By Isaac Akugizibwe
On Tuesday 6th December, KIU held a first-of-its-kind Academic Symposium which ran on the theme: Cultural Bondings between Saudi Arabia and East African Countries.
The symposium held at the Iddi Basajjabalaba Memorial Library (IBML) was organised by KIU in conjunction with the Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and sought to address the role and influence of Saudi Arabia on the culture, civilization, and Social development of East Africa.
The Saudi delegation led by H.E.Mr.Jamal Al Madani, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Uganda were officially welcomed by KIU Vice Chancellor Prof.Mouhamad Mpezamihigo who urged them to feel at home while at KIU.
"We allow freedom of expression and academic autonomy, so please feel at home with your dear wife and your team from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia,’’ he said.
‘’Colleagues who are here, please entertain our guests the KIU way, show them around when they have some time,’’ he added.
The Vice-chancellor used the opportunity to inform the ambassador and the congregation about the new developments and initiatives at KIU including the introduction of a 50% tuition waiver to Ugandans at the undergraduate level and all students intending to offer postgraduate courses in response to the effects of COVID-19.
In his remarks, while officially opening the symposium, the Saudi Ambassador said that he was pleased with the hospitality accorded to him by KIU.
"It is a great pleasure to be here today at Kampala International University. If any citizen of East Africa traveled to Saudi Arabia, will he or she feel anything familiar or so strange?"
"According to my experience, I can confirm that there is so much familiarity but what do we have in common? There is a lot of knowledge in our subconscious. Here come such workshops like this where to highlight and clarify the meaning of some of the knowledge we have,’’ he remarked
Hafiz Swalleh, a Lecturer at IUIU stressed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has had more influence in terms of education than any other sector in East African countries. He said that many East Africans now have graduated from various Universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
‘’We now have many graduates who finished their studies from various Universities in Saudi Arabia. We have teachers and lecturers in Muslim institutions of East Africa who are graduates from Saudi Arabia, ’he noted.
In his submission on the role of the Arabic language in strengthening the bond between Saudi Arabia and East African countries, Dr. Tajudeen Sanni commended the language for fostering relationships between so many people and institutions around the world.
‘’Arabic has fostered relationships between so many people in the world though many still associate it to the Islamic religion,’’ he said.
‘’It should be clear that Arabic is not a religion but a means of communication which is educative, expressive and empowering,’’ he added.
In a rejoinder, Juma Ahmed Musa, a student at KIU recited a captivating poem in Arabic and later translated it into English. In the Poem, he praised the Arabic language saying that apart from being educative, expressive, and empowering, Arabic is so sweet a language.
Also in attendance was, Dr. Kazibwe Sophia the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs at KIU, top academicians, heads of departments, lecturers from KIU, and other universities.
In his concluding remarks, Vice-Chancellor, Prof.Mouhamad Mpezamihigo appreciated the Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for choosing KIU as one of the partner institutions. He also responded to requests of establishing an Arabic learning center at KIU.
He said that he will soon liaise with his management team in conjunction with the Embassy of Saudi Arabia to have an Arabic Learning center established at KIU in addition to the already ongoing Chinese class.