On the 14th of October 2023, within the magnificent Yusuf Lule Auditorium located on Pool Road at Makerere University, the esteemed JNLC Annual Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Symposium was in full swing. This year’s chosen theme, “𝐁𝐔𝐈𝐋𝐃𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐀 𝐁𝐎𝐑𝐃𝐄𝐑𝐋𝐄𝐒𝐒 𝐄𝐀𝐒𝐓 𝐀𝐅𝐑𝐈𝐂𝐀𝐍 𝐑𝐄𝐆𝐈𝐎𝐍: 𝐂𝐇𝐀𝐌𝐏𝐈𝐎𝐍𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐔𝐍𝐈𝐓𝐘, 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐓𝐇 𝐄𝐌𝐏𝐋𝐎𝐘𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓, 𝐂𝐔𝐋𝐓𝐔𝐑𝐄, 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐂𝐋𝐈𝐌𝐀𝐓𝐄 𝐑𝐄𝐒𝐈𝐋𝐈𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄,” resounded with the ideals of legendary African figures such as Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, and Kwame Nkrumah, who devoted their lives to the cause of African liberation, unity, and development.
The symposium brought together an assembly of students, thought leaders, and diverse stakeholders from across the East African region. It served as a unifying platform where participants collectively envisioned a future characterized by integration and harmony.
The goals of the symposium were clear and impactful, aiming to share knowledge, showcase innovations, facilitate solution-oriented dialogues, and cultivate networks that transcended geographical boundaries. The expected outcomes included a deeper understanding of the benefits of a borderless East African region, policy recommendations for integration, an actionable roadmap for cross-border collaborations, and strengthened networks among the participants to ensure continued progress beyond the event.
Dr. Nansozi K. Muwanga, Executive Director of the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre, welcomed the attendees with a powerful message. She emphasized that the establishment of @TheJNLC as a Presidential Initiative by His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was to equip young people with leadership skills and a passion to serve. It was an initiative designed to honor the legacy of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who dedicated his life to the goal of Pan-Africanism.
Prof. Josephine Ahikire, representing Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, emphasized how JNLC engages youth in addressing political, economic, and development issues. She praised the intentional interventions that have reached out to the youth while emphasizing Makerere’s dedication to being a research-intensive university.
Dr. James Luyonga Nkata, the Director General of @UMIuganda, gave an insightful opening speech. He stressed the importance of identifying the key areas that needed emphasis for the success of a borderless East Africa, citing the need for a strategic approach.
The Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre, Dr. Kasozi Mulindwa Saturninus, extended gratitude to H.E Kaguta Museveni, the President of Uganda, for his vision in creating the center.
Ms. Stella Agara, a Governance and Youth Development Specialist from MS-TCDC in Arusha, Tanzania, delivered the keynote speech. She emphasized the importance of fostering dialogue, sharing knowledge, and cultivating networks to create a future where geographical borders serve as bridges to shared success and prosperity.
The Right Honourable Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, representing the Guest of Honour, His Excellency President @KagutaMuseveni, celebrated the life and legacy of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. He highlighted Mwalimu’s commitment to Pan-Africanism and the unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to create Tanzania.
The Right Honourable Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda represented The Guest of Honour, His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who is also the Patron of the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC). Dr. Rugunda delivered a moving speech on behalf of the President, commemorating the life and legacy of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. He emphasized Mwalimu’s commitment to the goal of Pan-Africanism and his role in the unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to create Tanzania.
The symposium included several panel discussions:
- The first panel discussion, “A Cross-Generational Conversation on Building a Borderless East African Region,” emphasized the importance of engaging different generations in shaping the region’s future. The panelists included Mr. Patrick Bitature, Ms. Sangu Butiku, Mr. Edwin Musiime, Mr. Nshuti Balaam Kabaasa, and Mrs. Joanita Mukasa Menya.
- The second panel discussed the significance of Kiswahili as a language of unity in building a borderless East Africa. Panelists included Professor Boaz Mutungi and Mr. Joseph Tusigwire, a Kiswahili PhD candidate. They stressed the need to promote the language’s use, invest in its development, and standardize it to foster cross-border adoption.
- The third panel, “Bold Ideas: Our Perspective on Building a Borderless East Africa Region,” featured panelists Mr. Oundo Bernard, Dr. Charles Batte, Dr. Gardner RH, Mr. Joramu Nkumbi, and Mr. Ssegawa Iavn. Mr. Joramu Nkumbi expressed gratitude to Ugandans for educating leaders like President Julius K. Nyerere and President Benjamin Mkapa, highlighting the prestigious legacy of Makerere University.
Rtd Col. Fred Mwesigye, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the United Republic of Tanzania, paid tribute to Julius Nyerere and presented copies of the book ’38 Reflections on Mwalimu Nyerere’ to Dr. Nansozi K. Muwanga, Executive Director of the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre.
The closing remarks were delivered by Ms. Bhoke Nyerere, representing Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere’s family. She paid tribute to her late grandfather and the enduring legacy he left behind.
The JNLC Annual Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Symposium, with its theme of “Building a Borderless East African Region,” focused on the youth as the driving force behind changes in economic and social relationships in the region. By fostering dialogue, sharing knowledge, and cultivating networks, the symposium aimed to transform geographical borders from barriers into bridges for shared success and prosperity, embodying the pan-African ideals of leaders like Julius Nyerere. In conclusion, the organizers thanked their partners, participants, and panelists for their invaluable contributions to the event.