June 19, 2023


“Unikonversationz”: UCU rolls out first-ever audio-visual university podcast in Uganda

By Irene Best Nyapendi

Uganda Christian University (UCU) has launched the first-ever audio-visual university podcast in Uganda dubbed “Unikonversationz”.

About the UCU-based UniKoversationz podcast

This is an inaugural university podcast that seeks to stimulate intellectual conversations and social commentary that appeal to and are relevant to university students or semi-educated people. Our goal is to provoke thought on topical issues ranging from academia, Christianity, worldviews, social life on campus, growth, personal improvement, etc. Our guest/guests take on intriguing subjects and discuss them with utmost precision.
While the podcast is curated by a team based at UCU, its appeal stretches beyond the university to broader audiences in Uganda and beyond. The audio-visual podcast is available on our YouTube channel.

Below is a glimpse of our first-ever audio-visual university podcast.

Over 60 UCU theology students thrilled on study tour

By Irene Best Nyapendi

Over 60 Uganda Christian University (UCU) Students of theology has toured various locations for purposes of appreciation of church history and general spiritual enlightenment. First, they went to St Paul’s Cathedral, then the Provincial Office C.O.U, after that, the Archbishop’s Palace in Namirembe; and finally, the Namugongo Martyrs sites-Anglican Church of Uganda. They were thrilled at the wealth of history that the church has preserved for several decades.

About the UCU study tour

The study tour was organized by the church relation office of UCU and school of theology.

By sightseeing historic sites, attending service at St. Paul cathedral, visiting the archbishop’s palace, partaking in other learning activities, the students experienced the church history of Uganda.

Rev Canon Amos Turyahabwe, the Head of Pastoral and Practical Studies, stated that they organized this study tour to offer its students a better and practical vision of the church history.

 “We saw that it’s not enough for us to only give the students theory so we organized a study tour to give our students exposure of the church history, to know where the headquarters are, where the first diocese was, to see and hear what the martyrs went through,” Turyahabwe said.

He adds that it was vital for the students to physically see some of the things that they learn in class to enhance their understanding.

While at St. Paul Cathedral Namirembe, which is the oldest and biggest chapel in Uganda, the students saw where the bishops sit, the grave of Bishop James Hannington.

Hannington was meant to be the first Bishop of C.O.U unfortunately he was murdered on his way to Uganda hence Bishop Alfred Tucker became the first bishop of C.O.U.

The students were also exposed to tour around the head offices of the Anglican Church, where they learnt that the term of service for the bishops is 10 years.

At the province they met UCU Alumni Andrew Agawa who is currently the Director of Households and community transformation.

Agawa appreciated the university team for organizing such a study tour because many individuals would love to have it but they cannot access it.

“As theologians it is good for you to have this because many people have never had this opportunity, because when they come in here as individuals chances are low that they can be given access to these places,” Agawa said.

Agawa went ahead to introduce some of the province leaders to the students as they got to learn more about church management and leadership.

The students also had time to visit the Most Rev. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu’s palace in Namirembe where they were happily welcomed by his wife, Margaret Naggayi Bulya. Together with the students they sung the famous song “Tumutendereze Yesu”.

She appreciated the students for answering Gods call upon their life and cautioned them not to carry themselves into ministry but to do it in response to God’s call.

“Thank you for answering God’s call upon your life because when God calls you, he will sustain you because while here you are standing in the feet of God,” she said.

She urged the students to let Jesus have the lead in their life and prayed a blessing upon their life.

“May you leave UCU and go and serve and not focus on wealth or positions because when you do well, God takes you to greater heights because God loves humble steadfast people,” Naggayi prayed for the students.

The students reaped from the study tour, one way or another, from the journey which enhanced their intellectual and academic knowledge on the church history.

According to some of the students, the study tour encouraged them to know that the things they are reading about isn’t just theoretical but they are real things.

The study tour also encourages the students to believe more as they are prepared for ministry.

Theology Students share their study tour experience

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Theology students heading to the Archbishop’s palace.

Ronald Makoba pursuing a masters of Divinity, narrates that it has been a great experience for him looking at the history of C.O.U through the portraits at the site.

“In class we take notes, talk about the church history in Uganda but I had never seen these places, so visiting these historical places like Namirembe gave me exposure and it was an eye opener ,” Makoba said

Makoba was ignited by the mark that has been left by the martyrs which taught him that despite persecution the gospel of Christ must be proclaimed.

 “I’ve been touched looking at those martyrs, it paints a picture to us to be practical and I also saw the importance for us to lay foundations for others,” Makoba said.

Margret Nakalena pursuing a masters in Divinity says it was an experience of enlightenment for her to understand the administrative structure of the church.

“It’s been a wonderful experience physically seeing what we have been taught in class so now when we go back to class the discussions won’t only be from text but our mind will flash back to what we saw and heard today,” Nakalena said.

She explains that she is now able to know where each church is set and also learnt that it’s at the province that the important decisions in the dioceses are made.

“I also learnt that St. Paul Cathedral, Namirembe is of great significance to both Buganda and the government,” she added.

During this study tour, Stella Betty Abarob, pursuing a masters in Theology, had the opportunity to learn about the founders of the church and the historical background of the church.

This gave Abarob an opportunity to appreciate the fact that C.O.U has a great foundation that helps to strengthen our faith.“ It was my first time touring these historical places and the experience has been transformational. I have really enjoyed this tour each of the places we went to, I had something to learn,” Abarob said.

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Rev. Richard Mulindwa (extreme right) leading students to the archbishop’s palace.

Rev. Richard Mulindwa, Ag. Manager of the UCU Church Relations office, says that the rationale for this study tour was for the students to know the history of the C.O.U, and to know the women and men who highly sacrificed for the faith they are enjoying.

“We think this has been a source of great exposure for our theology students as they venture into other key places in C.O.U so when it comes to the time of their training they will be grounded and will have the history of where we have come from,” Mulindwa said.

He adds that the study tour is part of the students training and formation, because other than the formation in classes this is the formation in the sense of practicum.

Janitor plays role in UCU alum’s academic success

By Pauline Luba
Janitorial work increased the chances of a university getting at least one student. That’s part of the story of Dr. Jonathan Tumwebaze, who shared the role of a building custodian in his enrollment at Uganda Christian University (UCU).

Tumwebaze’s father, Kaganda Bbala, was looking for a university where his son could pursue undergraduate studies, and UCU was among those on the list. During the university tour with his father in 2011, Tumwebaze said that as his dad walked into the bathrooms in the Mukono campus Nsibambi Hall, he remarked that if custodians could do their job so diligently without close supervision, then there was something special about UCU.

From UCU to University of Pretoria

The university journey that Tumwebaze started 12 years ago has seen him recently earning a PhD in a record two-and-a-half years. The course usually takes up to five years. The 31-year-old received his doctorate in public policy from the University of Pretoria in South Africa on March 21, 2023. 

Titled “A Framework for Child Participation in Child-focused Policy Design in Uganda,” Tumwebaze’s research focused on inclusion of children’s voices in child-focused, policy decision-making processes. He describes a developing paradigm of thought in Uganda’s child-focused research literature. 

Tumwebaze with Patty Huston-Holm, Uganda Partners communications director, when they worked together to conduct post-graduate writing and research clinics.
Tumwebaze with Patty Huston-Holm, Uganda Partners communications director, when they worked together to conduct post-graduate writing and research clinics.

Tumwebaze has a unique passion for cross-disciplinary learning and knowledge systems, and has a breadth of experience working with students. Serving as the Interim Global Health Coordinator for Uganda Studies Program and Christian University Partnerships Manager, Tumwebaze’s doctorate meant he was the first student to graduate under the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research. The partnership is a collaborative venture in public policy and is currently offered in three universities in Africa – the University of Pretoria, University of Nairobi in Kenya and the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. In 2015, Tumwebaze worked as an intern for a new UCU postgraduate thesis-assistance program.

Tumwebaze and four others enrolled for the program as full-time PhD resident fellows in February 2020 at the University of Pretoria. Even though Covid-19 affected many education systems, Tumwebaze’s PhD journey was never interrupted, which is something he attributed to the robust nature of the University of Pretoria’s academic programs. He benefited from the financial support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the University of Pretoria Doctoral Research Scholarship. The university has offered Tumwebaze a placement for post-doctoral research, an academic mentorship journey he will be embarking on soon.

Initially, he did not want to pursue a B.A. in Development Studies at UCU. He also had been accepted for the Bachelor of Laws degree, which is where his heart was. However, upon the advice of his father that the tuition fee for the law course was too expensive, Tumwebaze switched to Development Studies. 

“The first month at university was hard,” Tumwebaze recalled. “I saw myself as a lawyer and kept wondering what I was doing in another class.”

Agatha Ninsiima, a friend and an honors student, noticed Tumwebaze’s lack of ambition and encouraged him to avoid wasting three undergraduate years – to put zeal and energy into his development study. And Tumwebaze did just that.

Soon, his attitude shifted to positive and, since then, he topped his class until he completed the course. He was not just a member, but also the chairperson of the UCU Honors College, which is an interdisciplinary Christian leadership and mentorship program that empowers highly motivated and talented students to think critically and creatively about how their Christian faith influences their academic and professional goals. 

Tumwebaze is the third born of Bbala and Adyeeri Kaganda. He attended St. Jude Primary School Kyegobe in Fort Portal, western Uganda and Mengo Senior Secondary in central Uganda for his secondary school education. While at Mengo, Tumwebaze got an opportunity to spend some time in Norway as part of an exchange student program.