News & Updates



UCU African Diaspora Studies Center in offing

By Irene Best Nyapendi

Fulbright Specialist Scholar, Dr. Afia S. Zakiya, is leading a team charged with establishing the Kodwo E. And E. Maxine Ankrah Center for African Diaspora at Uganda Christian University (UCU). The center, under the Directorate of Postgraduate Studies, will promote the study of the African Diaspora, defined as a population scattered across regions separate from the geographical place of origin.

“I am a daughter of Africa,” Zakiya says. “I am committed to the global liberation of African people and the rescue, restoration, and teaching of our history and culture.” Zakiya was born in Mississippi, with strong roots in the United States’ southern states where  many people of African heritage were formerly enslaved.

She highlights the necessity of African-centered knowledge and education in fields like Africana/Black and Diaspora studies, among other fields, to relay the story of people of African descent from an authentic, historical perspective.

“A request came from UCU to the Fulbright program for support to build the Ankrah Center for African Diaspora studies, along with other tasks, such as reviewing courses,” Zakiya says.

Forging a Path Towards a Vibrant African Diaspora Experience at UCU

The Ankrah Center, named after Professor E. Maxine Ankrah and the late  Lay Canon Kodwo E. Ankrah, serves as a forum to bring persons of African descent together, fostering global connectivity. The Ankrahs worked actively with the Anglican Church in Uganda and taught at Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology and UCU. Ankrah’s desire was that Africa be reclaimed and that all Africans and the Diaspora one day be reconnected.

Dr. Zakiya envisions an evolution in which African minds are decolonized, resulting in the rediscovery of Africa’s history, culture, and interconnectivity. 

She believes there is a need to confront the often-present degrading narrative about African humanity and experiences. The Ankrah Center wants to support endogenous knowledge creation strategies that are grounded in African worldviews, ancient and contemporary as they have evolved in the interest of African people.

“The Center will offer courses, seminars, exchange programs and create a network of partners in Africa and across the Diaspora, and the communities they serve, for UCU students to be involved in throughout the year,” Zakiya says. 

She forecasts a Center that will elevate the study of African history, language and culture.

“It will be exciting for those who become involved with the Center to have the chance to have exchanges — physical and other ways — with those young and older, the elders of the family many don’t know, their lost brothers and sisters from the African Diaspora,” she says, adding that UCU’s African Diaspora studies will be the first of its kind in the country.

During her visit at UCU in July and August, Zakiya said she had a productive collaborative experience.

Zakiya’s pride in African heritage has its roots in her upbringing. She was inspired by her parents — John and Ida Smith — as well as some of the most talented African-centered scholars, activists, and Pan-Africanists.

“They instilled in me a sense of pride in being African and taught me not to feel like I come from an inferior race,” she said. “They inspired me to learn more about who we are as a people, and they instilled in me the need to contribute to the upliftment of our race with an African consciousness.”

Zakiya has lived and worked in over 22 African countries, is a former Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science and works in cultural heritage and ecology. She is eager to use her talents to support new and reclaimed indigenous knowledge for the Ankrah Center.

UCU is reviewing Zakiya’s report with an expected launch of the center in 2024.


Accident shattered Okoth’s leg, but not his dreams

By Pauline Luba
When Joshua Okoth was asked about his favorite swimming style, he stared into the sky and, without any hesitation, said: “Freestyle.” He explained further, his choice: “It’s for yourself.” 

Okoth was ushered into swimming first as a pastime. He was 12 years old when he went swimming with some of his childhood friends in Entebbe, central Uganda. Initially, Okoth had no intention of getting into the water. However, his friends encouraged him to do so. Once he gave it a try, he did not look back.

This 3.5-minute video, produced by UCU alum, Chris Mutch, shows Okoth in the pool.

For many who know about Okoth’s life history, seeing him as a swimmer is nothing short of a miracle. At eight years of age, one leg was amputated. Okoth was involved in an accident and the only way for his life to continue was to have the leg removed. When that was done, to many, they thought his life would be confined to a wheelchair. But Okoth had other thoughts. With the help of an artificial limb today, he goes about most of his duties.

When he learned how to swim in 2012, it took Okoth another eight years for him to consider taking it up as a competitive sport. He was a student at Nabumali High School in eastern Uganda, when the school opened its swimming pool. 

The 23-year-old remembers being part of the congregation at Nabumali High School when one of the coaches recognized him and asked if he would like to join the swimming team. As expected, he was at first hesitant about the invitation. It took a lot of convincing before he decided to give it a shot. When he did, it took him three weeks to overcome the phobia. Okoth was assigned a special coach who guided him through the basics of swimming in a competition.

And now he is a proud swimmer.

 “I don’t think of anything when I get into the water,” Okoth said, adding: “It’s a game I enjoy.” 

UCU Okoth Aims to Inspire Others Through His Journey

He is constantly inspired by his parents whom he says he wants to make proud, as well as his friends, especially USA acquaintances who keep encouraging him in his pursuit. Okoth says he is who he is because of God’s love. 

Okoth learned how to swim in 2012.
UCU Okoth learned how to swim in 2012.

“I want someone in my condition to know that everything is possible. I dream about a world where the underprivileged are not discriminated against,” says Okoth, a year-one student of Uganda Christian University (UCU), where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance. 

He had initially wanted to study to become a pilot, but Okoth says the high fees for the course turned him away from his earlier dream. He now hopes to qualify as an accountant, so he can practice accountancy in the airlines sector. 

Okoth’s life goal is to see more support offered for people, and, indeed, athletes with disabilities. While growing up, Okoth says he faced many challenges, given his physical disability. Getting to school was hard, he said, because he had to use a wheelchair, yet his family was also in a state of financial instability. Okoth now is an advocate for schools to provide facilitation for students with physical challenges like his, who can bring glory to the institution through sports.

Okoth is the third born of six children of Emmanuel Onyango, a commercial driver, and Aidah Nabulo, a housewife. He attended Vision Nursery and Primary School, Manjasi High School for O’level and Nabumali High School for A’level. All the three schools are in eastern Uganda.


July graduation top male student is social entrepreneur

By Yasiri J. Kasango
Wilson Wanyama, an alumnus of Uganda Christian University (UCU), has long had a desire to be a social entrepreneur. In 2021, when he learned of an undergraduate program known as Bachelor of Development and Social Entrepreneurship, he saw a chance to bump up his dream.

After Bukede College Kachonga for his Ordinary and Advanced Level, Wilson joined Nkumba University for a degree in Business Administration. When attaining his second degree in Development and Social Entrepreneurship at UCU in July, he not only improved his chances of being a successful entrepreneur,  but he excelled above all faculty/school male graduates.  

Wilson Wanyama is the top male student of more than 1,000 of the July 2023 graduating class – the 24th graduation, part 1, at UCU. 

Wilson was already working to elevate Kabale communities in the Kigezi sub-region where he lived. He participated in organizing communities for development.

“All I have been doing was in development circles, supporting communities to develop, caring for the needy, running and managing organizations, mobilizing communities to better themselves,” said Wanyama.

As a result, he thought that his business administration degree did not equip him with the abilities required in his intended sector of community development, and that what he was doing in his community was unrelated.

Wilson had a passion to serve and make change, but lacked certain skills to better  his community. He said he “needed  specific skills in this area of development.” He found those skills in the UCU curriculum within Development and Social Entrepreneurship in the School of Social Sciences. 

“I always wanted to be a social entrepreneur,” said Wanyama. Social entrepreneurship is the process by which individuals, startups and entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues.

Wanyama’s Journey of Success at UCU

At the July 28 graduation on the UCU Mukono campus, Wanyama was the only degree recipient from the program of Development and Social Entrepreneurship. In five years, he hopes to have his PhD.  

Employed in a private sector position, he balanced work and studies, never missing a single lecture or even coming late for his lectures.

“It’s a personal effort in preparing for what the university was putting before us, receiving what the university had to give us, being attentive to what we required to listen in and also once required to be available,” said Wanyama.

“I had a portion time for work and studies and avail myself whenever I was needed,” Wanyama said. “Therefore, planning was key in achieving success in both areas.”

Wanyama says UCU lived up to its stellar reputation for quality learning and job marketability. He applauded UCU for the institution’s values and culture, validating his choice to enroll and encouraging others to do the same.


School of Business organizes entrepreneurship camps

By Kefa Senoga
In a bid to instill a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship among students, the Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Business (SoB) has introduced an International Entrepreneurship Summer Camp to understand what it means to do business in Uganda. 

According to Aston Aryamanya, one of the coordinators of the program, the camp was initiated as a result of UCU’s collaboration with Hanze University in the Netherlands. He said the camp is fully funded by the Hanze University Foundation.

Christa Oluka addressing participants at the opening of the camp
UCU Christa Oluka addressing participants at the opening of the camp

“One of the key areas of our collaboration with Hanze is entrepreneurship and promoting practical skills; this is where the idea of starting up this camp emerged,” says Aryamanya, a lecturer in UCU SoB.

From the ideation stage, Aryamanya said SoB has been working with the team from Hanze. However, for this particular camp, the students from Hanze will not participate, though they will be expected in the subsequent ones. 

To get the students to participate in the camp, which took place from August 21 to September 1, a call was sent out to those in SoB to submit proposals, which they had to defend before a select committee.  

UCU Nurtures Business Talent

Out of the exercise, 17 students were selected, with representatives from all courses in SoB —Business Administration, Human Resource, International Business, Tourism, Procurement, Accounting and Finance, Economics and Statistics.

Aryamanya said at the end of the camp, held on the Mukono campus, all the participating students were expected to come up with bankable and fundable business proposals.

“The key issue we are addressing in this training is educating the students to value their customer or consumer, to get to know what they need, what their problems are and how they can be addressed,” Aryamanya explained. 

At the camp, the students were expected to visit the country’s body in charge of investment, the Uganda Investment Authority, to understand the policies that govern doing business in Uganda. Experts from the country’s business registration agency, the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) were also lined up to talk to the students about patent rights, copyrights and registration. Also, the students were expected to visit the country’s taxman, Uganda Revenue Authority, as well as the Uganda Industrial Research Institute for further mentorship.

Some participants during camp sessions.
Some participants during camp sessions at UCU

While addressing the participating students and the SoB staff during the opening of the camp at the UCU business hub, Christa Oluka, the Director of Academic Affairs at UCU, asked the participants to embrace the opportunity provided to them at the training if they wanted to create, and not seek jobs. 

Oluka urged the team to find ways of solving community challenges without necessarily duplicating what already exists. She expressed optimism that future camps will involve students from beyond SoB to be able to help them embrace the idea of entrepreneurship.

The Associate Dean of the SoB, Elsie Nsiyona, asked the students to identify what they have so that they can beverage their competitive advantage. 

Bulya Maria Anthony Cindy, one of the students who attended the camp, noted that she expected to learn a lot about the processes of business development and to be guided on the journey of generating ideas and bringing them to life.

Brian Muwanguzi, another student, expressed excitement about the diverse opportunities the program offers. He noted: “This kind of program allows us to explore various sectors and uncover unique ideas.”

Early this year, top managers from UCU and Hanze signed a partnership that was expected to lead to the setting up of an innovation hub at the UCU main campus in Mukono. 

At the event, Vincent Kisenyi, the Dean of the UCU SoB, said the hub would widen the school’s scope of operation in training and empowering students by creating an avenue of engaging with the outside community.

In April last year, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the UCU Vice Chancellor, visited Hanze University, where he established stronger ties with the institution’s administration.


UCU School of Business Celebrates International Entrepreneurship Success

By Irene Best Nyapendi

On September 1st, we celebrated the achievements of the students who participated in the Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Business International Entrepreneurship program.

This unique initiative is a result of UCU’s collaboration with Hanze University in the Netherlands. It was created to nurture a positive business mindset in the students and provide them with the necessary skills and outlook to excel in entrepreneurial endeavors.

The two-week program started on August 21st, under the theme “Innovation for Enterprise Sustainability” with 17 students from various programs. They were divided into five groups, namely: Avo Grow, Ticket Buddy, Tidy Up, Cultural Quest, and Bright Ear.

Each group received certificates and medals for their participation, but the Bright Ear team stood out as the best group after pitching a fundable business proposal. Kristina Nabatanzi, Divine Wabasa, Arthur Ronald Apire comprise the Bright Ear team. Their exceptional ideas demonstrated outstanding innovation, viability, value proposition, market research, and presentation skills, and they were awarded golden medals. They are also gearing up to put their ideas into action this September, marking the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.

UCU’s Arthur Ronald Apire’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Arthur Ronald Apire, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a member of the Bright Ear group notes that their journey was tough yet fulfilling. At the start, their idea faced criticism, which could have discouraged them. However, they chose to learn from their mistakes and the advice of their critics.

“This is the first time in my life I have won a medal. At first, we used to fail; we made a lot of mistakes, but it’s the advice from these critics that we chose to use, and it surely helped us get here.” Apire said.

He says that throughout the program, he gained the ability to adapt and collaborate effectively with individuals who shared a common objective, he acquired the skills of cost reduction and revenue generation. Additionally, Apire learned the importance of flexibility and collaboration, and he also gained insights into managing expenses and increasing revenue.

As a team, they presented an idea for a multimedia library that included audio books, and they developed an audiobook narrating the tale of Nambi and Kintu.

“People often encounter challenges when it comes to reading, so our initiative aims to address this issue by incorporating audio and visual materials, making it easier for students to enhance their academic performance,” Apire explained.

Linda Maat, the Director of Hanze University, who joined the event virtually from the Netherlands, expressed her enthusiasm and urged the students to keep working on their ideas.

“Congratulations to all the students who pitched their business ideas, and especially to the winners; you need to continue working on these ideas,” she said.

She also mentioned that she would come to UCU soon and is curious to see these students at the next level.

“It would be wonderful to see all the students already maybe in the next level. I am really curious where these students will be in four to six weeks from now,” Maat said.

Eva Joselyn Aluka, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Tourism, described the Program as the most productive two weeks of her life. She found it both challenging and enjoyable. “It was both hectic and enjoyable. During the program, we played assimilation games that taught me to think so fast,” Aluka said.

Each group had a mentor, and Aluka expressed gratitude for the valuable knowledge and skills her mentor imparted. Through the presentations, she learned how to effectively pitch a business idea and win support.

Before this program, her knowledge of pitching ideas was limited, but now she feels confident in her presentation skills and understanding of how to prepare for pitching.

Christa Oluka, the Director of Academic Affairs at UCU, appreciated the judges for validating the students’ efforts. She emphasized that entrepreneurship is something that can go from small to big as you refine it.

“Thank you for investing in yourselves as young people. I was happy that you thought about meaningful problems and how you can think together to bring those things out,” Oluka said.

She also encouraged them to put themselves out there and take advantage of this and other opportunities.

The winners pose for a photo with their facilitators. (From the left to right) Martin Kabanda, Kristina Nabatanzi, Divine Wabasa, Arthur Ronald Apire and Aston Aryamanya

This initiative has not only equipped students with essential skills but has also instilled in them the mindset needed for entrepreneurial success.

As these students embark on their entrepreneurial journeys, we look forward to seeing their innovative ideas become impactful realities in the coming months. It’s important to note that the next program is scheduled for July of next year.


UCU researchers develop three new nakati varieties

By Jimmy Siyasa
Renowned for its research excellence, the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, previously led by Prof. Elizabeth Kizito, proudly presents three extraordinary varieties of Solanum aethiopicum shum, commonly known as nakati – the beloved African eggplant.

Introduced as the UCU-Nakati 1, UCU-Nakati 2, and UCU-Nakati 3, these innovative nakati varieties mark a significant milestone in Uganda and Africa. The varieties offer farmers a reliable and easily accessible source of African nakati seed. Previously, nakati farmers relied on saved seeds from previous seasons or obtained them from neighbors, friends, and relatives, leading to limited availability and inconsistent quality. One will no longer need to rely on uncertain or unreliable sources as UCU’s nakati varieties ensure consistent quality and ample supply for farming needs.

Liz Kizito,  Directorate of Research, Partnerships and Innovation
Liz Kizito, Directorate of Research, Partnerships and Innovation

The development of these nakati varieties involved making crosses over multiple generations, meticulous selection, and ensuring distinctiveness, and uniformity for improved yield and desirable plant characteristics. Each variety has been carefully tailored to meet the expectations of farmers and consumers, incorporating valuable feedback from end-users and thorough market surveys. 

These varieties have received certification by the National Variety Release Committee: A Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries, ensuring the highest standards of excellence.

Characteristics of the Nakati varieties
Each of the varieties has unique characteristics.

UCU-Nakati 1:

UCU-Nakati 1 is green-stemmed, has green leaves and leaf veins, and the leaf margins (the boundary area of the leaf that is extending along the edge of the leaf) are generally whole. Nakati-1 is not drought tolerant. In sensory evaluations with consumers and market vendors, it was found to be relatively bitter. Its average yield per acre is 982.4 kg/acre.

UCU-Nakati 2:

UCU-Nakati 2 has green, purple stems, green leaves, and green leaf veins. The leaf margins are moderately serrated. Nakati-2 has green-purple stems and green leaf blades. The mean fresh leaf yield at harvest is 936.9 kg/acre. Nakati-2 was identified as a drought-tolerant genotype. In sensory evaluations with consumers and market vendors, products had a generally appealing aroma, appearance, and flavour.

UCU-Nakati 3

UCU-Nakati 3, on the other hand, is purple-stemmed, has green leaves with green-purple leaf veins, and has a deeper serrated leaf margin. The leaf yield at harvest maturity, about 8 weeks after planting, is 976.3 kg/acre. Nakati-3 is moderately drought tolerant and has a generally appealing aroma, appearance and flavour in sensory evaluations with consumers and market vendors. 

Implications and Applications
The potential impact on the field or society
The implications of these groundbreaking developments are far-reaching. Previously, there were limited systematic efforts to improve African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) in Uganda. The new nakati varieties are the first of their kind. UCU has developed nutritionally rich improved varieties of nakati. This intervention will not only offer farmers quality-assured varieties of AIVs but also set standards for subsequent variety evaluation for distinctiveness, uniformity, and stability (DUS) as well as value for cultivation and use. Releasing these varieties brings to the fore, especially for Africans, the availability of quality seed to meet nutritional and income security needs because these can now be potentially accessed in agro-shops or stores, something that was impossible until recently.

Practical applications and real-world scenarios
With over 200 tons of nakati traded weekly in major markets, this crop plays a crucial role in Uganda’s urban and peri-urban areas, surpassing even the country’s main cash crop –  coffee. The popularity of nakati extends beyond Uganda, reaching Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. Its nutritional and economic value makes it an indispensable part of traditional dishes and a means of livelihood for poor and unemployed women and youth.

AIVs such as the UCU Nakati varieties, hold immense practical applications and can address real-world challenges in achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). These vegetables have the potential to alleviate hidden hunger (SDG 2 – End hunger) and poverty (SDG 1 – Zero poverty), particularly among vulnerable groups like women and children under five. In Uganda, a country with high levels of undernutrition, where 3 in 10 children under five are stunted and about 3.5% body wasting, the nutritional value of nakati is significant. It is rich in fiber, minerals, carotene, proteins, fats, ash, crude fiber, carbohydrates, calcium, magnesium, iron, and phytochemicals with therapeutic properties, making it essential in preventing nutrient deficiency diseases and non-communicable diseases. By improving crop varieties and enhancing productivity and incomes for farmers, poverty reduction and improved food security can be achieved, as farmers who cultivate improved varieties often earn more and enjoy better livelihoods. 

Expert Reviews
Dr. Ssebuliba James, agronomist and former head of the Department of Crop Production at Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences:

  • “This is a great addition to knowledge. Research plays a crucial role in the addition of new knowledge, which ultimately advances our understanding of the world and contributes to various areas of daily life. When new knowledge is curated and put in the right hands, it has the power to bring about high-value change in society.” 

Dr. Godfrey Asea, Director of Research, National Crops Resources Research Institute, Namulonge: 

  • “This is a good opportunity as a starting point to harness the indigenous vegetable resources.”

Dr. Flavia Kabeere, Seed Technologist and Consultant:

  • “These varieties will guarantee quality for consumers.”

Collaborations and Funding
The UCU community, leadership, and researchers (Prof. Elizabeth Kizito, Dr. Sseremba Godfrey, Mildred Nakanwagi, and Pamel Kabod) expressed appreciation to the European Union, PAEPARD (Platform for African-European Partnership in Agricultural Research for  Development) and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) for their valuable support. Funding from the EU through PAEPARD initiated this research, while TWAS contributed to basic research and the selection of drought-tolerant varieties.

Call to Action
Others are invited to delve deeper into this groundbreaking research and its potential applications. Seed companies or other stakeholders interested in the multiplication of seeds are invited to place their orders. For more information, visit the Directorate of Research, Partnerships and Innovation website ( or directly contact


  • UCU researchers develop three Nakati varieties UCU-Nakati 1; UCU-Nakati 2; UCU-Nakati 3; with immense promise for enhancing food security, reducing poverty, and promoting better health in Uganda and Africa.
  • Nakati is considered an African Indigenous Vegetable.
  • Nakati is one of the most important local vegetable species in terms of providing income and food in urban and peri-urban areas of Uganda.

UCU aspiring leaders get help from F.U.E.L.

By Irene Best Nyapendi
The Uganda Christian University (UCU) guild government has started a leadership program, seeking to train students in management skills. The program, dubbed “First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership (F.U.E.L.) Program,” has been implemented at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), Fordham University (New York) and Ohio State University, among other higher education institutions. .

“This program has given me confidence in the future of UCU,” said Timothy Ddumba, Mukono Campus Guild President. He believes F.U.E.L. will birth top-notch leaders while closing the gap of mentorship from one guild government to another. 

“It is possible [for other guild governments to adopt the program] because the students trained might be part of the next leadership,” he said of the eight Saturday sessions with 25 student participants in June and July 2023. “The impact it creates could inspire the need to sustain it.”

UCU Guild president Timothy Ddumba addressing students during one of the F.U.E.L. sessions
UCU Guild president Timothy Ddumba addressing students during one of the F.U.E.L. sessions

The free mentorship and training program is meant for students who are interested in student leadership, especially those who are already leaders in the guild government. 

Melissa Kamikazi Nsaba, the guild vice president, and Christy Asiimwe, the minister for presidency, are program leaders.

Asiimwe, a student in the School of Education,  said the vision of the program is to be a foundation of transformational leaders who champion and spread the core values of UCU.

“One of the reasons why we started this program is to nurture transformational leaders who are ready to transform the university and the world in a Christian way,” she said.

Unlike F.U.E.L. implemented at secular universities, the UCU program looks at nurturing and equipping students with leadership skills grounded in Christian values.  It is hoped that the classes will ignite leadership potential and empowerment among the students.

“I believe this program is good for the students because it helps them improve their managerial skills and abilities as future leaders, achieve better project leadership and improve risk management,” Asiimwe said.

She explained that by equipping and training those who wish to lead, those who vote them into power or are under their command are less likely to suffer the consequences of unsatisfactory and inadequate leadership. 

UCU F.U.E.L Program Beneficiaries Share Their Testimonies

Emmanuel Golyo, one of the beneficiaries of the program and a student of a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Technology, said he was taught what it takes to be a good leader. “I learned to understand and embrace the dynamics of the university and discovered how I can best serve to my fullest potential,” he said. He said the program helped him clarify his leadership and vision of self holistically.

During the course of the training, different speakers were invited to coach and mentor the trainees, speaking from real-life experiences.

Golyo said the program gave him a platform to understand the importance of team building and group motivation. “During each session we had a number of physical and interactive activities that nurtured in me the spirit of working with others on a project,” he said.

Mary Mangadalene Namwanje, a second-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, explained that the sessions enlightened her on how to be a problem solver as a leader. She learned the characteristics of a good team and how to build it.

Namwanje is now knowledgeable about governing authorities, hierarchy and bureaucracy.

“Through the sessions I attended, I learned how to deal with different authorities, conflict resolution and decision making,” she said.

The students trained in effective communication, branding and documentation as well as public speaking. 

“While attending one of the sessions, we heard testimonies from former guild officials. One of the things they shared was how to balance life, responsibilities, relationships and work,” Namwanje said. 

The students also were taken through lessons on discovering themselves in leadership.

The F.U.E.L. Program is one of the pledges the guild president wrote in his manifesto on creating an environment to nurture future leaders. The seminars were sponsored by the guild budget.


Vice Chancellor’s wife mentors students toward meaningful lives

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Should I get into a serious relationship now? Is it the right time to get married? How do I know if I have the right partner? How do I know if I am in a bad relationship? What about sex? How do I achieve academic excellence with all these pressures? How do I grow my career?

Patience Rubabinda Mushengyezi, fondly known as “Mama Pesh” (short for Mother Patience), has been guiding Uganda Christian University (UCU) on these topics and more during monthly forums since May 2023. The monthly “Talk to Mama Pesh,” sessions are designed to be open, honest, and informal.  

Patience Mushengyezi addressing students during the first “Talk to Mama Pesh” forum. She was with fellow mentors Faith Musinguzi (left) and Jolly Kavuma.
Patience Mushengyezi addressing students during the first “Talk to Mama Pesh” forum. She was with fellow mentors Faith Musinguzi (left) and Jolly Kavuma.

Mama Pesh, wife of Vice Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi for 26 years,  has been working with university students for over 20 years. She has nurtured over 12 non-biological children from childhood to graduation. She is a premarital counselor for young couples, mentor for young adults and leader at church. She is a mother of four. She is a Deputy Registrar at Makerere University,

“I developed a passion to talk to university students about values and morals to help open their eyes on things that can destroy their lives,” she said. “These are issues such as addictions, which lead to mental challenges and failure to complete their studies.” 

Mama Pesh said that she was further inspired by the Bible, in the book of Daniel 1:8, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself…”. Mama Pesh acknowledged that vices of drug or substance abuse, sexual immorality, wrong relationships and unwanted pregnancies are not limited to secular universities.

 “I love the UCU motto of ‘Centre of Excellence in the Heart of Africa’ because my desire is to have academic excellence with values,” she said. “I am passionate about all students, both male and female. When we talk to them, they grow into responsible citizens, wives, mothers, husbands, fathers and have strong Christian families in the future.”.

Students discuss among themselves before the question-and-answer session with mentors at a “Talk to Mama Pesh” session.
Students discuss among themselves before the question-and-answer session with mentors at a “Talk to Mama Pesh” session.

One of the goals of the forum is to provide young people a platform to be mentored into leaders of today and tomorrow. The forum is meant to be “a secure space where young people can discuss freely with mentors about issues that affect their academic, social and spiritual lives.”

Mama Pesh emphasized that the end goal is to see that students achieve academic excellence with values. She also provides a safe space for the students that would like to share with her privately away from the presence of their colleagues.

Mama Pesh does the mentorship in partnership with the office of the Vice-Chancellor, Directorate of Students’ Affairs, the Chaplaincy, Counseling Unit and the Guild. In addition, she invites experienced counselors and mentors for the forum. The value of peer mentors is learning from someone who has more recently been where they are. 

How the forum has become a beacon of inspiration to UCU students.

The forum has become a beacon of inspiration in the lives of UCU students.

Jackson Leoru, a second-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts with Education, found the forum beneficial because it helps students prepare to be adults. “Through the forum, I got guidance to make healthy choices that create a positive impact in my life in school and in relationships,” he said.

He said he will pass along to others such learning as relationships need patience and prayer. “I learnt that sometimes you may see someone and think he or she is the one meant for you, yet they are actually not the ones, so we need to pray about it and also be patient.”

Natasha Alinda poses for a photo with Mama Pesh after one of the sessions at UCU main campus in Mukono.
Natasha Alinda poses for a photo with Mama Pesh after one of the sessions at UCU main campus in Mukono.

Natasha Alinda, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, said the program is a good foundation upon which a student can build themselves “in order to be first and foremost a very good child to their parents, a very good student in school, and a good citizen in their nation.”

Through the forum, Alinda (a residential assistant at the female’s main university hall) has discovered the value of intentionality and self-worth. “I learned to value myself and carefully choose the people I associate with as well as the friends I make,” she said.

She adds that as a student, the talks have taught her to schedule and maneuver around student leadership, friendships and education.

“I am so grateful to Mama Pesh for sparing time amidst her busy schedule to talk to us and hold our hands through this journey of life at no cost because so many people are charged to get such guidance,” she said.


UCU Alum From medicine to theology: ‘…follow Me’

By Pauline Luba
UCU Martin Oluge’s father, Ignatius Okello, raised many of his children in a hospital setting because that is where he worked as a police officer. It is during that time that Oluge became fond of the medical profession; he could not think of any other career. However, things changed. Oluge is now eyeing a career as a priest of the Anglican Church in Uganda.

As he grew up, he was attracted by the way the doctors carried themselves at the hospital and how they conducted their work. 

But there was a hurdle for Oluge to jump. Okello and his wife, Juliet, had 16 children, including Oluge, to look after. 

By studying Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics in A’level at St. Joseph’s Senior Secondary School Naggalama in central Uganda, Oluge was more than sure that he was getting closer to his dream career. However, there was a hiccup. He did not get the required grades to get government sponsorship at Uganda’s public universities. He thus opted for a Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine and Surgery at Kampala International University (KIU), a privately owned institution.

“I enjoyed my time at KIU,” Oluge said. “It was great and the experience humbled me. I believe this is what pushed me to excel after my internship.” 

Oluge said while in A’level, he had become too confident, and thinks it could have been one of the reasons he failed to meet the cut for a government sponsorship in medicine.

In 2019, Oluge did his mandatory one-year internship at Mengo Hospital, before securing employment at Ngora Freda Carr Hospital in eastern Uganda. For any newly qualified doctor to practice medicine in Uganda, they are required to undergo a year-long paid internship at a government health facility in the country. 

Why Oluge Transitioned from Medicine to Theology at UCU

Ngora Freda Carr Hospital, where Oluge was employed, is a rural private not-for-profit facility affiliated with the Anglican Church in Uganda. After three years of employment at the facility, Oluge says he got a “calling from God.” He says he heard this call in his head over and over until he consulted the reverends in his church. He was advised to fulfill the call and study theology. This was in 2021.

However, there was another hurdle. Coming from a staunch Catholic family, Oluge knew that he would not get the full support to pursue a vocation as a priest in the Anglican Church. And he was right. When he broke the news to his extended family, it was a double disappointment for them – one, he was leaving the medicine job, and, two, he was joining another faith different from what his family raised him in.

“It was not easy,” he said. “I had to tell my parents I was leaving the Catholic faith, as well as medicine. Yet, they had paid my tuition for the course.” 

Oluge says it took two months of battle and prayer before he could apply for a Masters in Divinity at Uganda Christian University. Eventually he did, and is now a student.

The father of three – 6, 3 and 2 years – and husband of Rael Cheptoek had to resign from his job in order to study full time at UCU, where he enrolled in May 2023. For his master’s course, Oluge got a sponsorship from the Lango diocese’s Anglican Aid. The sponsorship covers his tuition, accommodation and basic needs for his family. He also works at UCU’s University Hospital, the Allan Galpin Health Centre. 

Oluge now eyes becoming a pastor. To those pondering a career change in life, Oluge’s advice hinges on what Jesus says in John 10:27-28: “My sheep, hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” 

Uganda Christian University Partnership

Uganda Christian University (UCU) Strengthens Collaborative Bonds through Partnership with St. Paul’s University

By Jimmy Siyasa

LIMURU, KENYA – August 14, 2023 – A significant milestone in the world of higher education was marked today as Uganda Christian University (UCU) and St. Paul’s University (SPU) came together to solidify their partnership through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The ceremonial event took place at SPU’s Main Campus in the serene town of Limuru, Kenya. Both institutions, rooted in their shared Church-based foundations, are poised to embark on a journey of mutual collaboration and growth.

What’s in the partnership?

The agreement encompasses a range of collaborative initiatives aimed at fostering educational enrichment and innovation. Spearheaded by the leadership of Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the Vice Chancellor of UCU, and backed by a team including Mr. Samson Wanambuko, the Senior Legal Officer, and Dr. Angella Napakol, the Head of Grants and Partnerships, UCU has extended its hand in partnership to SPU.

Among the key areas of cooperation outlined in the MoU are the exchange of faculty and students, collaborative research ventures, the external evaluation of postgraduate dissertations, and the exchange of best practices and innovations in teaching and learning.

Present at the signing ceremony were esteemed representatives from both institutions. Prof. Peter Ngure, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at SPU, extended a warm welcome to Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi. Alongside them were Rev. Truphie Sumba, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, and other prominent university officials from SPU.

In his address, Prof. Mushengyezi highlighted the importance of cultivating a strong partnership between UCU and SPU. He emphasised that the collaborative efforts envisioned under this MoU would not only enhance the academic experience for both institutions’ faculty and students but also contribute to the broader educational landscape.

To further solidify the newly forged partnership, Prof. Mushengyezi extended a cordial invitation to the SPU team to visit the Uganda Christian University campus. This gesture serves as a tangible step towards nurturing the relationship and exploring avenues for joint endeavours.

The partnership between UCU and SPU holds immense promise in fostering academic growth, interdisciplinary exploration, and the sharing of knowledge across diverse educational horizons. As the two institutions embark on this collaborative journey, they set a commendable example of the power of cooperative learning and the impact it can have on shaping the future of education.

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