Woman of rare mettle joins UCU

By Justin Emedot and Sam Wakhakha, :: 15-02-2012

Dr. Monica Chibita

Monica Chibita is one of the few PhD holders in the field of Mass Communication in Uganda. Chibita first taught when she was in Primary Seven during Idi Amin's nationwide literacy campaign. 

In her Senior Six vacation, she taught in her school, Mount St. Mary's Namagunga. After completing her degree, she was posted to King’s College Budo from where she went to the literature department at Makerere as a graduate fellow.

She was born in Nsambya Hospital in 1963. She is the secondborn in a family of 14. Her parents were civil servants. Her father worked in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

For her primary education, she went to eight primary schools with the longest period at any of them being two years. She attended primary schools such as Shimoni Demonstration School, Buckley High School in Iganga, Nsambya Police Children's School and St. Maria Gorreti Primary School in Kisubi. She admits that she writes badly because of this frequent change in primary schools.

"It is because of this that I have a bad handwriting. I was not able to settle in one school to master handwriting of one teacher. Thank God we can type these days," she says.

Besides, her father just transferred her whenever he wanted. It was not that he was being transferred from one place to another. 

She completed her primary in St. Augustine's Primary School Butiti in present-day Kyenjojo district and joined Namasagali College for O-level. From Namasagali, she proceeded to Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga where she sat for A-level.

At Namagunga, she was the mess prefect.  During her Senior Six vacation, she was, together with four colleagues, told to stay behind and teach. She taught until the time came for her to join university. She joined Makerere University and did education.
Chibita describes her first year at university as a misguided one.

"It was a totally misguided year because I had grown up thinking that I was capable of being moral without anybody's guidance. I had been to good schools, learnt values at home and so I thought I was capable of managing my life. Later, I realised that that alone was not enough," she says.

Although she says she was not a totally wild person, Chibita committed herself to the Lord in her second year. A gentleman called Benon Asiimwe spoke to her about getting saved and after a lot of soul-searching; she decided to give her life to Jesus Christ.
 During her teaching practice, she went back to Namagunga and she thought this was a place where she was going to teach because, afterall, she had developed a strong relationship with it before. She proceeded to carry her property to go and teach at this school. 

After a few days she was called in the office by the headmistress who told her that the school was uncomfortable with her being a 'mulokole' (saved). The headmistress told her to pack her things.

He was sent to the Ministry of Education where they decided to post her to King's College Budo. She taught here until 1988 when she decided to join the youth ministry of Kampala Baptist Church.

She worked in this ministry for two years. In 1990, she went to Makerere University looking for an opportunity to do a master’s degree. She was told that there was an opportunity in the mass communication department which had just been started in 1988.

They asked her if she was interested in doing an MA. She was interviewed and she got it. She left for the University of Iowa in the US in 1990. Before going, that year she introduced her fiancé, Mike Chibita, currently resident judge in Fort Portal, to her parents.
Her fiance, Mike joined her in US for a master’s in law. She is keen to point out that when her fiance joined her in the US, he had to stay at the pastor's place until they later got married.

At Iowa, Chibita says that it was difficult for her to fit in journalism because she had no practical background in the field. Despite this, she completed her master’s degree in December 1992. From here, she proceeded to Northwestern University in Minnesota. Here, she wanted to practice mass communication and she got a job as a DJ at a radio station for eight months. She also taught development communication at this university at the same time.

In September 1993, Chibita returned and started temporarily lecturing in the mass communication at Makerere. In March of the following year, she was made a permanent staff.

In 2003, she enrolled for a PhD in University of South Africa. She did it mainly by correspondence and completed it in 2006. Over the past 18 years at Makerere, she gradually rose to head of department and associate professor before taking up the mass communication headship at UCU this January.

Vision for the department

Chibita says she has not particularly come with a pre-packaged vision as she is not a magician. Her first area of focus will be staff recruitment. She wants to see the number of permanent staff increased from the current number of three.

"We are prioritising recruitment and also strengthening staff that are here. We are also looking at establishing partnerships, procuring books and equipment, expanding the space in which we operate and reviewing of the curriculum to see if it is still relevant. These are some of the areas we are looking at," she says.



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