PROF. Mahmood Mamdani has been appointed to head Makerere University Institute of Social Research (MISR). This means the renowned scholar will be returning to the university after 17 years.
The university appointments board selected Mamdani during a meeting on Tuesday. He was picked out of several others who had applied for the post in December. According to a press statement issued by the university, Mamdaniâ€™s five-year contract takes immediate effect. He will replace Dr. Nakanyike Musisi who left last year when her contract expired after 10 years of service.
â€œThis appointment places Professor Mamdani, an established researcher, in a strategic position to directly contribute tremendously to the realisation of the Makerere University vision: to be a centre of academic excellence and innovations in Africa,â€ the vice-chancellorâ€™s office said in the statement.
Mamdani was chosen for his outstanding academic record as a scholar. He has been very critical of the way Makerere University has been managed in recent years.
In 2007, he published a book, Scholars in the Market Place, that caused unease within the universityâ€™s administration. The book criticised the commercialisation of university education in Uganda and the lack of academic research and publications by professors. He accused the university of duplicating courses for the sake of generating revenues from private students.
According to the statement, the board was impressed by his â€œclear statement of willingness to return to Makerere University and participate actively in championing research and innovationsâ€.
Mamdani, a Ugandan of Indian origin, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1974 and specialises in African history and politics. His book, Politics and Class Formation, is considered one of the most informative and authoritative political treatise on Uganda.
He first joined Makerere in 1972. When former president Idi Amin turned against Asians, he left and took up a post of senior lecturer at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
He returned to Makerere in 1980 after Amin had been toppled. But he got into trouble with the Obote II regime that attempted to expel him for publishing articles critical of the governmentâ€™s policies.
At Makerere, Mamdani published widely and rose from a junior position of political science teaching assistant to become an associate professor in 1984.
He left Makerere in 1993 to set up and head the Centre for Basic Research in Kampala, before joining Columbia University in New York where he has been serving to date.
Mamdaniâ€™s departure from Makerere, according to sources, was partly due to the fact that the university administration viewed him as too radical. He was among the lecturers who founded the Makerere University Academic Staff Association to champion the interests of the lecturers.
Mamdani has also worked as director of African studies at Columbia University and director of gender at the University of Cape Town. He has published broadly on Ugandan, Sudanese, continental and global politics.
Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, the Makerere vice-chancellor, is optimistic that Mamdaniâ€™s appointment will strengthen the institutionâ€™s capacity in research.
â€œThe quality of human resources is key to turning around any institution,â€ he noted. â€œWith Mamdani at the helm, we can only expect a bright future for MISR and Makerere University in the area of social research and tremendous impact on socio-economic development.â€
The institute which Mamdani is to head started in 1970. It was charged with coordinating the planning of social economic research in East Africa. It grew out of the East African Institute of Social Economic Research, which started in 1948.
As the director, Mamdani will be responsible for mobilising funding for the institute, mentor staff to realise their full academic and research capacities, and cultivate, promote and maintain institutional networks.
Mamdani also becomes a member of the Makerere senate, the universityâ€™s top academic decision-making organ.
Prof. Mamdani back to Makerere University