The events at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) are of great concern to me as an alumnus of the great university. I confess to being possessed of limitless pride in Makerere, both because I am a lucky beneficiary of that university and the memory of people who have come before us.

Makerere Main Building – completed in 1941

My generation holds in high regard names like Prof. Ali A. Mazrui, Prof. Yash Tandon, Prof. Gingyera-Pincwa, Prof. Samwiri Karugire, Prof. Benon Turyagyenda Rugyema and Prof. Dan Muguwa Mudoola, a few of the people who kept MISR going even in the most difficult environments. Of these, only Yash Tandon is still alive.

In my youth, the East African Institute of Social Research (EAISR), which became MISR in 1970, was a highly regarded centre of excellence, as was everything else at Makerere University. Its recovery from the near-death experience of Uganda’s lost decades has been a source of joy for me. Anything that sullies the reputation of MISR causes great discomfort.

That is why I am very delighted and encouraged by the appointment of Professor David Justin Bakibinga to head the committee that will probe the circumstances that have led to the crisis at MISR. We can sleep better tonight.

Bakibinga David
Dr. David Justin Bakibinga, Professor of Law, Makerere University

Dr. Bakibinga is a very fine and very fair gentleman. Makerereans and Ugandans can be very confident that he will insist on the facts and the truth. Both Professor Mahmood Mamdani and Dr. Stella Nyanzi can breathe easy and cooperate fully with the Bakibinga Committee knowing that its chairperson will be just and genuinely impartial.

Without any prejudice, I can state with confidence that the members of the public who have taken sides in this conflict have done so without the benefit of the facts. We are not privy to the source of the disagreement between Mamdani and Nyanzi. We have had only bits of both individuals’ cases, given in a state of deep anger and frustration. To pass judgment without the benefit of full information is to do an injustice to our brother and sister, to MISR and Makerere University and to the truth.

Now that the conflict has come into the public square, Ugandans will probably be entitled to know the details of the Bakibinga Report. I urge all of us to withhold judgment until we have heard from Bakibinga.

For what it is worth, my advice to Prof. Ddumba-Sentamu, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University; Prof. Mamdani, the Executive Director of MISR and Dr. Nyanzi, Research Fellow at MISR, is to ceasefire, completely stay clear of the news media and internet, and deal with the problem through the appropriate channels and forums of Makerere University.

I realize that there is anger on both sides. I know that a lot has been said and done in public that has made the combustible situation appear to have passed the point of no return. The urge to be heard and to counter the statements made against one is a very strong one. However, there is great value in remaining silent even in the face of extreme public assault on one’s reputation.

Whereas neither Mamdani nor Nyanzi will come out of this unscathed, it is possible to find a resolution to this conflict without destroying the persons and careers of the people involved. My personal wish is to see MISR survive and prosper (as it must!) with both Mamdani and Nyanzi standing side by side as colleagues who have reconciled and grown as a result of this hiccup. Makerere needs both of them. But if they must part, let it be with minimum damage to our university.

I am not so naïve as to think that the matter at MISR is a simple one. I have witnessed too many worse conflicts in various centres I have worked to think that the Mamdani-Nyanzi matter can be simply wished away or solved with a magic wand. However, where there has been a deliberate effort to find a solution that would leave the organization intact, the matter has been resolved without destroying people’s lives and careers.

I have seen this happen before. In one university department where I was on staff, a senior physician and my division head were literally at each other’s throats. The matter ended up in court. The tension in the Division was thick and dark.

In the end the matter was not resolved by the judiciary, but by a small group of us who arranged conversations with the two gentlemen, in an atmosphere that sought to build them, not to destroy either one. The Division survived the crisis and prospered. Both individuals stayed.

The leaders of Makerere University must rise to the occasion and find a solution to the crisis at MISR that will heal the rift and move the university forward. Yes, I know that Makerere of today is very different from the one I joined as a freshman 44 years ago. The challenges of Uganda are manifest in the place I called home for five years.

However, the crisis at MISR should not be allowed to bury the great work that is being done by truly illustrious men and women in the university’s various schools. For example, even as the journalists have been bringing us news from MISR, a very successful conference on adolescent health has been taking place under the leadership of Dr. Sabrina Kitaka and her colleagues.

I am already preparing to celebrate the Makerere Centenary in 2022 with pride and optimism that the great university will reclaim its premier place in the international academic community. The events at MISR must not be allowed to interfere with Makerere’s happy destiny.

 

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19 Responses to “On the Mamdani-Nyanzi Standoff”

  1. Clare wanyama

    Well spelt out Dr and you’ve out president cases I hope you still have the valid rulings but the thing is it looks like it is politics vs the university visa vie the govt now the govt having powers from above must ga e wanted to frustrate and deprive her of the job and at the time prof dumba come justly knowing that it is a university of integrity and trust where he earned some point there when he ordered the release of the office Dr this was my university as well

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  2. Thanks so much

    We need to keep the glory of our mighty University,this was so terifying but lets keep calm and leave the Dr.Bakibinga team do its work.

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  3. Wycliffe B

    Well stated Ndugu Muniini K Mulera. I only hope that there is no external hand in this and if there isn’t, then we can be sure that Dr Bakibinga will help to bring a smile to all of us. There is indeed a general breakdown in observance of acceptable administrative procedures in Uganda and serious trampling of workers (and consumers’) rights. High unemployment levels in a country dominated by dictatorship everywhere have given employers (and supervisors at work)unwritten licence to being ‘always right.’ But one would wish to exclude Makerere for the abundance of knowledge in their midst especially with its research and exposure. May your pride in Makerere not be misplaced, Muniini.

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  4. Sabrina Kitaka

    Thank you again Dr.Muniini Mulera for taking a very balanced,positive,and mature approach at this current seemingly challenging quagmire.Thanks also for appreciating our work,where we are deliberating on Adolescent Health,because we know that we must care for this special group of our population and reduce their vulnerability index.

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  5. Sam mucunguzi

    Warm greetings to you.

    I am thankfully for this thoughtful piece of peace for both embattled academicians and much so, for the respect of our great University. And to remove the bias of Prof. Mamdani in the constituted committee to investigate the matter.

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  6. Angelina

    You hopeless romantic. We need enthusiasts like you in this world! The quality of scholars 44 years ago would transform this nation that is in a season of groaning at multiple levels. May sanity reign.

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  7. Alice N K

    Very well written, balanced with MUK at heart. Am a much younger generation from yours, with the same interests though. Thank you, I hope they respect it

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  8. TUGUME RONALD

    Am glad to read this from a point of objectivity. One of the traits that has eluded many commentaries. I also want to add that Dr Bakibinga is a scholar of great repute and I had the privilege to be under his tutor ship. God help him and grant him wisdom.

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  9. Andrew Kiggundu

    Nice one Munini, what I belive is that it is selfish as an academic researcher working for a teaching not to transfer your knowledge to the young generations especially when you are a mother.

    Purely research institutions, like NARO teach as part of transferring knowledge to future generations. Sad that a researcher in a purely educational institution does not want to teach.

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  10. Rebecca

    Thanks Dr. For yr encouragement, to us who do not want to see any of the 2 exit, and for them too. You havent taken sides, like prof Barya, that is what leadership needs, we salute you, i wish you were around to mediate on the committe.

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  11. I feel very privileged to have gone to school in Uganda when we had such icons teaching in our learning institutions (my special sentiments to Mazrui). This incident both saddens me and makes me feel a bit of embarrassment. As you mentioned, we do not know the facts on both sides so we cannot judge or come to conclusions prematurely. One thing I personally will say is that undressing is definitely not the way to resolve a conflict. Surely there are procedures and other modalities that professor Nyanzi could have employed. I would not have her teach my children.

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  12. Micheal Kwarikunda Mbareba

    Well, we need to trust the committee and see through what report they will have made. One thing I heard from either side is both Nyanzi and Mamdan say teaching is the Centre of the Conflict. Mamdan says so, Stella had said so long time.

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  13. Catherine Kanabahita

    Well put and civil Dr. Munini. Prof. Bakibinga refused to vacate office when his term as Dean, Law School ended and the incoming Dean, Prof. Tamale put on a different padlock to lock him out. The shared experience with Dr. Nyanzi will certainly serve him well as Chair…we await the outcome!

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  14. Geoffrey Tabu MD

    Ooh ! Uganda really needs men like you Munini. Our problem in Uganda is that government has weakened all institutions and wants to interfere with their draconian influence everywhere. The two should not allow their ego bring down the reputation of our Harvard of Africa.

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  15. James William Mugeni

    Well I don’t know anything about Mamdan but this country lacks scholars you cannot have the current Uganda if we had scholars from my small world of public health I sure know public health is politics.I want to believe this is what the other worlds must be.Stella Nyanzi much as took a partisan path I think no brains worth brains can stand what goes on in Uganda.It is the reason why some of us supported her Nudity. 8 Ugandans today are lying in cold blood but just see what we have achieved with is single act of this lady.She stood out against misrule. So Makerere cannot stand out as an ivory tower where there are no Elephants.

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  16. Hannington

    Thank you so much Dr. Muniini Mulera first of all for your opinions on various issues prevailing in our mother land Uganda and for inviting the wider world to engage in debate on how we can move out our country forward through this forum – “fireplace”. There have been so many stories both in the print and visual which are so unpalatable but as you prayed and indeed most of us do, that there’s enough confidence in the Dr. Bakibinga committee to carry out their investigations without fear or favour and come out with a position that will be respected by all the parties involved. Most importantly, everyone should be a winner!!

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  17. Newton Isaac Mazima

    Greatful Dr. for such a well spelt note of guidance. I stand with you in attesting to the brilliancy and sense of integrity That Prof. Bakibinga has.
    I personally think political influence is killing the facts already. moving away from the initial point of conflict to the ever changing frame of the matter.
    The other day I saw Nyanzi in a Besigye T shirt trying to politicise the matter and seek political sympathy and confuse the world. For the sake of our great Makerere let issues that are administrative in nature be tackled by administration and the political bit will go the ballot box. pround to be a Makererean.

    Reply

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