On 30th May 2019, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe launched the Makerere University Press website (https://press.mak.ac.ug), an online space for the institution’s scholars and academicians to publish and market their work.
The launch of the Makerere University Press website was a signature effort for the University to revitalize its legendary Makerere University Press. Established in 1940s, the Makerere University Press focuses on publishing transformative and innovative teaching, learning, research and service resources responsive to dynamic national and global needs.
The objectives of the Makerere University Press are to:
Publish scholarly monographs, academic texts, reference works, research reports and scholarly journals.
Encourage members of staff and students of the University to publish worthy academic works in books and journal articles of international standard.
Encourage writers from other institutions of higher learning in Uganda to write and publish.
Obtain copyrights from authors and publishers to reproduce essential reading materials.
Publish textbooks for primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
Exploit the potential in the publishing market, which is currently underutilized, and so generate income for the University.
According to the Managing Editor, Makerere University Press Dr. Samuel Siminyu, the Mak Press is currently under the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT). The publishing house serves as a link between the public yearning for knowledge and the creators, refiners and distributors of the knowledge.
“The records we have indicate that the Makerere University Press as an idea was born in the 1940s when Uganda was still a British colony. As far back, Makerere University was already a hub of intellectual activities in the region, and the British academics and colonial administrators working here at that time mooted the idea of establishing a University Press at Makerere University as a channel for capturing and sharing these ideas. The idea seems to have fruited in the 1960s but it was short-lived. Only two publications from that period persisted in our records,” he said.
It is therefore clear from the existing records that Makerere University Press has had a history of starts and halts that stretch back to the late 1960s. About Sixty four (64) publications carry the Makerere University Press imprint. Fifteen others were either co-published with or through other Publishing houses. Makerere University has also produced numerous Open Distance Learning materials under various units of the University. Records also indicate that currently, Makerere University hosts 22 peer-reviewed journals.
At the same function, the Vice Chancellor launched three (3) maiden publications, namely:
Contemporary African Philosophers: A Critical Appraisal by Dr. Wilfred Lajul
The Power of Identity: Imbalu Initiation Ritual Among the Bamasaaba of Uganda by Prof. J.P. Wotsuna Khamalwa
Modernization of Luganda Terminology in the Field of Linguistics by Dr. Saudah Namyalo
Addressing the audience on Thursday, 30th May 2019 at the Senate Conference Hall, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe applauded the Makerere University Press Editorial Board and Secretariat, the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training for ensuring that the Makerere University Press regains its grounds to serve the University community.
In the same spirit, he appreciated authors: Dr. Saudah Namyalo, Prof. J.P. Wotsuna Khamalwa and Dr. Wilfred Lajul for the commendable scholarly materials rich in African history, cultural and language.
“Today, we celebrate a milestone; the life of Makerere University Press and the individual lives of the authors and the books we are launching. With these publications, we register our presence as an outlet for African scholarly voices. Instead of reaching out through channels that are not our own, we can now reach out to one another and the rest of the world using our own voice and through our own channel,” remarked the Vice Chancellor.
“Let me thank Dr. Lajul for adding our voice to the debate on what constitutes African philosophy; Prof Wotsuna Khamalwa for exposing what imbalu means to the Bamasaaba and their self-identity; and Dr. Namyalo for guiding us on how to grow our local languages by adding new words and representing modern concepts scientifically. The journey has been long and eventful. We have grown to know each other better and to appreciate our humanity – strengths and weaknesses notwithstanding,” he added.
Prof. Nawangwe called upon staff and students to embrace the Makerere University Press and put it to good use. He thanked the Government of Uganda for investing tremendously in Makerere University to undertake research and publish knowledge-generating materials.
The Director of Research and Graduate Training, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi said that Makerere University has for long experienced a deep information-publication gap due to lack of a publication channel of its own.
“Our staff and students have generated data that is useful to society. However, without publishing channels, this data has not been useful. I believe that the University Press will be an easier and friendly channel to our members, not forgetting the quality of the content. Through the Makerere University Press, staff and students will be able to publish materials swiftly and cheaply,” he stated.
Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) who is also the Chairperson of Makerere University Press Editorial Board, Dr. Umar Kakumba, thanked Makerere University Management for allocating funds to the Makerere University Press in the financial year 2018/2019. He also recognized the support from Carnegie Foundation of New York that financed the initial revitalization activities during the reign of Prof. Eli Katunguka and Dr. George Nasinyama at the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training.
“We thank those who have helped us along the way: typists and typesetters; reviewers and editors, accountants and book-keepers; colleagues within and without Makerere, the old and new Makerere University Press Editorial Board Members; friends in the publishing fraternity and many others,” he said
In a key note address on Raising African Voices in Scholarly Publishing: Challenges and Opportunities (the Implications of a University Press in Scholarship-Book), Prof. John Opuda-Asibo urged Makerere University to reflect on its efforts, mission and vision while operationalizing the Makerere University Press.
“We should remind ourselves that the University Press is not a profit oriented venture. The press is basically for knowledge publication and marketing academics ideas. It is not profitable but provides service and visibility. In addition, we should avoid copy and paste. Plagiarism has affected the trend of writing and publication in the scholarly world,” he emphasized.
According to Prof. Opuda-Asibo, to have an active and valued Makerere University Press, staff and students should observe the following while publishing:
A Statutory Instrument outlining legal status, operations (management, ethical issues, place and positions of authors, timeframes) and Intellectual Property issues in place for smooth functioning of the university press.
A good published book should have: an overview, background information, rational and justification including the scope of the works, investigative questions and answers, procedures and measurement of events, both basic and analytical description and interpretation.
The Author must bear in mind the reader’s expectation as you write. The content must be well written in terms of expressions, time frame and quality of the language. What question does the publication answer? Does the title relate to the subject matter? Is there a useful conclusion appropriate to the context and relevance?
The reader must look for the reputation of the author, significance of the document, and other people’s reviewed works and knowledge gaps in problems so far solved or unsolved.
The reader should be given an opportunity to develop his or her own view as a user or an author of similar works.