Nawangwe named African Educationist of the Year

Jan 11, 2022

The annual award which is in its 10th year is reserved for distinguished Africans who have blazed the trail in the year under review

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe the Makerere University Vice Chancellor.

Charles Etukuri
Senior Writer @New Vision

Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe is the African Educationist of the Year. 

The award was given to Prof. Nawangwe by the African Leadership Magazine.

On Monday evening, an elated Nawangwe said he was humbled by the recognition.

“I am humbled by the recognition of my efforts by the African Leadership Magazine. This gives me more energy to serve my continent better,” Nawangwe said.

Last year’s winner of the award was Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, vice-chancellor, Niger Delta University in Nigeria.

The African Leadership Magazine persons of the year, which is in its 10th year, is an annual award reserved for distinguished Africans, who have blazed the trail in the year under review.

Several Makerere University staff led by the university secretary Yusuf Kiranda congratulated Nawangwe on his well-deserved recognition.

Professor Stefan Peterson Swartling who is a health specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and an honorary professor at Makerere School of Public Health said, Nawangwe was a “well-chosen awardee”

Don Wycliff Wodelo said, “Professor your hard work is actually evident and a good example for us to follow.”

Nawangwe, 65, was born in Busia district. He attended Busoga College Mwiri for both his O-Level and A-Level education.

He excelled at physics, economics and mathematics at his A-levels, qualifying to join Makerere University, where he was admitted to study Civil Engineering. He studied for only one semester and was forced to flee the country in 1977 due to the intolerance against students by the Idi Amin regime.

According to information on his website, “It was 1977 and we were protesting against a situation that most of us saw as hopeless,” Nawangwe explains. But the Idi Amin government would have none of the planned strikes they were involved in and he soon became a hunted man.

Fearing for his safety, Nawangwe fled to Russia to continue his studies.

“I had always been involved in fine art, so one day a lecturer of the Russian language found me making some drawings and advised me to switch from civil engineering to architecture. I had never even heard of the subject,” he recalls on his website.

It was while he was in Russia that Nawangwe changed to architecture. He later on obtained a PhD and returned to Uganda in 1988, first working for Habitat Consultants before he returned to Makerere University in 1989, to start an architecture programme in Uganda.

The training on this course is the most rigorous. All students must undergo field training. After graduation, they must work for two years before sitting an exam so they can obtain certification from the Uganda Society of Architects.

Following his appointment as lecturer at Makerere, he became head of the Department of Architecture in the Faculty of Technology from its inception in 1989 to 2002. During this time, he also chaired several university committees, including the University Research, Administrative and Financial Reforms Committee.

He would later rise to the position of Acting Principal of College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) from 2009 to 2013.

Before his appointment as Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Nawangwe acted on several occasions as Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs.

He also served as the Dean of the Faculty of Technology (2002-2009).

Nawangwe has supervised several masters and PhD students. He has presented numerous papers at local and international conferences and published several articles in internationally reviewed journals and books.

He has also been an author to a number of research reports and an external examiner of several universities which include the Nairobi University, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and Oslo School of Architecture among others.

He has also served as a consulting architect and chairman of the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and a past president of the Uganda Society of Architects.

He was installed as the Makerere University Vice Chancellor on September 14, 2021, having served as Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration.

Some of the key achievements of Nawangwe as Vice Chancellor have seen the improvement of Makerere University’s international ranking. He is also credited with transforming the university into a research-led institution.

Under Nawangwe’s leadership, the university has produced cutting edge research and technology such as the electric car—the first on the continent, tuberculosis rapid testing kit which is used globally, the anti-tick vaccines which are undergoing mass production among others.

During the COVID-19 period―March 2020 to December 2021―Makerere University has produced more than 200 innovations.

The African Leadership Magazine is published by ALG Strategy Group and focuses on showcasing the best of Africa to a global audience, telling the African story from an African perspective; while evolving solutions to peculiar challenges being faced by the continent today.

Since its maiden edition in August 2008, African Leadership Magazine on its website indicates that it has grown to become a leading pan-African flagship leadership-focused publication read by over 580,000 targeted international investors, business executives, government policymakers and multilateral agencies across Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Europe and the US.

It is distributed at major international and African Leadership events around the world with a mission to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and development in Africa, thereby heralding the emergence of a new Africa, growing beyond potential into true greatness. 


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