Nawangwe’s Reign at MUK, Education and Politics

Prior to his appointment as Vice Chancellor (VC) of Makerere University Kampala (MUK), there were allegations that Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe is with indiscipline and questionable ethics. Case in point, for example, allegations made against him by his former boss, his predecessor, Professor John Ddumba Ssentamu.

In a letter to Prof. Nawangwe dated 30th January 2017, Ref.: MAK/VC/095/17 Prof. Ddumba alleged as follow (these are extracts from the letter):


Allegations of his indiscipline as a leader and his questionable ethics, including in financial management, were indeed in the public domain, but the vetting process and selection committee chose to ignore them and he emerge victor. How is it that the VC selection committee thought him the best candidate to take over the reigns as VC of such an esteemed public education institution?

MUK is alma mater to significant leaders of Africa and beyond, in the present and in the past. To name a few, including the following presidents, now resting in peace among the spirits of our ancestors:

  • President Apollo Milton Obote – Uganda
  • President Julius Kambarage Nyerere – Tanzania
  • President Benjamin Mkapa – Tanzania
  • President Mwai Kibaki – Kenya

Well, less than two years in office, Prof. Nawangwe is reportedly an autocratic dictator who is reigning terror at the ivory tower. He reportedly does not tolerate any that disagree with him; and is abusing the office of the VC to purge alternative thinkers from the university academic staff.

Universities are training grounds for future leaders – and that includes political leaders… It is better to nurture them in the discipline and art of political engagement. They should be groomed for this sort of leadership. Formal classes – at all levels of education, actually – provide an opportunity through which democratic principles and values can be taught.

Chris Changwe Nshimbi in “When politics and academia collide, quality suffers. Just ask Nigeria.”

The actions that Prof. Nawangwe is accused of, are totally inconsistent with conduct expected of a great thinker and particularly one bestowed the title professor. As Nshimhi astutely observes, “universities are training grounds for future leaders.” It follows, therefore, that those under Prof. Nawangwe’s charge and tutorship, may well be nurtured in undemocratic principals and values.

If Prof. Nawangwe’s alleged reign of terror at MUK does not lead us to a complete rethink of how Uganda is doing education, what will? Lest we forget, moreover, Uganda’s education system is essentially a bastardized version of the colonial British education system, and it is seemingly producing citizens who tolerate autocratic and undemocratic leadership.

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