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January 20, 2022


UCU alumna’s film makes mark at international film festivals

By Eriah Lule
Miika is a 14-year-old fictional character living in northern Uganda. As the story goes, her family had enough of the tyranny of the government forces and she took matters into her hands to save the day.

This 3D short animated film by the same name as the main character, “Miika,” is the darling of international film festivals and written and directed by Uganda Christian University (UCU) alum Shevon Nsiimenta. Already, it has won the Best Animation Film Category at the CineOdyssey Film Festival.

And that is not all. Nsiimenta says her film that lasts a little over five minutes has received a nomination at two other festivals, was a finalist at the Auber International Film Festival and also got an Official Selection at yet another festival – the Flickfair Film Festival.

At the Los Angeles International Film Festival, Nsiimenta was a nominee for the Best First Time Female Director, and her film, “Miika,” got a nomination for the Best Animation Film. All this is happening before the film hits the cinemas. Nsiimenta says it should be released soon.

Shevon Nsiimenta, UCU alum and film maker
Shevon Nsiimenta, UCU alum and film maker.

The inspiration for Nsiimenta’s storyline is from the experience of watching or hearing about women and children who always end up as the primary victims of war and tyranny. And Uganda has lots of tales to tell about civil strife and tyrannical regimes.

From 1986 to 2006, there was civil war in northern Uganda, orchestrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group and terrorist organization. As a result of the war, many women in northern Uganda suffered rape, torture, murder, forced marriages and domestic violence.

The regime of former Ugandan President Idi Amin, which was from 1971 to 1979, has been largely described as tyrannical. It is, therefore, not surprising that Nsiimenta’s film is set in northern Uganda during the reign of Amin.

Since Nsiimenta loves movies, it became the natural medium for her to use to document the haunting tales and offer lessons on how one can easily see the back of the resulting trauma.

Despite the haunting tale of desperation that Miika’s family faced, Nsiimenta explains that she wanted to pass a message that no matter the number of horrors an individual faces, they can always turn tables on the oppressors.

“I chose a 14-year-old to deliver the family from its horrors because at that age, they are still innocently bold enough to take on the world,” says Nsiimenta, a 25-year-old graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication at UCU.

Miika is a short form for Malaika – a name that means Angel in Uganda.

“Indeed, I wanted Miika to be the angel for her family,” Nsiimenta, a scriptwriter, explains.

Perhaps, the success that “Miika” has so far achieved would not have been possible without the contribution of Kemiyondo Coutinho, a Ugandan playwright, actress and filmmaker based in Los Angeles.

In 2020, Kemiyondo launched an initiative to help up-and-coming Ugandan female filmmakers to bring their stories to life on screen. In a venture that saw her look to raise over $25,000 to be shared among five women to help facilitate the making of a five-minute short film, Kemiyondo reached well-wishers who were able to answer positively to her cause. That is how the production of “Miika” and other four short films got financed.

Nsiimenta is the daughter of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Sheldon Mwesigwa, the Bishop of Ankole Diocese in western Uganda and former Chairperson of UCU University Council. She attended Mbarara Preparatory School in western Uganda, before relocating to central Uganda, where she attended Kampala Parents School, Gayaza High School and, later, UCU. Nsiimenta says UCU instilled in her a sense of discipline, self-respect and smartness, virtues she has found useful in her professional and personal life.

But she also had something to learn from those who taught her. “I also had admirable women to look up to in my faculty. Prof. Monica Chibita and Dr. Emilly Maractho served as wonderful examples to base my image on at the workplace,” she says.

She currently works as the Executive Advertising Assistant at Roofings Uganda Limited, a manufacturer of steel and construction materials in Uganda.

UCU Academics teach community to access

By Yasiri J. Kasango
Uganda Christian University (UCU) has been engaged in outreaches to address community education challenges. One of the latest was led by the university’s Faculty of Education and Arts, which conducted a seminar on online learning.

Members of the faculty showed parishioners of a church in Bweyogerere, near Kampala, ways of using the internet as a tool for education.

The UCU team, led by the faculty dean, the Rev. Dr, Can. Olivia Nassaka Banja, equipped parents at St. Luke Church of Uganda with skills on how to access some of the freely available online learning materials.

Some private schools have been conducting online studies since the Ugandan government closed education institutions as one of the preventive measures to reduce the number of coronavirus infections in the country. However, government barred public schools from conducting online studies, arguing that such a move would disenfranchise learners who did not have access to computers or the internet. Instead, government distributed education materials to learners throughout the country and encouraged teachers to conduct studies through radio.

At the end of December 2021, some learners had not stepped into school since the first lockdown in March 2020.

The main facilitator at the seminar at St. Luke Church of Uganda, Patrick Lugemwa, a lecturer in the faculty, showed parents the different sites with free reading materials for children. He also showed the parents how to easily access the learning materials. Lugemwa noted that there are many good sites that provide free reading materials and video classes for children.

Some of the sites that he shared with the parents were and

“However, before allowing your children to access any site, you must visit them yourself, to protect the young ones from accessing unwanted literature, such as pornography,” Lugemwa cautioned, emphasizing that the internet can be both useful and destructive.

He also introduced parents to an app, Family Link, which can regulate the amount of time a child spends on the phone, as well as the type of content they can access. The app is available on Google Play Store and Apple Store.

UCU has been championing online learning in the wake of the Covid-19-related lockdown on in-person learning in Uganda. Outreaches like these are a direct response to the appeal made by Uganda’s First Lady and education minister, Mrs. Janet Museveni, during UCU’s 22nd graduation ceremony on October 22, 2021.

Mrs. Museveni, who was the guest of honour at the graduation ceremony, said she was impressed by UCU’s “robust online education program” and encouraged the university to share best practices with other institutions.

In December 2021, the university’s e-learning department hosted leaders from Greenhill Academy, a group of Christian-founded primary and secondary schools in Kampala, for a virtual learning seminar to understand more about the university’s e-learning facilities.

The community of St Luke Church of Uganda commended UCU for the outreach, especially at a time when many parents were preparing their children to resume school on January 10, 2022. 

The Rev. Abraham Muyinda Nsubuga, the Vicar of St Luke Church, encouraged parents to embrace online learning so that their children can progress with their studies since it is not clear when the world would overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Patrick Kisiibo, one of the parents, said his child had not had a chance to access any reading material during the lockdown, noting that UCU’s intervention was timely.

“I didn’t know that there are free books and video classes online,” Kisiibo said. “I can now go back home and ably guide my child on how to utilize online learning tools.”