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Academicians hail former presidents Mkapa, Nyerere at memorial lecture

KAMPALA, December 5, 2023 – A section of academicians in Uganda and Tanzania, have hailed former presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere for their contributions toward state formation and building across Africa.

This was during the 2nd Annual Benjamin Mkapa Memorial Lecture held days ago at Sheraton Kampala Hotel. Mkapa died in July 2020 while Nyerere, Tanzania’s first president died in October 1999.

The memorial lecture was organised by Cavendish University-Uganda under the theme “Diplomacy and contemporary state formation in Africa and The role of Benjamin Mkapa in Moshi conference of 1978.”

Mpaka  served as the Chancellor Cavendish University before he died.

Speaking during the memorial lecture, Prof. Taris Bazana Kabwegyere disclosed that Mkapa chaired Moshi Conference in 1978, which led to the 1979 removal from office of former Ugandan president Idi Amin Dada.

“Nyerere was not always in the meeting, but Benjamin Mkapa would lead a successful meeting.” Prof. Kabwegyere recounted during his speech. Amin overthrew Apollo Milton Obote in January 1971, ushering in economic and political instabilities.

Kabwegyere, an academician and politician, commended Cavendish University for honouring the late Benjamin Mkapa.

Former Minister of Education and Sports, as well as Minister for East African Community Affairs, Amanya Mushega, said Nyerere mentored Mkapa to the extent of  becoming a great man in Africa.

“It is difficult to talk about Mkapa without mentioning Mwalimu Nyerere; Mwalimu was a man with simplicity, humility, honesty, pan Africanist, had respect for himself and others and practiced democracy and left power willingly,” Mushega said.

He continued: “Mkapa was easy to approach, appointed his main political contender as vice president during his tenure. He chaired mediation and negotiation between President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Museveni of Uganda.”

Keynote speaker, the former ambassador of Tanzania to Uganda, Dr. Aziz Ponary Mlima who was a personal assistant to the late  Mkapa noted his role in the independence of African states like Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and the release from prison of former South African president the late Nelson Mandela.

“In short…Benjamin Mkapa was an economic reformer, great leader, person with integrity, and active in peace mediation and a chief organiser of Moshi Conference which eventually led to ousting of president Amin and installation of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote in 1979,” Dr. Aziz explained.

Prof. Ndebesa Mwambutsya of Makerere University, who was one of the panelists at the memorial lecture said Nyerere and Mkapa played an important role in stabilising Uganda.

Executive director Cavendish University David Mutabanura disclosed that, Mkapa as the second Cavendish University Chancellor saw the university transformed, even with a few resources, technology, enrolment, reputation and that the university was privileged to have him as chancellor.

Mkapa was Chancellor of Cavendish University from 2014 to 2020.

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