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.