Makerere Celebrates the legacy of President Mkapa at the University of Dar Es Salaam.

We come from Makerere to reaffirm our commitment, to strengthen the fibres that built these leaders. We look forward to developing deeper working relationships, not only in teaching, training and research but also through regional integration

The Late Tanzanian President, Benjamin William Mkapa

On the 27th of September, 2022, members of the Makerere University Council and the centennial celebration organising committee were hosted by the University of Dar Es Salaam to celebrate and commemorate the legacy of the late Benjamin William Mkapa, the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania and an alumnus of Makerere University.

Present at the event in Dar Es Salaam from Makerere was the Chairperson of the University Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara and the vice chairperson, Hon. Dan Kidega who also doubles as the head of the Makerere at 100 organising committee. Also present was the CEO of the Vision Group and alumnus, Mr. Don Wanyama, the CEO of the Makerere at 100 secretariat, Mr. Awel Uwihanganye and many other distinguished alumni of both Makerere University and Dar Es Salaam.

The opening remarks were delivered by Prof. Bernadeta Killian, the Deputy Vice- Chancellor in charge of research for the University of Dar Es Salaam who spoke about President Julius Nyerere’s time at Makerere from 1943-1945. As a constituent college of The University of London, it was a time when many other future African leaders were also trained at the institution.

She remarked that it was during Mwalimu’s stay at Makerere that he wrote a letter to the Tanganyika Standard under the pseudonym ‘JUKANYE’ arguing for African Socialism and critically rejecting the individualism of European Capitalism.

She also added that while at Makerere, Nyerere read early enlightenment philosophers, particularly John Stuart Mills, which influenced his 1944 essay, written in Swahili on Women’s Freedom where he outlined the various ways in which women were oppressed, therefore calling for gender equality in African Society. 

Recognizing Dr. Wilbert Chagula, another great alumni of the Makerere Medical school, who later became a senior administrative member of the university college of Dar Es Salaam,

Prof. Bernadeta Killian, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Research at the University of Dar Es Salaam 

Prof. Killian commended Makerere for its unparalleled record of producing Tanzanian Professionals of national and international standing who have excelled in government and non-government sectors, further asserting that this was indicative of the continued effort of the university in upholding excellence in teaching, learning and knowledge exchange endeavours.

Because of the history shared by both Tanzania and Uganda, Dan Kidega characterised his visit to Dar Es Salaam as a socio-political pilgrimage. From his time in Tanzania as the speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, to his return as the chairperson of the Makerere at 100 Organising Committee and as a University Council Member, he said that the visit was to reaffirm his belief in the values of East African Integration.

According to Hon. Kidega, Benjamin Mkapa was being honoured because he propelled the name of the university beyond Uganda and Africa. He liberalized the Tanzanian economy and allowed other African actors and citizens of the world to participate in developing the country and Africa as a whole, subsequently. But more importantly, he also stood on and maintained the foundation built by Nyerere, to make Tanzania a great nation. 

“We come from Makerere to reaffirm our commitment, to strengthen the fibres that built these leaders. We look forward to developing deeper working relationships, not only in teaching, training and research but also through regional integration” he said.

Hon. Dan Kidega, the Chairperson of the Makerere at 100 Organizing Committee.

“Regional integration should not be left in the hands of politicians and traders, the universities are the ‘software’ and the brains. They should be at the center of strengthening integration efforts and advancing the vision of the founding fathers of the region. This will allow us to interface with the world fairly and not on an exploitative basis.” he added.

A panel discussion followed with Dr. Hezron Makundi as the moderator. 

One of the panelists was the Vision Group CEO, Mr. Don Wanyama who drew parallels between himself and the person of President Mkapa. Both studied the English language and Literature in English at Makerere, specifically from the famous lecture room 4, at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. They both edited newspapers in their formative years, Mkapa did the Daily News and Wanyama did the Daily Monitor and is currently heading The New Vision newspaper. To top it off, whereas Mkapa served as President Nyerere’s Press Secretary, Wanyama has also served as President Museveni’s Press Secretary in the past.

Other panelists included Mr. Walter Bgoya, the managing director of Mkuki na Nyota Publishers. The publisher of Mkapa’s autobiography, My life, My purpose, Dr. Ellen Mkondya-Senkoro, the CEO of the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation who spoke about Mkapa’s legacy in the health sector after his retirement from the presidency. Dr. Rasul A. Minja, a senior lecturer in the department of Political Science and Public Administration who talked about the late Benjamin Mkapa and International relations and lastly, Prof. Frederick J. Kaijage, a Professor of History who talked about the University of East Africa and the East African Community Project.

The panel of discussants at the event.

The Chairperson of the Makerere University Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara remarked on the exceptional service of President Benjamin Mkapa as evidenced by the nine honorary degrees, the highest national awards of both Tanzania and Kenya and a number of other accolades that he attained yet maintaining a humility that dwarfed his achievements.

She also commended the late President Mkapa for his role in unifying and pacifying warring parties in the region, both during and after his tenure in office. As a principle convener of peace efforts in both the 2007/8 post-election conflict in Kenya and in the South Sudanese referendum in 2011, he was listened to and warring parties mended relations and agreed to work together.

In November, 2009 President Mkapa was given an honorary Doctor of Laws by Makerere. Mrs. Magara spoke to the character of his acceptance speech that he delivered on that day;

“At his honorary doctoral award ceremony, he is quoted to have said of Paul Foster. “I recall him for a long and contentious conversation we had about that University College motto. What kind of future were we building? How were we building it?” It is clear from this quote that the young Mkapa was already looking beyond the privilege of being educated at the great Makerere to what that education truly meant for the future of Africa. To put this in context, the Makerere of his day was the University College of East Africa, awarding University of London Degrees. There were only hundreds of students from East, Central,

Western and Southern Africa and the faculty was predominantly British.” she said.

She then thanked the leadership of the University of Dar Es Salaam for giving Makerere the opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of President Benjamin Mkapa as part of Makerere’s centenary celebrations.

“It is a great honour that we are associated with such leaders on the African continent.” she remarked.


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