Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Ugandan Madinda Masters

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Visiting One of Uganda's Leading Colleges

May 25—Today we zipped off to Makerere University, the equivalent of Harvard for Uganda. We met with Dr. Makubuya’s former student, and a professor at the university Dr. Nnanyonga. She had a lot of really incredible stories mostly about the numerous projects she had taken up at the school. She had been working so hard to branch out the department to many different places around the world and even build a music archive for the school. What fascinated me the most though was her stories about the traditional Buganda shrines where she was doing research on dances. It was an amazing tale about how the researcher almost became the subject.

We also met Mr. Bisaso, the son of the late Mr. Ssempeke, a famous endere and royal palace musician. As we walked into the music building he was playing the ndingidi (Buganda fiddle) with an ensemble. It was truly amazing!

Then we went to the Uganda National Museum and met up with two teachers that I will be working with starting next Tuesday. The first was called Mr. Ssekitooleko another son of the late Ssempeke, and the second was called Mr. Sserwanga, the brother of the late Ssempeke. Mr. Sserwanga is one of the last living masters of the Buganda reed flute! After that we went sight-seeing at the Lukiiko building (Buganda Parliament), and learned a bit of the history of Uganda. The interesting thing about the building was that it had pictures of the animals depicting the image of each one of the clans that unified to form Buganda.

But it didn’t stop there. After that we went to the lake of the king of Uganda. Nearby where we were walking there was a slum. I was greeted formally (kneeling) by a kid. It was an amazing gesture, that took me greatly by surprise. I gave him some coins afterwards for performing such a humbling gesture. Here even the poorest of people here have a sense of manners and dignity, it seems. I think that is one thing that differs greatly between the United States and Uganda, and one thing I will miss.