President Museveni hails Makerere University for its role in Uganda’s Scientific Revolution
“We had a tug of war with the social scientists of Makerere led by Prof. Mazrui, they were pushing a certain line of social science especially in politics… which was not clear when it came to African liberation.”
On Monday the 23rd of May, 2022, Makerere University began its weeklong graduation celebrations starting with the School of Law, College of Natural Sciences and College of Health Sciences.
Speaking from State House Nakasero, on live broadcast to Freedom Square, President Museveni congratulated both the graduands upon completion of their respective degrees and Makerere University on the 100 years of its existence.
“An institution like Makerere is very important in the history of Uganda, in the history of our societies,” he said.
He highlighted the significant role that Makerere has played in the health sector, not only through the training of personnel but also through medical research, citing examples of some of the earliest doctors that were trained at the University such the former Vice President, Dr. Samson Kisekka.
When Makerere was still under the University of East Africa, there was a marked focus on professional courses by the different university colleges as the president stated..
“Initially there was some division of labor in East Africa with Makerere training people in Medicine, Nairobi training people in Engineering and Veterinary Medicine. Dar Es Salaam was training Lawyers.” he said.
He then emphasized the significant role that Makerere plays in promoting innovation through research and development. With strides in automobile manufacturing as with the Kira EV and in public healthcare, the president said he was working with former students of Makerere in vaccine development.
In the areas of Agriculture, food science and nutrition, the president commended the efforts by Makerere University faculty for their contribution to the unfolding scientific revolution in Uganda. With notable mention to Dr Israel Ssebunya Kibirige and his team who introduced the clonal coffee breed which was championed by the president in the 1990s, Dr. Muranga Florence, a Makerere University Biochemist and Food Scientist currently heading the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development and Dr. William Kyamuhangire, an Associate Professor and Manager of the Food Technology and Business Incubation Center.
President Museveni however noted with concern, the need to harmonize the social sciences. He traced a historical rift between different schools of thought at the faculty to the 1960s.
“We had a tug of war with the social scientists of Makerere led by Prof. Mazrui, they were pushing a certain line of social science especially in politics… which was not clear when it came to African liberation.” he said.
He then says that once he got into government, he contacted Prof. Akiiki Mujaju and Prof. Apollo Nsibambi, and other social scientists from Makerere University, to develop a common position on political economy. The outcome of this interaction was the creation of the Development studies degree at Makerere which he says was not his intention.
“I wanted a clear line on Political Economy, to discover the laws that govern the motion of Society, that one we need to discuss more,” he added.
The president also commended the government for having put in place private sponsorship for public universities since more qualified students could now access university education without being restrained by the government’s limited capacity to sponsor more students.
Lastly, the president explained why the sciences have been prioritised. “The reason we insist on science is that science is the base of socio-economic progress,” he said.
“The scholars of social science, economists, philosophers try to understand, they are students of social change, but the trigger of social change is science… the student should not replace the doer, the doer is the base and the other people are part of what we call the superstructure.” he concluded.