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  • From Citizen to Refugee: Uganda Asians Come to Britiain

    In his introduction to this new edition of From Citizen to Refugee: Uganda Asians Come to Britain, Mahmood Mamdani reminds us that long before 1972, most Ugandan ‘Asians’ had already been disenfranchised by law, both Ugandan and British. Despite a global industry that insists otherwise, Uganda Asians are a poor fit as victims: there was no large-scale loss of life during the expulsion, nor were there massacres of Asians, only of ‘indigenous’ peoples. Asians in Uganda, as in East or Southern Africa, he argues, were immigrants, not settlers: immigrants are prepared to be a part of the political community, whereas settlers ‘create their own political community, a colony, more precisely, settler colonialism.’ Mamdani insists that there is no single Asian legacy. there are several and they are contradictory. The Asian question in Uganda remains, but it is no longer the original Asian question. But it does allow us to think more broadly. Just as US law recognizes African Americans as Americans of African descent, so too must those of Asian origin in Africa consider themselves, and be considered, Asian Africans. It is in his bittersweet and touching book on the Asian expulsion from Uganda that one can trace the beginnings of author and intellectual Mahmood Mamdani’s world-view.. … In From Citizen to Refugee: Uganda Asians Come to Britain Mamdani offers portraits of people reduced to a vegetative existence in refugee camps, feeling the burden of not being fluent in English and struggling with the uncomfortably cold weather. Not surprisingly, these few months played a pivotal role in shaping Mamdani’s theoretical and political leanings, and it is here that one can locate his preoccupation with the formation of racial, ethnic and class identities during the colonial era and his overarching concern with issues of citizenship.

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  • Politics, Democratization and Academia in Uganda: The Case of Makerere University

    As the oldest (and arguably best-known) university in Uganda and the wider eastern and central Africa region, Makerere University looms large in the history of higher education on the continent. Alma mater to presidents, public intellectuals and pundits of all disciplines, Makerere has attracted considerable scholarly and popular attention, both in respect of its prominence and achievements, and well as with regard to its failures and foibles. The proposed book focuses on a particularly understudied aspect of the place of higher education in the African context, i.e. the relationship between a public university of unique historical importance and the contestations over democratization that have taken place both within campus and outside of it. It is built around the late-1980s struggle by the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) for improved living conditions against the backdrop of the early programs of structural adjustment and economic reform that the National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) government adopted soon after taking power in 1986. Although seemingly introverted in focus, in many respects the MUASA action represented the earliest forms of political struggle against a regime of governance that promised a great deal, but disappointingly delivered considerably less.

    The focus on MUASA provides a critical entry-point to a wider debate about the place of organized democratic action by academics in a post-conflict context where the traditional institutions of political and civil society, i.e. political parties and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have either been severely compromised or discredited, or where they are too weak and inorganic to provide any form of significant counter-juxtaposition to the government in power. By organizing the first strike by academic staff in the sixty-seven (67) year history of the university, for a time MUASA became the focal-point for democratic organizing against a regime that was yet to fully expose its nefarious and anti-democratic colours. The book examines the broader issues concerning the relationship between organized academic action and democratization; the place of the Media in reviewing these struggles; the position of students as a critical component of academe; “big P” and “small p” politics affecting female academics, and finally, the paradoxical role of the School of Law in both aiding and inhibiting the struggle against dictatorship in a country which has enjoyed