Scholars from different disciplines this week described the Late Prof. Rose Mbowa as a pillar of Uganda’s modern performing art through her pioneering literary works, tutorship and mentorship.
A number of scholars noted that the Prof. Mbowa composed the women’s anthem and wrote a number of theatre plays like Mother Uganda and her Children, Step mother, Mine by Right and Awake or Sleeping.
The glowing tributes came during a memorial lecture that was held at the Uganda National Cultural Centre (a.k.a The National Theatre) this week.
Mbowa was a Ugandan writer, actress, and producer, dancer, academic and feminist. She was a Professor of Theatre Arts and Drama at Makerere University Uganda.
Professor Patrick Mangeni and veteran actress and TV personality Irene kulabako led the tributes by reliving the memories of the late professor.
Kulabako described Mbowa as a creative, fearless and genius who was naturally good at networking.
“She was a leader and a fearless one, Mbowa managed to network with everyone and be everywhere, one of the phrases she kept on using was “if it works, its right”.
Kulabako proudly described herself as the product of the late Prof. Mbowa, remarked that: “She always prepared us for challenges saying that, “never think of a black hole. Always do the best you can and don’t look for money, work hard and the money will look for you.”
Kulabako added: “Because of the introduction of theatre for development by Prof. Rose Mbowa, some of her students like Andrew Benon Kibuuka, started incorporating Rose’s formats in their programs like “Kalisoliso.”
Prof. Mangeni who was the lead discussant at the memorial lecture, also praised the late Mbowa as a teacher who groomed artists and developed art, arguing that she fostered positive change through Theater.
“The things that she lived for are still affecting us; Rose worked with everyone regardless of their culture and colour. Rose Mbowa’s foot print is still alive and we have inherited her species.”
Mangeni said: “Mbowa negotiated for all diploma students to be residents at the University, she was not doing this to get a certificate.”
Mbowa groomed renowned artists like Kato Lubwama, Matovu Junior, Ashraf Ssemwogerere, Abby Mukiibi, Mariam Ndagire and Charles Senkubuge.
In fact, some of the participants attributed some aspects of contemporary art that is acted and staged by artists like Ndagire, as the product of Mbowa’s work.
Mbowa was born on January 18, 1943 in Kabale district to Eva Nyinabantu Mbowa and Kasole Lwanda Mbowa. She attended Gayaza high school where she excelled and was admitted at Makerere University where she studied Literature in English.
Mbowa was later admitted to University of Leeds were she graduated with a Masters of Arts degree in Theatre Arts and Drama. She became a lecturer at the department of music, dance and drama at Makerere University.
Mbowa published a number of articles on theatre, presented papers on Ugandan theatre at the annual conference on African literature at Bayreuth University between 1989 and 1994. She was named best actress at the National Theatre and received the Presidential Meritorious Award for acting in 1973. She passed away on February 11, 1999.