The Makerere Centenary Grand Celebrations

“ Indeed, nobody would have ever thought that what began as a small technical school, with 14 barefoot students in grass thatched huts, would evolve into one of the leading universities in the world,”

President Museveni, Prof. Ezra Suruma, Mrs. Lorna Magara and Prof. Nawangwe Barnabas.

The culmination of a series of activities in line with the year-long University centenary celebrations was a grand celebration which took place on the 6th of October, 2022 at the Freedom Square. 

With the President of Uganda, HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as the main celebrant, guests from all sectors of public and private service were represented. In attendance were heads of other sister institutions with which Makerere collaborates occasionally, representatives from the diplomatic corps, government, the private sector and security forces.

H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni giving his centennial speech at the Makerere Centenary Grand Celebrations. 

After the unveiling of the centenary monument by the guest of honor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe gave opening remarks to the event. In his opening remarks, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe characterized the centenary journey of the university as ‘one of thriving through adversity.’ 

“ Indeed, nobody would have ever thought that what began as a small technical school, with 14 barefoot students in grass thatched huts, would evolve into one of the leading universities in the world,” he noted. 

Prof. Nawangwe and Rt. Hon Thomas Tayebwa walking into the Freedom Square 

He also recognized the contributions of notable people in the history of Makerere who had gone to great lengths to ensure its institutional success and longevity. 

“ Your Excellency, Makerere owes its present day existence to the selfless acts of men like Owek. Martin Luther Nsibirwa who, despite grave danger, made decisions that transcended immediate needs of their time.” Prof. Barnabas noted.  

“ Many other people sacrificed their lives so that Makerere University might thrive including, Frank Kalimuzo, the first vice chancellor of Makerere as an independent national university who was murdered in 1972 and Theresa Nanziri, a former warden of Africa Hall who was murdered in 1976 during the reign of terror in Uganda,” he added. 

Four people shared their ‘Makerere story’ and among these were the Deputy Speaker of parliament, Rt. Hon Tayebwa Thomas, CEO of Vision Group, Mr. Wanyama Don and Ms. Norah Lule, the daughter of former president of Uganda and the first native principal of Makerere College, Prof. Yusuf Lule. 

” In 2001, with a metallic suitcase and shs.4,500 school fees for Makerere. I came to Makerere with no relatives in the Government but today, I am Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda. I am one of the testimonies Makerere has made.” Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker noted.  

“ I came to the University in 2003. It was my first time in Kampala. If not for Makerere, I would have stayed in Mbale for the rest of my life. I was a gallant rat from Mitchell Hall.” Don Wanyama noted

Ms. Norah Lule noted that she did not in fact study from Makerere but grew up on campus while her father served as the top administrator of the university. 

The former Chancellor of Makerere, Prof. Mondo Kagonyera, to the amusement of the audience, noted that there were only two former Chancellors of the university who were still alive; himself and the president. 

He also acknowledged having successfully introduced the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship program to Makerere during his tenure, to the benefit of more than 1000 students over the years. 

Prof. Kagonyera, Makerere’s former Chancellor

The chairperson of the Makerere@100 organizing committee, and the Vice chairperson of the Makerere University Council, Rt. Hon Dan Kidega extended his appreciation to the academic staff, management and students who have made Makerere University, the institution that it is today. 

He outlined the remaining activities that would be held after the grand celebration starting with the Celebrating Nyerere@100 Leadership Symposium, to the revisiting of the original 13 districts of Uganda which contributed to the construction of Makerere University, the Makerere@100 exhibition in December to showcase the University’s several achievements to mention but a few.

“These activities, we hope, will help us take the university to the community, such that through research and innovation, we can contribute better to humanity,” he remarked. 

Makerere’s legacy of training leaders for the continent and the world was adumbrated by the Chairperson of the University Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara.

Mrs. Lorna Magara giving remarks at the Grand celebrations

Mrs. Lorna Magara noted, “While in the past, the self-driven and passionate young men and women took on the leadership challenges without prior training, Makerere will now provide leadership training programs, initially through the Julius Nyerere Leadership center, but it will later be rolled out through the various university structures.” 

Prime Minister Emeritus, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda shares a light moment with Rt. Hon. Tayebwa & Hon. Chrysostom Muyingo

Both leaders of council extended their gratitude to the August house, the Parliament of Uganda, for having recognized and designated a plenary session to the recognition and commemoration of Makerere’s 100 years. 

Prof. Ezra Suruma, the Chancellor of Makerere commended the President for his central role in the historical revolution in providing universal access to education. He added that it was a fundamental challenge to all Ugandans to rise to the goal and to ensure that all children in Uganda get a quality education.

Prof. Ezra Suruma, Chancellor Makerere University giving his remarks at the Grand Celebrations. 

Having participated personally in the formative stages of this particular revolution, Prof. Suruma reminded the His Excellency, the President that in 1980, when he was still a senior lecturer in Makerere, he, Prof. Suruma,  started a political party together with the late Joshua Mugyenyi which later morphed into the current National Resistance Movement. In other words, Makerere played a footnote role in the foundation of the NRM revolution. 

Invited guests at the grand celebrations 

The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports was represented at the grand celebrations by the State Minister for Education, Hon. Chrysostom Muyingo who challenged Makerere University not to focus more on the past, but rather look at the future, and aim to find solutions to challenges of the present times.

In his address, President Museveni congratulated Makerere on its successive achievements in the last 100 years. He particularly emphasised the role of science in the quest for development and socio-economic transformation. 

“If you don’t deal with science, you might not even exist, you may disappear or survive at the mercy of others. I won’t allow this in Uganda. The faculties of medicine, agriculture, engineering, food science and ICT have done well and should be encouraged,” he said. 

President Museveni with members of the University Council, the Chancellor, and the state minister for Education. 

He maintained that scholarship from the arts should be focused on efforts of economic integration and production for prosperity if Uganda is to survive in the modern world. He further remarked that prosperity could only happen with increased production of goods and services of all types. 

From the current students, Mr Edwin Birungi a second year student studying Bachelor of Arts in Music recited a centennial poem, Ms. Achen Zerida, a resident of Complex hall, renown sports athlete and third year student of Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences gave a centennial on behalf of the students, and lastly, Mr. Ainamaani Brian, a first year student drew and handed over two art pieces dedicated to the President and the First Lady, Hon. Janet K. Museveni at the end of the Grand Celebrations.  

Mr. Brian Ainamaani, a first year student of fine art presents his gifts to the president. 


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