30 years of UiB-Mak Alumni in a nutshell
During the 30-year celebrations of the cooperation between Makerere University (Mak), Uganda and the University of Bergen (UiB), we had the opportunity to meet and interview a group of prominent Mak-UiB Alumni. All had a story to share about how their experience at UiB had helped to shape their careers and how they had brought a piece of Norway back with them to Uganda.
When we arrived in Kampala, it was a beautiful, sunny day, and the temperature was around 25 degrees already, early in the morning. The city was buzzing with activity when we reached the Makerere University Hospital located few kilometers from the University.
Doctor Kalungi Sam
Our first Alumni to interview was with the medical doctor Kalungi Sam. Kalungi is a pathologist who took his Master Degree at Makerere University and his PhD in Pathology at UiB. During his PhD he researched the Burkitt’s lymphoma, which is common among children in Uganda. After completing his studies, he came back to Kampala where he started working as a specialist. He also ateaches undergraduates and postgraduates in medicine.
Doctor Kalungi told us that, academically, one of the main differences between Uganda and Norway is the relationship between the professors and the students. In Norway, the professors are less formal and treat the students more as equals. This has changed the way Kalungi approaches his own students, and he believes that this contributes enormously to the learning process.
My students of today will be my colleagues of tomorrow. That’s why I leave the formalities out of the classroom and treat my students as equals.
Doctor Ssebiyonga Nicolausi
The second Alumni we interviewed was Doctor Ssebiyonga Nicolausi, from the Department of Physics at Makerere University. In the period from 2006 to 2016, Doctor Ssebiyongadid did his Master and PhD degrees, and completed a Post Doc at the University of Bergen. He worked on the optical properties of oceanic water by analyzing the response of phytoplankton to light.
Today Doctor Ssebiyonga teaches optics and magnetism to undergraduates and postgraduates at the department of Physics of Makerere University.
- In my time in Bergen I lived at the student house in Fantoft where I have very good memories. I used to call it home. I miss it very much, says Doctor Ssebiyonga.
Doctor Eria Olowo Onyango
Our third Alumni is Doctor Eria Olowo Onyango, who has become something of an institution in the department of Anthropology at the University of Makerere. His office door is always open and groups of students gather often at his desk to ask for advice and seek mentorship. Onyango did his MA and PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen from 2006 to 2010 researching borderland dynamics in Northeastern Uganda, focusing on the Karamajong ethnicity.
Doctor Onyango is also the coordinator of the “Borderland Dynamics in East Africa Project”. The project aims to strengthen the capacity of three universities (Makerere, Khartoum and Addis Ababa) to play a role in the area of governance and policy. In particular, the project addresses borderland issues such as advocating and increasing competence on the specific aspects of borderland situations, human rights, women rights, the rights of marginal borderland groups, environmental concerns, as well as human health and general human development concerns.
Doctor Onyango is very thankful for the cooperation between Mak and UiB and sees the tremendous benefits he has received personally by studying in Norway both at human and academic level.
As Doctor Kalungi, Doctor Eria has also embraced a more informal approach to his professor-student relationships since his studies in Norway. He says that he would never go back to the strictly hierarchical style he was used to as a student.
Doctor Phyllis Awor
Phyllis Awor is a medical doctor and a public health specialist with 10 years of experience in operational research and health program management. She currently works at Makerere University School of Public Health in Uganda as a lecturer and researcher, investigating strategies for improving quality of care for rural children. Her medical degree is from Makerere University and her Master degree and PhD training are from the University of Bergen.
Her research focused on innovative approaches to improve the management of fever in children who seek care in the private sector, in rural Uganda. The results from the annual surveys consistently show that more than half of all sick children in Uganda obtain treatment at private sector clinics and/ or at drug stores. Awor decided to pilot an approach taken from the WHO/UNICEF recommended strategy for the integrated community case management (iCCM) of malaria pneumonia and diarrhea in children within private sector drug shops. The results of this research were positive. The quality of treatment of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea in children at the drug stores, improved exponentially when they introduced the iCCM training, diagnostic tests and appropriate medicines at this level.
Her work has received awards from the WHO and the UN Women’s Organization, and now the Ministry of Health of Uganda has embraced this approach and made it an official policy. Awor is now involved in exporting this approach to several other African countries. She is part of a social innovation hub that aims to identify new approaches for adopting innovation in health care treatments.
I wouldn’t have done research and had this impact with my work if I had not studied at the University of Bergen. The skills in research methods I acquired at UiB transformed me as professional.
Professor Venasius Baryamureeba
Professor Venasius Baryamureeba is an energetic man with a contagious smile.He has an impressive CV having been, among other things, the former Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Vice Chancellor of the Uganda Technology and Management University, a candidate for Member of Parliament in Uganda 2001 and a candidate for President of Uganda in the 2016 elections. At only 40 yrs old he was the youngest Vice Chancellor of Uganda and in the entire African continent.
Professor Baryamureeba’s qualifications include a Master of Science in Mathematics from Makerere University, a Master of Science in Computer Science, and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Bergen.
After dedicating a good part of his career to building opportunities for the students at Makerere,Baryamureeba left Mak in September 2012 to start the Uganda Technology And Management University (UTAMU), where he currently serves as Chief Executive Officer and founding Vice Chancellor. After only a few years, UTAMU has grown to be the university of choice for students interested in technology and management training. It is often referred referred to as the MIT of Africa.
He has several fond memories from his time in Bergen related to the student-life. He remembers how he became the fulcrum for the Ugandan students at the University of Bergen, organizing activities and gatherings. In particular, he also remembers the small beds at Fantoft as being a challenge and even life threatening!
During our interview, Professor Baryamureeba gave us a thorough insight into the complicated world of Ugandan politics. He also reflected on the future of technology in filling the gap between Africa and Wester World.
Doctor Nkambo Mujibu
Doctor Nkambo Mujibu is Senior Research Officer at the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute. He took his PhD in Zoology at Makerere University and his Master of Science in Water Resources Management at the University of Bergen back in 2008.
He came from a purely science-based background. During his studies at the University of Bergen, he had to study subjects such as the history of water, and water trade and economy. These opened up his mind to several things about water he had never considered before. The aspect of considering the sociological aspect of water changed and shaped his approach to water management, and his focus is now on water as an essential resource for human life.
Dr. Mujibu expected to be learning how to use water as a medium for production at UiB, but ended up learning a more holistic approach to water.
The conservation of natural resources, sustainable development and responsible fish production, is the ethical backbone of my work today, which I acquired during my experience at the University of Bergen.
Doctor Nkambo Mujibu is now in a strategic position. He is in charge of the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute, which distributes the licenses for establishing fish farms. This work ensures that Uganda can produce fish today without compromising the production of tomorrow.
Furthermore, he contributes his expertise to capacity building for the Congolese authorities in water resources management. His institute cooperates with them over issues such as the exploitation of shared natural water resources.
Mujibu says that a big challenge for him, is the constant struggle in preserving natural resources while, at the same time, ensuring sufficient levels of food production.
Read more about the 30 year celebrations of the cooperation between Makerere University and the University of Bergen here: