degree and then teaching in both Uganda and Kenya in addition to developing textbooks on English language and literature courses for the region" Nabutanyi stated..


                                                   Promotional poster  for celebrating Gwakwandi and Bukenya at ther 80th Birth Days at Makerere University

Mwalimu Bukenya is also celebrated for his central role in actively teaching promoting and developing policies on the Kiswahili language.

"Prof. Gakwandi is widely celebrated for his foundational work on the African novel particularly for his book: The Novel and Contemporary Experience in Africa published in 1977 and still used as a reference point up to today. He is also noted for his work as a diplomat that deeply understood and still understands the importance of national and global relationships particularly in the context of the African continent. Additionally Gakwandi’s novel Kosiya Kifefe has been on the Ugandan syllabus and is widely read in East African schools", The head added

Both Gakwandi and Bukenya are pivotal figures in the life of the Department of Literature and Makerere University where they have devotedly taught as well as supported seminal research and mentored, even in their retirement, current staff. These two literary figures are both well known and  loved at Makerere University and in the East African literary fraternity. The celebration is in recognition of the importance of both Gakwandi and Bukenya’s service to Makerere University and their outstanding contribution to Uganda, East Africa and to Africa’s literary history.

The Chairperson Organising Committee Assoc. Prof. Susan Kiguli  Kiguli said the the Department views this event as an opportunity to promote critical debate and advance awareness of homegrown talent and outstanding service to humanity beyond Makerere’s century of existence.

"In the spirit of continually drawing attention to our own work and accomplishments at Makerere University, the Department of Literature will showcase oral performances from the students, readings, a keynote address by Prof. Abasi kiyimba and a panel discussion of  Gakwandi and Bukenya Scholars on 5th April, 2024 between 2-6pm in the Makerere University Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium"

"Most of the activities of the day will be carried out by students from the Department of Literature in a bid to inspire them to think of the importance of following the work of our own scholars and practitioners. This effort aims at focusing on Gakwandi and Bukenya’s monumental achievements and promoting  creative writing, critical debate and cultural production within Makerere University, Uganda and beyond",  she added

Brief biography of Professor  Arthur Shatto  Gakwandi


Prof. Arthur Shatto  Gakwandi is a specially gifted teacher and literary critic. A fount of knowledge in the African Novel, Ugandan writing, creative writing, human rights and foreign policy. He first started teaching at the Department of Literature, Makerere University in 1971. He is an international figure distinguished in his knowledge of Literature. He is the author of  a foundational book on the  African novel: The Novel and Contemporary Experience in Africa and he is widely known for his novel Kosiya Kifefe, a text that has been taught on the Ugandan A level syllabus

Arthur Gakwandi earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and French from the University of East Africa in 1968, a Diploma in Diplomacy from the Carnegie Institute of Diplomacy in 1969 , a Masters in Letters in English Literature from Edinburgh University in 1971 and a Ph.D in Literature from Makerere University in 1986. He has taught at the University of Nairobi, Makerere University, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria, and Connecticut College , U.S.A.

He has offered distinguished service in the diplomatic field in various capacities as an Alternate Ambassador, Uganda Mission to the Organization of African Unity and Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ambassador, Head Asia Pacific  Region, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kampala, Ambassador, Head East African Cooperation and Ring States, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kampala and Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations, Geneva. Additionally he published  Pocket Facts about Uganda  as a contribution to promoting the tourism industry in Uganda.

Prof .Gakwandi was chair of Pen International ( Uganda Chapter). He was twice chair of  the panel of judges for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize East African Region. He has been active in human rights activism as a representative of Uganda in a wide range of UN working groups on human rights issues and was a member of the UN Committee for the Protection of the  Rights of Migrant workers from 2004 to 2006.

Brief biography of Professor Austin Bukenya


                                                                                        Professor Austin Bukenya

Austin Bukenya is a leading authority on oracy and African orature. He is perhaps best known for being one of the faculty at Makerere University that launched the teaching of the first undergraduate course in Oral Literature ( Orature) in 1969. With the late Pio Zirimu, his teacher, they came up with the now world famous term Orature to explain the enormous body of African oral forms and its significance to literary aesthetics.

Austin Bukenya was trained at the University of Dar es Salaam, Makerere University, Kenyatta University, the University of York, the University of Madagascar and University of Stirling. He has taught at the Makerere University, University of Nairobi, University of Dar es Salaam, University of Stirling, The United States International University, Daystar University college, Nairobi and Kenyatta University. He is popularly known as a ‘true’ East African scholar because literally all East African nations claim him as their own.

Austin Bukenya has worked extensively in the field of African Languages and Literature and has completed major research in the field of the Ugandan novel and East African oral traditions. He is famously known for promoting the area of oral traditions particularly in East Africa. He  has contributed strongly  to the scholarship of Luganda and Swahili languages.

He is a founding executive committee member for the International Society for Oral Literature in Africa (ISOLA), a member of the executive committee and a research coordinator for Kenya Oral Literature (KOLA), a member of the Central Committee of Performing and Creative arts , Kenyatta University and a Secretary to the once influential Uganda Linguistics and Authors Association. He was also the Overseas Link Coordinator for Higher Education Link between the Department of Literature, Makerere University and the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies working on the project of “Oracy and Applied Performance”. He was a researcher on the Makerere- NUFU Folklore Project.

Prof Austin Bukenya has published widely and he is best known for these books:Understanding Oral Literature, 1994, Oral Literature Theory, 1991 African Oral Literature for Schools, 1983, Emboozi Mukaaga, 1970 among others. He has published numerous articles in reputed international journals mostly concentrating on the ideas of oracy, Orature and Oral Literature and the development of  Kiswahili. He is also famously known for his creative work such as his novel: The People’s Bachelor and his plays : The Bride and A Hole in the Sky.


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