By Innocent Anguyo
NILE Dialogue Platform, the Ugandan subsidiary of Gülen Movement, a Turkish social movement whose teachings lay emphasis on interfaith and intercultural dialogue is set to support the introduction of Turkish at Makerere University.
The Turkish certificate programme would cover various aspects of the Turkish way of life including language, cuisine, and sports among others. It will be open to interested members of the public.
Nevertheless, the course will come handy for Ugandan business personalities, as Turkey is fast becoming a global economic giant and a significant source for Ugandan imports.
In an interview with the New Vision on Thursday, Hakan Ulus, the Chairman of Nile Dialogue Platform could not specify when the Turkish programme would start, but said they first needed to find tutors.
Yesterday, Makerere University and Nile Dialogue Platform signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see the two institutions conduct collaborative peace, intercultural, educational and research activities for the next five years.
To coordinate the above activities, the two institutions are establishing a center for intercultural dialogue at the School of Liberal and Performing Arts, Makerere University.
Last year, bilateral trade volume between Turkey and Uganda stood at about $33 million. According to a statement on the website of Turkey’s foreign affairs ministry, the country exported products worth about $23.3 million to Uganda last year.
Turkey’s main export products to Uganda are cereals, electronic equipment and rubber. Around 140 Turkish citizens live in Uganda. However, language remains a huge challenge to Turkey-Uganda relations.
Turkish is a Turkic language with about 70 million speakers in Turkey and in 35 other countries, including Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Iraq and Israel.
Assoc. Prof Byaruhanga Rukooko, the Dean of the School of Liberal and Performing Arts said under the agreement Turkish institutions and Makerere would also undertake staff and student exchange visits.
Ulus said the two institutions will focus on fostering interfaith and intercultural dialogue, stimulate thinking and exchange of opinions on supporting and fostering pluralism and peace, and to provide a common platform for education and information exchange.
Makerere Vice Chancellor Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu said by fostering tolerance among cultures, the agreement will promote mutual coexistence.
Hajj Katende Abdu of Makerere said the agreement would enhance respect of cultural difference and understanding of intercultural connections.
The principal goal of the Nile Dialogue Platform is to promote peace and contribute to a peaceful coexistence of the adherents of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities and races.