By Denis Nsubuga
When Makerere University alumni met at a homecoming dinner at the main campus in Kampala on Friday, July 22, reflections on its past and future as it celebrates 100 years ran high on the agenda.
For the old students, many of whom have gone on to be prominent citizens of the country, it was a night to rekindle memories and ponder on the university’s contribution to the African society.
Guests, including top-notch academics, some past guild presidents of the university and present-day notable members of the political and business spheres, occupied the Freedom Square in an aura of pride for their alma mater.
The theme of the night Through These Gates not only illuminated through the speeches, but also the euphoric feeling that capped the atmosphere as the performing arts students led guests in singing the university’s Great Makerere as one of the anthems to officially open the event.
The Vice-Chancellor, Barnabas Nawangwe, took the guests down the memory lane, from the first 14 male students in 1922, through the first female students in 1949 and its independence from the University of London and later the University of East Africa in 1970 to date, when it strives to transform into a more research-based university.
The history of Africa and particularly East Africa, one can argue, is incomplete without Makerere University, given its hand in nurturing various, including statesmen such as Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, and Milton Obote of Uganda.
The convergence of alumni on Friday evening provided an insight into the importance of higher education to the advancement of society.
The film and drama class figuratively expressed the different moments that have shaped the university over the last 100 years of existence.
From the provision of land resources to expand the university by former Katikkiro of Buganda Martin Luther Nsibirwa to the cultures of halls of residences, Makerere University has been an epicentre of the country’s transformation.
Every speaker at the event made references to their hall of residence to the charm of some members of the audience. They recalled their fondest memories at the hill.
The MC of the night, Simon Kasyate, made a short roll call based on decades in which guests attended the university. From the 1960s, through the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, the numbers kept growing. The 60s had only four members in the audience.
It was also a time to wine and dine. Guests savoured a cocktail of food, drinks and music performances.
The Chancellor of the University, Ezra Suruma, closed the night with a mini, impromptu lecture about the essence of university education.
He said the 100 years of Makerere University should serve as a challenge to examine the relevance of knowledge acquired at the university to the well-being of the whole society.
More photos from Makerere University Homecoming Dinner
Time to savour a cocktail of food, drinks 😋
Dinner and fashion are in tandem