UCU social work leader strives to forge USA collaborations

By Patty Huston-Holm

Kasule Kibirige believes in Jesus.

A guy he met on November 15, 2023, believes in UFOs (Unidentified Foreign Objects) and Sasquatch, also known as “Big Foot.” 

After a quick handshake, the man, donned in a baseball cap embroidered with the Sasquatch name, asserted that USA government data verifies the existence of alien life (i.e., UFOs) and many videos from average people authenticate that a large hairy creature is walking his big feet around North American forests. Kasule listened without prejudice during the five minutes that the man in the hat espoused his views that were new to Kasule and what some more familiar consider fictitious and as the sun was setting outside the Cedarville, Ohio, Sunset Inn and Suites.  

That’s what social workers, especially those who are Christian, do. 

“Social work has a value base similar to Christian faith,” said Kasule, head of undergraduate studies, School of Social Sciences, Uganda Christian University (UCU), since 2016. “Social work is a program of study that includes accepting others without judging them.”

The profession is much more, of course. The Webster dictionary defines social work as a field with “activities or methods concretely concerned with providing social services and especially with the investigation,  treatment and material aid of the economically, physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged.” 

The brief, unexpected encounter with the Sasquatch-UFO follower – who also might have shared his religious beliefs had he remained longer – provided an example of implementing social work skills outside the confines of a dictionary or textbook, according to Kasule, who learned of these topics for the first time in his three-week, November trip to the USA.  It was his first visit to Ohio and second trip to the United States. While waiting to have dinner with faculty at Cedarville University, he shared other illustrations, including his early recognition of how listening and observing make a difference in the field of social work. 

“Most students come to universities directly from high school,” Kasule said. “I didn’t.”

Without sufficient funds, or academic marks to

Kasule Kibirige with the Rt. Rev. Deon John, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri at St. John’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis, Mo.
Kasule Kibirige with the Rt. Rev. Deon John, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri at St. John’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis, Mo.

garner a government scholarship grant, Kasule first enrolled in vocational training. Using his tertiary knowledge and skill, he was employed as a welder in a small-scale steel fabrication factory that made machines like the ones used in the agro-processing industry. He later saw social workers in action when working for a child-focused non-profit organization in Kampala,  Uganda.  

“Choosing social work was largely inspired by that life-changing opportunity of  working with a non-governmental organization that helped disadvantaged, urban out-of-school children,” Kasule said. 

From 2001 to 2007, Kasule received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Botswana in Africa. Since 2008, he’s been a social work faculty member at UCU and participated in numerous community engagements, both integrated in fieldwork supervision of students’ practicums and community service, researching to enhance teaching and leading social work curriculum at UCU.  In addition to these roles, he has collaborated with Lisa Tokpa of UCU’s Uganda Studies Program (USP), a semester-long course of study for American university students. The goal in collaborating is to create mutual benefit among their two programs at the university, including research, co-teaching, social work supervisor trainings, and cross-cultural student groups.

“My major interest is to contribute to improving the quality of social work educational experiences for both students and faculty,” Kasule said. “I continuously seek to engage with colleagues who share this passion through collaborations – in international field education, co-teaching and learning, and applied research.”

The main objective of Kasule’s November visit to the United States was expanded collaboration. He spoke and listened during the North American Association of Christians in Social Work Convention 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pa.; engaged with educators and students at two USA universities that have been involved with the USP in the two decades of the program’s existence; and spoke with the Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri at St. John’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis, Mo. In the state of Pennsylvania, he visited Grove City College. In Ohio, he spent two days at Cedarville University. In Missouri, he met with social work faculty at St. Louis University. 

Since 2004, students from more than 100 American Christian universities, as well as those from a smaller number of secular universities have participated in the UCU-USP four-month curriculum that is largely focused on social work. Most USP-sending universities are associated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, which represents more than 180 higher education institutions.  

“My key initiatives are local and international,” Kasule said. “Locally, UCU social work and USP social work emphasize cross-cultural learning groups. Internationally, there is the exchange with universities outside Uganda.”

UCU Lecturer Promotes Global Collaboration for Cross-Cultural Learning

Kasule Kibirige in Cedarville, Ohio
Kasule Kibirige in Cedarville, Ohio

Kasule has seen first-hand the academic and cultural value for American students spending a semester of study at UCU, as well as a more recent collaboration that has UCU students studying at Hanze University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. He would like to see more United States higher education opportunities for Ugandan students and faculty.

“Cross cultural conversations have infinite value,” said Kasule, who has two children, ages 4 and 7, with his wife, Grace, a pediatrician currently engaged in clinical research. “We have our own perceptions about Christianity and social problems in Uganda. You have yours.” 

Besides its spiritual redemption and religious values for the majority of Ugandans, Christian virtues also are an important reference for promising hope; and a practical framework when integrated into curriculum.

While partnership benefits are readily acknowledged, money is a barrier for an equal exchange because Ugandans have fewer resources than Americans. But it’s an obstacle that can be overcome.

“There is the possibility of grants, but we don’t expect our partners to throw money at a problem,” Kasule said. “Rather, we seek mutually-beneficial collaboration.” He pointed to the internet with possibilities for co-teaching and co-research, especially since all UCU post-graduate programs are now online. 

David Hodge, distinguished professor, School of Social Work, Arizona State University, is among USA social work partners who have come to UCU. In 2021, Dr. Hodge and Kasule co-published a paper addressing academic research inequalities between Sub-Saharan faculty and their counterparts in the West, and planned more related to how spirituality can be used in assessment until Covid drove Hodge home earlier than planned. As 2023 comes to a close, this later project is being revived.

“Even for non-believers, Christian principles and similar intervention strategies can be applied,” said Kasule, reflecting on some work he has embarked on with partners fighting against child sacrifice, in Uganda.  According to census data, 82 percent of Ugandans are Christian. In the USA, 63 percent identify as believers in Jesus Christ. 

Kasule sees Christian faith playing an integral part for worker efforts to rebuilding community resilience, prevention and mitigation of social struggles, such as domestic violence, mental illness and children not in school. Loneliness issues for people of all ages also is a current focus both in Uganda and the United States, he said.

Enabling university faculty and students to experience multiple cultures is key, according to Kasule.  Opportunities for faculty to engage in more practice-academics (pra-academics) and collaborative projects would not only improve teaching and learning effectiveness but also will certainly improve service users’ overall  outcomes. 

“We need to engage agencies as partners, teachers and students as learners,” he said. “We learn so much from each other to help others.”


Rev. Assoc. Prof Omona overcomes adversity

By Kefa Senoga 

The Rev. Assoc. Prof. Andrew David Omona has learned how he reacts to adversity is more important than the actual misfortune.  His up-and-down life story depends on the value of strength and resilience. And these are skills he has mastered.

Take, for instance, the incident of 1996 when he tried to begin his theology career. 

Born in 1970 in Adjumani district, northern Uganda, to the Rev. Andrew and Mary Olal, Omona completed his primary education at Biyaya Primary School before joining Obongi Secondary School in 1986, where he completed his O’level.  In 1990, he joined Moyo Secondary School in northern Uganda, from where he completed his high school studies. Unlike many of his peers, he was not influenced by a mass recruitment of people into the Uganda Police Force. He decided to pursue a Diploma in Theology at the Bishop Tucker Theological College. 

Rev. Omona’s UCU journey

In 1996, Omona, the seventh of 10 children, enrolled for a Bachelor of Divinity course at what is now the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology. At the time, the college was under Uganda’s Makerere University. It became part of Uganda Christian University (UCU) in 1997. For reasons unknown to Omona, a week into his course, the Makerere University Council canceled his admission and those of some of his colleagues. 

“When that happened, the Dean of Studies of Bishop Tucker at the time, the Rt. Rev. Canon Dustan Bukenya (now a retired bishop), gave me a letter to take to Bugema University,” Omona said, noting that with the letter, he gained admission into Bugema. 

He was, therefore, allowed to enroll for a dual program leading to the consecutive award of two bachelor’s degrees — Bachelor of Theology and Bachelor of Arts with Education. The two degrees were combined because the programs shared certain elements, a practice that was acceptable at that time.

As Omona’s graduation at Bugema drew nearer, he encountered another hurdle. He got a challenge with the practical element in his theology course. He explains that despite having fulfilled all the requirements for graduation, there was one challenging course unit remaining — a practical component where they intended to assign him to a Seventh Day Adventist church. 

“Whereas the head of department had agreed to supervise me in the Anglican church, the university management made it difficult for that to happen,” Omona says, indicating that when they reached a stalemate on the matter, he opted to only graduate with a Bachelor of Arts with Education.

After completing the BA with Education, he secured an admission at UCU to pursue a Master of Arts in Theology in 1999 and graduated in 2002. In 2005, his interest switched from theology and education to international relations and diplomacy; he enrolled to pursue a Master of Arts in International Relations and Diplomacy at Nkumba University, graduating in 2007.    

Soon after, a friend who was studying at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania encouraged Omona to enroll for a PhD in International Relations and Diplomacy. However, he says the advisor he was assigned turned out to be too busy for him. On many occasions, according to Omona, he would travel from Uganda to Tanzania, only to find that his advisor had traveled out of the country. So, in 2008, upon a friend’s recommendation, he transferred to Kenyatta University in Kenya, to pursue the same PhD course. He graduated from the university in 2015.

Upon acquiring his doctorate in 2016, Omona applied for a promotion at UCU, where he has been teaching since 2001. He was granted that request. However, three years later, when he applied to graduate to the higher rank of Associate Professor, his wish was denied. He did not lose hope, though. In 2021, Omona re-applied for the promotion. The good news reached him in May this year, when he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Ethics and International Relations.

He said one of the most gratifying aspects of his academic journey are the friendships he has made while pursuing his studies and attending conferences. He said that whenever he travels, he forms acquaintances with people with whom he frequently collaborates on research publications. 

The Rev. Omona is married to Anne Cheroto, a priest and the Principal of Ndegeya Teacher Training College in Masaka district, central Uganda. The couple has three biological children — two boys and one girl. Their first born, a boy, is pursuing a Bachelor of Laws at UCU.  


UCU Arua Campus director abandoned father’s wish to pursue ministry

By Kefa Senoga
As a young boy, Julius Izza Tabi gave his parents the confidence that his career destination would be one in the field of sciences. As such, Tabi’s father — Izza Soyi Severino —  encouraged his son to pursue a course in human medicine. Just imagine what went through the mind of Severino when his son told him he was not interested in becoming a doctor.

The Rev. Julius Izza Tabi during the UCU@25 celebrations in 2022
The Rev. Julius Izza Tabi during the UCU@25 celebrations in 2022

Tabi said he was feeling a different calling from God, one of pastoral ministry. At first, Severino thought the reason for his son’s change of heart was because he had not garnered the necessary grades to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. As such, he encouraged his son to repeat Senior Six, and that he was ready to pay the tuition. Tabi had sat his Senior Six exams at Metu Senior Secondary School in Moyo district, northern Uganda.

However, Tabi, who is now the director of the Uganda Christian University Arua Campus, said his heart was elsewhere. Fortunately, the son did not have to convince his father to pay tuition for a course he didn’t think was right. When Tabi enrolled at Lake Victoria Christian Centre for a diploma in Christian ministries, he was on full bursary. 

Anglican Archbishop in Uganda Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu launching the UCU Arua Campus Master plan during the celebrations to mark 20 years of the campus
Anglican Archbishop in Uganda Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu launching the UCU Arua Campus Master plan during the celebrations to mark 20 years of the campus

At the end of the one-year course, Tabi not only returned home with his diploma, he also emerged as the best student in the cohort.

Upon graduating with a Diploma in Christian Ministry, Tabi continued with youth ministry activities in the church. It was during this time that he and Severino agreed that the former should return to school and get a second qualification. 

Tabi is the sixth born in a family of nine children. His father, Severino, was a primary school headteacher and his mother, Asianzo Catherine, a housewife.

Tabi thus pursued a Diploma in Education at the National Teachers’ College, Muni, where he specialized in Chemistry and Biology. Upon qualification, Tabi was employed at Usindi Secondary School in Arua, northwestern Uganda. 

Teaching in close proximity to the UCU Arua Campus led Tabi to become part of the UCU community. In 2011, he was admitted for a Bachelor of Divinity at UCU under the Ma’di-West  Nile Diocese scholarship. That same year, Tabi married Oliver Driciru, with whom he has three children — two boys and one girl.  

The newly built gate of the UCU Arua Campus
The newly built gate of the UCU Arua Campus

At his graduation in 2014, the Rev. Tabi’s grades earned him the accolade of second-best student. The best student at the graduation was Jonathan Tumwebaze, now also a staff member at UCU. 

Tabi’s outstanding performance persuaded Joel Obetia, the Bishop of Madi-West Nile Diocese at the time, to post him to UCU Arua Campus as the Assistant Chaplain in October 2014. That officially marked the start of Tabi’s association with UCU as a member of staff.

The following year, he was given extra roles when he was appointed a tutorial assistant in the Department of Theology. He later pursued a Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues from the Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo. Upon Tabi’s return from Oslo, he was promoted to Assistant Lecturer. In 2018, he was appointed the institution’s Dean of Students.  

Three years later, in September 2021, the Rev. Tabi was appointed the acting director of the campus, a position he was confirmed into after the campus went through the requisite process of hiring the position holder.

From left: Rev Julius Izza Tabi, Rev. Canon Prof. Stephen Noll (first Vice Chancellor of UCU) and Rev. Richard Mujuni during the GAFCON conference in April 2023 in Kigali Rwanda.
From left: Rev Julius Izza Tabi, Rev. Canon Prof. Stephen Noll (first Vice Chancellor of UCU) and Rev. Richard Mujuni during the GAFCON conference in April 2023 in Kigali Rwanda.

In an interview that Tabi granted Uganda Partners in August this year, he enumerated his areas of focus as infrastructural development, elevating the campus into a constituent college, a massive student recruitment strategy, beautification of the environment and infrastructure, implementation of the multi-billion masterplan project, development of an endowment project and a staff recruitment plan.  

This year, the campus marked 20 years of being part of the UCU family and 64 years of being a training institute. Before the campus was made a theological college and part of UCU in 2003, it was offering diploma and certificate courses in theology and also training Lay Readers in the region. 

The nature of Tabi’s job means he always has a full plate. However, he says his wife is the reason he has been able to fulfill the demands of his office because she has been “filling for him whenever needed, especially when it comes to family matters.”


UCU Celebrates 26th Guild Government Swearing-In

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Uganda Christian University (UCU) witnessed a momentous occasion today, November 21, 2023, as the 26th Guild Government officials were formally sworn in. The ceremony was graced by the University Vice-Chancellor, Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, who pledged to support the newly elected leadership.

Mushengyezi commended the university community for conducting a peaceful and successful election at both the Main and Kampala campuses. He expressed his pride in UCU’s history of peaceful student guild elections.
The swearing-in ceremony was a result of a transparent and inclusive electoral process, with students casting their votes electronically using the innovative eChagua platform. This technology-driven approach enhanced accessibility and convenience, enabling students to participate seamlessly from anywhere with an internet connection.

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New UCU Guild Leaders taking the oath of allegiance

The newly elected Guild President, Birungi Agira, won with a total vote of 1156 against her opponent, Emmanuel Abura who got 1023 votes.

Agira together with other newly elected leaders took an oath in front of the UCU community. They vowed to preserve, protect and defend the Guild Constitution.
Agira expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to serve the UCU community. “I am humbled for the opportunity to serve and I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead,” Agira said with a wide smile on her face.
She reaffirmed her commitment to the election campaign slogan, “Inclusivity in Action,” pledging to make an impact on the lives of all UCU students.
Timothy Okurut, the newly elected Member of Parliament for the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, expressed his enthusiasm for contributing to UCU’s development.
“The love I’m getting from my friends is overwhelming,” Okurut added. “I see this
leadership position as a great opportunity for me to have an impact on the university.”

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New Guild President Agira and the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Mushengyezi share a photo moment with former Guild President and vice president;Timothy Ddumba and Lydia Natasha Muheire.

The university vice chancellor further applauded the 25th guild government for setting a high standard of service and collaboration. He urged the new members and university at large to continue setting an exemplary standard for what a truly cool campus should embody.
“Let’s continue being a peaceful university setting an example for what a cool campus looks like. Soon, we shall launch a campus renewal that will see UCU be the best university south of the Sahara,” Mushengyezi said.

UCU unveils exciting campus renewal plans

He also announced a comprehensive campus renewal initiative, to further enhance the student experience and foster a vibrant campus environment.

“Soon we shall launch a campus renewal intiative that will see UCU be the best university south of the Sahara,” declared Mushengyezi.
The project will encompass the construction of a state-of-the-art food court, and tarmacking the road along the main gate, eliminating the longstanding inconvenience endured by students during rainy seasons.
Mushengyezi mentioned that UCU is a model institution, as far as peaceful students’ guild elections are concerned. The university boasts of a clean sheet of no-election violence ever since its inception in 1997.
The students and staff alike are excited about the future and look forward to the positive changes that the new guild government will bring.
The 25th guild government will formally hand over to their successors on November 30, marking the beginning of a new era of leadership and service at UCU.


UCU Mbale campus gets new guild president

By Pauline Luba
Picture this: You are a top contender for a political office. On voting day, after casting your ballot, what do you do with the rest of the hours to ease the tension as you wait to know the results? Harry Mukhooli recently found himself in such a situation. Mukhooli, the new Guild President of Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mbale campus in eastern Uganda, said he isolated himself from people the entire day as he waited for the results.

Luckily for him, he emerged the victor, with 46% of the people who cast their votes preferring him as their new leader. At first, it was a battle against five candidates. However, along the way during the campaigns, two of those dropped out, leaving Mukhooli against three others — two male, one female — whom he beat to clinch the topmost office in the student leadership hierarchy.

So, how did the 22-year-old student of Bachelor of Education (English and Literature in English) use to draw people to him? 

Mukhooli started campaigning in May. One issue that Mukhooli promised to hinge his term of office on was improving relations at the institution. 

“I wanted to bridge the gap between the students and the university administration,” Mukhooli said, adding that he hopes to use his position as Guild President to “give others a platform” to voice their challenges at the university. 

Among the needs that students have voiced include the desire for renovation of some of the buildings at the campus, as well as challenges in paying tuition on time. These, among others, are issues that Mukhooli hopes to bring to the discussion table, with the aim of making the stay of the students at the institution as comfortable as it can be. 

New UCU Guild President Promises to Help Students Exercise Their Democratic Rights

On voting day in October 2023, Mukhooli spent considerable money transporting students to cast their ballots. He said many students struggle to fend for themselves, and, as such, they see it as a waste of resources to spend money on transport to go to the university to cast their votes and return home. It is this category of people that Mukhooli said he sought to reach out to, so they can exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot. Could this act have endeared the voters to him? Maybe.

Mukhooli takes office from 30-year-old Daniel Kunya, a student of Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration who has held the office since November last year.

When the need for the funds for the campaign arrived, Mukhooli turned to proceeds from his poultry business. But that was not enough. Contributions came from his father — Namasake Peter Wandeka — whom Mukhooli considers one of his greatest inspirations, including during this run for office. His other cheerleaders were his mother, Namuwenge Sarah; step-mother Bisikwa Sarah; and Munialo Tracy Wandeeka, his younger sister. 

Growing up, Mukhooli wished to become a journalist and a sportsman. While not strongly interested in football, but is a talented soccer player who has been on all his school teams. In fact, while in primary school at St. Edwards Junior Academy in Manafwa district in eastern Uganda, Mukhooli was the captain of the school football team. He also is the current captain of the UCU Mbale campus football team. He says he is a beneficiary of a sports bursary at UCU

When not attending to the academic needs or his political office, you will find Mukhooli either in his passion fruit farm tending to the plants or looking after the chickens that he rears in his poultry farm. 


UCU Run 2023: Over $6,000 in help & hope for needy students

By Pauline Luba
Years ago, when Brig. Gen. Abdul Rugumayo, a member of Uganda’s army, completed Senior Four, he could not proceed to A’level. He said he did not have the money that was needed for school fees. 

As a result, he registered to teach as a non-qualified teacher in a primary school in Uganda, so he could save some money for further education. He eventually saved the money and was able to complete school. 

Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge East African Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, giving speech at the guild run.
Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge East African Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, giving speech at the guild run.

What a coincidence that Rugumayo, the Deputy Director of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence — the intelligence arm of Uganda’s army — was the one invited to flag off a run organized to raise funds for tuition for needy students of Uganda Christian University (UCU). 

“This activity is something very close to my heart, especially when someone is about to do their exams,” Rugumayo said, as he narrated his personal story, before adding: “To give is not because you have. To give is because you share.” 

The run, which covered six kilometers (three miles) around Mukono in central Uganda, took place on October 21, 2023. Organized by UCU student leaders, the event began at 7 a.m. with participants engaging in aerobic exercises before the actual race at 8 a.m.

“I come from a family that would have required this type of arrangement during my time as a student,” said Rugumayo, who has served in the army for the past 35 years. He handed over Sh3 million (about $800) as contribution from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence. He also promised to contribute sh2million (about $530) and commended the student leaders for identifying the military as a partner in trying to support society.

UCU Guild Run Flagged Off by Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister Rebecca Kadaga

Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge East African Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, was the main guest of the day.

Vice Chancellor Aaron Mushengyezi welcomes Brigadier General Rugumayo. Pamela Tumwebaze, acting Dean of Student Affairs, is in the background.
Vice Chancellor Aaron Mushengyezi welcomes Brigadier General Rugumayo. Pamela Tumwebaze, acting Dean of Student Affairs, is in the background.

“I’m glad that the tradition has been maintained and that the young people are growing up as philanthropists. It’s very easy for one not to care about others because their tuition fees have been paid,” said Kadaga, a former Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament. She flagged off the maiden UCU guild run in 2020 and has been keeping tabs on the subsequent races. For the 2020 run, among the donors was Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who contributed sh80million (about $21,250). At the October 21 event, Kadaga pledged to donate sh10million (about $2,700) towards the cause.

UCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi thanked runners for participating in a cause aimed at supporting needy students with tuition. Mushengyezi pledged sh3million (about $800) from the Office of the Vice Chancellor. Pamela Tumwebaze, the acting head of the Directorate of Student Affairs at UCU, pledged to contribute sh1million ($264). All participants in the race bought running kits — either a vest at sh20,000 (about $5.3) or a T-shirt at sh30,000 (about $8),  which they wore on the day of the run. By the end of the event, sh24,000,000 ($6,400) had been collected in cash and pledges.

The proceeds are expected to be handed over to the student leaders who organized the run and they will, thereafter, distribute to students facing financial difficulties. 


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. 


Rev. Prof. Kalengyo finds satisfaction in equipping Anglican clergy

By Kefa Senoga
What would you do about a son who turns down a job offer after graduating with a veterinary medicine degree, preferring to return to school to become a priest? In 1986, that was the dilemma of the father of Edison Kalengyo. His son, now the Rev. Can Prof. Kalengyo, had just completed a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine, a four-year course, at Uganda’s Makerere University. Kalengyo had even received an appointment letter, dated June 20, 1986, from the Ministry of Animal Industry and Fisheries.

Despite his fresh qualification, Kalengyo’s heart was elsewhere. He felt compelled to answer God’s call to become a priest, prompting him to join Bishop Tucker Theological College in 1986. The college, now known as part of  Uganda Christian University (UCU), in Mukono, is where Kalengyo pursued a bachelor’s degree in divinity. This was after going through a stringent process of selecting candidates for the ordained ministry by South Rwenzori Diocese, his home diocese.

Along the way, Kalengyo’s family kept questioning his decision. For instance, his father, who was a trained lay reader in the Church of Uganda, knew fully well that the economic prospects for priests were not encouraging. In the extended family, Kalengyo had been the first person to graduate with a degree. As such, many people looked up to him. But he stuck to God’s call on his life to the ordained ministry.

After his course at Bishop Tucker Theological College, the Rev. Kalengyo served in South Ruwenzori as a curate in the cathedral before moving on to serve as a diocesan secretary and, eventually, an archdeacon.   

In 1997, the principal of Bishop Tucker Theological College, Bishop Eliphaz Maari, invited Kalengyo to join the staff of the college, following the recruitment process. He obliged. Since December 1997, UCU has been Kalengyo’s “home.”  He currently serves as Professor of New Testament and Coordinator of Biblical Studies and Languages in the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology.

Why Dr. Kalengyo Prefers Teaching at UCU to Higher Leadership Positions

He says teaching theology at UCU goes beyond a mere salary. He believes that the true significance lies in knowing that he is fulfilling God’s calling on his life, and that this is what brings him reward and fulfillment.

Kalengyo has refrained from considering higher leadership positions within the church before, even when such opportunities presented themselves, in preference for his job of training church leaders. His extensive theological expertise and deep-rooted academic grounding make Kalengyo’s job of teaching church ministers one easy for him to execute. In addition to the 64-year-old’s bachelor’s degree in divinity, he also holds a Master of Philosophy in the New Testament from Nottingham University in the United Kingdom (UK) and a PhD in Theology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

Another reason for Kalengyo’s stay in theological education is his wife, who explained to him that by teaching church ministers, he was serving the entire province as opposed to being a bishop who serves mainly his diocese.

Because of this, Kalengyo says he is always happy and believes he has fulfilled his purpose in life whenever he meets his former students who have taken up church leadership roles. 

Kalengyo says his guiding principle has always been that every theological educator should be a pastor and actively participate in church life. For this reason, he once voluntarily served as an auxiliary member of the pastoral team at St. Philip’s Cathedral in Mukono and was the first Chaplain of St Luke’s Chapel Butabika. He also has served as a priest at St Luke’s Church Ntinda and was Priest-in-Charge All Saints Chapel Lweza.

He says he now pastors a group of about 400 Christians from his home diocese who reside in and around Kampala. The Christians gather for worship once every month. He said he also performs baptisms and helps to prepare couples for marriage.

Kalengyo and his wife, Dorothy, will celebrate their 36th marriage anniversary on December 12, this year. They have three adult children — two boys and one girl — and they are all married. From the three children, the Kalengyos have got five grandchildren.

Born in 1958 in Kasese district, western Uganda, to Hosiah and Elizabeth Katsiotho, Kalengyo completed his primary education at Karambi Primary School before joining St Edward’s Bukumi Secondary School for O’level and Ntare School for A’level. Both Bukuumi and Ntare are located in western Uganda.


Two UCU faculty chosen for Ugandan university ethical standards committee

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Prof. Christopher Byaruhanga, the dean at Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology, is the inaugural chairperson of the ethics committee for universities and tertiary institutions. The newly created body by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) is tasked with creating ethical rules for universities and tertiary institutions as required by the law.

Prof. Byaruhanga leads the six-person committee, which includes Dr. Annette Kezaabu, UCU’s head of research and postgraduate studies. The others are Dr. Olive Lunyolo (secretary),  higher education officer at NCHE; Dr. Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, director for ethics in charge of religious affairs, Directorate for Ethics and Integrity; Ibban Iddih Kasozi, an Imam and lecturer at Islamic University in Uganda; and Dr. Betty Bukenya Nambuusi, Higher Education Officer at NCHE.

Dr. Annette Kezaabu, the head of research and postgraduate studies at Uganda Christian University, is a member of the university and tertiary ethics committee. The committee is charged with establishing ethical guidelines to govern the conduct of post-secondary education.
Dr. Annette Kezaabu, the Head of Department Postgraduate programs and Research at UCU School of Journalism, Media and Communication. She is a member of the university and tertiary ethics committee. The committee is charged with establishing ethical guidelines to govern the conduct of post-secondary education.

Dr. Kezaabu announced the initiation of the committee “to develop basic ethical standards for higher education” in an Aug. 29 post on X (formerly Twitter).The ethical standards are designed to ensure that higher education institutions in Uganda operate with integrity, accountability and professionalism.

“These standards will provide a safe environment and maintain the highest level of professional behavior, Dr. Kezaabu said. “If implemented well, the standards will not only create and maintain an atmosphere of trust and respect but also preserve the integrity of science and research.”

The ethics committee’s primary focus is to create a handbook outlining ethical standards and guidelines for institutions of higher learning and their members. The handbook, expected to be completed by early 2024, will regulate and promote ethical behavior for the country’s higher education.

The ethics committee will look at how institutions do research and focus on issues such as employee behavior and relationships with students, colleagues and the community. 

“There are a number of pressing challenges faced by students and staff at universities because of lack of morals,” Prof. Byaruhanga said. “I have heard of cases where the lecturer prevents a PhD student from graduating because he is afraid that the student will take away his job; this should stop.”

One of the challenges facing higher education in Uganda that Byaruhanga wants to address is academic dishonesty, including cheating during exams and unethical behavior by lecturers. To tackle this, he stressed the importance of transparency and fairness in the academic processes.

“As part of my contribution to the handbook, I am focusing on academic integrity and ethical research, intellectual honesty, accuracy, transparency, among others, because knowledge can only be contributed through research,” he said. “It ought to be done right.”

UCU Professor Spearheads Ethical Research Guidelines

Prof. Byaruhanga decried lecturers who don’t conduct research following the prescribed moral standards. He said in some cases, lecturers don’t get consent from participants.

He said the committee hopes to address proper research methods in the handbook through outlining ethical standards and guidelines that ought to be followed. 

“I am working on having this handbook finished and I hope it will be implemented,” he said. Once NCHE approves the handbook, we expect everyone to follow these guidelines. We must foster a culture of respect for ethical conduct”.

Prof. Byaruhanga is dedicated to striking a balance between enforcing ethical standards and maintaining academic freedom. He emphasized that academic freedom should operate within the framework of ethical guidelines and national education policies.

“Most of what we are looking at is already implemented by some universities; for such, this is to remind them,” he said.

UCU students and staff will benefit first hand because Prof. Byaruhanga will personally and directly supervise the implementation of the required ethical guidelines and standards through his physical presence at the university. 

“Being a member of the senate, I will have a voice there,” Prof. Byaruhanga said. “We also have the ethics committee; I will ask them to read the hand book.”

Prof. Byaruhanga is one of the longest-serving professors at UCU, having joined in September 1997. From 2000-2002, he was the dean of the Faculty of Humanity and Social Sciences, which was the only faculty then. 2003-2006, he was the dean of the Faculty of Education, Arts and Social Science. In 2011-2016, he was the dean of the School of Research and Post-Graduate Studies. Since 2018 to present, he has been the Dean of Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology. 

After the handbook has been developed, it will be shared with stakeholders, including university representatives, public figures and vice-chancellors. It is hoped that by involving diverse voices, the handbook’s ethical standards will be thorough and effective.


Rev. Dr. Kibbedi gets third degree in literature at UCU

By Kefa Senoga
In 2005, when Uganda Christian University (UCU) wanted to start a master’s program in literature, the institution sent some of its academics to convince alums they thought would take advantage of the course.

Abel Wankuma Kibbedi, who had graduated the previous year with a First Class degree in Bachelor of Education with English and Literature, was one of the alums approached. At the time, Kibbedi was residing with other undergraduate students in one of the hostels in Kauga, a suburb near UCU’s main campus.

When Prof. Timothy Wangusa, who was among the people overseeing the start of the master’s course at UCU, visited Kibbedi, he advised the latter to leave the hostel where he was residing. At the time, Kibbedi had just been offered a position as a teaching assistant at UCU. Wangusa rhetorically asked Kibbedi if he intended to continue sharing the same space with the students he was teaching.

To follow up on his advice, Wangusa offered Kibbedi, who had taken up the opportunity to enroll for the master’s course, the guest wing at the professor’s residence. Two years later, Kibbedi, who was part of the pioneer class of master’s in literature, was a proud recipient of the postgraduate degree, an achievement made possible courtesy of a scholarship through the staff development committee at UCU.

Again, in 2017, Kibbedi — and two other colleagues — was part of the pioneer class of the PhD in literature course at UCU. And at the most recent UCU graduation held at the Main Campus in Mukono on October 13, 2023, Kibbedi was among the graduates who earned a PhD. Kibbedi’s other two pioneer doctoral colleagues in literature were not present at the October 13 graduation. Mary Naula had already graduated in 2021, while the third PhD student lost her life two years into the course.

Between Kibbedi’s master’s degree in literature and the PhD, he earned another degree — Masters of Divinity and Theology — from the Pennsylvania-based Westminster Theological Seminary.  

“While attending a conference in the United States in 2007, Church of Uganda Archbishop at the time, Henry Luke Orombi, asked the president of Westminster Theological Seminary if they would offer a scholarship to a Ugandan student,” Kibbedi said during an interview he granted Uganda Partners after his October 13 graduation. 

The answer to Orombi’s question was in the affirmative. However, it was not a direct pass for Kibbedi, whom Orombi had in mind as he asked the question. There had to be interviews for the scholarship, which, fortunately, Kibbedi won. 

According to Kibbedi, upon his return to Uganda, with a second master’s degree in the bag, the vice chancellor at the time, the Rev. Dr. John Senyonyi, singled him out among the younger staff for departmental leadership as part of professional development. This is how he assumed the role of heading the Honors College, a position he held from 2012 to 2021.

To make his new master’s degree count, Kibbedi was taken in by the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology to teach Hebrew and Greek, primarily because the program he had pursued in the US at Westminster had an aspect of the ancient languages. Despite this, Kibbedi notes that he has mainly been involved in teaching literature at UCU.

UCU’s Support Fuels PhD Success

He is grateful to the UCU administration, without whose support, he says, he would have struggled to achieve anything. For instance, Kibbedi cites the example of UCU first Vice Chancellor Prof. Stephen Noll, in whose tenure the former pursued further studies in Pennsylvania. He said Prof. Noll decided that Kibbedi be left on half pay throughout the duration of his four-year course, as opposed to no pay, because the lecturer “had family members and dependants to take care of.” Kibbedi said the PhD now has buttressed his desire to continue sharing knowledge as an academic.

The achievement of the PhD did not come on a silver platter, though. “My wife had to bear my long hours of reading and absence; she has had to step in for many activities with the children,” the Rev. Kibbedi says.

He is married to Lydia Wankuma Kibbedi who works as an administrator of the Uganda Studies Program at UCU. They have a daughter, Atungonza Wankuma, age 15, and a son, Anunula Wankuma, age 14. Atugonza is in Senior Three at Wanyange Girls School while Anunula is also in the same class, at Busoga College Mwiri, his father’s alma mater. Both schools are found in eastern Uganda.

Kibbedi completed his primary education at Namalemba Primary School in eastern Uganda, before joining Busoga College Mwiri. From Mwiri, he pursued a diploma in education at the National Teachers College Kaliro, before eventually joining UCU.

Kibbedi is number six of a family of 12 children. His father, the Rev. JFJ. Kibbedi Nswemu, a politician and educator, passed away in 1999. He credits his interest in literature to his father. Kibbedi’s mother, Robina Christina Kibbedi, now retired, had a career as a social worker.

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