2nd Annual Nsibirwa Public Lecture: Makubuya calls for Decolonisation of our Systems

The 2nd Nsibirwa Annual Public Lecture themed ‘Situating the Role and Relevance of Cultural Institutions in Modern Uganda’ was held on 9th November 2023 at Makerere University. The annual public lecture hosted by Makerere University commemorates Martin Luther Nsibirwa, a two time Katikiro of Buganda, 1929-1941 and July – September1945. Katikiro Nsibirwa is remembered for having assented the bill which enabled the Colonial Government to take possession of the land where Makerere University Main Campus stands today.

Cross-section of the audience at the 2nd Annual Nsibirwa Public Lecture

Speaking at the lecture, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe – Vice Chancellor, Makerere University welcomed all to Makerere University and thanked everyone for honoring the invitation to the lecture. He said, ‘As far as education in Uganda is concerned, there are two important milestones which we treasure as Makerere University. 1. The letter written by Kabaka Mutesa I to Queen Victoria inviting missionaries to teach his people how to read and write, which was the beginning of modern education in the country. 2. 4th September 1944, when Katikiro Nsibirwa signed the document allowing the colonial government to take possession of Makerere land which many had feared.’

Professor Barnabas Nawangwe at the 2nd Nsibirwa Annual Public Lecture

 The distinguished speaker at the lecture was Owekitiibwa Apollo Nelson Makubuya, he is an alumni of Makerere University (School of Law) where he completed his Bachelor of Laws and also served as faculty at the School. He is a founding partner of MMAKS

Advocates and a Senior Palace Advisor to Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.

Owekitiibwa Apollo N. Makubuya at the 2nd Annual Nsibirwa Lecture

Owekitiibwa Makubuya thanked the University for organising the lecture in recognition of Katikiro Nsibirwa’s leadership in laying the foundation of Makerere University which has played a great role in nurturing many in Uganda and globally. He noted that Nsibirwa was self-educated, with no formal education and he achieved a lot. Makubuya called for decolonisation of our systems like naming our landmarks after Ugandans rather than colonial generals.

Using Buganda as a case study and what it has accomplished since cultural institutions were restored 30 years ago, Owekitiibwa Makubuya argued these institutions have a is role to play in modern Uganda. He posed 4 questions to the audience and Uganda as nation for considering in determining the position of cultural institutions: Do they provide solutions to service delivery?, Do they have dynamic adaptation to the new times?, Can these institutions blend both modern and traditional issues?

Owekitiibwa Robert Wagwa Nsibirwa – 2nd Deputy Katikiro of Buganda spoke on behalf of the Nsibirwa family. He thanked Makerere University for the initiative to honor their grandfather’s legacy. He recognised the presence of the Nsibirwa family members and officials from Buganda. He requested that members from Mengo and Nsibirwa family be co-opted on the organising committee for the lecture. He reiterated that work of Buganda is based on 3 bottom lines: protection, preservation and development of culture.

L-R: Owekitiibwa Robert Wagwa Nsibirwa, 2nd Deputy Katikiro of Buganda; Owekitiibwa Twaaha Kigongo Kawaase, 1st Deputy Katikiro of Buganda; Owekitiibwa Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere, former Katikiro of Buganda at the Nsibirwa Lecture

The public lecture was officially closed by Hon. Dan Kidega, Deputy Chairperson – Makerere University Council who highlighted that holding these lectures is an opportunity for the University to celebrate heroes and support learning of history. 

A book titled, ‘Thrones & Thorns: Thirty Years of Restoration of Traditional Rule in Uganda’ authored by Owekitiibwa Apollo Nelson Makubuya was launched.