The Bird’s-eye view: Greater good requires concerted efforts

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Hanging around a representative sample of UCU staff has revealed two perception extremes. There is a section that is passionate about the university and work wholeheartedly every day to see it prosper.

There is also another section whose association with the university is simply an opportunity to get paid at the end of the month.Sadly, the latter are the majority.

To illustrate this, let us refer to the results of the survey conducted by the Career Development and Placement office among 500 new students, representing a quarter of the registered students.

When asked about how they got to know about UCU, 11.2 percent credited career outreaches, 11.4 per cent the press, 22.2 per cent through students and staff of UCU and 55.2 per cent had heard of UCU through friends and relatives who have no history with the university.

From the above statistics, one would wonder how external forces (friends and relatives) can account for the biggest percentage of information to new students, more than staff and students who arguably have a better understanding of the university within which they work and study.

Secondly, how come the media contributes less numbers despite the university’s continued investment in commercial advertisement over the years? And how can these millions of shillings be redirected for better output?

An overriding reaction may be that the university has not invested a lot in its students and staff to partake of the marketing processes. In so doing, the students and staff see marketing as the sole responsibility of the Marketing, Communications and Public Relations offices.

When crisis hits, it becomes easier for a student or staff member to press their ‘ignore’ button and pass on responsibility for cleaning up the mess to the above mentioned offices.

In the short term, this “as long as I get paid attitude” can be sustained but as the effects sink in, especially in the light of dwindling student numbers, is this attitude tenable?

Is it not time for the university administration to adopt an intra-marketing approach through which it can motivate its major stakeholders: students and staff, to promote and defend its image as people who have something to lose?

What if part of what is invested in the newspapers and TV commercials was to be redirected into making students and staff feel significantly involved in the making of university policies so that when the need to discuss them arises, they do not begin pointing fingers elsewhere?

Superimposing policies and resolutions hatched in exclusive boardrooms is what has caused students and staff to feel alienated in policy formulation and implementation. Instead of being contributors, the stakeholders are merely shock absorbers of the outcomes.

If I did not know any better, I would say that this is what caused the strike that resulted in the expulsion of some students last semester. It did not have to get to that had the students been involved in the dialogue process and reasons for the increment explained.

The bigger picture requires a combined effort of students and staff to sail the university to greater heights in their respective capacities. This, however, has to be done in unison, not discord.

Alex is the Managing Editor of The Transparent Magazine, formerly The Standard’s Features Editor.

Our nurses are not fake – UCU

Graduands from the Faculty of health science on the red carpet (File Photo)


Uganda Christian University (UCU) has responded to critiques who are labeling the university’s nursing products as “fake” and said that there is no indication that the programme of study was not accredited.

This is after it was revealed that the university admitted students into the Nursing Science programme, who did not meet minimum requirements. In a statement issued last week, UCU admitted that while it is true that the students in question were admitted with one subject less than the minimum requirements (biology or chemistry), there is no indication that their programme of study was not accredited; that they were not taught properly or that they did not acquire adequate nursing knowledge and skills.

The Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC) rejected applications from UCU graduates who sought practicing certificates on grounds that they did not meet the body’s minimum qualifications despite having a university degree.

In an interview with The Standard, Jemimah Mutabaazi, the Head of the Nursing Science programme at UCU explained that the university has the best skills laboratory and her students are doing exceptionally well in the hospitals where they are posted as interns.

She also explained that because UCU was started before the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) was instituted, most of the courses taught were given a blanket accreditation meaning that they could continue being taught as the council examined their respective curricula. After years of no response, the NCHE recently responded about the curriculum of the Nursing programme, copies of which The Standard has seen, recommending some changes. None of the recommendations indicated that the programme was not accredited.

“They (Council members) came here and inspected, about six times. They said that we needed a bus to transport the students to the field; we bought the bus. They said we needed a skills laboratory; we built the best in Uganda. How can anyone say that our graduates are fake?” she asked.


Genesis of the problem

In 2007, UCU started conducting a mature entry nursing course, for already practicing certificate and diploma holders. Over the years however, the numbers started to drop drastically.

In 2009, Senate approved a curriculum and a proposal to teach the course to direct entry students. The curriculum approved set the entry requirements as biology OR chemistry, unaware that the two were both a prerequisite.

“By any standards, the students who passed any of the above and had another principal pass qualified for direct entry as per the requirement set by the NCHE so this was not an error,” Dr Ned Kanyesigye, one of the curriculum authors, said.

Admission for direct entry requirements started in 2011. Most of thestudentswhoenrolled coincidentally had studied biology, nutrition, and health sciences, but not chemistry.

In 2013, the professional body that registers nurses and regulates their education, UNMC, announced that both biology and chemistry were mandatory. It was at this point that UCU realised how grave, a predicament it was in.

“We, therefore, stopped admitting students who did not have both subjects, discarded the old curriculum and wrote to the UNMC seeking permission to teach the students admitted in 2010, 2011, 2012 remedial chemistry as compensation for missing the subject,” Kanyesigye, now Dean, Health Sciences explained.

The UNMC rejected this option arguing that; “bridging courses cannot be retrospective.” The students, seeing no solution, raised the issue with the university administration in 2015 and have since sought help from lawyers, the Ministry of Education and Sports, and recently the press and Parliament of Uganda.

In their petition, which was lodged with the office of the clerk to parliament, the former students want Parliament to direct that UCU pays back monies it charged from each of them for the duration of their course. UCU and the three other affected universities, in consultation with NCHE and UNMC, are exploring options to teach a diploma to the affected students but the matter has since been forwarded to the Ministry of Education for deliberation.

Ivan Walukhu, admitted in 2011, told The Standard that he has no knowledge of the diploma and advises the university to work in tandem with the affected students for a better resolution. “To find a lasting solution, the university has to consult with us and our legal representatives,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, was scheduled to meet the Minister for Higher Education last week but The Standard was yet to learn of the results of the meeting by press time

Uganda health sector problem bigger than chemistry passes


In December 2014, my nephew Sheldon was admitted at Holy Innocents’ Hospital, one of the best children hospitals in Mbarara. He was anemic, dehydrated, and he had malaria that forced him to stare death in the eye.

When I arrived, I was ushered into the ward by a nurse who I later learnt was a Uganda Christian University (UCU) Nursing Science student doing her internship.

As an alumnus, I left that day feeling safe; I knew my title of uncle would last a lot longer. When I returned in the morning, I found the nurse babysitting and feeding the baby. Her conduct, discipline, competence and knowledge portrayed nothing short of professionalism.

It is possible that this young lady did not do or pass chemistry at A-level and even armed with her four-year hard-earned degree, the Uganda Nursing and Midwives Council (UNMC) will not register her for practice.

In principle that is the right thing to do, but does it solve Uganda’s health sector problem?

The Ugandan health sector has experienced challenges related to recruitment and retention of qualified staff, mainly due to low remuneration as well as insufficient career opportunities.

According to the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit (BMAU) in the Ministry of Health report, in 2010 there was a very low doctor to patient ratio of 1:24,725 and a nurse to patient ratio of 1:11,000, way below the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation of 1:439 as the health worker to population ratio.

Worse still, maternal and infant mortality are still going through the roof, traditional midwives are still delivering babies with their rudimentary tools, clinics and pharmacies across the country are manned by nurses with three months’ training or even less – some reusing syringes for injections and getting away with it.

For Uganda to meet the minimum health standards, the number of health workers must triple. Attention, therefore, needs to shift from cheap politicking to the core of the problem, which is poor composition of health professionals.

According to the 2011 Human Resources for Health Audit Report, with respect to the national level staffing, the proportion of the filled approved positions was found to be only 58 per cent.

Out of the 55,063 approved positions, only 31,797 are filled, leaving 23,321 vacant positions. The situation is worse at the level of health centre IIs. Out of 4,905 posts in 1,321 health centre IIs in the country, only 2,197 (45 per cent) are filled.

I admit that there could be life threatening consequences arising from a health worker’s lack of chemistry knowledge or background, but I submit there are greater consequences from having none at all.

Enough of the games, if UNMC lacks the guts to do the right thing; that is waive chemistry only for the degree holding nurses without it so far, for the sake of Ugandans, someone else should.

38 COU bishops escape death over Ntawo land

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali interacts with Maj David Matovu, the Mukono Resident District Commissioner, at Ntawo on the occasion the bishops were besieged by squatters. Looking on is Mukono DPC Fred Ahimbisibwe (Photo by Alex Taremwa)


Police on August 23 rescued the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev Stanley Ntagali, 38 other provincial bishops and Uganda Christian University (UCU) staff, including the Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, in Ntawo after a mob attempted to torch the bus in which they were travelling.

The bishops who were at the university for a three-day bi-annual Provincial Assembly had gone to inspect the UCU land in Ntawo to establish the extent of the problem of squatters and later deliberate on the way forward.

While in Ntawo, the bishops were shocked to learn that the over 800 squatters, including some government officials, had settled, illegally on over half of the 649 acres of land that Hamu Mukasa had given the Church of Uganda before it also donated it to Bishop Tucker Theological College (BTTC), now UCU, in the early 1920s.

The scenario 

The UCU bus parked at Ntawo Trading Centre, triggering off whispers from amongst the locals. One by one, they began to converge.

The bishops then moved out to inspect a chunk of cultivated land which UCU Holdings, an investment arm of the university, had cordoned off and halted further operations pending investigations but the locals had defied the order and proceeded to plant maize on it.

The archbishop re-echoed yet another call for government intervention in the matter to ensure that the university uses its land for the intended purposes of research and development.

He further advised the squatters to use lawful means in case they had issues they needed addressed rather than resort to violence and vandalisation of university property.

After Ntagali briefed the bishops and the press, the delegation headed back to the waiting bus to head off to another location but the residents would not let them off that easily.

One resident warned the bishops not to set foot on the land again or else their lives would be in danger. The clerics looked on in shock as residents shamelessly shouted profanities at them.

Moments later the residents began to gather firewood and attempted to burn the university bus but the driver was quick to whisk it away, parking about three kilometres away.

It should be noted that on a previous incident, the Director Facilities and Capital Projects of UCU, Dr Abel Kahwa, was attacked by an angry mob but he fled into a resident’s house. The mob turned their burning rage to a university vehicle he had travelled in and vandalised it.

Police arrives late 

Amidst all the chaos, the police, despite having received prior communication about the bishops’ visit to Ntawo, had not deployed its men.

It took a distress call from the Mukono Diocese bishop, James William Ssebaggala, to the Resident District Commissioner, Maj. David Matovu, for the police to rush to the scene.

From the police patrol van emerged the Mukono District Police Commander, Fred Ahimbisibwe, who admitted having received prior information about the bishops’ visit to Ntawo but had been delayed in a meeting with senior police officials. He apologised for the incident. So did the RDC who came moments later.

The vice chancellor however was not amused by the police’s laxity to provide security for the archbishop and his team despite their knowledge of the volatility of the situation on the ground.

“If the whole archbishop can be denied security, who then is secure?” he wondered.

Moments later, the police arrested a man disguised as a drunkard who was taking pictures of the proceedings and making constant calls to unknown people before escorting the bishops back to the university.

Minister apologises to bishops 

Ms Mary Karooro Okurut, the minister of General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, who represented Dr Ruhakana Rugunda at the official opening of the 23rd Provincial Assembly, apologised to the bishops for the “regrettable incident,” pledging Government support in resolving the Church’s land woes.

“The Government has learnt of the regrettable incident that was going to be such a tragedy for the country. We have already instructed the relevant arms to take action because this is not a matter that we can fold our arms about and watch it happen again,” she said.

The Standard has since learnt that the Provincial Assembly adopted a resolution to lease out all Church of Uganda land to investors as one of the strategies to safeguard it from illegal encroachment.

Government to start journalism school



Minister Frank Tumwebaze consults Dr Monica Chibita during the EACA conference (Photo by Alex Taremwa)


The Government of Uganda has started consultations with media professionals, journalists and researchers to start a public journalism school aimed at equipping practitioners with practical skills to better the profession.

The Minister of Information, ICT and Communications, Frank Tumwebaze, unveiled the proposal during the sixth East African Communications Associations (EACA) conference organised jointly by the Makerere University department of Journalism and Communication and the Uganda Christian University (UCU) department of Mass Communication.

Tumwebaze, who was the chief guest at the conference scoffed at the growing number of untrained ‘journalists’ working in numerous media houses which he argued has not only compromised the quality of journalism in the country but has also made it difficult for the profession to be regulated.

“We have so many people in the newsrooms, radios and TVs who have not gone through the formal schools of journalism but we cannot weed them out for fear of the implications. So I think that a school with specific content for practising journalists could help give them the basic minimum qualifications of journalism,” he said.

The minister equated the proposed school to the Law Development Centre (LDC) that lawyers are mandated to go through before practising law.

Speaking to The Standard on the sidelines of the conference, Dr Monica Chibita, the head of Mass Communication at UCU, expressed support for the proposed school but said that she did not trust in the ability of the government to keep it professional and independent of interference.

Chibita, who is also the President of EACA, explained that the already existing journalism schools, like UCU’s Department of Mass Communication, are already doing their best to produce professional journalists.

Her sentiments are shared by media practitioners who argue that this attempt is one of the Government’s schemes to indoctrinate and infiltrate the industry.

John Njoroge, a long-serving investigative journalist with Daily Monitor, told The Standard that although the spirit behind the suggestion is good, he is skeptical about the prospects of its success.

“I think it is a good idea to start a public school of journalism in the country but I cannot trust the government to spearhead it,” he said.

Although the minister did not divulge as to when the school is likely to begin, he said consultations will be done with major stakeholders to arrive at a more informed conclusion.

Social media and regional integration dominate EACA

UCU lecturer, Okoku Obomba, presenting his paper during the conference in Kampala (Photo by Alex Taremwa)


Media minds once again faced off at the sixth annual East African Communication Association (EACA) conference held at the Grand Global Hotel, Kampala to discuss the developments in the industry.

The two-day conference took place on August 26- 27, 2016 focusing mainly on how media would help in the regional integration process of the East African Community (EAC). It was jointly organised by the Makerere University (MAK) Department of Journalism and Communication and the Department of Mass Communication at UCU.

The delegates who converged from South Africa, Norway, USA, South Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda discussed opportunities and threats from the emergence of social media as a tool of journalism and its impact on the media industry thus far.

Although the discussants agreed that social media has partly influenced the way traditional media currently operate and that more responsible use was necessary for it to compete, they failed to agree on whether or not government regulation of the platforms was a viable option. 

Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the dean of the School of Languages, Literature and Communication at Makerere, argued strongly that social media has captivated the minds of the youth making them incapable of thinking out even obvious issues.

He proposed that education programmes need to be tailored to the needs of the young generation in order for social media to better their cognitive ability.

“Most of the young people on social media do not have time for news. I have engaged most of them during interviews and they cannot answer simple current affairs questions like who the new minister of education is,” he said.

While presenting his paper entitled: “Trends in news gathering and reporting in the age of social media,” Okoku Obomba, a veteran journalist and lecturer at UCU, acknowledged social media as one of the tools for news gathering in the post-internet age that have transformed the industry in ways impossible to imagine.

“When I was still at Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), events that would happen, for example, in Arua would be reported about two months later. Now events occur and are reported about in real time,” he argued.

He added that despite the multitude of tools that social media brings with it, modern day reporters have not fully embraced and adjusted to the developments.

“The reality today is that all journalism is multimedia or multi-platform journalism. The expectation is that one is able to use a variety of digital tools to research, to report and to generate and verify content that is created by users and to turn a broadcast story into a digital story,” Obomba added. 

UCU thrills again 

During the conference, UCU staff in the Department of Mass Communication caught the attention of delegates with articulate and thorough presentations that covered a range of different research topics.

Dr Monica Chibita, the head of the UCU Mass Communication department, was voted once again president of EACA for another year running while Ann Mugunga, the Standard Supervisor, was voted secretary general.

Other elected office bearers include Dr Wilson Ugangu from the Multimedia University of Kenya, for vice president, Dr Nancy Booker, treasurer, and Dr William Tayebwa from Makerere, as committee member.

EACA was founded in 2011 to bring together scholars, researchers and practitioners in the field of communication to share research on the media in the East African region and Africa at large.

Have we started to drop the big balls?

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While in Mbarara over the weekend, I met up with my former boss at Daily Monitor, Alfred Tumushabe, for coffee at Cafe Ark on Booma Hill.

The intention was to talk about the dynamics in the media industry but we discussed Uganda Christian University (UCU) mostly.

At the Daily Monitor, Tumushabe looked at me as UCU’s mouthpiece. Whenever the university featured in the news, mostly for the wrong reasons, he would welcome me into office with questions and demand answers.

One morning I recall walking into his office before browsing my newsfeed. Before he said good morning, Tumushabe shot at me the question: “What is wrong with your university? Now you are making sex tapes?”

I did not have an answer to that but it is among the many questions that featured from listeners whenever we held radio talk shows during career outreach sessions across the country.

On my way back from Mbarara, I read a story in The Observer that named UCU among the four universities that were producing “fake” nurses.

It said that the university admitted students to the course, without the prerequisite subjects of Biology and Chemistry and that the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC) had refused to certify our graduates saying that “they did not meet the minimum qualifications”.

So our coffee session discussed tuition increments, law suits, foiled demonstrations, and embargos of religion, among other. I struggled to explain the little I knew and although Alfredo, we call him, seemed impressed, his observations left me with a bigger question to answer: What is wrong with the UCU court? As Charles Onyango Obbo would say, it is dropping the big balls.

Since 1997, UCU has garnered tremendous accomplishments. It runs the best newspaper of any university in Africa, The Standard. The best law and journalism schools in the country are also based here. 

My source at the Law Development Council (LDC) tells me that 70 per cent of those who passed the entry exams this year are UCU LLB graduates.

Why then does the bad news always supersede the good? The answer is in the timing and mode of communication. The university markets and de-markets itself simultaneously.

Here’s an example:

In May, while on the career outreach trail, we had a very successful talk show on Vision Radio 89.1 FM, in Mbarara town. The Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, had just announced that the university had waived the annual tuition increment beginning with the new students in the Advent (September) semester.

Parents, students, alumni and potential clients called into the show to express their gratitude.

I also understand that the university PRO, Prim Kesande, did not sleep that night as she was besieged with endless calls from clients seeking to pick application letters and by the time we were through with Kisoro, we were out of stock on the letters.

As we were still basking in the limelight of accomplishment, word began to circulate that the university had announced yet another tuition increment and that an imminent strike/demonstration was underway at the Mukono campus.

The successes of the outreach missions were washed away by a poorly timed and communicated policy.

Moral of the story. Timing and effective communication are crucial if the good is to outshine the bad.

Alex Taremwa is The Standard’s Ex-Officio and Managing Editor at The Transparent Magazine

More action needed to curb surging hepatitis

World Hepatitis Day 2016

On July 28, Uganda joined the rest of the world to commerate World Hepatitis Day. Alex Taremwa examines the country’s efforts to counter the epidemic so far.

Kenneth Akampwera fell sick on April 22, 2016. He retired from work at Dada Digital Photo Lab in Mbarara and did not return until early July, following a seemingly endless battle with strange illness that would later be discovered as hepatitis B.

His mother Juliet Tugume watched life drain out of his previously strong, resilient son.

Akampwera is one of the 240 million people globally estimated to be infected with hepatitis. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 686,000 people die annually from hepatitis B related complications.

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. Viral hepatitis is the most common cause of liver cancer all over the world, constituting 83 per cent of liver cancer cases. 

It is one of the most infectious diseases although many people remain unaware of its toll on global health. This makes viral hepatitis a silent killer.

It should be stressed that viral hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases classified as A, B, C, D and E.

Hepatitis B virus is the most prevalent in Uganda and can be transmitted through sharing of needles with an infected person, sexual intercourse, mother to child, and blood transfusions. Experts have noted that hepatitis is thrice as infectious as HIV/AIDS.

Hepatitis Facts_Infographic Online_v2_1July2015

It is estimated that at least 3.5 million people are living with hepatitis B in Uganda, accounting for 10 per cent of the population. The regional prevalence of hepatitis B in Uganda is as follows: Northeast 21.7 per cent, Northcentral 19.4 per cent, West Nile 18.7 per cent, Western 10 per cent, Kampala 5.8 per cent, Central 5.5 per cent while Southwest has 2.9 per cent.

Unfortunately, the WHO reports that only 5 per cent of the people with chronic hepatitis know their status and less than one per cent have access to treatment. 

This situation is worsened by the complexity of hepatitis tests that are costly, and the lack of laboratory capacity in many countries. Independent investigations show that a single dose of the hepatitis B anti-viral drug costs between Shs60,000 and Shs90,000 in private clinics since the supply of the test kits and vaccines in public hospitals has been disappointing.

Government intervention 

On a similar day last year, the government launched yet another initiative to vaccinate eligible adolescents and adults against Hepatitis B in Uganda but this has not altered the standings much.

On July 26, The New Vision ran a story in which they quoted the Commisioner Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health as saying that “there is no concrete explanation as to why there is a high hepatitis B prevalence in the northern and West Nile regions.” She added that plans were underway to investigate this phenomenon.

In 2002 the Ministry of Health introduced the pentavalent vaccine along with routine immunisation schedules of the Uganda Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI).

This effectively means that if the UNEPI schedules are followed and adhered to, over 8 million children up to 13 years would have been fully immunised against hepatitis B. 

This year, the theme for the World Hepatitis Day is Know Hepatitis, Get Tested . The new strategies will be to expand vaccination programmes for hepatitis B, focus on preventing mother-to-child transmission of Hepatitis B; improve injection, blood and surgical safety, ‘harm reduction’ services for people who inject drugs; and increase access to diagnosis and treatment for hepatitis B and C.

The public is urged to learn about the infection, take positive action to know their status by getting tested, and finally seek treatment to reduce needless deaths.

A peaceful, joyful weekend with Will Graham

Rev Dr Will Graham preaches to thousands during the Peace and Joy Celebrations which ended on July 24 at Uganda Christian University (Photo by Roy Nickel)


“I am glad I found you,” proclaimed Will Graham as he scanned the crowd that filled the highly guarded Uganda Christian University (UCU) old sports grounds on Friday July 22, 2016.

William Franklin Graham IV, popularly known as Will Graham, is a grandson to the legendary Billy Graham and an associate evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelist Association.

William, who is also the executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center was visiting Uganda on one of the association’s outreaches dubbed “Peace and Joy Celebrations” organised by the Church of Uganda, prepared by the Diocese of Mukono and the Uganda Bible Society, and hosted by UCU.

In his welcoming remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, told the guest that he had listened to his grandfather preach, way back in 1976 in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

“It is such a delight to see you here to preach the word to the people who are hungry for it,” Senyonyi said, urging the crowd to open up their hearts to the Holy Spirit.


Best campus I have been to

On taking to the podium, Will confessed that UCU was the most beautiful of the campuses he had been to.

“When they invited me to come to Mukono, I had no idea where Mukono was. I am glad I found you. I want to thank this wonderful school for allowing us to come onto their property.

“This has to be one of the prettiest campuses I have ever seen around the world,” he said to cheers from the crowd. 

Will was visiting Uganda for his first time. Although he had worked in Rwanda, in the post-genocide era, his attempts to cross to Uganda had often been hindered by lack of travel documentation.

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From right: The Rt Rev William Sebaggala, the Bishop of Mukono diocese, Will Graham (C), Dr. John Senyonyi, the Vice Chancellor and Edmond Serunjogi sing during the praise and worship. (Photo by Bright Niwaha)

The prodigal son revisited

Will drew his sermon from Luke 15:11-32, from the account of the prodigal son. He related the life of the discontented, rebellious son to the day-to-day horrors people face.

“Just like him,” he said, “if you are honest with yourself right now, you will admit that you are not happy with where you are in life. You feel like you deserve more and you want it now because we live in the world that teaches to have things right now.”

This son, after demanding for his share of his father’s inheritance, wasted everything on friends who would later forsake him. When famine hit the land, the once rich, braggart of a child could not afford food and resorted to working in a pigsty, the most embarrassing job for a Jew, in exchange for a meal.

After working at a job that paid little and gave no satisfaction, he began to evaluate his situation. Even the animals that he fed were better off than him.

With no money, friends or prospects, the young man comes to his senses and realises that the servants in his father’s home have plenty of food. He says, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you’.”

“This parable is also about each of us. God the Father stands waiting for the time when each of His children will at last realise the need for a lasting and satisfying relationship with Him,” Will said.

The Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, and his deputies David Mugawe (Development and External Relations) and Benon Musinguzi (Academic Affairs) show Will Graham around the UCU campus (Photo by Alex Taremwa)

He added that it is sad that today we are connected by social media yet we cannot connect at the deepest level of love and meaning.

“You can have hundreds, even thousands, of ‘friends’ on Facebook but be all alone in your life at the most critical moments.

Thus we need to reconcile with God and amongst ourselves as people.

We need reconciliation, love, peace and forgiveness especially in the formerly war-torn areas of Northern Uganda and currently South Sudan.

There is always hope for reconciliation. Pray for it and expect it. Most importantly, never ever give up on God.”

Saturday July 23 was earmarked by the university chaplaincy as the day when Will Graham would hold a special session with the UCU community.

Mark Christian, a renowned gospel singer and award-winning American soloist, shook the Nkoyoyo Hall stage with energetic performances of songs including, My Redeemer Lives, It is Well with My Soul, among others.

His performances set the stage for Will Graham, who talked at length about the roles of a true ambassador of Christ and the authority that ultimately he/she works under.

“The greatest hope for Uganda, South Sudan, Africa, USA is not a new president, or government – it is Jesus,” Will said.

He further noted that social justice that is not based on Jesus or the hope of the cross is undoubtedly one of the worst crimes in the world.

Will plants a tree in commemoration of his historic visit at UCU, Mukono (Photo by Alex Taremwa)

“When we just help feed people, put shoes on their feet but yet do not do it by the power of Jesus Christ, we are doing a disservice to this world. It is like telling someone who has cancer that they are okay and send them home with new shoes without telling them about the disease they carry,” he said. 

He emphasised that people ought to be told about sin and the redemption from it lest they will be well fed and dressed but still go to hell.

After the service, Mr David Mugawe, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Development and External Relations, treated Will and his team to a drive-around of the university. They later visited the health camp organised by the Namirembe Church of Uganda Hospital at the old netball pitch.

The camp offered visitors with free treatment services, eye and dental screening, cervical cancer screening, HIV counselling and testing services, among others.

The crusade was attended by people from Buikwe, Kayunga, Jinja, Mukono, Kampala, and Wakiso districts.

The event managers were forced to ship in 500 more chairs, and over 1,500 people are estimated to have attended the three-day celebrations.

Hailstones disperse crowd 

A faithful continues to pray despite a heavy downpour that dispersed the rest of the crowd.

On the final day of the crusade, heavy rains accompanied by hailstones forced the crowd to disperse while others used the plastic chairs as umbrellas, soon after Will Graham had taken to the podium.

The rain, which Will described as a blessing lasted for close to half an hour before normalcy returned and the crusade resumed.

Will, who had on Saturday planted a tree in the chapel gardens in commemoration of his historic visit to Uganda, said the rain would help the tree grow so that when he returns he can eat some of its fruit.

I will come back

As his parting shot, Will Graham promised to return with his family to Uganda and Mukono in particular in the future owing to its hospitality and beauty.

“I will be back with my family to eat the fruits of the tree I planted and taste the sweet bananas again,” he said. 

He thanked the hosts, the Rt Rev William James Ssebaggala, the bishop of Mukono Diocese and the university administration for services offered and the opportunity to spread the gospel on its soil.


Will Graham

About Will Graham: 


Name: Rev Dr William Franklin Graham IV

Born: January 30, 1975 in Longmont, Colorado to Jane and Franklin Graham

Married to: Kendra Leigh Bengds

Children: Christine Jane, Rachel Austin, and William Franklin V

Education: Diploma from Watauga High School (1993); BSc in Religion at Liberty University.

In 2001, he was awarded the Master of Divinity, from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and he attained an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Toccoa Falls College five years later. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity at Trinity College.

Evangelism: Will has spoken to audiences across North America, Australia, India, and other parts of Asia and South America and Africa. More than 10,000 have converted to Christianity during these outreaches.

Will’s outreach now heads to Peterhead in Scotland from where he will connect to Windsor and Goose Bay in Canada in October and November, respectively.



Mayamba’s rise to top media spot

Mayamba receives an award for good journalism from Margaret Ssekajja, the ED of Human Rights Centre Uganda on World Press Freedom Day (Courtesy photo)


Johnson Mayamba graduated in 2012 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication at Uganda Christian University (UCU).

The light skinned and vivacious fellow has since his nursery school days at Queens Nursery and Primary, Entebbe, risen through the ranks and is currently vice president of the Human Rights Network for Journalists of Uganda (HRNJ), an NGO devoted to protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms.

Who is he? 

Mayamba was born on March 8, 1988, to Stephen Watata and Agatha Nabulo, both teachers, in Mbale District. He is the firstborn of eight children: five boys and three girls.

He attended Busumbu Primary School and Conbert Modern Primary Schools before joining Muljibhai Madhvani College, Wairaka College, and later UCU in 2009 to pursue Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication.

His choice of course, he says, was informed by an overwhelming desire to speak for the voiceless, the aggrieved whose voices hardly reach the public domain.

“I felt like there are many people who are unheard. These suffering people have no channel of communication. So I believe that being in this field will enable me to speak so that such people get justice,” he said. 

“However, I also contemplated being a teacher and lawyer. In fact, while filling the public university admission forms, I applied for Education and Law at Kyambogo and Makerere University respectively but my fate turned out different.”

Leadership path 

“I learnt the importance of leadership from my mother. Whenever she purposed to do something, she gave it her best.”

Mayamba says that wherever he has been, even when he does not seek a position of leadership, people always see a leader in him.

At UCU he was nominated to the Media Link board as the publicity secretary while in his first year, and he would later be voted Mass Communication representative to the Guild, among other positions.

Jack of all trades 

Despite majoring in print journalism, Mayamba launched his career in 2010 at Dunamis FM, a Mukono based radio station where he co-hosted a programme Agafudde mu Wiiki, a current affairs programme that analysed weekly events.

He worked as an intern at the Daily Monitor and while there he made such a good impression that the editors recommended that he remains as a freelance contributor, before he joined The Standard , as a news editor.

“The Standard was a great opportunity for me. After having a feel of radio, I felt that I needed designing skills but I got a whole lot more. I leant management, decision making, all the practical bits of a journalist and it has helped me a lot in my career,” he says.

In 2011, Mayamba joined the Human Rights Network for Journalists, Uganda and has since been involved in numerous activities.

Mayamba leads journalists to the Uganda Police headquarters (Courtesy photo)

The most notable was a journalists’ demonstration he led to the Uganda Police Force headquarters in Naguru in a bid to petition the Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, over the police brutality against journalists.

This demonstration followed an incident involving a WBS Television cameraman Andrew Lwanga, who was severely beaten up by then Old Kampala DPC, Joram Mwesigye while filming a youth riot.

“We walked from Hotel Triangle, were stopped over six times, tear-gassed, dispersed, pepper-sprayed, but we matched on to the police headquarters.

“Unfortunately, we were told that the IGP was not in office but were referred to his deputy then, Haruna Isabirye, and subsequently the then Minister of Internal Affairs, the late Gen. Aronda Nyakairima,” Mayamba remembers.

He was recognised by the African Centre of Media Excellence (ACME), a Kampala-based independent, organisation commited to making the media a more effective platform for the provision of information on public affairs, a tool for monitoring official power, and a forum for vibrant public debate, during the 2016 World Press Freedom Day as the best male journalist, 2016, while HRNJ received the prestigious Commonwealth Press Union Astor Award for its outstanding work.

Dealing with loss 

On September 24, 2014, Mayamba’s mother, who was then a teacher at Seeta Primary School, succumbed for cervical cancer, a battle she had fought for almost a year.

Mayamba who was working at The Standard then, remembers tearfully how he was summoned by his mother one evening as he retired from office.

“Where are you?” His mum asked on phone. “Come home now. I want to see you,” she murmured. When he arrived at her place in Seeta, he found her lying in a pool of blood, helpless.

He took her to Mukono Health Centre IV at 1.00 am, but there was no doctor at the time so they proceeded to Nsambya Hospital where she was admitted for three weeks.

“She was very strong. She showed me that even in the worst situation, I needed to keep strong and I did. Even on the day she passed on, I worked and my colleagues could not believe it when I broke the bad news to them,” he recalls.

Almost two years later, Mayamba still feels the vacuum left by his mother’s absence. His little brother now stays with their aunt because his parents had separated.

Future plans 

Mayamba says he is considering standing for Member of Parliament.

He advises his peers to work towards changing the world for the better, as that is the only true measure of success.