Amid snowballing criticism of its decision to build and name an academic institute after Kenyan Vice President Dr William Ruto, Makerere University has come out to defend this decision.
The university termed the outrage pouring out mostly from Kenyan media as “misguided” and “out of context.”
On December 21st 2019, a Foundation Stone was laid for the William Ruto Institute of African and Leadership Studies at Makerere’s Department of Performing Arts and Film Grounds.
The institute is meant to “develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning about Africa.”
President Yoweri Museveni, who met the Kenyan leader a day before, pledged to support the institute with $100,000.
The decision to name the institute after Mr Ruto, was widely condemned in Kenya and reportedly among some officials at Makerere.
Most of the criticism centred mostly on Mr Ruto’s role in Kenyan politics.
One of the harshest critiques came from Kenyan academic, Prof Makau Mutua who concluded that the university had gone from “being the oldest and most iconic institution of higher learning in East Africa to the butt of jokes.”
“Makerere’s academic harlotry is a scarlet letter that will be written in the sands of time,” Mutua went on in an Op-ed published in different Kenyan media outlets.
Mutua argued that Makerere could not have bestowed such a big honour to a man that in his view, is lacking in ethics and integrity, entangled in political scandals and whose academic qualifications are questionable.
He cited a number of allegations that have been brought against Mr Ruto including land grabbing and threatening witnesses following his indictment by the International Criminal Court.
However, in a brief response to the Op-ed, Makerere sought to distance its decision from the internal politics of Kenya.
“The Institute is not an academic award as Prof. Makau W. Mutua seems to insinuate, but a rare initiative by an African political leader to support African indigenous scholarship,” the university said.
“William Ruto’s initiative should be commended by all patriotic African elites and not condemned out of apparent misconception.”
Makerere also pointed out that Ruto would not be the first Kenyan to be named after its institute.
“Makerere awaits the implementation of yet another initiative by another great Kenyan leader, Mwai Kibaki, which he launched four years ago.”