We volunteered to write textbooks to benefit Ugandan kids but the MOE wasn’t interested!



The problem in Uganda today is that YKM has not had a competent minister of education for some time. He may have had some in his early reign but lately, the ministers can be characterized as GIGO. They are not passionate about education.

YKM meant well when he introduced UPE and USE. But his ministers failed him in the implementation. I can say without any fear of contradiction that if YKM had a fairly competent Minister of Education like Brig Barnabas Kili (SP) who was Amin’s minster when we went to school, things would be somewhat different. Brig Kili with the help of seasoned educationists like Mr. Mugoya (quiz: Mugoya is a common name among 3 Ugandan ethnic groups, name them), the then Chief Inspector of schools and others made things run. Most students knew who the chief Inspector of schools was.

In the 70s it did not matter where one went to school. St Joseph Layibi then and it seems now was a giant. Comboni College in Lira and Nyapea did produce leading candidates in national exams. Of course so did Gayaza and Namagunga, Ntare Kisubi and others.

In terms of ability, students in Kampala or Wakiso are no more talented or able than their peers in Eastern or Northern. The difference is access to resources in terms of teachers and materials. With equity, students can performs from any corner of Uganda.

So the big question is this: does Uganda’s educational system embrace equity? No.

YKM and others want to see Ugandans embrace sciences or STEM. But what investments have they made in terms of buildings labs, training science teachers and yes, paying them adequately to feel motivated? Do all schools in Uganda have access to the required textbooks for example? If not what is YKM doing to ensure equity? What is the ratio of students to critical textbooks? What is the government doing to ensure all students have the required books? In other words how many students share critical textbooks?

Let me share with you something. A few Ugandans volunteered to write textbooks for A level. Some volunteered to write maths books to include abit more calculus, others-myself included -offered do write an Economics textbook. We contacted the ministry and the curriculum Development centre. Someone one was interested but the minister and top shots were not. The only person who expressed interested is the late Dr Rwandeire (RIP) but was soon out of office. I repeat we volunteered to write textbooks to benefit Ugandan kids. The ministry and the curriculum people were not interested. Later we found out the British Council in Uganda vetoed our suggestion. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

Fyi, there was no money to be made from textbooks, may be some tokenism.

Spare a thought for candidates. Exams are based on a body of knowledge (BOK). Yet many students lack that body of knowledge due to poor teaching or even no teaching at all and especially lack of access to key textbooks. It is possible, nay likely that O and A level physics still depend on the iconic Nelkon and Abbot or the other way. It is also likely A level maths still depends on Backhouse (Sp). Do not get me wrong they are great books but may be time to change textbooks. This brings me back to why our proposal was vetoed. Think about it, we volunteered and the ministry said no thanks.

If it is lack of teachers, why can’t the govt create centers of excellence? This is how they would work. Great teachers are not many so they few capable ones should be shared and deployed to maximize their ability. For example, Kampala would be divided into 4 zones. If Kibuli has a good physics teacher, why can’t she or he also go and teach in Kyambaogo Demonstration ration Nabisunsa? Nabisunsa may have great chemistry or history teachers, and they can go and teach in Kibuli, and Kyambaogo. Meanwhile Kyambaogo may have great maths and Economics teachers who can be deployed to teach in the other school.

Now fast forward to upcountry schools. Take Gulu, a good chemistry teacher At Layibi can and should also go teach in neighbouring schools and vice versa. These centers can be created throughout Uganda. Remember resources ae scarce. Sharing excellent teachers can go a long way. Knowing UAH, some will ask why not simply hire teachers? They are assuming there exists enough competent-emphasis added-teachers to teach in single schools.

My argument is that Uganda lacks enough competent teachers in the core subjects hence the need to create centers of excellence to share their competency. How long does it take by Boda Boda travel from Kibuli to Nabisunsa or Kyambaogo Demonstration and vice versa? How long does it take on boda boda travel from Comboni to Boroboro or Lango College and vice versa?

Btw, such competent teachers would be immune from regular transfers and would be paid a lot more.

Today you have a situation where many students have no access to workable labs yet they are expected to perform practical exams and pass them? Come on.

Then for the love of Ugandan children we again came up with another idea to help improve learning. The remedial procedure was to be implemented in middle level primary schools from P3 to P5 to ensure literacy. We wrote the template, how it would work and who would undertake remedial teachings. Based on academic literature, we settled on female teachers. This is not the place to explain why but studies show female teachers are better positioned to carry out remedial teaching.

Fyi, remedial teachers would also be floaters and not restricted in one school and would work certain hours. Their job would be to ensure that students in grades 3 to 5 acquire the critical competencies in writing, reading and maths. This proposal was also shared with the govt but again the govt or the mandarins in the ministry were not keen. They kept asking where the money would come from. Btw, remedial teachers would also be picked from the most competent lot. May be had the late Dr Rwandeire (RIP) stayed longer in education some of the changes would have been implemented.

Btw, Harvard University and MIT routinely share professors in certain core competencies. No wonder they are top.


Education without a focus only turns graduates into dependents

Take two businessmen, a Muganda by tribe,Semuwemba, running an electronic shop in Kampala and Patel(an Indian) running an autospare shop in Bwaise. Both men take their sons to Makerere University for a degree course. Patel’s son commutes daily from Bwaise while Semuwemba’s son lives in a small rented bedsitter near the university.

Before joining college, Patel’s son used to spend his days at the autospare shop- a routine he continues every Sat when not going to college. During the vacations, he even takes over the management. Semuwemba on the other side believes that shops is not the place for his University going son so he should get a degree and get a better job.

The two young men graduate and go seperate ways. Patel junior now takes over the running of the autospare shop. Semuwemba jr hits the road, looking for a job. Two years and he gets a job as a bank teller, supermarket clerk etc, after six months and with meagre income, Semuwemba’s son is frustrated and decides to go back for an MBA and improve his CV.

In the same period, Patel jr has gained some management skills of running the shop with a workforce of five employees. In his interactions with fellow businessmen and trips to source business stocks in China and india, he meets an Indian businessman who is trying to market some softwares and computer accessories manufactured in India and Taiwan. He and another accomplice form a company and agree to distribute them. At first, the company is operated from the backyard of the autoshop.

Both men are now 28. Patel jr is now confident and experienced in making business deals. He approaches a few companies, does presentations and convinces them to take up his products.

By now, he has passed the autospare shop to his siblings and is now running a full fledged IT company.

Semuwemba jr has graduated with an MBA, is now driving a car on loan and is now looking for a better job. He ends up becoming an employee at Patel’s company as a supervisor.

Guys, that is where the real entrepreneurship classes start, and a foot-holding is all our youth require. Don’t wonder why our MBA degree holders are looking for internship at Tuskys and wonder no more how Indians are still ruling this business economy!

Education without a focus only turns graduates into dependents. Let’s mentor & encourage our children accordingly.


O’Level class,1995, at Kibuli S.S. A senior one student was required to do 17 subjects



I followed with some interest Tamale Milundi’s views on the government’s position to financially boost more science courses at university at the expense of arts, when he was hosted at Pearl FM,Uganda.If arts programs continue to regarded as an “extra” we can live without, I’m afraid we aren’t looking at the big picture here as Tamale explained,”not everyone is capable of becoming a Bill Gates.Every child has his own abilities and limitations when it comes to education”.

Secondly,I don’t see why so many people see schools as the only place to cultivate a taste for art or sciences. A lot of people have made discoveries outside school and they have been recognised. Schools tend to do exactly the opposite:by forcing it down young people’s throats,with the teacher foisting heavy-handed interpretations and criticisms onto a subject, as well as choosing what is “good” art or science (in whose view?), and then making their students abhor subjects by turning it into homework, analysis, and drudgery.I say, just give the kids the tools (reading, writing, argument, debate, e.t.c), not too much home work and exams, then turn them loose to explore whatever they want and form their own independent opinions without too much helpful “guidance.” They’ll find what is right eventually. Just because a student has crammed and passed a biology theory exam, it doesn’t necessarily make him or her a good potential doctor.The student must have passion for medicine to be a good doctor. At the moment, Uganda has produced a lot of quack doctors with PHDs who don’t know exactly what they’re doing. That’s why, most times, someone gets a stroke in uganda and a hospital charges an arm and leg just for simply keeping the patient on exygen, yet they aren’t really doing anything. No wonder, most patients end up dying!

There are two books I would like people to look out for and read. The more recent of the two books is Dinesh DeSousa’s “Illiberal Education” which raised public awareness to the phenomenon of political correctness in education.The older of the two books is “Education and Human Relationships” by Rutgers University Anthropology professor, Ashley Montagu. In it Montagu proposed that the primary objective of the education system should not be to teach History,Geography, Mathematics, Science or even reading and writing but rather what he referred to as the “Art of Human Relationships” which basicly amounts to the same thing that is now referred to as “political correctness”.

In a subsequent book written during the 1964 US presidential election campaign, “The American Way of Life”, Montagu went further to argue that the primary emphasis in education should not be to teach “traditional subjects” but to inform students what was wrong about a politician like Barry Goldwater,(the 1964 Republican presidential candidate).Needless to say Professor Montagu’s advice was heeded, North American education system’s were dumbed down, the teaching of traditional subjects deemphasized and the teaching of politically correct values emphasized in it’s place.A chain had effectively been placed on the brains of people who went to school in the late 20th century.

Thirdly, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there’s a coleration between sciences and arts one way or the other. I was good at Sciences and arts at the same time during my O’ levels. OK, i admit Physics practicals were a pain in the ass but I was OK with the rest. A lot of musicians have turned out to be scientists at the same time.Science is basically the production and verification of models that attempt to explain the real world. Mathematics is a set of abstractions that can be used to build such models.Go to the library and look up “The Golden Ratio” and “The Fibonacci Sequence”.There are a lot of connections between these mathematical objects and the arts (especially visual). We shouldn’t undermind anybody in whatever field they are good at.The government’s job should be to give a chance to students to do whatever they want to do at university, not to dictate to them what the government wants them to do.

Byebyo ebyange!

Proper communication is the key to solving parent-teacher misunderstandings!

Asslamu alaikum,brothers and Sisters,

The situation between the Director of Studies(DOS), Kakiiri Bilal Islamic School,Hajji Kalunda Musa and a parent, has been resolved, and that’s why we stopped people from commenting on the original post. The DOS, the parent in question and me, have talked,and everything is back to normal allihamudulilah.

Sometimes employers have to teach lessons as far as who is actually in charge.Sometimes, they overdo it,and need to be corrected. Sometimes, parents overract too when their children are facing discplinary measures.These cases usually come down to showing respect to one another. The moment people speak to each other in bad tones, then all hell will break loose. I’m glad I got a chance to speak to Hajji Kalunda, and I found him more receptive than I imagined. I hope he continues engaging parents too, like he did with me.

The objective of posting such a problem to the forum is not to embarass anybody or any institution,but to find a middle ground in the problem, encourage others facing the same problem to come out, and discussing solutions.But obviously some people would say, the point of a discourse might be to convince those reading, rather than who you’re discoursing with.However, Kakiiri is a Muslim school and we want it to succeeed in everything it does,and that’s why we were all eager to resolve this as quickly as possible.If any thing has been done to upset anybody here, we ask you to forgive us. We also ask Allah to forgive all of us for our mistakes.Ameen!

A dear Abbey from one of the parents of Bilal Islamic Sch, Kakiiri

A dear Abbey from one of the parents of Bilal Islamic Sch, Kakiiri.
On Saturday September 16/2017 was a go- back- to- school day for Bilal Islamic S.S, I sent my son to School after paying all the school fees, all the school requirements and all his personal requirements, I sent this boy to school with my driver.

On reaching school the Director of studies sent the kid back home, the driver called me and I talked to the DOS and here is what we talked:

DOS: Asalam Aleikm sebo
Me: waleikm salam warahumatullah wabarakatuhu
DOS: gyebaleko sebo
Me: kale sebo nawe gyebaleko sebo
DOS: kakati sebo omwanawo tumugobye kusomelo yatoloka kati tumwetagako obusawo bwa cement butano (5)
Me: sebo obusawo bwa cement (5) nga sibulina sawa eno. I just paid school fees and I don’t have any money left on me

DOS: kale leka adeyo ewaka atuule paka lwonafuna sente
Me: And the other thing sebo the school was closing that day, how did the kid escape when the school has closed ?
DOS: Actually the kid left before clearing with me, he did not escape but he was supposed to show me his class notes but he left before doing that. so that is why am punishing him
Me: kakati sebo don’t you think you are punishing me the parent instead of punishing the kid?
DOS: I don’t care that is the rule we came up with for such students the parents are supposed to buy 5 bags of cement for the kid to return to school
Me: kakati sebo me am not in the country right now you gonna send that kid home and there is nobody at home
DOS: I don’t care actually I have other meetings to attend with other parents.

He hung off and sent that kid back home it’s coming to a week now. My kid is at home yet I paid all their requirements plus all the school fees.

Is there someone who can help to intervene in this situation? A lot of parents are suffering because of the reckless decisions of the school administrator.

Kamuli UMEA toilet done thanks to MIA MIA Foundation!

When I first sent out a message fundraising for the construction of the Kamuli UMEA toilet, I honestly didn’t know where we were going to get shs.4m from, but Allah is great, we not only got the shs.4 millions, we also got an additional shs.6 million to get a better and well sized toilet for the school.

I kept ‘assembling’ and posting the same message to our various forums, using different words, in various formats but for the same purpose, but we never really got a good response, till one day, I got a message from Imaam Kasozi, requesting us to put in an application to MIA MIA. And indeed we did, and it was successful.

I’m really so grateful to him, because this is one of the things I wanted done, and now its done, I’m smiling, happy and hope for more to be done,God willing. I just wish people respond to our fundraising causes in the same spirit and zeal they find easy to type a message to respond to national causes.

Thank you Mia Mia, Thank you Imam Ibn Kasozi. Kamuli UMEA is really indebted to you!

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
Old boy of Kamuli UMEA, Kayunga district.

socialised education, as like socialised medicine, works if there is political will for it


All politics in Uganda have become dismally bad theater. I don’t care if you’re FDC,NRM,DP, UPC, you’re beating a decidedly dead horse.The system is as busted, if not worse, as UPC was in early 1980s and, unfortunately, there’s no good fix other than to blow ’em all out and restructure everything. There’s corruption, daily murders, moral degeneration, riots, police tortures, unemployment, but most worryingly a disintegrating education system. Frustratingly, most Ugandans don’t see anything changing soon as Museveni looks set to even remove the age limits from the constitution such that he carries on being president. We basically need a miracle from God. How I wish it comes sooner!

When one analyses how “socialized education” – that is, the public education system – worked in this country during Obote 1, Obote 11 and Amin, it is difficult at best not to be enthusiastic about socialized medicine too, as e explained in the previous article. Yes times have changed, and with them their demands, but how far has this government done to make sure healthcare and education are atleast affordable to majority of Ugandans. UPE isn’t really a new concept in Uganda but why has it failed to work under Museveni? Why did the public schools do well in the past compared to now?

“Socialized education” fared quite well especially during Obote 1 and Amin, because the government used to support all our children, from all religions, tribes and classes, which is different today where even simple state scholarships are awarded on the basis of your political beliefs and tribal connections to the government.
Private education, like St.Mary’s Kitende High School on Entebbe Road, appears to do better because its high tuition cherry picks kids from the best families (an obvious fact that is almost never mentioned in our debates). Nobody seems to care about public schools anymore. Most of the changes the president’s wife has announced recently appear like knee- jerk reactions than something that has been thought through.

The fact is that socialised education, as like socialised medicine, works if there is political will for it. For instance, in America,in terms of test scores, the best 20 schools, year in year out, are overwhelmingly public schools, not private.All of this was exposed in great detail a few years back in an excellent book called “The Manufactured Crisis”.

Of course, its important for parents to be involved in their kid’s school work and life, for a child to do well especially here in developed nations.If a student’s parents return phone calls from the teacher,show an interest in their child’s education and read to their child nightly,the child invariably does well in school. Unfortunately, in many of the poor or working class families, for instance, here in the UK, most parents dont have time for their children such that its difficult to get a doctor or super student out of them. Everyone is just chasing ‘kyeyo’ and having little time for kids. Many parents are lackadaisical about their children’s education and some are themselves illiterate.

This is generally the same situation back home but living as a community used to help a lot African families, especially the way their kids turned out. Every time I tried to dodge school during my primary schooling, not only did I have to hide away from grandfather, but the village residents too. But I’ve been told that things have changed–it’s now every man for himself.
Please let us exchange thoughts on how education could be made better in Uganda. May be through such debates, the guys in the Ministry of education will pick something up, instead of concentrating on sanitary pads programmes only (” We don’t have money for sanitary pads ” or ” NGOs must not supply pads without our permission”)!



The following information is given with the utmost respect, and is for all parents/relatives/friends with kids in boarding schools, and usually visit them to bring them some necessities and ‘swa'(as we used to call it in Kibuli S.S). When your kid has a friend whose parents cannot afford to visit him or her, please make sure you always pack something separately for them.If there are kids that are related to you in any way and there are in the same school, find a way of bringing something for each one of them. Dont give money to the one you’ve specifically visited and leave the other one out.That’s what a good person is supposed to do!

Giving is something that is usually learned as a small child at their parent’s knee. When you give as a parent, your child always learns something from you.The plain truth is we do live in a collective system where we all do better from mutual aid.One of the greatest benefits of having your child attend a boarding school is the opportunity your child will have to mentor with other adults. There is nothing wrong with bringing so many things for your kid in a boarding school.But there is something wrong with giving them beyond what they will ever need or spend.Some of us were dealing with this faulty human trait when it was not at the fad stage.

How is it that lots of rich parents do not seem to understand that for many poor kids their meager possession is their pride? The thought of asking a parent of a friend for anything on visitation day is next to impossible, but they would be happy if given something.

The reality is that the kids from very poor families are much more apt to fail in school and stay in the same pattern of their parents. Some kids can pull themselves up and out of their parents income level, with the belief that ‘broke is a condition.Poor is a state of mind’.Too bad so many cannot!…so you never know when your so called ‘rich’ kid may need the poor one one day in the real life!


“In tribute to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Uganda, two bastions of strength in a world filled with strife, discrimination and terrorism.”

Beating up kids is illegal in Uganda but still generally done by teachers and parents!

I’ve been told that some teachers and most parents in Uganda continue to paddle children despite spanking being illegal in the country. In Africa, we are good at whipping our kids’ behinds as a form of punishment or knocking sense into the kid, but we’re doing it wrongly. I don’t interfere with anyone’s parenting style but child health professionals have conducted 50 years of research on the effects of spanking.

Spanking actually causes more misbehavior;and increases the risk that someone will end up in jail(You might have never been to jail, but facts are facts). Spanking also increases the risk of drug use and mental illness.Spanking causes more disobedience and rudeness in children. Spanking is linked to increased aggression as well. It literally changes the way the brain works, reducing grey matter. It is unwise to hit children……..But a person shouldn’t even need research to know this.Self defense is the only time it is acceptable to hit someone.It’s not acceptable to hit tiny defenseless people whose brains aren’t fully developed. Attachment parenting and gentle discipline is key.You wouldn’t smack your 90 year old grandmother, or wife, so why would you smack the most vulnerable member of your family? The children?

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

It’s people who aren’t trained and not ready to take on the daunting task of parenting that think the Stick will talk to children.

I wasn’t ever spanked in my childhood and I guess we all turned out fine. My fathers house was a cane-free zone! And I don’t know any different.

If those in defense of the spanking culture believe it worked miracles, how come the generations that were spanked have messed up everything in the country? That points to one thing: “Poor upbringing”!

Let’s look deep into the psyche of the our country, could something have impacted us during our childhoods? Just thinking out loud!

This thing of good upbringing(meaning physical violence) equals good behavior doesn’t add up somehow! We need to change methods of parenting

By Hon.Nabilah Naggayi Ssempala


Kibuli S.S masjid

Kibuli S.S masjid

Congratulations to those that have done well in their PLE exams. I remember receiving mine with agregate 4 from Namagabi UMEA in Kayunga, and I was so chuffed. My Grandfather, Hajji Hassan Kibirige(R.I.P) made several copies of my results on his trip to USA.
I guess he wanted to share his happiness with the other family members abroad, and i keep wondering how that went, because he never talked about it afterwards. Anyway, when he came back a month later, he told me to go and see Mr.Kawaase the headmaster of Kibuli S.S then, at his house, to make sure I had got a place at Kibuli S.S. In his principled form, Hajji Kawaase simply told me to go to the school administration,like anybody else, and check if I had been listed. He even gave me transport(not joking)……Well, my name was no.9 on the list, but I keep wondering how significant are these PLE results to a kid’s future. Personally, I think most poor countries should create early alternatives, especially techinical schools, for pupils instead of everybody fighting for places to secondary schools!



Reports from Uganda newspapers show that our traditional Muslim founded schools such as Kibuli S.S, Kawempe Muslim, Nabisunsa, e.t.c, aren’t doing as well as they used to in the past. I’m a little conflicted about the whole issue but part of the problem has allegedly been put on the teachers who teach there and at the same time own and teach in private schools elsewhere. They(teachers and headteachers) reportedly use our public foundation schools as recruitment centers for potential students and teachers. Yes, every school needs good teachers but that’s not the point. Our schools once did a better job than they do now, and something deep is happening in our Muslim schools as compared to Christian foundation schools.

Basically our teachers are in business, not teaching. Students are a cost.Businesses are service-motivated ONLY to the extent that it serves their deeper motive, which is, of course, profit. Profit is the end, the “service-motive” is the means.

Nearly all our headteachers own private schools, and it is suspected that they aren’t putting as much effort in our public schools as their private schools. For instance, Kibuli’s reputation as a successful school in the past is enough for a lot of parents to try to get a place there, but not everyone does get a place. So, they are recommended to the private school owned by the head teacher somewhere.It is a “bait and switch” tactic and its effective.On the surface, it shouldn’t be a problem at all but it becomes a problem if the headteacher becomes more committed to his private school than the school he’s heading.

While these teachers have strong financial motives to admit unsuccessful students in their private schools, for failing students the experience can be devastating.There is possibly trauma and poor self-esteem for having failed, and perhaps embarrassment for their families and friends. I remember the ‘KABAZI’ at Kibuli S.S. made us lose friends forever.

Either way, Private schools make money whether students learn or not.Problem is that concentrating education at the end of one set of purse-strings includes NO checks and balances. Meanwhile, we are all watching and literally doing nothing about it.Obviously,the profit-motive is instinctive, we all have the craving to own property, and thrive and prosper, but It needs to regulated.

The idea of “taking away resources” and ‘sharing the same teachers’ between foundation schools and private schools is actually quite dangerous.Dangerous because the foundation school budgets are stretched and the teachers concentration is so divided,and in the end it will come back to bite us, as it always does.

It is said that capitalism civilizes greed as marriage civilizes lust. I don’t think the kind of capitalism we are entrenched in now is civilizing greed–I think it is applauding it, relishing in it and holding it up as an aim to strive for. Every teacher wants to start up a school to be considered successful. Imagine owning 3-5 private schools but you are still a head teacher of a foundation school, where do you commit your energy more? By the way,this has nothing to do with so-called “laws” of supply and demand, this has to do with the application of greed at the expense of the many.

Sorry to ramble for so long with so little in conclusions.As I said much earlier, I am still very conflicted about this whole issue. Perhaps this will give a little food for thought as this thread continues.

I apologize in advance if I have rubbed anybody’s feathers but I consider this a very important issue that requires people on the ground to advance their thoughts. Hello UMTA?????

Stalk my blog at: http://semuwemba.com/

“My journey is long and my preparation is so little, and weakness has gripped me and death is chasing me!”


The British left behind an education system that everybody has been following since independence, but few people have bothered to review it to see if it still fits our needs. Theoretically there’s a saturation point that shows that the system is still good for us but in reality it’s not. Kids are mainly being taught to get jobs after studies.We aren’t taught to think outside the box on our own. Besides, most of our role models today I know who are doing well for themselves didn’t get As at school, their education came through commitment, street-smartness and experience.

Regarding our poor reading culture, how about offering reading classes where the students have the option of being graded or not graded at all.This way, the motivated students will work hard to get top grades. But everyone else can relax and have a good time, just like physical education.Even if they don’t invest their energies into the class, they’ll gain something by being exposed to knowledge about different stuff.

Let’s create required reading classes where the students are not required to do homework or take tests unless they want to. All they have to do is show up and relax and do some loud reading in turns about: religion, politics, culture or great personalities. At the very least, even the unmotivated kids will learn something; certain seeds will be planted in their souls that may sprout and flower. And motivated students will really get something out of it.

Kids who aren’t good in English should also be encouraged to read stories in the language that they are comfortable with. Speaking English fluently doesn’t make anyone more intelligent than others. Besides, having an additional means of expressing oneself, regardless of the level or quality of expression, is a value that should by no means be underestimated.

Here in the UK, kids are encouraged to read books right from the nursery stage, and a parent is required to sign in the diary to confirm that your kid has read while at home. The diary is always in the kid’s school bag along with other books.As a teacher, what you get from home schooling is that you get exposed to all the individual, different, parochial cultural bases. It gives you an insight about the parent of the kid.

As an example, there is a guy I work with but he narrates World war 11 and everything about Hitler from his finger tips. He told me that the story got patched on his brain forever because his mum used to read it for him as a kid. I felt like smacking myself because the history I learned at Kibuli S.S. was all about marks and grading. Nobody ever created a relaxing atmosphere for us to talk about these things as students in a way we want, without the fear of a cane or grades or being embarrassed by a mate. Now, all that stuff has got out of my head, and I have to teach myself again.

Perhaps the problem is that there is a phobia about textbooks, homework and tests.Young kids start out curious & eager to learn about everything around them.It’s sad that school seems to kill that spirit, and they become focused on memorizing the correct answers to get high marks on tests. Learning is supposed to be fun, and tests are useful as feedback on how well you understand the new things, but marks shouldn’t be the main thing.

The big thing I would like to see is for the schools to spend less time feeding kids facts to memorize and more time making sure they understand why some of them are important.This is a good topic, and I would love to read an input from various academicians on this forum. Thank you!

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba Via the UMBS forum



A lot of disinformation has been spread about management practices at MISR. Among these is the claim that I gave Mira Nair, my wife, preferential access to two rooms at MISR. Here are the facts:
1. When I took office as director of MISR in March 2010, I found a lot of built space rented to outsiders. Among these was a two-room block rented to a Kenyan company. This company was using the rooms as a warehouse. Opened once every few months, it was visibly deteriorating.
2. I asked the staff the rationale for renting. The answer was the rent: US $900 a month.
3. After a full discussion, the administrator, accountant and I agreed on the following: that the contract of the Kenyan company be terminated and that we look for a new tenant. That search would be guided by the following criteria: (a) there should be no financial loss to MISR; (b) the new tenant should not be a commercial concern; (c) its objectives should be complementary to those of MISR.
4. The new tenant was Maisha Arts and Culture Centre (a non profit film school whose director was and is Mira Nair). They accepted the following conditions: (a) rent at US $900 a month; (b) renovate and paint the facility at their own cost; (c) provide all MISR students and academic staff, including the MISR Film Club, free access to their film and documentary library, considered one of the best in the region; (d) free technical advice to MISR in its endeavor to set up a documentary film unit in the Cultural Studies Program.
5.Maisha Arts and Culture Centre was a tenant at MISR for two years, from 2010 to 2012, when we asked them to leave because MISR staff and activities were expanding and the space was needed. That space was converted into (a) an office for two researchers, and (b) premise for our new Publication and Communication Unit.
6. The above arrangement proved beneficial to MISR in every way.
7. Full details of the above will be provided to the Committee of Inquiry set in place by the Appointments Board yesterday, April 22, 2016.

Mahmood Mamdani
Executive Director

Stella’s Facebook posts will most likely land her in more trouble!

The eviction notice.

The eviction notice.

First. People, get a grip! All of this bickering over Dr. Stella Nyanzi’s ‘breast’ show is getting out of hand. It’s killing our debates on forums. I enjoy a good discussion but all this ranting about whether she’s right or wrong is a bit tiresome.

In my opinion,Dr.Nyanzi is awesome in her writings but I will never be on the side of a naked woman unless if either I really really want something from her or she is mentally ill.Unfortunately, I get the feeling I’m in the minority with my thoughts. And please, I’m not saying that Dr.Nyanzi is mentally ill because I’ve no qualifications for that field to diagnose her, but undressing in public was just bang out of order, man!

The stuff she writes(minus ‘kuwemula’) sometimes sounds like Uganda’s Shakespeare discovered. As you may know,Shakespeare wrote in the style of his time. and yet with his brilliant ability to use language to paint his stories and ideas those words are just as relevant now as they were then.That’s why he(Shakespeare) is still inspiring audiences 400 years later. But his writings didnt make sense to a lot of people then, just as Dr.Nyanzi’s.

Second.One of the things that bothers me most about this latest Stella show is the fact that some people are making fun of her breasts.You may argue that she brought it on herself but I find it so uncomfortable on so many levels. Look,Some guys prefer big ones, some prefer small ones, some are relatively indifferent and prefer legs instead. It’s a simple enough matter to ask a sample what they feel, and conclude on that basis that an intrinsic quality like bigness produces such-and-such an effect in the subject.An alien scientist like our minister,Lokodo, possibly studying his first human beings might then put forth a controversial theory — that there is an intrinsic parameter, breast size, that tends to such-and-such a degree to produce sexual attraction in the human male. He might then go on to study the factors that he believes may lead to that response, such as infantile imprinting, culture, and instinct. And voila, we have an objective explanation for his assessment that so-and-so deserves to be arrested for exposing something that causes discomfort in men.

Finally. Its in Dr.Nyanzi’s interests to be careful with her words from today on wards because some people are turning screws on her. They not only want her out of Makerere University, but also want to see her life difficult. She needs to lay off Facebook and TV interviews for a bit. She just keeps embarrassing herself. Have you ever heard the expression “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”?

Abbey Semuwemba

My Simple advise to Dr.Stella Nyanzi!

opprobriumHi Stella,

I’m glad your office has been reopened. I heard that when you delivered the special,the chicken fried steak was naked and there was no gravy! Well,you sound like you’re having a rough week and sorry for that.You’ve been dealt the bad hand at the table.

However,attitude is the best weapon in your arsenal not stripping naked please. And please delete that crazy ‘naked’ video in your profile because its disgusting, and it has changed the parameters of the discussion. Everybody gets in a funk once in a while. Snap out of it! Humans can survive without electricity, running water, clothing, offices and sex, but I’m not about to live naked in a forest. One thing that helps me get through tough times is to remember God.Yes, there are bad days but try to remember all the other days when you are on top of things. That’s got to count for something and it should!

As far as Makerere University politics are concerned take a day off but don’t go nuts with Facebook and giving media interviews or you’ll just feel worse, and who needs that? Hang in there, though, and try to get back on track, just in case you’ll be around for the next few decades, okay? So, chin up and ‘fuckmamdani’ (whatever that means) and remember that a path of a thousand steps is formed by placing one stone at a time. Nothing is too big to handle if you just take it step by step.I hope and sure it will be OK,mukwano!

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba



The Stella ‘breasts’ show debate should be about responsibility and conscience.I think in public, nudity is disgusting,shameful and damaging to all things Ugandan.We much rather like clothing and fashion on people, and this doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate the beauty of a human body.

Profanity and nudity are barred from media (apart from obviously Bukedde) primarily because although it is used in the real world, there is an attempt to shield kids from it and protect sensibilities.The argument runs along the lines of “its not necessary”.

Dr.Stella Nyanzi has dyed her hair red, and also threatens to go nude again if Prof.Mamdan isnt suspended too.

Dr.Stella Nyanzi has dyed her hair red, and also threatens to go nude again if Prof.Mamdan isnt suspended too.

And now this is painful but I must say it that we should also generally hold public protests to the same standards of decency we hold to others.There is nothing sacred about public protests such that a person finds it necessary to go nude. Some of you may not agree with or like such standards but we shouldnt lower them just because all institutions in the country are dead. All men are made of the same dirt, have like passions. A nude photo of a woman does not cause a man to reflect on what a wonderful personality she has and how great it would be to discuss ‘dictatorship’ with her. It causes men to see women as sex objects pure and simple. Saying ‘fuck you Mamdani’ or rolling in mud while naked(as the Amuru ladies did) does not change this.Boys are much more susceptible to this. It harms their ability to later form more meaningful relationships with women. For these and other reasons I’m all for promoting shame at public nudity. Those who are alarmed at this needn’t worry. I know I am in a shrinking minority. When I was in my early 20s, I would have been in the solid majority. But I am alarmed at the rapid escalating breakdown of social mores and attitudes in our society and I also don’t mind taking the ridicule for my stand.

I would say that Europeans are much more tolerant of nudity than we are in the Uganda, but what Dr.Stella Nyanzi did could have serious repercussions for her if she had done it anywhere in Europe. In ancient Greece it was clearly acceptable to have youths- male or female- march/ dance/ compete naked, but they also moved away from all that.

On the good side, at least now we know that Dr.Stella Nyanzi is indeed a woman. It’s a pity her nudity and profanity(‘kuwemula’) is attracting so much attention when it’s the administrative problems at Makerere University that should really matter.Or, to put it yet another way, if somebody named a composition “Genocide,” that I’d want to see more about what motivated such a scary choice of title, and not that “I’d instantly jump to the conclusion that the composer was a genocidal maniac”. So, I really hope as a way forward that we discuss the reasons that led to this Stella nudity rather than the ‘breast’ show itself. It would also help if Stella finds a way of not distracting us anymore with her ‘dirty’ media interviews, as like the one I watched on NTV-Youtube.

To always agree is fantasy; To argue out a disagreement is human, To agree to disagree is civilized.But that’s just my opinion.


“In tribute to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Uganda, two bastions of strength in a world filled with strife, discrimination and terrorism.”


The fact that Prof.MM was not suspended when he’s a party to the investigations casts doubt on the impartiality of the committee in place. This Stella Vs MM problem is generally about the errors in departmental administration. It’s not going to go away with the suspension or eventual dismissal of Dr. Stella. The problem is like a frozen shoulder (SHOULDER PAIN) in one’s body. It’s not treated with just one method. Frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis. Surrounding the bones at the shoulder joint is a “capsule” which resembles a deflated balloon. The capsule has many folds in it to accommodate the shoulder movement. The capsule gets inflamed (capsulitis) and the “folds” adhere together(adhesive). You cannot move the arm above the shoulder and or behind the back without excruciating pain. One of the most bothersome times is when you try to sleep. The arm tends to slump down towards your body and the pain will wake you every 2 hours or so. To help relieve but not eliminate the pain a pillow is placed in the armpit. But different doctors will recommend different solutions,……some work, some don’t.

Similarly, MM and his friends may celebrate what’s happening to Stella but I’m afraid the problems at Makerere wont go away if the committee just concentrates on Stella’s nudity and profanity, and its implications to the university, instead of the underlying problems.

Dr.Stella Nyanzi was suspended pending an investigation (obviously the university had no choice). She may eventually be cleared, but it looks so unlikely at this point considering where this is going, and she isn’t doing herself any favours. Very sad to see a seemingly clever woman go down the gurgler like this,but that is unfortunately the nature of university politics. MM should also be suspended pending an investigation into his dept.

*Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba*

Stalk my blog at: http://semuwemba.com/

“My journey is long and my preparation is so little, and weakness has gripped me and death is chasing me!”


Each person’s sleep requirements is different and depends on the body that GOD has created for him/her.Being different isn’t necessarily insomnia.Be reassured that if you truly need to sleep, there is nothing that can keep you from it short of torture and/or the will of GOD. For what it is worth, I think we have to find our own individual paths to comfort. For some, it may be green tea, black, late in the day.For others it is something else.” Different strokes for different folks”, as Sly and the Family Stone sang years ago:’……. I just love everyday people! The adage should be “whatever works” for us individually…..not just collectively.

I have never been a napper – not then & not now. As a young man in high school, I had to just teach myself to be still & quiet while others sometimes napped. In my secondary school we didn’t get milk and cookies. It was usually posho (fufu) and beans lunch and supper, both of which I hated. In Uganda there’s nothing like dinner as people eat to their fullest whenever they can. As a result, some of the students in my class used to struggle to stay awake after lunch, and teachers/ prefects sometimes used to beat, paddle, or scold them –which I found a dumb thing to do. I guess the problem is deeply embedded in all of humanity.The instinct toward brutality and violence. I wish some of these prefects should apologize to us now in our adulthood! Corporal punishment was not forbidden back then in most places.

I remember a one Maths teacher with his long legs that used to make noise, walking the halls with that stern face of his.The kids shook in their pants.He one time wanted to beat me up for being 5 minutes late into his class and we had to splint around the school. I was eventually reported to the Director of Studies(DOS) and got the sticks of my life, but that was the time I made a decision not to pursue Maths in my A level bse I knew that the violent man would be teaching the subject.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba


It is one thing to criticize Seya’s chameleon ways politically but it is another thing to make fun of his English grammar. I know he speaks English like someone sending a telegram but so what?This is a colonial language that happened to be our official language now. If we get right down to it, most everyone’s primary English is full of mistakes and nonstandard forms.

Children learn the language that they’re exposed to, good or bad, standard or nonstandard. The general idea seems to be that if a person speaks ‘telegram’ English, chances are that s/he grow up speaking a certain language more than English, for that matter.But instead of making fun of such a person, we should focus on the systematic ways of promoting our mother languages along side English. Luganda, Lunyankole, Lusoga, e.t.c are bonafide languages, and we should be proud of people who speak them better than us. It’s one of the reasons why I would pay money to listen to Hon. Beti Namboze and Katikiro Mayega! These are bright human beings (albeit speaking English wrongly) who can rightly discern correct speech from wrong speech and can be taught which is which.They simply need people who are understanding around them. Speaking English fluently doesnt make you more intelligent than someone who cannot speak the language at all!


Magicians in schools and market places are doing damage to the kids!

Saturday was always something in the town centres in Bugerere when I was growing up. If we weren’t playing competitive football or bike races, we were down in the market shopping all kinds of stuff. There was this specific one time when I was in Primary two, and we went to the Saturday market at Kangulumira. This Musoga man(he was speaking Lusoga) was selling sticks that could apparently do miracles. I don’t know how he did all the tricks with his stuff but he did and it looked real in my eyes!

As we entered the market, people had gathered around him and he beamed with pride while doing all sorts of demonstrations to convince people to buy his miraculous stuff.

Standing side by side among his items were a snake and ‘enfuddu’. Well, I thought, ‘that’s interesting’.

As if he was reading my thoughts, as I glanced on one of the sticks, he said: “this one when you buy it, it will make all the girls fall in love with you; you’ll will be the first in your class;e.t.c,’

“Hello, can I buy one of the sticks”, I said.

He jumped up and replied: “oh young man, you’ve made the best decision in your life. All u need now is to brush your teeth every morning using the top end of this stick, and all your problems will be solved”.

I paid him and went back home. I was pleased at the prospect of a blossoming romance with a girl I fancied at school, and I wasn’t in the slightest bit of doubt that I was going to win her over this time.

My grandpa being a very religious man, I never told him anything about my trip to the market, because this is rightly referred to as ‘shirk’ in Islam. Instead, I confided in a relative of mine called ‘Aide’ Kajoba Ahmed— from my grandma’s side. I told him everything the musoga seller in the market had told me.

Though Aide was older than me by about 7 years, he was the coolest among the old people in our household. Once in a while, he would play football or crack jokes with us. I understand ‘Aide’ was a nickname but I dont know how it came about. Up to now, I dont know!

That evening my grandparents went to bed earlier than usual– as soon as dinner was served. So, as I was curled up in my room, Aide came in and said: “you know that stick you bought from the market?”

“What about it? It’s my stick and I’m not giving it to you”, I said.

“Oh no, I don’t want it. It’s just that a little boy one day bought a similar stick, like you did, and then he became a night dancer (omusezi)”, Aide responded.

Even as he continued to explain more, I couldn’t shake the idea that he was right and I would indeed become “omusezi” if I use the stick.

To put my mind at rest, I went and threw it outside over the fence that very night. It made sense!

I don’t know why such traders are still allowed in market centres because I believe they shouldn’t operate in the first place. They take advantage of kids. The average adult says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, that’s bull’. The average child, however, assumes they are selling good stuff and grows increasingly miserable if their items never work.

A lot of what goes on in our rural based schools has a distinct odor of disdain and arrogance. Nobody cares to know if the so called ‘bafusa’(magicians) brought in schools as a form of entertainment, are doing more harm than good to the pupils.

Throughout all this bad education, you see the imprint of Russian psychology, and particularly Pavlovian psychology. The goal was always to figure out how to control people, shape people, shock people, or make them surrender more quickly.The Russians love the idea of tricking you into defeat. Call the whole thing subversion, or trickery, or greed, or psychopathology, but please don’t call it education, and it shouldn’t be part of us.

To allow magicians to go unchallenged has ramifications beyond simply confusing students about science and religion because it perpetuates a corrosive anti-intellectualism throughout the system that sabotages all efforts to improve education. This absurd episode, therefore, should alarm all those who care about education.

Abbey Semuwemba

English should be used as a medium only for science and maths. The other subjects should be taught in local languages

CONFESSION: I envy guys such as Mp Bakireke Nambooze, Tamare Mirundi, Katikiro Mayega, et al who mastered their mother language(Luganda) better than us.Sociolinguistics studies how dominant speakers can direct the evolution of a language, and these guys have taken Luganda to another level. They make it fun to listen to. Actually, I have found that there is a huge gap in our education system. I probably should have been fluent in Luganda as Nambooze if it was used to teach certain subjects in school.Therefore, I suggest that English should be used as a medium only for science and maths. The other subjects should be taught in local languages – a kind of immersion so that the students become fluent.

This business of under minding people because they aren’t fluent in English should stop. Some of the best educated people I ever know probably never set foot on a university campus, and certainly never studied the so-called classical liberal education curriculum. There is something about the people that lived and prospered during the 1960s and 70s that is lacking in our generation.For instance, I was listening to Elly Wamala(RIP) songs on YouTube recently, and I felt something GENUINE there, which isn’t the case when i watch Bebe Cool’s videos with his shirt off. His (Wamala) words are so emotional, beautiful, so vibrant, and funny………i especially like this:

‘Ssembela eno ndabe ngono weyatunga olugeyelwo’
‘Bwenkulengeledde wala ofananyi omuwala akola munyonyi’
‘tunula gyendi omwenye nga bwewamwenyanga ngo onjagala

With the current music,its not bad but its like people dancing rock music:kick each others legs and don’t even shake hands at the end of it.The dancers are like sleep-dancing through and never actually notice what is happening all around them.Something isn’t just right with our generation!


Kibuli S.S@68:Is It still the Mini-Harvard of Uganda? What happened to being the best in Sciences and Sports?

We Thank the Newvision for publishing the photos of Kibuli.S.S @68 and it’s nice to see my friend and former H/M,Hajji Kawaase still in shape. He has kept a smile on his face from the time i got to know him up to now. He is such a good man who had a lot of influence on a lot of people who are now important.I will spare you the ugly details but he is arguably the most respected former H/M in Uganda at the moment.

I didn’t attend this event though i was informed about it in advance. As you know, Kibuli S.S. is in my blood and I was there in spirit with those that attended. I have seen a few oldies I know in the photos including Dr.Badru Kiggundu of the EC. May be, we should wait for the next one inishallah as the stage is still dominated by our elder brothers and sisters. Was that Hajjati Saida Bumba who is seated opposite Dr.Badru Kiggundu? I have not seen these people for a long time and I’m in touch with only a few of them. Some look older and others look they have got pills that make someone immune to the old age. They need to tell us the secret please!

I had already received a few photos of the OBs that attended but i didn’t see anyone from the UK there. So, may be they will need to organise another one in the next decade inishallah when most of us,the NKUBA KYEYOs, have gone back home.

I have to insert here that what I have heard more often is that our standards in Kibuli S.S. have dropped down ever since Hajji Mukasa left.My intention isn’t to weaken or water down what Brother Alhajji Matovu has achieved at both Kawempe and Kibuli S.S but we have been told that Kibuli.S.S is not the same Kibuli we all used to be proud of. Kibuli used to be a mini-Harvard throughout the time i was there and we were competing with the likes of Namagunga, Gayaza, Buddo and others in that league, but i didn’t see it listed among the schools with those students that got quadruple As in their A’levels. I no longer see its headlines in sports in newspapers? What happened?

I think UPE is partly to blame as it has kind of affected the Muslim based primary schools that used to feed students to schools such as Kibuli S.S and Kawempe. It seems local school boards are now made up of politicians who wish to fulfill the president’s manifesto than anything else. I believe about 60% of Primary leaving students are functionally illiterate, and unable to do elementary mathematical computations or write and read English properly.Those who can read, write, and compute, can be self supporting but they are not as equipped as kids during our time. Standards have gone down especially in rural based schools particularly the UMEAs.

Kibuli S.S used to be among the best in sciences during Hajji Mukasa’s time. I think it was partly due to better laboratories and teachers we had. Unfortunately, I was told that most of them passed away. I didn’t do sciences at A’level as adolescence made me pursue other dreams, but I know for a fact that sciences are good for a kid’s future and I would encourage anybody with a brain to do them, to go for it. Anyway, I didn’t like the A’level Math teacher then……… so I went for Arts, but it was probably a silly adolescent decision. Kids should be encouraged to do science subjects rather than arts……. life becomes a bit easier in future.

Science is a neutral mechanism for describing how nature presents itself to our senses. It has no purpose other than find the best theory that sheds light on nature. Einstein’s relativity,Newton’s gravity,Darwin’s natural selection, Hutton’s superposition and cross-cutting relationships, etc., are all theories. They just happen to be the best formula for working out the problems seen in nature.

Science is no different than math. To discover keys behind the mechanisms that produce what we see is exactly the same as banging out mathematical formulas to describe shapes. Nobody expects gravity to suddenly reverse, or the general theory of relativity to fail. As a matter of fact, we expect these theories to fail with the same regularity as
A= (pi) (R^2) will fail to describe the area of a circle.If we are not meant to find the best way to describe nature to gain an understanding of the mechanisms behind it, science would not exist.

I really hope that the representatives of the Uganda Muslim Teachers Association (UMTA) look into this matter and see to it that Muslim schools improve on their standards in science subjects. Kawempe Muslim Secondary School used to do well in arts but it seems they are also in some sort of a decline. Anyway, someone should look into these things as some of us are fed on street talk only. Thank you!

Byebyo ebyange

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
Stalk my blog at: http://semuwemba.com/
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‘”The three separate branches of government were developed as a check and balance for one another. It is within the court’s duty to ensure that power is never condense[d] into a single branch of government.” – Judge Anna Diggs Taylor

Does Speaking English fluently measure someone’s intelligence in Uganda?

Dear readers,

Some Ugandans have been criticizing Vice president, Dr.Bukenya’s fluency in the English language, particularly when he appeared to be struggling with English at a business forum in India as indicated in the YouTube video:


The same groups have called for president Museveni’s press secretary, Tamare Mirundi’s head, because he cannot also express himself properly in English during press conferences. Others have also been mistakenly praising the president of one of the DP factions, Norbert Mao’s oratory skills for intelligence. Some have even, out of ignorance, said that Mao is more intelligent than the Mayor of Kampala, ‘illiterate’ Sebagala. But what is the truth in whole this?

Normally a person growing up just hearing a language will not speak it as a native speaker or someone that language is a mother tongue. However, if one begins speaking a language on a regular basis, one usually keeps an accent all their life. For instance, some of us have developed funny accents because of the regions where we live in Britain but does it mean that we can express ourselves better than Bukenya or Tamare Mirundi(presedential Press Secretary)? The answer is ‘no’.

For all practical purposes, a person speaking a language at mother tongue level is a native speaker. Therefore, Dr.Bukenya cannot speak English in the same way as an English man or like some Ugandans who have been abroad for ages. A native speaker may once have meant “native” in the original sense of the word, i.e. born in that country, but now it just means a person who grew up speaking that language – which is the only way to get perfect in one language.

Indeed, a lot of people that pass through educational institutions in Uganda can express themselves in English, but are not (and may never be) as good at English as a “native speaker” or someone who has lived abroad for years. So when Tamare Mirundi speaks English, he represents a large group of elites in Uganda, and this is ok as long as people understand what he is trying to say.

Again, it is not just about grammar. Understanding the various regional differences of English or American English can be quite challenging as well. For instance, I can bet several Ugandans would not understand a thing when they hear an English man from Yorkshire or Liverpool(UK) addressing them because of the accent. In the UK itself they accept people that know how to express themselves in good English but they don’t demand them to be from Anglophone countries, or speak English fluently. This means that Dr.Bukenya or Tamare Mirundi can get any job they want in the UK with their level of expression in English.

I am no expert on all these matters, but my personal experience is that there are really big differences between individual people. There are  those who live in a country for more than 20 years and still speak the local language with a heavy accent while others are really hard to identify as non-native speakers after only three or four years. I don’t know what the reason for this is.

But of course it does not often happen that people have to be perfect in the language, and I don’t really think this is necessary. If we want an open society in Uganda, we have to be more tolerant against people not perfectly speaking our languages or any foreign language such as English. For instance, there are many people who are native Luganda speakers by birth, like me, but who speak a highly ungrammatical language that is not really rich on vocabulary. Many non-baganda beat their level of language.

It can also be proven that even a native speaker’s fluency is his/her own language can diminish given enough time in another linguistic environment.  There has been several notable Ugandans example of this, but I won’t go into it.

Is Ssebagala Illiterate?

Let me also correct people one thing: Ssebagala Nasser is not an illiterate man as he can read and write. He can read and write Luganda fluently. He can read English but cannot speak it fluently. So their use of the word ‘illiterate’ is totally misplaced. But then again, history has shown that illiteracy is not in any way a measure of one’s intelligence. For instance, according to Islamic scriptures, prophet Muhammad (SAW) never knew how to read and write but he managed to spread Islam under very difficult conditions, and Islam today has got second biggest following after Christianity.

Wealth and intelligence

It is true that wealthy people are generally more intelligent than average all over the world. But this is not the same as saying that the current Mayor of Kampala,Hajji Sebagala, is more intelligent than  Mao, but it is very possible. I don’t know, but it’s very possible, since intelligence is very difficult to quantify.My argument here all hinges on the word “generally,’ and I hope some people don’t equivocate on the meaning of that word. Yes, there is a distinct subset of wealthy people that are less intelligent than average but overall the rich tend to be smarter. That is a fact!

Alhajji Ssebagala, James Mulwana and most rich Kampala men are more street smart than the likes of Mao, and they are probably more intelligent than the likes of Mao. Probably, if Ssebagala had decided to invest more of his time in first acquiring more degrees before business, ‘theoretical’ elites would now be calling him so intelligent, because their definition of intelligence is on how much qualifications someone has got.

Look, Uganda, unlike USA or UK, people just don’t become rich through stockbrokers and mutual funds. One has to be ‘OMUYIYA’(creative) to make it to the top. Those who make it through straightforward means: acquiring education, getting a job, and becoming rich, are not many. But Pessimists are people who believe in elites and governments. They believe that famous college professors are smarter than ordinary men and women, which is totally wrong.

Education and intelligence

There is this false idea that education = intelligence. Education may lead to understanding of intelligence, but it can just as easily lead one away from their real abilities.   We must not confuse education and intelligence with cult of education and intelligence.  In many ways, an illiterate Ugandan peasant knows more about human nature, economics, and moral values than some highly educated Uganda bureaucrat steeped in Marxist theory, dialectical materialism, and historicist mumbo jumbo.  A person can be highly educated with all the false ideas and idiocies.  Only the CULT of education says that a person is more intelligent simply because he’s read more books, has earned a Ph.D. and given lectures.

For instance, I know a lot of uneducated men in Bugerere at Kisega Village, including my grandfather, who act more intelligent than this crop we have now got from Makerere university. For 1000s of years, the most highly educated Chinese believed that business was dirty and exploitative, and so China did not make economic progress like the West.

One can study for years and years, but if the ideas are false or misleading the educated can be more stupid, naive, and ignorant that those who learned of reality through everyday experience. Norbert Mao saw Ssebagala losing the trust of Ugandans by leaning himself more towards president Museveni and NRM, but the ‘intelligent’ Mao has been publicly praising president Museveni several times. The ‘intelligent’ Mao thinks that  a fragmented opposition can stop NRM from leading Uganda for more 30 years.

That’s why I discourage people to go for postgraduate studies for the sake of beautifying their CV. One needs to find himself before going for further studies. We have all got abilities which we never exploit just because we are rushing to impress the society and those around us.

Is Mao more intelligent than Ssebagala?

Intelligence can’t even be quantified, let alone measured – and I see zero evidence anywhere that Mao is more intelligent than Ssebagala. If we define intelligence in terms of “success,” then Ssebagala has done well for himself than Mao.Speaking English fluently does not make Mao more intelligent.For instance,the computer with an NLP software understands plain English -but it is only as intelligent as its rules & database allow it to. It cannot acquire intelligence or use common sense.

Overall, we should all respect each other and never to make a mistake of measuring one’s intelligence, perfection or literacy depending on their fluency in a language. Yes, English is very important and we should all strive to learn it because the prevalence of English as a language of commerce and of technical communication easily connects us to the global village and global opportunities. It’s one of the reasons why I have been advocating for its promotion in East Africa at the expense of Swahilli.

Byebyo ebyange

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

Iddi Amin

What has gone wrong at Makerere University


Makerere was once one of the most powerful universities in Africa but it has recently become a laughing stock in the last ten years or so. I don’t know whether this has got partly to do with ill planning from the regime in power or its the administrators, but what  I know is that Makerere University is still burying itself in its original history as an attraction of the new students instead of adopting regular strategic planning. Higher education or university education is now part of the global world and it has taken Makerere ages to realise that. For instance, Makerere have just started online admissions just after moreover several years of operation. In this day and age, the most successful institutions will be those that can do strategic marketing planning, carve out niches, and develop new programs that will drive students to the institution. Part of this planning will include investment in advertising and marketing initiatives aimed at developing institutional brand names and student prospect leads.

Why would faculty Deans have such big offices at Makerere in this day and time where saving office space is very important in the developed world. For instance, most of the lecturers in universities in the UK here can share an office as many as 3 people. The only thing that separates them is their computers and desks. If Makerere and Uganda universities need to come out of this ‘big office’ culture, they need to start looking at their institutions as businesses which makes some profits rather than purely educational institutions. Many academic traditionalists get very upset when you start referring to students as customers and education as a business but this is a short-sighted view if often what causes the death of many small private colleges in and around the world. Because of this traditional mentality, it is alleged that the new vice chancellor of Makerere was welcomed with huge debts accrued from administrators who don’t want to run the institution as more of a business.

It’s a pity that the deans of faculty at Makerere put their efforts in ‘okulembeka’ or negotiating foreign money for themselves instead of focussing on developing scholarship and grant opportunities for their students. Makerere needs to adopt Porter’s Five Forces to keep it going. Competition in any industry, including academia, does not arise from differences between competitors in that single industry. It also is dependent on the underlying economics of the industry. Porter’s Five Forces provides a practical model that also addresses economic principles. Porter maintains that strategy is not found on a direct line from point A to point B, that it is not the pursuit of a single ideal position.

This takes me straight to the point of entrepreneurship that some Ugandans have pointed out. In this 21st century, universities should act and think as entrepreneurs and produce more entrepreneurs by over investment of entrepreneur courses. Possessing an entrepreneurial frame of mind gives the institution an advantage over its competitors. Whether it is higher education or business, the strategic framework should be underpinned by the same characteristics: reflective, innovative, brand supportive dominant logic, and exceptional capabilities. However, I must also stress that to become a successful entrepreneur does not necessarily need someone to become a graduate though it helps. That’s why the government needs to help the entrepreneurs at Katwe and other places.

The government should also transform most of the higher rated colleges in different parts of the country into universities to reduce on overcrowding of Makerere University. For instance, polytechnics in the UK were transformed into universities. Most of the universities in the UK with the word ‘Metropolitan’ were once polytechnics including the one I studied in. It’s not that the government of UK totally abandoned the technical skills these polytechnics were offering. What they did was to build vocational colleges in their places. So you going to find that in almost all cities in the UK there are colleges with names such as: College of music, College of building, College of Technology, School of catering, …….. and this is done to expand on technical skills in the country.  The UK nationals don’t pay any fees while studying in these small colleges. Therefore, having a large pool of technical colleges in Uganda will also widen on the technical skills among the ever increasing population of the country.

Finally, risk taking is more of a personal initiative which has got nothing to do with the level of education. So whether educated or not, you can become financially successful through personal initiatives. This probably explains why majority of the richest in the world are of modest education. Let the administrators of Makerere take risks and try new things every now and then to bring back the magnetism Makerere once had. They should not be stuck in the past.

Byebyo ebyange

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

United Kingdom


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Semuwemba is a Ugandan residing in the UK

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"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. "~ Martin Luther King Jr. ~

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