The Late Prof. Noble Banadda, the First African Recipient of the Pius XI Golden Medal 22 November 2018

Hundreds of mourners on Friday 2nd July, 2021 hooked onto social media platforms to pay their last respects to the Makerere University don and iconic Professor, the Late Noble Ephraim Banadda, Banadda succumbed to COVID-19 on 1st July 2021 at Case hospital in Kampala after battling for his life for about one month.

The church service conducted physically and online at Makerere University’s School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering attracted 500 participants on zoom, 78 on Facebook, 80 on YouTube, 40 on Instagram and 100 on twitter.

The function was graced by Makerere University top management including Council Chair Mrs. Lorna Magara, the Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe and his Deputies and Prof. William Bazeyo.

The service was also attended by the Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, the Dean School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering Dr. Abel Atukwase and MUASA Vice Chairperson, Prof. Edward Mwavu. Others were staff, students, friends and family members and relatives to the deceased and members from the diaspora.

The church service

Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Pastor, Dr. Maka Moses who led the service

The summon  was led by the Executive Secretary of the Seventh Day Adventist Church of Uganda  (SDA) Pastor Dr. Maka Moses accompanied by the Chair Makerere University SDA Students Association  Dr. Milka.

In his summon, Pastor Maka told the congregation that as they mourn the departed pillar of Makerere university, they should remember that his is over and it is now about them.

In his key message, Pastor Maka told mourners that as they do research, go about their business and make investments, they should know that death can strike any time imploring them to do the best for every day they live and also build their spiritual capital as well.

“Psalms 90:12 teaches us to number and remember our days that we may gain the hearts of wisdom. The French philosopher Jack said, we are born crying, we go through life complaining and die unsatisfied”, the Pastor said.

Pastor Maka said the greatest fear for humans is death because no one will ever get used to it nor get experience in it.

Some of the Makerere University Academic Staff in their gowns

The most scaring things about death according to Pastor Maka is that once gone, one never comes back to tell the story; no one knows the time and place to go and it is a separation from the loved ones and the world.

The pastor thanked the University  for the tribute and documenting the history of Prof, Banadda noting that  he dared  to finish what others  have not in a very short time of his life imploring mourners  to learn to count the number of their days and live in the present not tomorrow because they don’t know what tomorrow holds.

He noted that since time immemorial, the lifespan has been reducing from 600 years as documented in the Bible, to 120 years to the day’s celebration of Prof. Banadda’s legacy and achievements for only 46 years and even less with the coming of Corona virus at present.

“You should know that no one is indispensable during CoVID-19. You and I walk in the shadow of death. When you see shadow, you should know that object nearby is death.

 Whenever you go to your bedroom to sleep, know you are practicing death. If you enter a car, swallow food or go anywhere, it is a shadow of death.

No one has power over death. Ecclesiastes teaches us that great inventions and discoveries have been made but no one has discovered a remedy to concur death”. Pastor Maka preached.

He encouraged the congregation when he said that death is not an end in itself according to the Bible adding that  the only person they can believe in and put faith to overcome fear and death is Jesus Christ who conquered death and whoever believes in Him  shall live an everlasting life.

Dr. Milka Chair Mak SDA Students Association

The Chairman Makerere University SDA Students Association Dr. Milka described demise of Prof. Banadda as a big loss to the world of academia, research and the  human touch.

“He was a strong pillar of SDA students at Makerere. Prof. Banadda was the chief advisor and very instrumental for the spiritual growth of students.

SDA association has 400 students and has carried out many projects in and outside Makerere and one of it was building a primary school in Kayunga district supported by Prof. Banadda.

In absence of Prof. Banadda, my humble plea to the university is that you continue considering us and supporting us as your students,” The Chair SDA students association said pleading with university to forgive the students where they went wrong.

Speeches: Speaker after speaker eulogize the late Professor Noble Banadda

Makerere University Chancellor:

Chancellor Prof. Ezra Suruma giving his remarks via on Zoom

The Chancellor Prof. Ezra Suruma described the death of Prof. Banadda as an indeligible loss to the family and a huge loss to the country.

“Banadda was just born in 1975 when I had been a lecturer for 18 months and enrolled for my PhD. It is hard to accept that, that young man, has gone from us.

He stood out, invited me to officiate at a number of events and when he got the Vatican Award, he informed me.

He was on the special subcommittee of the economy on agro processing and the speed at which he responded to work assignments was remarkable. This loss to Uganda is unbearable but we have no choice, we have to submit to Gods will.

His life was gentle and elements well mixed, nurtured all over Uganda, a special man who touched, helped and worked for his family and country. Now he is gone, we pray that we shall be in heaven with him and will live with him in eternity”. Prof. Suruma remarked.

Chair Makerere University Council:

Council Chair Mrs. Lorna Magara giving her remarks via Zoom

Council Chair, Mrs. Lorna Magara said it was a very difficult afternoon from the previous day when Makerere was filled with heavy hearts at the loss of Prof. Banadda that has left many speechless and depressed. On behalf of Council, Mrs. Magara conveyed condolence to the bereaved family and University fraternity.

“Prof. Banadda was one of those members that warmly welcomed me to council and pledged support. He was one council member that was assuring and very supportive. We became friends and even when he left council, he would send video clips and never failed to send a joke or two.

The loss of Banadda has been one of the most painful and difficult one I have ever faced. Noble has been a prolific academic in University policy space.

Banadda never shied away from responsibility. The somber mood that has swallowed the University demonstrates how he touched the lives of many people.

As we mourn, let us remember to celebrate his incredible achievements in 46 years. Let us celebrate a father, colleague, and countryman. Council commits him in the arms of the Lord. He will be dearly missed by all,” Said Mrs. Magara.

Makerere University Vice Chancellor.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe giving his remarks

The Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said this was the time to celebrate a short, but great life urging the congregation to thank God for a life well lived.

He said at the time of Prof. Banadda’s death, the medical bills stood at 110 million shillings. Of these 34 million had been cleared by the Petroleum Authority while 50 million had been raised by staff.

Prof. Nawangwe on behalf of the university delivered a two paged message of condolence detailing the early life of the Late professor, his career growth and contributions Banadda made to the university, the country and the world and the distinct persona of Banadda the late that left many in somber mood.

Prof. Nawangwe conveyed a message of condolence to the bereaved family, friends, relatives and university community verbatim below:

“It is with the deepest regret and  heavy hearts that  Makerere university Management, staff and students extend   this message of  condolence on the  shocking and sudden death of Professor Noble Banadda,  I extend  my deepest sympathies to his loved ones, for the loss of  such a brilliant Ugandan bio systems engineerresearcher and academician. We mourn a dedicated member of the academic community who has been taken from us so unexpectedly.

Banadda was born in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city on May 14, 1975. After attending local primary and secondary schools, he was admitted to Sokoine University of Agriculture, in MorogoroTanzania, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Technology.

His Master of Science degree in Process Engineering, together with his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chemical Engineering, were both obtained from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, in LeuvenBelgium. Later he studied in a post-doctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the United States.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe

He joined theMakerere University service on 1st June, 2006 on a temporary appointment as lecturer in then Department Department of Food Science and Technology
 Later, he was appointed Lecturer on 1st July 2011 and  was one of the beneficiaries of the fast tract promotion system and was promoted to the rank of full professor on 1st August, 2012 and later confirmed on 1st January 2012.

In 2013 Prof. Banadda was appointed head Department of Agricultural and Bio systems engineering served for four years and re-elected effective 1st September 2017 to 31st August 2021. Banadda made an indelible mark with his youthful and dynamic leadership as head of department and his sharp intellect and dedication to his students will not be soon forgotten.  Under his leadership, the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in Uganda and Africa.

Banadda had a trailblazing scientific career.  He was the first Sub-Saharan African to graduate with a PhD in Chemical engineering from the Katholiek University Leuven  in Belgium opening many doors for Africans. He was appointed as full professor in 2012 at the age of 37, one of the youngest persons in the history of  Makerere University. He was the first African recipient of the Pius  XI Golden Medal 2018 in the Vatican Rome – the first African under the age of 45 to be recognized by a sitting pope.

He was a Laureate of the Next Einstein Fellowship; Alumni of the Global Young Academy; Member of the Malabo Panel of Experts; Fellow of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences; Council member of the Pan African Society for Agricultural Engineering; Member of the Makerere University Senate; Adjunct Professor at Iowa State University (USA); Research Fellow at Clare Hall at University of Cambridge (UK); college member of the UKRI GCRF programme.

A cross section of mourners who attended the service

In October 2020, Prof. Banadda was  inaugurated Oliver Reginald Tambo Research Chair honored young scientist at the World Economic Forum attracting USD  250, 000 annually and an additional  £ 100,000  Euros for the next 15 years for graduate research in Agricultural waste management  with a target of training 15 PhDs, 9 Post-doctorals and 27 MSc.

His research focus areas were in the bio systems engineering field and include mathematical modeling of biological systems and interactions. His goal was to create value-added products from solid biowaste resources.  

Prof. Banadda raised the flag of  Makerere university at both local and international scene. Every year Banadda had  a technology or an innovation to launch. He was the brain behind the development of the parts of the Bulamu Ventilator and the Biodegradable face shields in the efforts to combat COVID -19. He   developed the solar powered irrigation pump, the Multipurpose Farmers’ Tractor called MV Mulimi, and started the extraction of fuel from hard plastics and making insecticides from the eucalyptus and other agricultural waste among others.

Noble was favorably cited with thus far published research findings in over 240 peer-reviewed journal Scientific publications, with  a record of 76,086 Reads and 1,201 Citations. He also (co)-supervised 12 PhD students to Completion and 31 M.Sc. students. At the time of his death ,a number of PhD and Master students were under his supervision.

A section of mourners

Prof. Banadda has served in the following capacities: Member of Makerere University Council, Member of Makerere University Senate, Chairperson of Makerere University Contracts Committee. At the time of his death, he was also serving in the capacity of: CHAIR, Department of Agricultural and Bio Systems Engineering, School  of Food technology, Nutrition a and Bio-engineering. He is survived by: WIFE (Dr. Beatrice Namaganda Banadda), and CHILDREN NAMELY: Daniel Mayombwe Banadda, David Lutaaya Banadda and Joy Deborah Nalutaaya Banadda

Prof. Banadda’s legacy is clearly written on the walls. He was an astute education administrator, a great man of inestimable quality, a visionary and innovative leader, and a nation builder, who had touched the lives of many positively, as characterized by his honesty, sincerity, integrity, devotion, humility and selfless service to our University.

In the words of the late great Nelson Mandela: “Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

So, as you, the immediate members of his family mourn his demise to glory, do not think you are alone but be rest assured that we truly miss him and also mourn with you. May his soul Rest in Peace,” the Vice Chancellor read

The Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

Principal Bernard Bashaasha giving his remarks via Zoom

The Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashaasha described the day as a sad moment meant to condole with the bereaved family saying, they had all lost a life and love of a father, parent, friend and a good man.

“We have lost a good man, a true definition of our academic of the time. Looking at his research, academic, awards, I was touched. His teaching, internationalization and administrative foot print speak volumes for his achievements.

He joined university in January 2006 and quickly ran through the ranks to full professor. He has left a huge legacy with research, innovations on ground.

He built from scratch the Department of Agricultural and Bio systems engineering and led it to greater heights.

He was a friendly person, frank and down to earth in character and never hesitated nor shied away to take on responsibility.

He related with me as a friend not like his boss, worked hard to build his students and the university. Makerere has lost a pillar heading AICAD regional body, not only CAES and Makerere but also a loss to the global citizens.

He had many ambitions as a young man. We pray that God gives solace to the family to cope. We have many questions unanswered. May God provide the answers.,”Prof. Bashaasha submitted.

Former DVC (F&A), a friend and Coordinator Mak RIF and Grants Office Prof. William Bazeyo,

Prof. William Bazeeyo who spoke as a friend

Prof. William Bazeyo said, it was a very sad moment for him to speak about Prof. Banadda who had been a very close friend. He sai,d the passing on of Prof. Banadda raises questions as to whether the country was losing the battle against COVID-19 or something else was happening.

Prof. Bazeyo implored the university to cherish what the fallen colleague Banadda had left behind.

“Banadda was a young man and has been staff for ten years but his impact on the university is more than many professors that have been here for over 30 years. The greatest loss is on Makerere University. We have lost many people but this time, we have lost one who would build the University when we are not here.

He had many friends in Makerere and outside, the ones that he has walked with every day and he would sit with them at Piato restaurant just to talk about work”, Prof. Bazeyo said.

Prof. Bazeyo recalled how he worked closely with the Late Prof, Banadda and his team to brainstorm and apply for highly competetive grants including the application for the Oliver Thambo Chair won in October 2020, and the one he wrote a grant winning proposal to address the problem of grazing cattle in Nakasongola.

Prof. Nawangwe interacting with Prof. Bazeyo after the service

“As I speak, colleagues in Turkey looked at the project   and agreed to establish a demonstration farm in the cattle corridor to show how you can have pasture despite drought. Recently, we received 55 square miles of land and zeroed in to start with the Ministry of Finance”, Bazeyo reported imploring the university to follow up with these projects.

Prof. Bazeyo commended the late professor for accepting to chair the University contracts committee for two terms despite challenges that come with procurement and leaving a clean record.

“Prof. Banadda was also a Senator. We wanted him lifted to be a Council member but stepped down because he valued what happen at procurement and all the University work done during COVID have not had any problem with procurement.” Bazeyo stated.

On a personal note Prof. Bazeyo said, Banadda had a strong will to grow and develop.

“One time he told me that it is not enough to keep shouting for a pay raise for professors because it is not enough for the salary and providing quality education for their children.

People who are not professors are doing business and making money. Is it wrong to do business and earn money”, Bazeyo recalled the conversation with the deceased.

Prof. Bazeyo on plan to establish a university ICU unit and oxygen plant

Prof. William Bazeeyo

Prof Bazeyo said the demise of Banadda had left a big hole in the CAES. He however noted that the late professor was not selfish and shared his works and therefore should find means of filling this gap.

He said, the Vice Chancellor was doing all it takes to establish an ICU at Makerere University Hospital and also build an oxygen plant.

“For three months, we are going to make sure that we have an alternative place for Ugandans to access medical services” He said

Bazeyo implored university not to shun vaccination against COVID-19 but embrace it, lead by example and promote the SOPs for the good of their lives, families and society and help to help Ugandans win the war against the pandemic.

Dean, School of Food Technology Nutrition and Bioengineering

Dean School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Engineering (FSTNB) Dr. Abel Atukwase

The Dean Dr. Abel Atukwase described the death of Prof, Banadda as a difficult moment for all at the school.

“He has been a very hardworking, focused and someone who loved Makerere. As a school, we are saddened by his death because he has been one of the youngest professors in the university,

He had many things to contribute to Makerere and the country, so it is a big loss and we are going to miss him greatly in the field of Agricultural and Biosystems engineering.” Dr. Atukwase stated.


Report compiled by:
Jane Anyango
Principal Communication Officer, CAES.

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