Celebrated artistes grace launch Makerere University Performing Arts and Film Alumni Association

The Academic Registrar

The Chancellor and Patron of the Makerere University Convocation, Prof. Ezra Suruma, last week launched the Makerere University Performing Arts and Film The Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma launched the Association. Alumni Association (MAKPAFAA). The launch took place at the Department of Performing Arts and Film grounds. It was graced by among others Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu; the Chair Makerere University Convocation, Dr Tanga Odoi; the Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira; the Dean, School of Liberal and Performing Arts, Assoc. Prof. Patrick Mangeni; the Cultural Affairs Specialist at the US Embassy in Uganda, Ms Dorothy Ngalombi, and notable artistes and alumni of the Department of Performing Arts and Film (PAF) - MP-elect Kato Lubwama, CBS FM Programmes Manager Abby Mukiibi, Abu Kawenja, Patricko Mujuuka, Joanita Kawalya, Eddy Yawe, Bobi Wine, the Fun Factory crew and Juliet Nantambi (Actress and host of the Minibuzz show on Bukedde TV).

MAKPAFAA, the first Chapter of the Makerere University Convocation, is an association of the alumni and well wishers of the Department of Performing Arts and Film. Its main objective is to engage the alumni in the implementation of the activities of the five-year Strategic Plan rolled out last year to revive the glory of Department. The objectives of the PAF Reloaded Strategic Plan include; improving productivity, staff and student welfare, resource mobilization, infrastructure as well as research and project development. MAKPAFAA will be headed by Ms Deborah Asiimwe Kawe, the producer of the Kampala International Theatre Festival, also alumnus of the Department of Performing Arts and Film. She will be deputized by Makerere University’s first female Guild President Norah Njuba Bwaya. Other members of the committee include Ms Lillian Mbabazi, an Assistant Lecturer of Applied Theatre and Drama, Abby Mukiibi, Andrew Lwanga Ssebagala, Stella Wadiru and Robert Kiwanuka. The Committee was officially inaugurated by the Chair of Convocation, Dr Tanga Odoi.

Delivering her inaugural speech, Ms Asiimwe appreciated the management of the Department of Performing Arts and Film for entrusting her with the leadership of the Association. She expressed commitment to fulfilling the objectives of Association and called for teamwork in the development of the Department of Performing Arts.

In his address, the Chancellor congratulated the Department of Performing Arts and Film upon establishing the first Chapter of the Makerere University Convocation. He emphasized the importance of the performing Arts in preserving culture and promoting national development. “In the 70s, people used to despise the disciplines of Music, Dance and Drama (MDD) but that is no more. The Performing Arts and Film industry is increasingly becoming recognized as important institution in national development,” he said. He pledged support towards the development of infrastructure at the Department of Performing Arts and Film. Reacting to Assoc. Prof. Sylvia Nannyonga Tamusuza’s remarks on the progress in the Department, the Chancellor commended the collaborations between PAF and other institutions, noting that they are a very important milestone since the University largely depends on private as opposed to public resources. According to the Assoc. Prof. Sylvia Nannyonga Tamusuza, PAF enjoys a number of collaborations with institutions within and outside Uganda. Notable among them is the Norwegian University College of Dance that supports staff and student exchanges and intercontinental performances. The Department also entered collaboration with InterAid Uganda to enhance the skills of refugees in the performing arts. Assoc. Prof. Sylvia Nannyonga Tamusuza is the Head of the Department of Performing Arts and Film.

The Chancellor urged the Executive of the Makerere University Convocation to work towards bringing more alumni and private institutions on board to support the development of the University. “In doing so, Convocation will have made a great contribution to the development of Makerere University,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor commended Makerere University Convocation, CHUSS and the Department of Performing Arts and Film for spearheading the formation of alumni chapters. “The Convocation is coming in at a time when the University is actively engaged in finding alternative sources of funding to supplement its meager budget. I thank the Chairperson and Executive of Convocation, the  Principal and staff of CHUSS and the Head and staff of the Department of Performing Arts and Film for initiating ideas to assist Management in its efforts to raise resources for the University,” he said.

The Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira called on the management of PAF to partner with the alumni in training students. “Every course should have a visiting alumnus. The alumni should contribute to the improvement of the PAF curriculum,” he said.  He appealed to the University Council to come up with a policy of naming Makerere Universitylandmarks after exemplary alumni who would make significant contribution to the University.

Makerere University Convocation Chair, Dr Tanga Odoi, applauded the Department of Performing Arts and Film for an initiative he said would greatly contribute to raising funds and improving the image of the University. He urged theUniversity Management to support the teaching and learning of liberal arts, emphasizing that no society can ably progress without a strong culture. He called for the formation of more chapters and pledged more support towards the activities of MAKPAFAA and the University.

The Chair, Department of Performing Arts and Film, re-echoed her commitment to reviving the glory of PAF. Working closely with the alumni, the Department under the leadership of Assoc. Prof. Sylvia Nannyonga Tamusuza plans to undertake a number of activities to achieve the objectives of the Strategic Plan. These include recasting the training programmes in the department; introducing commercial dance, music, and drama productions; establishing a scholarship fund; increasing influence of  the performing arts through publications, print, electronic and social media; improving graduate training; procuring training equipment; holding public lectures; carrying out community outreach programmes; establishing networks with government institutions, local and international funders; improving the research, reading and writing culture; and developing grant writing and management skills of staff and students.

In the course of the event, Prof. Kirumira launched one of the latest publications by members of staff in the Department of Performing Arts and Film titled; African Musics in Context: Institutions, Culture and Identity.  The publication is one of 10 books produced by the staff of CHUSS in the last one year. Others include Omulanga gwa Lawino by Prof. Abasi Kiyimba and Elections in a Hybrid Regime by Prof. Sabiti Makara. Edited  by Thomas Solomon, African Musics in Context: Institutions, Culture and Identity discusses the place of performing arts in 

Ugandan society, archiving music and music sources, performing archival music, performing health and religious issues in music, music and identity in East Africa as well music in motion. The book follows up on and extends work in an earlier volume (Nannyonga- Tamusuza and Solomon2012) which included papers from the first ethnomusicology symposium. While this book focuses primarily on music and music research in Uganda, the chapters by the contributors from Tanzania, South Africa and Norway demonstrate the importance of scholarly and professional network that connect the different countries of the African continent with each other and with the larger international scholarly community. The book shows that professionalised ethnomusicology in Uganda continues to gain ground and make contributions to music research in Uganda, African, and the global ethnomusicological community. The chapters collected show that ethnomusicology in Uganda has a healthy institutional basis and promises to continue to make contributions that are relevant locally, regionally and internationally. The book exhibits some of the very fruitful results of the collaboration between the Department of Performing Arts and Film at Makerere University and the Grieg Academy at the University of Bergen. The launch was preceded with a citation from the book by eminent Literature Scholar, Mwalimu Austin Bukenya.

Other activities to mark the event included the launch of the Annual Fundraiser for building a home for the Department of Performing Arts and Film and cleaning of the Department premises by the staff and students.

The event ended with a special performance by the Department’s Live Band in the University Main Hall. The performance featured popular music by legendary artistes like Philly Bongole Lutaaya, Joanita Kawalya and Elly Wamala.

During the show, the Management of PAF awarded certificates of recognition to Afrigo Band, Joanita Kawalya and the families of Elly Wamala and Philly Lutaaya for their outstanding contribution to the development of Uganda’s Music Industry.

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Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi
Makerere University