Dear reader, the rumour that the Chief Justice of Uganda, the honourable Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe and I were last Saturday somewhere in the relatively peri-urban district of Mpigi is correct.
And the other rumour that the Chief Justice and I were impressed by the serene, professionally-landscaped, well-kempt and kept campus at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi is also correct.
Please take note that he and I don’t mind your acknowledged wont for spreading such a rumour. If you please, as one would expect you to, please spread the rumour even farther.
Discounting my wont for name dropping (and always situating myself at the centre of stories I am familiar with), the real story is that the Chief Justice of the Republic of Uganda was the guest of honour at the opening session of the 10th Inter-University Human Rights Essay Competition at Uganda Martyrs University where I was invited as a fly-on-the-wall. He also launched a Human Rights Scholarship Award the details of which I may have missed due to the limitations of my fly-on-the-wall status.
The Inter-University Human Rights Essay Competition is an annual event at which Human Rights Clubs from universities and other higher institutions of learning participate. The 10th edition attracted 30 such institutions.
My gut feeling is that this annual Inter-University Human Rights Essay Competition could be the only public academic discourse for undergrads outside the area of examinable works that contribute to the awarding of degrees. And boy, do the students have passion for it!
I will single out Ms Lucy Nantege, the young lady from Mutesa I Royal University. The judges I interacted with said she had a solid paper but her presentation was not as good as the content and arguments in her paper.
But she compensated her slightly-above-average presentation with her passion. And for this (passion), the honourable judges rewarded her with the best female presentation award. And boy, oh boy, she was blown away by the surprise.
Makerere University won the 10th Inter-University Human Rights Essay Competitions on Saturday 11. And before I forget, they were the defending champions.
The best paper was from Uganda Pentecostal University (need I say the university is in my neighbourhood of Fort Portal?). And the best presentation award went to Makerere University.
Mr Lawrence Jjumba (Makerere University) surprised the all-lawyerly judges when he ably extricated himself from a well-laid legal trap (question) by a student from I don’t remember which university.
One of the judges said she could offer the boy an internship. And I joked that if a certain Joel from Entebbe was around, he would have advised the boy to join the army.
In his speech at the opening ceremony, the Chief Justice told the students that the competition was a good starting point for the better understanding of fair competition, respect for diversity and compromise. He said that the principle of ‘rule of law’ would be meaningless if the citizenry have no knowledge, respect and reverence to it. “An assertive, vigilant and empowered society is a strong weapon against human rights abuse,” he said.
Who am I, Asuman Bisiika son of Hadijah, but a small excuse of life from Kiburara to earn the honour of a handshake from the Chief Justice of the Republic of Uganda?
Even if it was not the other kind of handshake; the one associated with a certain Joel from Entebbe, my face still beamed with godly blessedness when I shook the CJ’s hands. That is why I have not washed my hands since last Friday.
With this handshake, even the discomfiture (actually torture) of spending two days dressed in a suit will be forgiven.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East African Flagpost.