Jana Frey | 16.05.2019 | 608 Aufrufe | Interviews

Jacqueline Namukasa | "Examining Territorial Conflicts in East Africa: A case study of Migingo Island conflict between Uganda and Kenya 1926-2009"

Lisa Maskell Fellowships at Makerere University, Kampala/Uganda

In 2014, the Gerda Henkel Foundation initiated a scholarship programme supporting young humanities scholars from Africa and Southeast Asia in honour of the foundation's founder, Lisa Maskell. It is the largest international support programme for PhD students in the history of the Foundation. The Lisa Maskell Fellowships aim to strengthen universities in the partner countries, to counter the outflow of qualified young scholars and to ensure the doctoral students enjoy excellent academic training.

In this dossier, L.I.S.A. will publish interviews with the Lisa Maskell Fellows from Africa and Southeast Asia, in which they talk about their research projects as well as their experiences during their academic career and the Lisa Maskell fellowship.

This week, we welcome Jacqueline Namukasa from Uganda. After graduating from the Islamic Universtiy in Uganda, she started her PhD in History with the thesis Examining Territorial Conflicts in East Africa: A case study of Migingo Island conflict between Uganda and Kenya 1926-2009 at Makerere in 2018.

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"Natural sciences [...] in collaboration with humanities enhance creativity, analysis and critical thinking."

L.I.S.A.: What is the status of the humanities in Uganda, your home country?

Jacqueline Namukasa: The humanities have in the recent years been marginalized and received a lot of negative publicity from the general public including leaders thereby leading to the shrinking number of students taking up humanities. However, with all said and done the students taking up the humanities are still the majority in many of the institutions. Natural sciences and science subjects on the other hand are seen as the major tool towards technological advancement and national development. The government therefore tries its best to offer them all the necessary support. But my thinking is that innovations based on research results in natural sciences and medicine are more likely to be successful if their implementation is carried out in collaboration with humanists because humanities enhance creativity, analysis and critical thinking.

"Balancing work, academia and family life has been among my challenges"

L.I.S.A. Have you ever encountered problems in the realization of your academic career?

Jacqueline Namukasa: Yes, because of working up country where universities are very few, it took me four years to obtain a university job after my MA. In addition, there were financial constraints, for instance I had to get a loan to complete my Masters. Balancing work, academia and family life has also been among the challenges I have constantly encountered in the realization of my academic career. Nevertheless, I try to balance my priorities by setting plans and having goals for each and every day. Despite these hurdles, I would like to appreciate the Gerda Henkel foundation for my PhD scholarship offer that has made me proud of being a humanisties scholar.

"Transboundary conflicts are common global phenomena that require mechanisms of prevention, management and resolution"

L.I.S.A.: What is your PhD project about and what got you interested in the chosen topic to begin with?

Jacqueline Namukasa: My project aims at Examining Territorial Conflicts in East Africa: A case study of Migingo Island conflict between Uganda and Kenya 1926-2009. The interest stems from my passion to understand conflicts. Conflicts might be a fact of life among social beings but a holistic and integrated approach to their complexity, protractedness and escalation might help to regulate as well as strengthen the foundations of peace among the affected communities. More to that is the controversy surrounding the conflict: Migingo island on Lake Victoria is barely an acre in size and rocky with little vegetation. However, the contentions between Uganda and Kenya over the ownership of this islet have left many people questioning as to whether Migingo is a Ugandan or Kenyan territory. So, controversial was the Ugandan president’s statement that “while Migingo was Kenyan, much of its waters were Ugandan”, that Migingo nearly pushed the two countries to the brink of what some dubbed as “Africa’s smallest war” over the island in 2009. This conflict upsets the status quo of the cordial relations and deep diplomatic ties that both countries have always enjoyed. My study will thus attempt to get to its bottom line by providing a deep historical analysis of its causes and issues that have barred it from diplomatic success. Finally, is the fact that transboundary conflicts are common global phenomena that pose a real security threat and therefore require mechanisms of prevention, management and resolution.

"Studying at Makerere has aided me to meet the experts in my area of specialty"

L.I.S.A.: What has your experience at Makerere University been like? Have there been any differences to the Islamic University in Uganda or probably any other institution you have previously attended?

Jacqueline Namukasa: The experiences are different because at Islamic University in Uganda there is a strong adherence to Islamic values right from the style of dressing to the code of conduct irrespective of whether you are a moslem or non-moslem. Discipline in all you do is a must for one to obtain a degree from that institution. Makerere on the other hand is a liberal institution in all kinds for example when it comes to dressing and conduct. Makerere University also has better teaching-learning facilities, majority of its staff are professors and PhD holders and there more opportunities for career advancement. On a more specific note, my experience so far has been awesome, being one of the best universities in Africa, studying at Makerere has aided me to meet the experts in my area of specialty. Our College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) has also been kind enough to organize fellows’ workshops to familiarize us with the components of doctorateness plus other trainings in research methodologies to purposely groom us to be better researchers. Notwithstanding is the fact that this PhD journey is accompanied with a lot stress and anxiety.         

"Opportunities at the higher degree level are hindered"

L.I.S.A.: What are the opportunities in Uganda to pursue different degree options (BA/MA/PhD)?

Jacqueline Namukasa: There are many opportunities in Uganda to pursue BAs and MAs as there are many Universities opening up. At the PhD level, the opportunities are also there particularly in the Public Universities, but not as many at this level. The opportunities at the higher degree level are hindered by funding and a low institutional capacity to manage the PhD programs.

"Future plan of being committed to scholarly writing"

L.I.S.A.: What are your plans concerning your future career once you have obtained your PhD?

Jacqueline Namukasa: After obtaining my PhD, I intend to be engaged in teaching, mentoring students and Junior staff. Given the rigorous training and mentorship that I am receiving, I’m confident that I will have the ability to conduct more primary and secondary research through my literature review. I equally have a future plan of being committed to scholarly writing and publishing as much as possible.

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