Ateme’s ‘professional’ heart beats for agriculture

By Pauline Luba
In Primary Four, Julian Ateme was transferred from St. Joseph’s Nsambya Girls Primary School, Kampala, to Stella Maris Nsuube boarding school in Mukono district. The main reason for the  transfer was her parents’ belief she would become more disciplined under a closer watch of school authorities.

In the midst of that lesson, Ateme discovered gardening. Within the school’s garden, pupils engaged in practical work twice a week – every Wednesday and Saturday. There, among plants, Ateme began a lifelong relationship with agriculture.

It is the lessons in cultivation of soil learned while at Nsuube that enabled Ateme, a Uganda Christian University (UCU) alum, to appreciate her father’s efforts in farming. He had vast lands with trees, fruits and crops. Ateme, also a wife, a mother of three and community services assistant with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said her father often encouraged people in the community to grow passion fruits.

Whatever she learned at Nsuube and from her father’s farms, Ateme did not abandon. She started growing vegetables, as well as food crops like cassava and groundnuts, alongside rearing animals such as pigs, goats, cows, rabbits and ducks. Piggery is currently her highest source of income from the farm.

UCU Alumna Ateme: Cultivating Success in Agriculture

“I am known for having informal meetings with the people in the village, encouraging them to invest in agriculture,” Ateme says. 

In Uganda, some people continue to perceive agriculture as business for the uneducated. It is perceptions like these that Ateme is out to change. A holder of two degrees — Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Finance of Kumi University and Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration of UCU — Ateme believes that hers is a perfect story to debunk the myth that agriculture is not for people who have professional jobs. 

She says the proceeds she gets from the farm have enabled her to pay her children’s school fees. Since the children know the source of their school fees, they are eager to visit the farms during holidays – something that leaves Ateme with a grin on her face because she knows she is slowly passing on the farming culture to her children.

Even in the community, the sweat that Ateme has broken to preach the gospel of farming is already bearing fruit. She said on many occasions, she has met community members who have encountered positive economic change on account of agriculture. One man had embraced agriculture and confessed to getting financial empowerment from the surplus of the food crops, as well as the fruits that he sold. 

Even as she preaches the gospel of agriculture, Ateme knows the importance of achieving education. She is currently supporting the education of six children who are not part of her family. This outreach started when Ateme asked for house-help, and a girl younger than 10 years arrived.  The girl said she had been forced to repeat Primary Three more than once because the her parents could not afford the functional fees.

Instead of employing her, which is illegal in Uganda for children under 18 years, Ateme put the girl back in school. That girl will graduate as a nurse this year.

“God has blessed me through this child,” said Ateme, who originally had hoped to pursue a career in law, but did not, due to lack of funds for the course.

In addition to farming, she credits World Vision, a non-governmental organization, for her experience, ability and desire to  help children. At World Vision, Ateme worked as a child protection officer.


Katoko: From almost missing graduation to UCU staff

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Judith Katoko was expected to be part of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) graduation of July 2022. But that was not the case. By the time of the graduation, Katoko had neither written her dissertation nor completed her fees. However, she worked so hard that by the next graduation in October 2022, she had completed all the academic requirements. 

Still, she was not on the graduation list. 

Katoko had a fees balance of sh8 million (about $2,100). The 24-year-old says she had ruled out asking for money from friends and classmates because it was not her nature. She asked anyway.

When she shared her challenges with one of her cousins, Katoko was given sh3million (about $780). She then approached a UCU staff member and Jonathan Tumwebaze, Partnerships Manager for Uganda Partners. The staff member helped negotiate a sh4million (about $1,050) salary advance to give Katoko. Through Uganda Partners, Katoko got sh600,000 (about $160). The balance of sh400,000 (about $105) came from the savings she had. With this, Katoko cleared the fees balance a day before graduation — and received a Bachelor of Human Rights, Peace, and Humanitarian Intervention. 

Uganda Partners Executive Director Mark Bartels, who was around UCU at the time, was among participants at Katoko’s thanksgiving feast at Eunice Guest House after her graduation.

“I can surely say a problem shared is a problem half solved,” she said. “I had never heard of Uganda Partners before, but through it, Mark Bartels’ organization gave me money to clear for my graduation.”

Judith Katoko believes that if she provides students with the best experience while at UCU, they will grow into responsible citizens.
Judith Katoko believes that if she provides students with the best experience while at UCU, they will grow into responsible citizens.

After the graduation, UCU hired Katoko as a casual worker in the accommodation section. From April to December 2023, she was a stand-in for the female custodian. In January 2024, the university appointed Katoko as a graduate trainee in charge of Ankrah Foundation Halls of Residence. In the position, she manages issues to do with registration for accommodation, provides counseling services and helps students navigate issues pertaining to their academic programs. Although she may not know much about all the courses, she knows who to contact in case students need assistance in a particular area. The Ankrah Hall, which houses both male and female students, has 96 single rooms.

Katoko Advocates for Students Rights at UCU, inspired by Proverbs 31: 8

Katoko believes that people are molded by their early experiences and that if she provides students with the best experience while at UCU, they will grow into responsible citizens.

Ankrah resident Lynn Abaasa, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Nursing Science, describes Katoko as an approachable and consistently present custodian.

“When we have a challenge, we can easily go to Katoko. I recall the night she called the plumber to fix a water problem at night,” Abaasa said, adding: “She also offered me her laptop when I didn’t have one during exam season.”

Reflecting on her experience, Katoko encourages UCU students to embrace challenges. “There are challenges you may face as a student, but I urge you to seek guidance because, from an informed decision, you will have an informed choice,” Katoko said. 

In the future, she hopes to become a children’s advocate. She intends to set up an organization dedicated to the promotion of children’s rights, inspired by Proverbs 31:8 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”


Education, experience propel alum to serve humanity

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Paul Ssenyonga, a recipient of Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration, is using his education and real-world experiences to make a difference.

One part of his story involves his help to pregnant and parenting teens because of his first-hand observation when living with a teenage relative who impregnated a 16-year-old girl. Ssenyonga saw lack of financial livelihood, community shunning and fear of hospitals as among the challenges of this early, unwed pregnancy. Still a student himself, Ssenyonga offered emotional support, reinforcement of the importance of antenatal care and chipped in what little money he had to help the young boy and girl.

Ssenyonga speaks to youths on mindset change during a skilling workshop in Kampala.
Ssenyonga speaks to youths on mindset change during a skilling workshop in Kampala.

Ssenyonga, 27, says the obstacles the girl faced opened his eyes to the trials of other teenage mothers.

Amidst the challenges, Ssenyonga saw an opportunity to empower teen mothers, first, starting with the 16-year-old who was carrying the baby. Together, with the soon-to-be-father, they empowered 17 youths to make paper bags and liquid soap with the hope that a skill like that would support the livelihood of the teens, a majority of whom had dropped out of school.

The success of that first venture inspired Ssenyonga to register Save A Youth, a non-profit organization, in 2019. His intention was for the organization to help more people, beyond just teenage mothers.

Ssenyonga speaks during a Rotaract function.
Ssenyonga speaks during a Rotaract function.

In 2020, Ssenyonga says he found out that many young people were struggling with challenges related to drug addiction and sexual promiscuity, something he says presented an opportunity for him to continue making a difference in the community.

Fortunately, he had taken an addiction therapy course, which he used to his advantage while interacting with the young people.

In addition to his work with the non-profit, Ssenyonga also serves humanity as a Rotaractor, aligning with his belief that generosity begets positive response from nature. Serving as the President of the Rotaract Club of Mukono from July 2022 to June 2023, Ssenyonga supported Mukono General Hospital to acquire a fully-equipped teen mother facility through the Mukono Rotary Club. 

The commissioning of the zebra pedestrian crossing at Jinja Road next to the general hospital in Mukono.
The commissioning of the zebra pedestrian crossing at Jinja Road next to the general hospital in Mukono.

He also mobilized the painting of a zebra crossing (pedestrian crosswalk) on a road near Mukono General Hospital.

And that’s not all.

Ssenyonga also offers voluntary service to Buganda, Uganda’s biggest traditional kingdom. In Buganda, he is in charge of publicity in Kyaggwe county, one of the divisions of the kingdom.

“Serving the king isn’t a paid assignment because we are responsible for the wellbeing of our king,” Ssenyonga, who is a master of ceremonies, said. He says his devotion to the kingdom is the most fulfilling experience of his life. It’s not just a job for him, it’s a calling that goes beyond financial compensation.

Born to Nathan Kigongo and Catherine Namutebi of Mukono district, Ssenyonga is the first of five siblings. He attended Little Cranes Primary School, Kanjuki Secondary School, and Paul Mukasa Senior School. All the three schools are found in central Uganda.

Ssenyonga’s Journey from Law to Social Work at UCU

Despite his parents’ initial desire for him to study law, Ssenyonga chose social work at UCU

“I chose UCU for its clearly defined values-based system,” Ssenyonga said. “I pursued social work to impact the community, inspired by my transformation from a stubborn high school student. I aspired to assist someone like the past me, bringing a professional touch to school talks.”


Alum journey from teacher to refugee researcher

By Pauline Luba
Beyond imparting academic knowledge, John Vianney Ahumuza has been a teacher espousing a lot of both life and school values. It’s a calling he gleaned from his parents, Joseph and Mary Bagambe — both primary school teachers — who ensured their three children loved learning just like they loved teaching. 

“He was a brilliant and inquisitive boy,” Mary says of her now 43-year-old son. “As a child, Ahumuza used to ask many questions, even though he studied in rural schools. We once saw a beautiful bird that was singing, and he asked if that was the preacher of all the other birds.”

UCU Alumni Ahumuza Makes History: Fourth in His Village to Earn Degree

In 2004, Ahumuza made history in his village in the western Uganda district of Rukungiri by becoming the fourth person to acquire a degree. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education at Uganda Christian University (UCU).

Initially, Ahumuza had hoped to pursue a course in law. However, he says the marks he garnered in Senior Six national examinations and his parents teaching salaries could not guarantee him an opportunity in that field. A course in education became the natural choice.

“I love teaching and, along the way, I discovered that reading gives one a lot of opportunities. From childhood, academics were always instilled in us,” Ahumuza explained. 

He attended Kishonga Primary School, which was 2km (1.2 miles) away from his home. From Kishonga, Ahumuza went to St. Gerald’s High School, also in Rukungiri, and then St. Mary’s College Rushoroza, in Kabale district, south-western Uganda, before joining UCU, where he was one of the student leaders. In 2012, he enrolled for a Master of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies at Makerere University. 

From that foundation, Ahumuza has scaled the education ladder, and is currently winding up with his research for a PhD course he is pursuing at the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, which hosts over 50,000 students, with 7,500 of those graduate students. The scholarship, which seeks to develop 30 PhDs in Africa, is offered at three universities in the continent — the University of Ghana, Makerere University in Uganda and a university in South Africa. 

With his topic “The Refugee Question in Ugandan History, 1942-2010,” Ahumuza believes his research will, in addition to contributing to the body of knowledge on the subject, also help to harvest indigenous knowledge to enable the creation of appropriate policies to help in the response to refugee-related issues. 

Ahumuza’s choice of the subject of refugees in Uganda is not by accident. For many years, the country has hosted refugees and asylum-seekers from more than 10 countries, such as Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. Many of the refugees and asylum-seekers run away from conflicts in their countries.

As of December 31, 2023, Uganda had 1,615,162 refugees and asylum-seekers, according to statistics by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Of these, over 1.5 million were refugees, with South Sudan responsible for over 900,000 of that number. The Democratic Republic of Congo contributed over 500,000 of the number.

Ahumuza, who is currently in Uganda completing his data collection before returning to Ghana to complete his studies, is married, and a father of four girls. While in Ghana he regularly holds online conversations with his family, to ensure his absence is not felt that much. He thanks his wife, Nyangoma Patience Ahumuza, who he says has been able to run the family in his absence. During his free time, Ahumuza likes reading for pleasure, listening to music and sport fishing. 


UCU alums urged to support their alma mater

By Kefa Senoga
Any meeting of alums is often a convergence of memories of school days gone by. Sometimes, the sharing at such an event includes reliving the mischief committed during the younger years as students try to find a footing in the world as young adults.

All Saints Cathedral, Nakasero, in the heart of Kampala, Uganda, hosted one such Uganda Christian University (UCU) Alumni Association breakfast meeting in December. In addition to the usual catching up and reliving memories of their time as students at UCU, the event, according to the alumni association, was to provide a space for prayer and reflection, acknowledging that individuals may seek spiritual guidance and solace in their personal and professional lives. 

UCU Alumni Eyes Annual Gatherings for Spiritual Renewal

Alums Jimmy Siyasa, Auma Shivan and Eriah Lule.
Alums Jimmy Siyasa, Auma Shivan and Eriah Lule.

The Rev. Moses Senyonyi, Secretary Religious Affairs at the UCU Alumni Association, said events like such gatherings promote friendship among the alums, in addition to strengthening their bond as they seek spiritual renewal. According to Senyonyi, the alumni association is looking forward to organizing such a reunion every year.

At the December event, UCU staff members such as Prof. Elizabeth Balyejusa Kizito, the Director of Partnership, Innovation and Research, and Mrs. Bridget Mugume, the former UCU Director of Students Affairs, were present. Mugume led the “intercession” during the prayer time.

The Rev. Richard Mulindwa, the manager in charge of UCU Church Relations, represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi. He thanked the alumni for what he referred to as “marketing the university”and urged alums to partner with the university administrators in order to develop their alma mater.  

In 2021, UCU alumni launched a project in Mukono district, where members can buy land and settle in the same area. Twenty-seven members of an association of older students of the UCU Faculty of Engineering, Technology and Design bought 4.25 acres of land 20 miles away from Mukono town in central Uganda for the purpose of establishing settlement. 

Some alums during the prayer breakfast.
Some alums during the prayer breakfast.

That launch was followed by a similar one in Budaka district, eastern Uganda, where the association bought more than three acres that were subdivided for members to acquire smaller plots of 50 feet by 100 feet at a cost of sh1.5million (about $406). The grand vision of the project is to turn the area into an estate, with all the social services that the residents would need. Initiatives like these have helped to market the university before the community. 

Giving a keynote address at the December event, Dr. Charles Kahigiriza, the chairperson of the Anglican Church of Uganda Heads of Education Institutions Association, demonstrated the relevance of alumni in the growth and development of their alma mater.

“As alumni, we should align ourselves with the university’s master plan and strategic plan in terms of development,” Kahigiriza beseeched the people present.

He suggested collaboration with the administration in capital projects, research, and grants to improve the university’s ranking. Kahigiriza also tasked the alumni with organizing occasional career mentorship and guidance sessions for all students, participate in community engagement and advocacy on behalf of the alumni association.

In response to Kahigiriza’s request, Emmanuel Wabwire, the president of the UCU Alumni Association, said they would take the lead in organizing support for the UCU sports department. A total of 10 million shillings ($2,631) was pledged to kick start the cause.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Rebecca Nyegenye, the provost of All Saints Cathedral who gave a sermon at the reunion, based her message on a passage in Psalm 86: “Revive us, oh Lord.” She encouraged the UCU alums to embody their alma mater’s identity in every aspect of their lives, urging them to live as missionaries, upholding a standard of ethics and integrity that sets them apart from others in the job market.


Ndishakiye on mission to combat Ugandan illiteracy

By Kefa Ssenoga
When you sit down for a conversation with Caleb Ndishakiye, he does not need to mention his love for literature. His diction validates that. And if you sit with him for a longer time, you also will discover that he has a deep passion for communication, the promotion of literacy and sharing knowledge. 

Ndishakiye has been fortunate to earn a living from his passion. His first attempt at teaching was in 2011 during his long holidays after writing his end of Senior Six national exams. An unlicensed teacher, he nevertheless taught literature at Seseme Girls Secondary School and Mutorele Boys Secondary School. Both schools are in Ndishakiye’s native area of Kisoro, southwestern Uganda.

Despite the passion of sharing knowledge, Ndishakiye did not envisage a career in teaching. Early in his secondary education, he developed a love for law, which he applied to study  at Uganda Christian University (UCU).

“I wanted to pursue a course in law when I joined UCU, but interestingly, I was admitted for education,” he said. “I decided to pursue it and still be excellent at it!”

Ndishakiye and Patricia on their Dec. 7, 2019, wedding day at Thornycroft Chapel Kyaggwe, UCU.
Ndishakiye and Patricia on their Dec. 7, 2019, wedding day at Thornycroft Chapel Kyaggwe, UCU.

He has never regretted the idea of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education. He acknowledges that this move has had a significant impact on who he is now. Ndishakiye began his studies at UCU in 2012 and graduated in 2015. While at UCU, He was in the Honors College.

Barely a year after graduation, Ndishakiye was hired as a teaching assistant in the UCU foundations department. He was primarily teaching writing and study skills, and occasionally teaching in the literature department, particularly course units like the Bible as literature and other English language short courses.

His teaching journey at UCU began in 2016 after returning from a one-year mission and a leadership development program at Nairobi Chapel, Kenya, courtesy of the UCU chaplaincy and the community as a whole. 

“UCU, particularly the Thornycroft Chapel, had a partnership with Nairobi Chapel in Kenya, where two missionaries were sent for a program. I was one of the two,” Ndishakiye says.

He was attached to the Teens’ church, which also is famously known as Club Expressions, an experience he says exposed them to an international perspective to life. 

In 2018, after two years of teaching at UCU, Ndishakiye got a one-year opportunity to teach English language and Literature in English at Seroma Christian High School in Mukono. He needed more time to attend to his newly found passion for literacy programming and children’s literature through Glow-Lit Uganda, an organization he founded earlier that year.  With UCU, he continued to serve until 2020 when Uganda closed schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

UCU Ndishakiye Promotes Literacy in Uganda Through Children’s Literature

In August 2020, the Reading Association of Uganda invited Ndishakiye to work on a project that was opening up in Uganda. 

“I was invited as the Programs Specialist to support the national technical portfolio of the association, and support the development of storybooks in Luganda and Runyankore-Rukiga,” he said.

He noted that in the role, his other tasks were “establishing libraries in Government primary schools and supporting their management and use, training of teachers and developing materials to support the lower primary school teaching of reading Luganda and Runyankore-Rukiga.” 

The Room to Read Uganda project at the Reading Association of Uganda is sponsored by Room to Read, an organization that, according to their website, envisions a world in which “all children can pursue a quality education that prepares them to lead fulfilled lives and make positive change — in their families, communities and the world.” 

Working closely with the Ministry of Education and Sports, the project has developed 154 storybook titles, two learner books, and two teachers’ guides in Luganda and Runyankore-Rukiga. It also involves training with teachers, government, publishers, and book value-chain players to build writing, illustration, design, and editing capacity, especially for children’s literature.

Ndishakiye argues that the Ugandan book market has not given sufficient focus to children’s literature. He is now an advocate for quality children’s literature production, distribution and use. 

Ndishakiye is the third born of eight children of Richard and Lydia Ndishakiye. He completed his primary education at Muganza Primary School in Kisoro district. He studied O’level at Chahi Seed Senior Secondary School and A’level at Trinity College Kabale. Compassion International, an international charity organization, paid part of his school fees in primary and secondary school. At the university, he says, the charity paid all the school fees. 

He is married to Patricia and the couple has a son, Jordan, age two. 


UCU agriculture alum shifts career to prison services

By Pauline Luba
On July 5, 2019, Opinira Ovua Joshua was among the 1,234 people who walked out of the gates of Uganda Christian University (UCU) in a graduation gown, ready to join the world of work. Opinira’s five-year journey yielded a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship.

However, it was not until four years later that the 29-year-old secured formal employment. October 2, 2023, was his first day as a Prisons General Duties Officer in the Uganda Prisons Service. Prison officers oversee the safety and security of an inmate. They transfer prisoners to and from prison, including apprehending those who escape from lawful custody. They also are responsible for the welfare of the inmates.

Opinira, the third born of five children, first went to the Prisons offices to drop his application letters for the positions of Prisons Agricultural Officer and Prisons General Duties Officer. He was successful in the latter position, which he accepted since he did not have another job at the time. For now, he serves in the northern Uganda district of Kitgum.

Opinira’s father, Ovua Shem, is a teacher while his mother, Alezuyo Janet Ovua, is a housewife. Opinira says his parents impacted him by pushing him to stay in school, work hard and stay humble. The latter attribute relates to his humility in serving men in prison. 

Opinira says coming from a farm family in Arua district in northern Uganda made him easily appreciate the value of a profession in agriculture. The love for the career, he says, was the driving force behind his excellent performance in the subject throughout secondary school. He studied agriculture as a subject in both O-and A’level at Mvara Secondary School in northern Uganda.

“I wanted to be a plant breeder,” he said.

And that aspiration has not yet evaporated. Even as a general duties officer in the Prisons, he hopes to set up his own agricultural enterprise, so he puts into practice some of the knowledge he acquired in the classroom.

UCU as the Perfect Place for Opinira

Opinira was attracted to UCU because his brother graduated from there.

Having grown up in a church setting, Opinira was convinced by his elder brother’s stories that UCU was the perfect place for him to achieve his career, grow his faith and ministry, and expand his talent in music. UCU provided fertile ground for Opinira’s love for music as from the time he joined UCU in 2014 to when he left, he was a member of the university’s choir, The Mustard Seed Worship Team. In the five years, he held different positions in the choir, including as chairperson and music director.

As the chairperson of the choir, part of Opinira’s work was leading Sunday and midweek services, which attracted congregations of 400-500 people. He was also in charge of handling the administrative duties of the choir. As the Music Director, a position he held from 2016-2017, Opinira oversaw the planning of music in line with the scripture messages, as well as teaching songs to choir members, who numbered up to 50 people.

UCU alum’s journey to being first bishop of new Anglican diocese

By Kefa Senoga
As a son of an Anglican priest, Barnabas Tibaijuka was expected to lead a God-fearing life. And that’s exactly what he did at home.  His was the perfect illustration of living a double life — humble, obedient, and God-fearing son at home and rebellious and party-loving boy away from home.

Narrating his life’s journey on the Church of Uganda Family Television, Tibaijuka said while in secondary school, he joined peer groups that introduced him to sins like fornication.

“I would deceive my parents by telling them about non-existent demands at school, so that I could get money to facilitate my girlfriends,” Tibaijuka said.

He noted that he mastered the skill of living the double life so well that whenever he was with his father, he would criticize people who engaged in the same things that he did while away from home, to erode parental suspicion of the kind of life he led away from home.

Christians attending the consecration of Tibaijuka at St. Barnabas Cathedral in Bundibugyo, western Uganda on August 27.
Christians attending the consecration of Tibaijuka at St. Barnabas Cathedral in Bundibugyo, western Uganda on August 27.

However, he soon realized that the life of pretense would not take him far. He gave  his life to Jesus in 1994, while in Senior Four. This began his journey to the pulpit.

UCU Alum Consecrated as First Bishop of West Ruwenzori Anglican Diocese

The former student of Uganda Christian University (UCU) was on August 27 consecrated and installed as the first bishop of West Ruwenzori Anglican Diocese in western Uganda.

He did not travel his journey to the seat of the bishop without hurdles. First, after his Senior Four examinations, Tibaijuka applied to train as a lay reader in church, but his application was not successful. He was not given reasons for the rejection. He thus abandoned the journey to priesthood altogether, opting for a vocation in teaching. A lay reader is a layperson licensed to preach and conduct some religious services, but not to celebrate the Eucharist.

In 1998, he graduated with a certificate as a primary school teacher. Four years later, he had risen through the ranks, becoming a caretaker headteacher at Kuka Primary School in western Uganda. He then pursued a diploma in education at the National Teachers College in Mubende, central Uganda, which he acquired in 2005. However, he still felt he had not yet quenched his thirst for knowledge.

By 2008, Tibaijuka was back at school, this time at UCU, to pursue a Bachelor of Divinity course. He was eventually ordained a priest in 2011. However, he did not abandon his teaching job. He continued with teaching alongside ministry work. By 2014, Tibaijuka was back at school, this time to Mountains of the Moon University in western Uganda, to pursue Masters of Education Leadership and Policy Studies. 

At this point, he had to choose one of the two paths — ministry or teaching. 

“As a priest and teacher, I realized I wouldn’t be effective on either side, so I opted to leave teaching and concentrate on the church ministry,”  he said.

After nine years of full-time church ministry, Tibaijuka was on April 3 this year elected as the founding bishop of West Ruwenzori Diocese. At the time of his election, he was serving as parish priest at Buganikere Church. 

As the bishop, Tibaijuka plans to expand the administrative units in the diocese by creating new archdeaconries, parishes and building the capacity of the clergy.

“I am also thinking of protecting our environment due to the fact that Bundibugyo is prone to landslides, which are largely influenced by environmental degradation.”

Tibaijuka was born on May 8, 1975, in Bundinjongya, Bundibugyo district in western Uganda. His father, the Rev. Timoseo Wediime, was at that time serving in a remote parish in Rwebisengo. Tibaijuka is the ninth child and lastborn in their family.

Tibaijuka completed his primary education at Bubandi Primary School before enrolling for secondary school at Semuliki High School in Bundibugyo. He is married to Alice Tibaijuka since 2005 and the couple has seven children – Gloria, Agnes, Jolly, Mary, Timothy, Edith and Barnabas.


Alumna combines IT, media skills for today’s competitive market

By Irene Best Nyapendi
In a world where specialization often reigns supreme, Melanie Owomugisha’s journey at Uganda Christian University (UCU) demonstrates the power of embracing diverse skills. Her story is one of mentorship and commitment to both Information Technology (IT) and communications.

Owomugisha joined UCU in 2020 and received a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in July 2023. Her decision to delve into the world of IT was driven by her determination to break gender stereotypes. 

“Actually, I wanted to do things men do; that’s the reason why I wanted to do IT,” she said.

In high school, she had realized that it was mostly the male students who were interested in computers; girls showed little or no interest. Owomugisha also envisioned a world that was going to be highly digitalized, so she saw a future in studying IT.

While she was deeply passionate about IT, her journey at UCU introduced her to the realm of media. As a recent graduate, she has applied for IT work in several companies. But just before she could walk out of the university, a different opportunity came her way. 

In May 2023, the head of the Department of Computing and Technology called Owomugisha. She was hired and  assigned to a mentor, Jimmy Siyasa, the Acting UCU Communications Officer, with the directive to train her in communications, public relations and management of  the department’s social media.

“After I completed my IT studies, the department introduced me to the world of communication,” Owomugisha said. “I learned communication skills and took on responsibilities like managing social media, photography and videography.”

She said her new role as a journalist was rewarding and fulfilling. She made simple videos on “how to apply to UCU” that prospective students and online audiences found useful. Her tasks included making phone calls to hundreds of freshmen to clarify the UCU registration processes.

“Helping applicants (both undergraduate and postgraduate applicants) and making those calls gave me immense satisfaction,” she said.

Owomugisha excelled at being a content creator for the department. She captured videos of students narrating their experiences at the university and the memories they created, as well as curating profiles of graduates. 

She was the lead on student engagement in department activities, including outreaches such as innovation hubs, career talks and ideation sessions. She mobilized the students in the Computing and Technology department. 

She fell in love with the field of communication, and is now pivoting to studying a course in strategic communications. She views her move into media as part and parcel of expanding her skill set and effectively growing in the two careers. She believes the world today is looking for individuals who have more than one skill.

“The job market today requires more than one skill, and I believe having IT and media skills will make me stand out wherever I go,” Owomugisha said.

Owomugisha said she applied a lot of technical skills in her media work, particularly her ability to adapt to various software. She credited her IT background for making her versatile and enabled her to learn new software quickly, which was needed in her daily tasks.

As a student of media and an IT professional, she discovered that both fields require effective communication. She is now better in IT because of the ability to communicate IT concepts simply.

“In IT, people often lack communication skills,” she said. “They can develop great software, but struggle to present it. With my IT background and communication skills, I can bridge that gap and explain software effectively.”

Owomugisha fondly recalls one working trip to Ntare School in Mbarara western Uganda and how she covered UCU’s online audience. She was proud of the job she did during the outreach and found joy in communicating the information in real-time.

UCU lecturer applauds Owomugisha’s progress

Emmanuel Isabirye, a lecturer and mentor, said he was impressed by Owomugisha’s transition from a meticulous observer to an effective communicator. 

“Melanie is a fast learner who goes against the odds to add a new skill set to her already promising collection,” he said. “She’s hungry for growth as evidenced in her willingness to sojourn in the communications department.” 

Isabirybe said applicants appreciated her work with feedback from some that UCU was a “university of first choice boosted by Melanie’s courteous and informed phone calls.” 

Owomugisha is committed to evolving in her media career and expressed gratitude to UCU for the rare opportunity to work as a communications person at the Computing and Technology department.

“I am excited about the future as I plan to continue my journey in the media,” she said. “I am grateful to UCU for giving me a platform to learn and grow. I appreciate everyone in the Communications and IT Department for their guidance.”


Former UCU guild president returns to study theology

By Pauline Luba
Uganda Christian University (UCU) student, Philip Mugume Baitwa, attests to the fact that life is  partly made by the caliber of friends we choose.

At 15 years of age, and while a student of Mbarara High School in western Uganda, Baitwa sought to befriend classmates who he thought would inspire him to social and academic heights. He succeeded in making friends, but did not succeed in gaining positively from the friendships. 

Influenced by substance abuse, pornography addiction and juvenile delinquency, Baitwa says he was violent and a bully by senior four. He led many student strikes at school.  

“I was lost,” said Baitwa, who was raised by a Christian grandfather, a canon in the Anglican Church in Uganda. While engaged in negative life choices, Baitwa said there were times he felt uncomfortable that he had separated himself from the religious teachings that his grandfather emphasized. 

“Every time I was lost, there was a voice in my head telling me I was in the wrong, though I ignored it,” Baitwa said.

How He Discovered His Calling in Divinity at UCU

The 34-year-old eventually listened to the voice that was showing him the right path. He is now a year-three student pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at UCU.

He said his turning point came when he joined Valley College High School in western Uganda for A’level after many people spoke to him about changing his ways for the better. 

In 2010, Baitwa joined UCU to pursue a Bachelor of Laws, a course he says was largely influenced by his father’s desire.

“My father did not study his dream course — law — unlike his brothers,” Baitwa said. “And that saddened him. Someone, however, told him that if he got a son one day, he could live his dream in his son.” Baitwa’s father, Enoch Tumusiime Baitwa, instead studied a certificate course in veterinary medicine. 

Upon admission in 2010, Baitwa already had it in his mind to contest for the position of Guild President at UCU. He had been a student leader before. While in Kitwe Town Primary School in western Uganda, Baitwa was a time-keeper, health leader and eventually became the school’s top leader. 

In 2013, he was successful in the guild elections. One memorable thing about Baitwa’s leadership was changing the semester for voting for student leaders at UCU from January–May to September–December. And to justify the change, the Baitwas reasoned that in the January-May semester, many of the students are either on holiday or in internships so they would not participate in the voting of their leaders. They, thus, preferred the September-December semester, that had every student at school.  

After graduating from his law course in 2014, it did not take Baitwa long to realize that despite the law degree, his heart was elsewhere. “I didn’t like sitting behind a computer for long. I’m an outgoing person and I like to socialize,” Baitwa said.

In 2020, Baitwa said he experienced what many describe as the “call to Christ.” He began to have constant communication within himself, directing himself towards Christ and the service of God. Finally, in 2021, he returned to UCU to study divinity. 

Many friends and family members, however, rebuked him for the decision, with some calling it “foolish.” Even some of his church leaders, he said, could not readily believe the decision he had taken. 

“Theology is the queen of all subjects,” Baitwa said of the reason for the switch.  “We see it in all other courses. The legal framework is from the Bible.”

Baitwa hopes to combine his knowledge of the law with that of divinity once he graduates, to be able to “fill the legal gaps in church.” The father of three children — three years, one year and a three-month old baby — says his ultimate life goal is to see people live for God’s purpose, regardless of what career they are pursuing.

To give his family a livelihood during the time he is in school, Baitwa trained his wife — Peace Mugume — on how to handle investments and how to run the family farm.

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