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UCU nursing alumna eager to ‘save lives’ and support family

By Yasiri J. Kasango
In 2017, when Hope Kyomugisha got admitted to Uganda Christian University (UCU), she was not sure how she would pay her tuition fees. With hope and a prayer, she made the trip to the university to pick up her admission letter.

To her surprise, she did not return home with only the admission letter. While at the university campus, Kyomugisha learned of a scholarship available through the Uganda Partners, a USA-based organization that seeks material and spiritual support for UCU students through sponsorship.

Kyomugisha was fortunate enough to get the grant, which enabled her to pursue her Bachelors of Nursing Science course.

The 24-year-old was among the 25 students who received a Bachelor of Nursing Science at UCU’s 22nd graduation ceremony on October 22, 2021.

Kyomugisha on graduation day on October 22, 2021.
Kyomugisha on graduation day on October 22, 2021.

“This degree means a lot to me and my family because I am now going to get employment to be able to support myself and them,” Kyomugisha says. “I badly needed the scholarship because the tuition fee was high and my parents had other children they were paying tuition for.”

Her excellent performance earlier in her education journey, she says, played a key role in her winning the Uganda Partners scholarship. Partners took the responsibility of paying sh2,104,000/= (about $590) for her tuition and sh1,200,000/= ($338) for her hostel fees, during the four years of her study at UCU.

The 24-year-old says she was deliberate about her choice of the university. Since Kyomugisha said she was looking for an institution that was offering Christian-centered learning and building a good character of the students, UCU was the natural choice.

She says UCU is a good learning environment. “The atmosphere offers a favourable environment for concentration and learning,” she says.

Kyomugisha’s elder sister, Deborah Namanya, also is a nurse. It is Namanya who inspired Kyomugisha to pursue the nursing course. The UCU graduate says she would always admire the grace with which Namanya and her classmates carried themselves at the Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery in Kampala.

Kyomugisha dreams of becoming a nursing educator so she can train more people into the profession. However, before she achieves that dream, she hopes to first pursue a diploma course in health management and leadership, to make her more formidable in health administration.

Kyomugisha during her internship
Kyomugisha during her internship

Kyomugisha hopes to devote part of her energies in advocating the rights of expectant mothers in Uganda because she feels not all of them receive the recommended adequate care.

Kyomugisha’s entrance into medical practice was somewhat a baptism of fire. At the height of the spread of the coronavirus in Uganda, Kyomugisha, who had just started her internship as a nursing trainee, came face to face with what it meant to treat patients who had contracted Covid-19.

She says the experience was so terrifying to her and her parents, especially given the fact that the country was also losing medical practitioners to the pandemic. 

Background
Kyomugisha is the second of six children of Boaz and Agatha Natumanya. She was born and raised in Sheema district, western Uganda. Kyomugisha went to Ishaka Town School for her primary education and then Bweranyangi Girls School for secondary education. From Senior One to Six, Kyomugisha studied on a half bursary at Bweranyangi Girls School. She says the school offered her the bursary because of her impressive academic performance.

How Masagazi’s missing name was restored on graduation list

By Michael Kisekka
Sh500,000 (about $140). That was the amount of money standing between Alvin Masagazi and his degree at Uganda Christian University (UCU). And Masagazi was not even aware that the debt existed. Unaware of a problem, he was preparing for graduation.

Alvin Masagazi in nursing uniform during internship (Courtesy photo)
Alvin Masagazi in nursing uniform during the internship (Courtesy photo)

“I was bewildered about how this had happened because I thought all my tuition was covered fully,” Masagazi, who joined UCU’s nursing program in 2017, says. “I couldn’t believe my name was not on the graduation list.”  

He was even more shocked with the debt because he was on a government scholarship scheme that was meant to cover his tuition for all four years that he was to spend at the university. Somehow, he had the debt. And he had to pay it.

“I desperately needed the money, but my parents were not financially stable at the time the graduation lists were released,” Masagazi says, adding that he did not have anyone else to help secure the money. 

Masagazi’s hope was fading; his heart was breaking. His parents were not in a position to rescue him. Then, a friend told him about the United States-based UCU Partners, a non-profit charitable organization committed to raising support for UCU programs, services, staff and students. The UCU Financial Aid Office had advertised about how the NGO could help, calling for applications from students who were due for graduation, but were financially distressed and had outstanding tuition balances. 

When he applied for the tuition top-up, Masagazi was successful. On October 22, 2021, he joined 24 other people to receive the Bachelor of Nursing Science degree at UCU’s 22nd graduation ceremony.

He says the kind of generosity displayed by UCU Partners is something he wants to play out in his own life. 

“When God grants me the resources, I also aspire to do the same for students who find themselves caught up in similar circumstances,” he said.

With the degree, Masagazi is confident he will be able to fulfill his passion of “saving lives”

Nurse Alvin Masagazi on graduation day (Courtesy photo)
Nurse Alvin Masagazi on graduation day (Courtesy photo)

at the health facilities where he will serve while supporting himself and a family. First, he does a mandatory one-year internship program in a hospital.

“I am really excited and optimistic for what the future holds for me,” he said.

During his four-year academic journey at UCU, Masagazi practiced photography and was a student leader in charge of health in the university (2019). 

“My love for nursing and helping people got me into that position in the cabinet and I worked hard to help and improve the health services during my term of office,” he says.

Masagazi is the firstborn of four children of Sam Lwanga and Christine Itetsire. He was born and raised in Gayaza, central Uganda. He attended City Parents School and Mugwanya Preparatory School for his primary education and then Buddo Secondary School for his secondary education. All three schools are found in central Uganda. 

For the six years at Buddo, for both O’level and A’level, Masagazi was on a scholarship because of his talent in music and sports.

UCU grad’s childhood mockery drives passion for human rights

By Patty Huston-Holm
Be careful little eyes what you see…ears what you hear…tongue what you say…hands what you do…

This children’s song based on Mark 4:24-25, popular in America today and written in 1956, likely wasn’t known in Uganda when Johnson Mayamba was growing up. Nevertheless, the words ring true for the now 33-year-old who was abandoned by a father who had eight children by four women, was chased away by relatives unwilling to help a single mom feed a hungry boy and was mocked for his ignorance by teachers and classmates in school.

The most stinging memory was planted by a science teacher at a primary school in Abaita Ababiri village near Entebbe. She publicly shamed Mayamba. When he didn’t have the correct answer to a question, she mocked him with words and laughter and allowed students to do the same. After one exam he failed with a 50%, the teacher brought out a cane to issue 50 strikes to the 12-year-old’s buttocks and thighs – one for each missed point.  The teacher stopped somewhere after 40 because the boy was flattened out and unable to take more.

“I wasn’t stupid,” Mayamba said. “I was simply in a new environment, having been transferred from a poorly facilitated village school to the one in the city.”

Unbeknownst at the time, Mayamba’s “little” eyes, ears, and body encounter that the teacher used that day to remind him he wasn’t good enough were molding his future as an advocate against mistreatment. Today, he understands it, researches it, writes about it and teaches it.

Mayamba volunteering at St. Mary’s Food Bank in Arizona
Mayamba volunteering at St. Mary’s Food Bank in Arizona

With a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from Uganda Christian University (UCU) and experience as a journalist, he moved on to get a Master of Philosophy in Human Rights and Democratization in Africa from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He’s affiliated with the Canadian-based Journalists for Human Rights organization with a role of helping 20 Ugandan members of the press to be voices for unrepresented people. These include print and broadcast human rights stories related to the economically poor, the mentally and physically handicapped and others.

While mentoring Ugandan journalists, Mayamba continues his own learning as a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University, USA. He was among just over 200 who applied for the fellowship from Uganda and was the only Ugandan chosen for the 10-month journalism-focused program that ends in June 2022.

“I never thought I would come to the United States,” he said, speaking from his dormitory room in Phoenix, Ariz. “All the glory goes to God.”

Mayamba had a strong upbringing in the Catholic church, but says his relationship with God strengthened while he studied at UCU. In his studies, as well as engagement in the UCU chapel choir and as a guild and public debate leader, he realized that with God, obstacles and accomplishments have meaning.

“When you give 100% to God and trust Him, you can overcome,” he said.

Human rights advocacy and Christianity blend together well, especially guided by the Matthew 7:12 “do unto others” scripture, according to Mayamba. As a working journalist, he often prayed with and for those he interviewed for stories. For the journalists he mentors now, he suggests the same along with the urging to be sensitive when writing about people subjected to discrimination. He also cautions reporters about their own safety when covering topics that have opposition from government officials, high-profile opinion leaders and even media houses themselves.

“Have the facts,” he said. “That’s the best protection to mitigate risk.”

At 9,000 miles away from his home in Uganda and on the day of this interview in December 2021, Mayamba is in the state of Arizona, closely watching another timely human rights issue – the coronavirus pandemic. He recently published a paper entitled “Low Supply and Public Mistrust Hinder Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout in Africa.” He writes that in November 2021, only 4% of the world’s vaccinated people live in developing countries like Uganda.

“Developed countries that aren’t sharing enough of the vaccine are partially to blame,” Mayamba said. “Misinformation or lack of information breeding distrust by media in all countries bears the rest of the responsibility.”

Social media and traditional media are accountable for honest storytelling, Mayamba says. His master’s research focused on media freedom, specifically in Uganda. Reporters Without Borders ranks Uganda among the lowest in the world when it comes to press freedom. While Uganda’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression with “on paper” protection of human rights, there are radio, TV and print limitations and restrictions related to reporting on certain topics and persons, according to Mayamba’s experience and research.

While the United States press is freer and human rights more respected than in Uganda, “it’s not as rosy here as I thought,” he said. “In this land of the free, there needs to be more and louder voices for homeless people, immigrants. . . and on racial injustice and gun violence.”

From his dorm room window in Phoenix, Mayamba daily observes nearly two dozen homeless people living on a square of land. During a visit to New York City and looking past the amazing buildings, he saw men and women living in parks and on the streets. In his brief time in Washington, D.C., he observed first-hand the massive police response and multiple phone video recordings of the arrest of a black man accused of stealing a small item from a store. He watches, hears and reads the news about arrests, trials and confusion about wrongful deaths on American soil and about Mexican families camped at the USA border in hopes of obtaining asylum from terrorism in their country.

“Telling these stories honestly and fairly is the role of a journalist,” he said. “Human rights stories are lacking everywhere.”

One such story he hopes to learn more about is that of a middle-aged white man living under the stars outside his residence in Arizona. In the midst of book studies, computer research, and service projects, such as preparing food in boxes for people like this man, he wants to “learn his story and tell him mine.” So far, the man appears educated but without a home because he lost his job.

Looking ahead to his life a decade from now, Mayamba doesn’t see himself reporting the news in a country such as his, where the pay is too low to support a family. But he does see himself continuing to train others to “amplify the voices” of those less represented and understood in his native Uganda. In three years, he hopes to embark on his Ph.D. studies and be teaching journalism with an emphasis of human rights reporting.

For now, he’s navigating the American culture that includes daily converting temperatures in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius and distances in miles vs. kilometers. He appreciates a winter in the warmth of Arizona instead of living in a state with cold and snow. He soaks up knowledge in a school named after Walter Cronkite, a late veteran broadcaster that he never knew. He learns alongside 13 other journalists from 13 countries, including South Korea, Russia, Hungary, and Palestine.

He thinks about his mother who died of cervical cancer in September 2014, leaving behind her two sons – Johnson Mayamba and the younger Titus Bulega – as a legacy. He also thinks about that childhood teacher who meted that early punishment that was illegal then but exists still and about the mocking classmates.

“At the end of the day, I moved ahead of them,” he said. “And I learned to stand up for myself and for others.”

(The author of this article, Patty Huston-Holm, who is the Uganda Partners communications director, first met Johnson Mayamba when he was an intern at the UCU Standard newspaper in 2013. Among stories they worked on together at that time were the suicide of a student and conditions at a women’s prison in Jinja, Uganda.)

Siyasa applies learning for Partners organization

By Nickie Karitas
Recent Uganda Christian University (UCU) graduate Jimmy Siyasa didn’t wait to have a degree in hand before applying what he learned in his journalism program. And it has paid off – in experience and money to support his next level of master’s degree studies. 

On October 22, 2021, Jimmy Siyasa was among the more than 3,000 students who graduated at UCU’s 22nd graduation ceremony. He bagged a Second-Class Upper Division, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.38 out of 5.0. A First Class starts at 4.40. 

In December 2021, he is enrolled in a UCU post-graduate degree path in Strategic Communication (MA). At the same time, he has been helping the UCU Partners NGO by producing videos and print stories for several months and is a writer in the UCU Office of Communications and Public Relations. He gets stipends for each. 

Before all this, here’s his story. 

Siyasa attended Mbuya Church of Uganda for primary education and St. Kizito SS Bugolobi for O’level. For his A’level, Siyasa attended Bishop Cypriano Kihangire Secondary School. All three schools are in Kampala.

UCU and Partners e-lab communications team member, Jimmy Siyasa, playing guitar in UCU’s Nykoyoyo Hall in 2017.

Jimmy Siyasa never dreamed of studying at UCU. In fact, he knew little about the institution as he thought about studies after high school. In Senior Six, while making choices for courses to study at a university, he opted for the Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Bachelor of Arts in Education, in that order, at Makerere University. 

In 2017, Makerere admitted him for his second choice, the Bachelor of Arts in Education, specializing in English and Literature in English. Siyasa’s father, Robert Waiga, insisted that his son live on campus for added security that an outside hostel wouldn’t provide. Siyasa was admitted to Mitchell Hall where, because of high demand for slots, students were asked to pay accommodation fees for the first semester in advance. 

The lodging payment was the first of the many hurdles for the second born of the three children of Waiga and Celine Ayikoru.  The family did not have the money to secure the slot. This setback caused Siyasa to ask himself whether he really should pursue a course in education, where he did not have much passion anyway.

One of the members of the church band that Siyasa was in suggested he consider applying at UCU. Siyasa did and was offered studies toward the Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication.

“I heard of UCU from my friends at church,” the 24-year-old Siyasa said. “I also discovered that friends from my former school were already there. . . but I feared the expenses associated with private universities in Uganda.” 

University fees in private institutions in Uganda tend to be higher than public institutions, largely because of no funding support from the government.

Now, Siyasa’s younger sister, Peace Asara, is the one trying to ensure that she graduates in the course her brother did not pursue at Makerere University. Asara, who wants to become a teacher of English and Literature in English at an institution of higher learning, is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree at Kyambogo University in Uganda.

As Siyasa was getting ready for his second semester in first year at UCU, Waiga’s contract at his workplace ended, and it was not renewed. That meant one thing – Siyasa had no tuition to continue with his studies. His father advised him to take a “dead semester” as he tried to find more solid financial footing. 

When Siyasa shared his challenges with some friends he had made at UCU, they were against the dead semester. They mobilized funds and paid his tuition. For the second-year first semester, Siyasa’s friend, Rick Kagoro, and his father, Ivan Lumala, met the tuition requirements. The two are based in Washington State, USA. Rick, whose family is acquainted with former UCU Vice-Chancellor, John Senyonyi, had come to Uganda for a visit. He resided at UCU for a while, and at some point visited Jimmy’s class as a Teaching Assistant for a foundational course unit- Elements of Math. 

By the next semester, Waiga (Jimmy’s father) had found financial stability, having been recalled to his former workplace, the U.S Embassy in Iraq. 

Fast forward to December 2021.

“Siyasa is a brilliant, and dependable young man,” Frank Obonyo, UCU’s communications manager, said. “He is a valuable addition to our great team as we can already see his contribution.’’ 

The platform that offered Siyasa the opportunity to cut his professional teeth months ago is the USA-based UCU Partners.

This happened because his lecturer, John Semakula, now head of UCU’s journalism department, asked if he could write an article about dental challenges that students face at UCU. He says that story ushered him into writing for the non-profit’s Web site, an opportunity that helped him turn classroom knowledge into real-life practice.

Stephanie Gloria, who studied with Siyasa, says he has worked his way to the top.

“His hard work and integrity cannot go unnoticed,” Gloria says of Siyasa, adding: “His greatest happiness is not in having everything he wants in life, but in appreciating the little or whatever that is available.” 

In the next five years, Siyasa hopes to have his master’s degree as well as a Ph.D. in a media-related field. At the same time, he is engaged in music. He has some original songs, including this one he has recorded here: (https://soundcloud.com/siyasa-jimmy/workingfromhome)

Former Electoral Commission boss, Bruce, elected LDC Guild President

By Ivan Tsebeni
Boss John Bruce, an alumnus of Uganda Christian University (UCU), has been elected the Guild President of Uganda’s Law Development Centre (LDC). In the elections held on November 8, Bruce garnered 69% of the votes cast, beating off a challenge from Mubarak Kalungi, who polled 31% of the votes.

LDC offers a postgraduate bar course, the Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, a mandatory course for all lawyers intending to practice law in Uganda. LDC is the only institution that offers such a course in Uganda.

Bruce, a former UCU Guild Electoral Commission chairperson, says that the latest electoral victory is the biggest political milestone in his life. 

During his one-year term of office at LDC, Bruce has promised to set up a hotline that students can use for giving feedback to the body’s management and student leaders. He also hopes to create strategic partnerships and alliances with organizations, to enable LDC to extend its brand reach.

“We are looking forward to utilizing the student leadership structures so that we can receive your concerns and the same will be passed on to the administration in a timely manner,” he told the students during campaigns.

Bruce joins former student colleagues at UCU who have in the recent past achieved victory in elections. Ezra Ambasiize, currently a fourth-year student of Bachelor of Laws at UCU, was recently voted the speaker of the fourth National Youth Parliament of Uganda. Immediate past UCU Guild President Agaba Kenneth Amponda also was recently elected the Speaker of the Uganda National Students Association, an umbrella body of student leaders in the country.

Bruce says the latest electoral victory is the biggest political milestone in his life.
Bruce says the latest electoral victory is the biggest political milestone in his life.

Bruce’s triumph at LDC elicited celebrations at UCU. “The Guild Government, together with the entire students’ community, take this opportunity to congratulate @Bossjohnbruce upon being elected Guild President Law Development Center (K’la Campus). Bruce is a former Guild EC Chairperson,” the UCU guild government tweeted. 

“Congratulations to UCU’s former Guild Chairperson Electoral Commission, Boss John Bruce, for being elected LDC Guild President,” read one of the posts on UCU’s Facebook page.

UCU Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs Dr. John Kitayimbwa said: “As a university, we are blessed to have our alumnus triumph in the LDC elections. Glory back to God.”

At UCU, Bruce will be remembered for overseeing an online voting process, as the university’s elections boss. The e-voting app, code-named e-Chagua, helped UCU, for the first time, in 2020, to change its student leaders even when the university was not fully functioning. Uganda had imposed a lockdown on in-person learning in schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of that process, 

Agaba Kenneth Amponda became the university’s new guild president in November 2020. In November 2021, Sserwadda Rachael became the second Guild President of UCU to be voted using the e-Chagua platform.

Bruce was born to Bernard Betambira and Beatrice Ndagano, of Ibanda district in western Uganda. It is in the same region where Bruce had his education before joining UCU in 2016, to pursue a Bachelor of Laws course. 

Business graduate sold charcoal and reared pigs to raise tuition

By Yasiri J. Kasango
A business degree was not Jonathan Mbabazi’s first choice for his post-secondary studies. He had his eyes on medicine, envisioning a career of restoring health to patients.

However, when preparing to apply for the course at Uganda Christian University (UCU) in 2017, Mbabazi discovered that he did not have the financial resources to sustain paying the tuition for the five years he would be studying for the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.

He opted for Bachelor of Business Administration, whose tuition was comparatively cheaper and for fewer years. However, even with business courses, the 29-year-old had no stable source of income for the tuition. He established two enterprises – piggery and charcoal-selling – to help pay his bills.

Mbabazi usually had 10-15 pigs, whose piglets he sold at a profit. The married father of two says it was difficult for him to multitask in running his business, looking after his family, and concentrating on classwork. However, he says that God enabled him to surmount the challenge.

On many occasions, he lacked money to buy classwork handouts, something he says many of his classmates found affordable.

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent education shutdowns in 2020 increased Mbabazi’s worries about school. First, when physical learning was stopped in March 2020, to reduce concentration centers that would accelerate the spread of the coronavirus, Mbabazi resigned to fate, thinking he would not graduate on schedule. He also started making plans for how to get more money to cater for a longer stay in the course.

However, UCU quickly introduced online learning, to ensure studies were not interrupted.

“I thank God that UCU continued teaching during the lockdown. We managed to do coursework and also write our exams through the online platforms,” says Mbabazi, who studied at the Kabalega College Masindi, one of the affiliate institutions of UCU, located in western Uganda.

However, he says online learning, though convenient for the circumstances, also offered a fair share of challenges.

“It was tough because one had to do a lot of research on their own, but I managed to complete my final semester,” he adds. Mbabazi was able to graduate on October 22, 2021, with a First-Class Degree.

He says he could not have had a better choice of an institution for his undergraduate studies. At UCU, Mbabazi says, Christian faith is extended to students through certain course units, such as World View, New and Old Testament. He believes this has enabled him to become more grounded in his spiritual life. 

With the knowledge he has gained at UCU, Mbabazi intends to expand his business enterprises, and even establish more, in order to be able to provide employment to some youth in his community.

Background
Mbabazi is the third born of 11 children. His parents – Moses Byaruhanga and Jackline Kugonza –  live in Buliisa, western Uganda.

Before he joined UCU, Mbabazi pursued a diploma in business, specializing in accounting, from Uganda College of Commerce, where he, again, excelled with a First Class Diploma.

He attended Kibengeya Primary School from 1999 to 2005 and then Mukitale Development Foundation Secondary School from 2006-2009 for O’level. For A’level, Mbabazi attended Premier Secondary School Hoima from 2010 to 2011. All the schools are found in western Uganda.

Mbabazi is married to Charity Jovia Kobusingye, with whom he has two daughters – Smiles and Shanice.

Law alum becomes digital content icon

By Vanessa Babirye Gloria
Studying a course in law was not Fiona Kemigisha’s first choice, but it was the choice of her parents. In pursuing the course, she intended to fulfill their dream while trying to put a finger on her own desires that edged toward digital media.

In 2013, Kemigisha graduated from the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Law program. She immediately headed to Kenya, where she did her internship in Nairobi. She later enrolled in a post-graduate diploma in legal practice at the Kenya School of Law. To practice law in Uganda and Kenya, one must attain a diploma in legal practice.

She is grateful for the four years she spent pursuing a Bachelor of Laws course at UCU because she says it provided her a platform to keep the right company and meet friends who have remained invaluable in her life.

Upon her return to Uganda, she was employed at the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, where Kemigisha put her professional learning into action. Her initial intention was to spend five years in this job and then switch to something else. And she almost hit her target. She left the agency just after four years.

While practicing law at the immigration department was rewarding, she felt her heart belonged somewhere else. That place was digital content. She had a side job of creating digital content, which she sold to clients, and hopes of full-time work there. 

The force with which the covid-related lockdown came in 2020 was the push that Kemigisha needed for her to throw in the towel at the immigration directorate. Uganda imposed a lockdown last year, from March to June, where movement was only permitted to staff it considered essential workers.

Being home more for Kemigisha meant more acquired skills in creating digital content. 

 “I got to a point where I realized that I needed to do something that didn’t just make other people happy, but myself,” the 31-year-old says.

Watch: “Kemigisha interview about self-employment” (more than 2,500 views)

Under the digital platform business name of Fiona Kemi, Kemigisha shares everything from natural hair care tutorials to her own journey with her hair. She started her journey on a WordPress blog, where she shared about alopecia (hair loss) and hair care. 

Eventually, when her content gained traffic on social media, she began sharing videos not just about natural hair, but about a complete lifestyle. She uses YouTube channels and Instagram to engage with her followers. She helps clients find the necessary hair tools, products and designs a customized hair care regimen to help them grow healthy hair. 

Watch: Kemigisha talking about her natural hair (nearly 1,000 views)

Nyonyozi Murungi, a content creator and a friend of Kemigisha, said when her friend told her about quitting her formal job, she got concerned.

“I was afraid about her life outside work, but Kemigisha is a creative woman; you can’t help admiring how her brain thinks,” she said. “She’s unstoppable. I love how her content has helped all of us nurture our hair and relationships.”

Though her parents were concerned when she was quitting her job, they supported her in her new venture. Kemigisha says: “They let me be when I chose and that was all the support I needed from them.”

The ball is now in Kemigisha’s court to turn her passion more fully into finances to support herself.  

Loum: From grandmother’s bishop to Bishop of the Church

By Jimmy Siyasa

For a larger part of his childhood, Godfrey Loum’s grandmother called him Bishop. In fact, to immortalize the Bishop name, she named him after former Ugandan Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum, in whose reign Loum was born. 

While the grandmother has passed away, her prophecy came true on November 21, 2021, at St. Phillip’s Cathedral, Gulu district, in northern Uganda. Loum was enthroned as the eighth Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Northern Uganda. 

Loum, who is currently the Vicar of Christ Church in Gulu, seems to be already prepared for the expectations. 

“It means from now on, I am going to be exposed and many people will be looking up to me, especially in the areas where I will be serving,” Loum, a Uganda Christian University (UCU) alum, said.  

The 49-year-old takes over from the Rt. Rev. Johnson Gakumba, who has been the bishop since 2009. The news of the election by the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda was released in August.

Godfrey Loum (Centre) during his consecration. Photo/ Jimmy Siyasa.

Loum was ordained a deacon in 2007 and a priest the following year. Four years into the priesthood, he assumed the role of chairperson of the House of Clergy, a position he holds to date. In the position, among his other duties, Loum is expected to convene meetings of the House of Clergy.

During his tenure as bishop, the Rev. Loum looks forward to fishing more men. 

“I would want to see more people give their lives to Christ,” he said. 

Secondly, he hopes to bolster structures of the church in Gulu to be able to offer psychosocial support to members of the church and the community. 

The House of Bishops lay hand on the Rt. Rev. Godfrey Loum during his consecration. Photo/ Jimmy Siyasa.

From 1986, for two decades, there was insurgency in northern Uganda, arising from the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels led by Joseph Kony. Loum is targeting the people in post-conflict northern Uganda, especially those who are still facing major depression disorders, to benefit from the psychosocial support program. 

Loum’s choice of program is not surprising. He specializes in psychology. Having both psychology and theological expertise is something Loum believes will help him understand people and their social environment better. Loum has authored a book on counseling – A Quick Guide to Premarital Counseling for Pastors and Couples.

Behind Loum’s rise to the apex of the Church of Uganda clergy is a series of events. While in secondary school at St. Joseph’s College Layibi, in northern Uganda, Loum was lured by a cousin into alcohol and smoking. He drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes so often that the habit became an addiction. 

Loum says he made several attempts to quit, but with not much success. For the few times he stopped, they did not last. 

Eventually, he found a spiritual remedy to his challenge of addiction. Loum went to church. On October 4, 1998, he did not only mark his 26th birthday, Loum also gave his life to Jesus Christ. 

“That day means everything to me,” he said. “It means a total turning point.” 

To this day, Loum is unashamed to share that difficult season of his life because of his strong belief in the power of testament. “If you let others know about what God has done for you, it offers great empowerment to them,” he says.

Loum graduated from UCU with Bachelor of Divinity in 2004. In 2019, he graduated with a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, also from UCU. That was his second MA, having acquired another in development studies at Cavendish University in Uganda a year before. 

Loum credits UCU’s training for preparing him to offer a double-edged ministry as pastor and counselor. He speaks fondly of Prof. Stephen Noll, the former UCU Vice-Chancellor who was one of his lecturers, and the Rev. Can. Dr. John Senyonyi, who was the chaplain during the time of his undergraduate. Senyonyi eventually replaced Noll as the Vice-Chancellor, a position he held from 2010 to 2020. 

Among Loum’s role models are Noll and Senyonyi – the former for his “deep knowledge of theology” and latter for his “oratory prowess that he often displayed on the pulpit.”

Loum looks back at his early life with nostalgia, especially about the conduct of his grandmother making it a point to call him her bishop, a prophesy that has come to pass. 

Agaba overcomes financial challenges to earn First Class Degree

By Eriah Lule
Tough. Tense. Lucky. Diligent. That is how one would sum up the educational journey of Douglas Agaba, an October 2021 Uganda Christian University (UCU) graduate with a First-Class Degree in Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance.

Agaba, who was among the more than 3,000 graduates at UCU’s 22nd award ceremony on October 22, 2021, attributes hard work as the main factor in his attainment of a 4.5 of 5.0 Cumulative Grade Point Average.  The best student at the graduation, Sore Maureen, obtained 4.78.

While Agaba is jubilant about his success, the 26-year-old had rough patches in his education journey. Agaba was orphaned at an early age, resulting in his move from one relative’s home to another.  He struggled through school. Yet, each time when he was just about to lose hope, luck smiled on him.

For instance, because of his good academic performance, Agaba earned himself a high school sponsor. He attended Kisugu Primary School, Tropical High School and, later, Buloba High School – all these in central Uganda.

As he sat his Senior Six examinations, one thing was clear to Agaba. He would have no sponsor willing to foot the high tuition fees at a university. While working hard on his studies, he looked for a window of government sponsorship for the best students.

When the results of the admission shortlist in the public university – Makerere – were out, Agaba’s name was not among those who were to study on government sponsorship. He was despondent. As he waited for the next move, a retired Ugandan accountant who belonged to Agaba’s church learned of his dilemma.

Catherine Katwe did not hesitate to offer to meet the cost of Agaba’s university education. In 2017, he was admitted at UCU to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance course.

His tenacity, excellent leadership and resourcefulness is lauded by both classmates and teachers. Agaba was a class representative all the three years of his undergraduate study. He occasionally stepped in to hold academic group discussions for his classmates, to break down course units that his fellow students found too tough for them.

Nixon Katusime, Agaba’s former lecturer, credits his former student for being “ambitious and selfless.”

“He used to help me discuss some topics for his colleague students during online studies,” Katusime said.

Agaba’s strong desire to equip himself with all the marketable skills in the accounting field awakened the overwhelming talent in him. In a bid to supplement on his pocket money, Agaba started holding online private tutoring sessions in his field of study and, he says, many students even from other universities to receive his services.

He also engaged in research and filing tax returns for businesspeople at a fee. With the experience he has acquired, Agaba hopes to register a company to carry on with the services he has been offering.

As a student at the university, Agaba created time to teach at a secondary school on a part-time basis. He says much as he earned sh120,000 (about $35) per month, his passion for sharing knowledge kept him on the job.

At one point, Agaba also worked the night -shift at a filling station, a place he believes he learned the virtues of good customer care, self-discipline and willingness to work even in tough conditions.

Agaba believes that the high moral Christian virtues that UCU stands for is responsible for the success of many of its graduates and he has faith that it is just a matter of when he will also be a recipient of that success in his next job after school.

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Business-turned-security alum narrates how UCU prepared him for endurance

When Najib Kabaala graduated from Uganda Christian University (UCU), he hoped to immediately delve into ‘stuff’ he had studied. Having enrolled in 2016, he had finally acquired a Bachelor’s of international Business Management and hoped to instantly morph into an international businessman.

The last thing he had imagined as a graduate of International business was to end up clad in thick-soled footwear, a private security agency uniform and having to deal with bullets instead of balance sheets. First, security officers are known to earn terribly low wages, especially in developing economies. Secondly, the nature of security-related jobs simply lack the pomp that a university graduate (cum laude) would naturally want for the ‘good’ of their ego.

Therefore, typically, Najib had dreamed of dealing in exports and imports nationally, regionally and later continentally. He could see his near-future-self- sitting at tables with Ugandan expatriates, talking big business, “helping them understand the local environment in which they want to invest,” he says

Matter of fact, while at UCU Najib had garnered a good reputation as an entrepreneur, while at UCU. He was known to turn virtually all his coursework projects into sustained businesses, which outlived the fixed timeframes that marked the end for his classmates who were only interested in project marks. Instead, Najib would continue to earn a profit.

Together with a friend named Barasha (a former UCU Guild President), he sold salads at a profit to students at the University refectory, during meal hours. They would reach fruit farmers and those growing greens like cabbage, around and far from Mukono, place orders and have the merchandise delivered to UCU. These they would process-themselves-into salads. Then sell to students.

UCU business alum Najib Kabaala.

At the same time, Najib traded in confectionery, including: chocolate, chewing gum, digestives, et cetera. And as Corporate Social Responsibility, he and Barasha would donate a portion of their revenue, at the end of the semester, to the UCU Guild Fund, to support financially underprivileged students.

Upon graduating in 2019, the duo started a company called KK International Business and Trade Advisory that offered tax-filing, business consultancy, among other services. In short, Najib did just enough to make his entrepreneurial prospects palatable, not only to him, but also to many of his clients.

However, in a drastic turn of events early this year, Najib enrolled in a private security firm called Saracen Uganda Limited. One would say, the unthinkable had happened. However, this is how Najib interpreted the move: “I did not choose security. I believe Security chose me.” He further confessed that “I never thought that I would take that direction. I expected to be doing international business.” So, “what happened? One may ask.  

Throughout 2020 he had volunteered at the UCU-Africa Policy Center, aiding with program coordination among other tasks, albeit the service was not financially rewarding enough for a graduate who has daily-living bills actively weighing on his shoulders. His side gigs- including the ‘infant’ company- were neither bringing an income stable enough merit treatment as a full-time.

As though in conspiracy, circumstances made Najib only too happy to accept the recommendation of a UCU lecturer, who also fixed for him the job at a security agency. All he had to do was submit his credentials and turn up for an interview. However, Najib narrates his first appointment for the job with horror.

On his first day at the perceived work station, at the shore of Lake Victoria, at Garuga, a camping site in Entebbe district, Central Uganda, Najib turned up turned up in typical young corporate fashion; sharply dressed, academic credentials in one hand and heavy expectation in the other- eager to sign a contract, shake hands, and then be showed to his office space. “The supervisor took my documents, put them aside and told me to join my colleagues,” he says.

Meanwhile, the said “colleagues” were a few meters away, at the lake shore. Shirtless and submerged. Confused, alarmed, yet helpless, Najib complied. This was to be, for him, what “Hell week” is to US Marines. He took off his shirt, stayed in shorts and got into the water. Later, they sang chants, rolled on their backs, frog-jumped, ran and did even deadly drills. They camped, doing that, for well-over three months.

“The training was so intense that at some point I wanted to drop everything and go back home,” says Najib.

When he successfully completed the paramilitary training and a management course, too, Najib assumed office of Assistant Area Manager, courtesy of his graduate status. This places him above an ordinary cadet; implying, he does not have to guard all night at a client’s premises, as it is for the former.

He is posted to Hoima district, Western Uganda, where he executes a supervisory role over hundreds of private security guards. In his day-to-day operations, Najib meets corporate company executives such as bank managers, among others who wish to hire their security services. Ironically, the International Business management graduate, who hoped to deal in cross border trade of civilian commodities, handles transfer of weaponry across borders, on behalf of his company, which has international branches.

Now Najib looks at his current job not as an end in itself, but a means. He is still actively involved in business and hopes to eventually enroll for a Master’s degree at UCU when he has the resources.

He strongly believes UCU’s “holistic approach to academics and individual’s development,” prepared him for such a time when he would get to exercise his expertise in an unconventional environment for a graduate.

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