In-sha-Allah, I should be done with my PhD program in communication science at around this time next year. All thanks to the inspiration drawn 17 years ago from a two-hour meeting with, now the late Dr Abdul Noor Anas Kaliisa. Back then, I and my closest friend Abdul Hamid Mpoza worked for a Muslim news publication, The Weekly Message.
Our boss, Abdul-Karim Kaliisa secured a rare appointment for an interview with his senior brother. We went to Kawempe to conduct it. We found Dr Kaliisa very jovial; hard to tell we were interfacing for the first time. Full of energy, he entertained with jokes, drinks, fruits and later food as though it were a party of sorts.
Back at station, transcribing the interview that had been recorded in sound and ink, we had the most challenging editorial decision. As senior staff for a small publication, we had influenced a policy that limited interviews to only half a page. But here were: two hours of too insightful words to drop even a single one. That required two full pages at minimum which constituted breach of a policy.
One word though runs through our veins to this day: education. As we ended the interview, Mpoza had asked Dr Kaliisa for his last word. He answered: education, education, education.
“It’s everything I should say,” he said and breathed deeper. “I owe everything I call a possession to it…even this residence.”
Dr Kaliisa explained that because of his education adventures he had travelled to several countries of the world expense free. “I get everything paid for—air tickets, accommodation, meals and yes, gain more useful knowledge,” he said. “Go for any education opportunity coming your way—be it for a certificate or post-doctoral,” he advised.
Mpoza had just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Makerere university and I with a diploma in media studies from Uganda Institute of Business and Media Studies (UIBMS). From that fresh commitment, today Mpoza is also due to complete his PhD in communication studies at the Pakistani University of the Punjab. Thanks again to Dr Kaliisa’s inspiration.
There are two extra special attributes that are inescapable to observe from Dr Kaliisa’s bank of knowledge: (i) purpose to which he put it that was majorly to serve Allah—by urging His people towards good conduct—an obligation sourced from the Holy Quran. (ii) being explanatory as opposed to argumentative.
The explanatory tool requires one to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts and information clearly and accurately. It demonstrates comprehension of a topic and attempts to inform rather than persuade or argue on a point. On the other hand, the ultimate aim of argumentative approaches is to convince or persuadea given audience. Failure of which causes misery.
I experienced later that while explanations enrich the field of knowledge, arguments hurt it, hurt the heart, the brain and eternally damage self-esteem. Whoever does arguments is a vulnerable victim.
It is not clear to me though, whether Dr Kaliisa leant the skill of explanations by trait or by training. But it’s what introduced and described him to most Ugandans. When his tongue spoke on mass channels, thousands of ears and eyes captured and retained his messages on radio and TV.
I was his ardent fan of his ‘Ensi n’ebyayo’ on nbs Tv every Sunday. So when my house members first heard the news of his passing on that Wednesday evening of November 4, 2020, they hesitated to break it to me as I must have been driving from work at that time. Indeed, the news rendered me weaker spontaneously as I stepped into the house. But the reality of the following Sunday that I attended NBS tv at four o’clock without Dr. Kaliisa on screen, remains the most emotional moment for me. It’s a constant reminder that from Allah we all came and to Him is our return.
May Allah be pleased with all our souls.