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

ISBN Print: 978-1-990263-16-3
Publication Date: July 2021
Page Count: 370
Binding Type: Soft Cover
Trim Size: 6in x 9in
Language: English
Colour: B&W
Print book available from: AVAILABLE FROM https://bityl.co/84RG

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Oloka-Onyango is a Professor at the Human Rights & Peace Centre (HURIPEC), Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

    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

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