Buganda minister asks government to abolish all colonial names, replace them with indigenous ones

Mr. Makubuya, a corporate lawyer and author last week was delivering a keynote address at the second annual Nsibirwa Memorial Lecture held at Makerere University (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA – Buganda Kingdom Minister Apollo Nelson Makubuya has urged the government to abolish all colonial names and replace them with indigenous ones, a development he says will help to correct the country’s history.

Mr. Makubuya, a corporate lawyer and author was delivering a keynote address at the second annual Nsibirwa Memorial Lecture held at Makerere University.

The Nsibirwa Memorial Lecture now in its second edition seeks to pay tribute to former Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro, Martin Luther Nsibirwa (RIP), praised for approving the allocation of land for the expansion of Makerere, a decision that was met with significant protests at the time.

In his address, the Buganda Kingdom’s third deputy prime minister and minister for constitutional affairs vehemently questioned the rationale behind naming places after individuals such as Henry Colville, Frederick Lugard, The King’s African Rifles, General De Winton, and Colonel Ternan in cities like Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja, and Fort Portal.

He urged that the continuous naming of streets and other physical features after colonial masters offends fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals and reinforces and celebrates a culture of colonial supremacy, domination and impunity.

He however, commended Makerere University for renaming a residence hall after Nsibirwa, replacing Northcote a name given in honour of Sir Geoffrey Northcote, who served as Chairman of the University Council from July 1945 to 1948. He also thanked Makerere University for naming teaching facilities after homegrown figures like former president Yusuf Lule and the first vice-chancellor, Frank Kalimuzo.

He pointed out the university’s distinguished alumni, including former presidents, innovators, and professors, who have made significant positive contributions in various disciplines. Notably, he mentioned Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the renowned Kenyan author, poet, educator and playwright who has pushed for the decolonization of academia.

On his part, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor said Nsibirwa was a visionary leadership whose actions helped to shape modern education. Nawangwe also highlighted the significance of two crucial dates: the day when Kabaka Muteesa I wrote a letter to Queen Victoria and the day when Nsibirwa documented the allocation of land to Makerere University. According to Nawangwe, these dates hold critical importance and should be celebrated annually.

Robert Waggwa Nsibirwa, a grandson of Nsibirwa and the second Deputy Katikkiro of Buganda endorsed Makubuya’s perspective on the role of cultural institutions. He cited examples of how the Buganda Kingdom, functioning as a cultural institution in the modern world, has actively sought to transform its people.

The decolonization movement has recently picked up momentum in various African nations. In Uganda, a group led by Makubuya has petitioned the government to establish an independent body tasked with reviewing and renaming monuments, roads, and buildings. The aim is to honour Ugandans and other historical figures who embody values such as freedom, dignity, peace, and justice.

About Owek. Martin Luther Nsibirwa

Owekitiibwa Martin Luther Nsibirwa is a celebrated patron and forefather of Makerere University.

In 1945, Martin Luther Nsibirwa defied the odds and public protests to provide the land where Makerere University stands today. This decision cost him his life.

By virtue of this great and noble act, Makerere College was able to expand and gain University Status in 1970 becoming the premier University of East Africa.

Owek. Nsibirwa’s selfless gestures didn’t stop at giving Makerere College land for expansion, he also gave part of his own land in Mulago to the University for the construction of a dormitory for the School of Nursing. His gestures portrayed his belief in education.

In the bid to recognize and honour Martin Luther Nsibirwa’s extensive contribution to Makerere’s existence, the Northcote Hall was renamed Nsibirwa Hall in 1997 and in 2022, as the University celebrated 100 years, the Nsibirwa Annual Public Lecture was inaugurated.

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