Contributrary factor. Makerere University has on many occasions been rated as one of the best four universities in Africa – the school of Law is a contributrary factor.
As we celebrate 50 years since the School of Law came into being at Makerere University, we should not lose sight of the late Prof Ali A. Mazrui, who was the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences when the School of Law began as a department in charge of teaching Law.
The donkey work in founding the heroic department was done by two distinguished dons namely, the late Prof Joseph N. Kakooza and Prof George W. Kanyeihamba. The department later became a fully-fledged faculty of Law in its own right under the direction of Prof Kakooza, then a fresh Law scholar from Oxford.
Prof Mazrui under whom I had the privilege of serving as a research assistant, told me that in order to maximise the shortage of skilled labour at that time, great law dons like the late Prof Abraham Kiapi and Prof George Kanyeihamba, would lecture in the departments of Law and Political Science interchangeably.
The Mission of the School of Law at Makerere has been successful and its alumni include the Chief Justice of Uganda, Justice Bart Katurebe and his deputy Justice Owinyi Dolo, the IGG, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, Dr Olara Otunnu, DP president Norbert Mao, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Counsel Yusuf Nsibambi, Prof Kidhu Makubuya, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah and Katikkiro of BugandaCharles Mayiga.
Dr Mazrui’s interaction with the two unique law dons, Kanyeihamba and Kiapi in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Makerere, did not go unnoticed. That was the time when Dr Mazrui rose to political prominence upon generating the scientific definition of the African Intellectual at a public debate in 1969 at the City Hall in Kampala, using the following words: “An intellectual in Africa is a person who is fascinated by ideas and has acquired the skill to handle some of those ideas effectively,’’ Mazrui’s definition of the intellectual in Africa included the Jurist.
The study of Law is exciting, but its efficacy is dependent on legal flavour. Every legal action pursued calls for a calculated stance, that is why “Mark Antony” condemns “Brutus” without brutality after stabbing the King to death in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caezar. The depth of knowledge I acquired through the Law School is immeasurable and my two recent books on the Talk of Nature to man plus the Federal Doctrine In Uganda, are the products of that historic experience.
Law is an important study in every progressive society. The rules under which society is governed derive their origin from what is known as Natural Law or Divine Justice in the wording of the ancient Greek philosophers. According to Prof A.V. Dicey, “every good constitution of a State should dictate the Rule of Law and the scope of administrative justice to ensure that the government of the day does not impart arbitrary authority on its citizens.”
For that reason, I wish to pay tribute to men and women who pioneered the teaching of Law at Makerere University – they could have gone elsewhere, but they didn’t. They include Prof Fredrick Jjuuko, a former Dean of the School of Law, Prof David Bakibinga, an authority in the Law of Business Associations, Prof F. E. Sempebwa, John W. Katende, Prof Tumwine Mukubwa, Prof. Ben Twinomugisha, Prof John Jean Barya, Lady Justice Lillian Erikubirinza, and Joyce Ngaiza. Prof Silvia Tamale’s book on When Hens Begin to Crow – Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda, should excite every alumnus; so should Dr Busingye-Kabumba’s book on Militarised Democracy: A Case for Uganda. Dr K. Mayambala is making Cyber Law an attractive study for a number of students. Hadijah Namyalos’ jokes add a lot value to the study of Tort Law,
The School of Law at what was once the Ivory Tower, is still academically sound and continues to attract entrants from the East African Region and beyond. Prof C. Mbaziira in whom the School of Law has a lot of hope, is the principal and is deputised by Dr Ronald Naluwairo. The dons are collectively committed and part of the impact they have created can be demonstrated through the high standard of performance in the moot courts they direct regularly. The School of Law through its Public Interest Law Clinic equally provides legal aid as well as research facilities using the services of the Human Rights and the Peace Centre /Refugee Law Project.
When Prof Oloka Onyango talks about the constitutionality of issues, you see a semblance of a Law class at Harvard. Joseph Kyazze, young as he looks, is another significant force in civil procedure advocacy. Dr. Nagitta is naturally calm but highly gifted in the teaching of Evidence Law. Fred Mpanga speaks with confidence and seriousness on the Law of International trade while Benson Tusasirwe requires no notes to narrate the consequences of a nudum pactum in Contract Law.
Makerere University has on many occasions been rated as one of the best four universities in Africa – the school of Law is a contributrary factor towards that success. The teaching of Law is exciting save that there is no uniform code in its advancement; every word communicated to the students is documented and is a challenge to its commandant. The world is in a crisis today and is besieged by a host of destructive and interactive conflicts. The solution to that calamity lies in the teaching of Law to guarantee the Rule of Law and the independence of the judiciary.
However, there are issues the Makerere Law dons should address now. The School of Law presently offers 40 course units in four years and some of those units are optional. The School Curricula calls for some reforms. I propose that the study in Legislative Drafting should be introduced as part of the LLB fully fledged degree course unit so as to strengthen the students’ law drafting skills at an early stage.