Owek. Martin Luther Nsibirwa’s selfless contribution led to the expansion of Makerere University’s Estate
“In 1945 when the colonial administration needed to expand Makerere College in a bid to establish the premier University of East Africa, one pioneer and visionary leader, Nsibirwa went against all odds and public sentiments at the time to offer up more land on Makerere hill.
Makerere University Council Chairperson, Mrs. Lorna Magara on Friday 6th May 2022 noted, “The late Katikkiro, Owekitibwa Martin Luther Nsibirwa’s selfless contribution led to the expansion of Makerere University’s estate.”
“It gives me great pleasure as the Chairperson of Council to warmly welcome the Katikkiro and his distinguished delegation to Makerere University, particularly as our distinguished speaker for the Inaugural Nsibirwa Annual Public Lecture, the Third of the Makerere@100 Lecture Series.” she added.
She warmly welcomed the family of the late Owek. Martine Luther Nsibirwa, whose memory, the University honors and celebrates today for his selfless contribution and notable sacrifice to the expansion of Makerere University’s estate.
“Land is a precious commodity, particularly in Uganda. Now faced with an exploding population, It’s price, especially in the urban areas, is constantly escalating. Makerere University is privileged to have the Main Campus covering over 300 acres of prime real estate located only five kilometers from the Kampala City Centre. In addition, we have over 40 acres housing the campus at Mulago, the Kasangati Health Centre along Gayaza Road, and the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) along the Gayaza-Zirobwe road.” She added.
Mrs. Lorna Magara noted that the men and women who secured this land had an incredible vision, not just for academic purposes but for research, agriculture, community outreach, and staff welfare.
“They acquired land for staff housing estates in Kololo, Katalemwa, Makindye, Makerere North, and Bwaise. Such, was the foresightedness of men and women like Owek. Martin Luther Nsibirwa,” Mrs. Magara stated.
She quoted Ebonie Alexander, whose Black Family Land Trust has helped several African American families retain their land assets saying; “Land is a finite commodity, and it’s something we all have in common, regardless of race, gender, or other dividers.”
With prudent investment, therefore, the benefits accruing from land investments are transgenerational.
“In this regard, through the Makerere Holdings Company, the University Council embarked on attracting potential investors that can co-invest with the university and undertake income-generating projects that will diversify our financial resources, thereby reducing our reliance on Government funding that is heavily constrained.” She added.
Some of the projects envisaged, Magara said included student accommodation, a students’ centre at the Makerere University-Main Campus, a Conference Centre and 3-Star Hotel at the current Makerere University Guest House, Upmarket Apartments in Kololo, and a Gated Community in Makindye.
Magara quoted Sir Isaac Newton who once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
She said Makerere University can today discuss the plans mentioned above because it stands on the shoulders of giants such as the late Owek. Nsibirwa, whose legacy we were honoring.
“We, therefore, extend our deepest gratitude to the family of the late Owek. Nsibirwa for sparing precious time and resources to join us today, Friday May 6th, 2022. Your presence here is testimony that you, too, hold in high esteem the value of education in transforming the lives of young men and women, regardless of race or social background, to give them a future and hope.”
Mrs. Magara also thanked the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Members of Management, faculty, and staff for their excellent work in planning and coordinating this important event.
“Owekitibwa Charles Peter Mayiga, thank you for agreeing to deliver today’s public lecture. Your alma mater is proud of your achievements both as a professional and as a cultural leader. We look forward to the discourse on “The Contributions of Cultural Institutions in Engendering Public Goods” and the role that our cultural institutions play in good governance.”
She also noted that the University looked forward to working with Owek. Mayiga’s office to make the University centenary celebrations even more memorable for Makerere and the Buganda Kingdom.
She invited all members of the public and alumni to visit the University website, www.100.mak.ac.ug, and share their Makerere story as we continue “Leveraging 100 years of Excellence in Building a Transformed.
Nsibirwa’s role in the growth of Makerere University
In 1945 when the colonial administration needed to expand Makerere College in a bid to establish the premier University of East Africa, one pioneer and visionary leader, Nsibirwa went against all odds and public sentiments at the time to offer up more land on Makerere hill.
The life and martyrdom of the Late Nsibirwa as a pillar for courageous and visionary leadership in the Makerere community is therefore worth remembering. Had it not been for Nsibirwa perhaps the current main campus would have been located elsewhere.
The extraordinary contribution of Nsibirwa to Makerere University’s journey of 100 years is further demonstrated when he also gave away his personal land in Mulago for the construction of a dormitory for the School of Nursing.
Following the De la Warr Commission of 1937, a decision by the Colonial Government to expand Makerere College in order for her to acquire University status was reached. This presented the need for more land. The land adjacent to Makerere belonged to private owners, who were very influential like Chiefs. The Resident Administrator of the Protectorate Government failed to persuade the private owners to offer their land.
Nsibirwa who was the Katikiro of Buganda at the time was very visionary and strongly believed in education and development for the people.
Nsibirwa donated personal land to Mulago for the construction of a nurses’ hostel as a show of good faith. On 4th September 1945, Nsibirwa signed the famous close 15 of the 1900 Buganda Land Agreement to enable the acquisition of land by the Government to expand the College.
Sadly, he was assassinated the following day on the morning of 5th September 1945, a day after he had signed the famous close 15 of the 1900 Buganda Land Agreement to enable the acquisition of land by the Government to expand the College.