The Fourth Heritage: A Book Every Ugandan Should Read!


Emmanuel Sunlight Kirunda makes very pertinent and mind boggling cases in his book; The Fourth Heritage: How we Ugandans can Integrate our Tribal, Religious and Colonial heritages.

Emmanuel and I met only a couple months ago and he was intrigued, at our first encounter, by the fact that I legally dropped my former westernized name in favor of an all-African name because it didn’t make much sense for me to keep carrying a name that I did not quite relate to. I was consciously claiming my African heritage. These western names came in the guise of religion but I came to a grasp that being called ‘John’ or ‘Mary’ does not make you a good Christian and not having such a name does not make you less Christian either. The same applies to those of the Islam, Jewish and other faiths. My short discourse with Emmanuel would compel me to explore his views on such and other broader issues of our heritages, which are already captured in his work of The Fourth Heritage.

He makes a case that is very true for all or most of us Ugandans of the triple heritage of the tribal, religious and colonial that is well depicted in the cultural norms and rituals that we perform, the religious denominations to which we belong, and the many things that the British colonialists left with us including their English language and the fact that almost each of us was given a western first name.

But he goes ahead to introduce the concept of the fourth heritage, what he chooses to call a ‘heri’. He clearly explains how every country on this planet that has made tremendous progress, has had a heri that is deeply engrained in its people, society or work ethics, defines their being and propels their creativity. He highlights the Americans with their heri of personal freedom and equality for each individual, the Germans with their heri of protestant work ethics, the Japanese with their obsession for work perfectionism, and the scientists with their skepticism. But what are Ugandans or Africans known for?

That’s a question, of the lack of a heri, which Emmanuel points out as the reason why as a people, as a country and as a continent, we have remained in a state that is “a scar on the conscience of the world” as put by Tony Blair. Blair adds, “But if the world as a community focused on it, we could heal it. And if we don’t, it will become deeper and angrier”. Emmanuel further quotes Ali Mazrui “There is Africa’s incorporation into the world culture, which is still primarily Eurocentric. The major international ideologies – liberalism, capitalism, socialism, Marxism, communism and indeed fascism – have all been European-driven. To that extent, the world of ideology is in part the world of European dominance in the field of values and norms.” It is very clear in this book that the answer to the state of Uganda and Africa won’t come from outside world as Mr. Blair suggests but will come from our very own people defining their own heri.

Emmanuel makes very straight forward and consumable recommendations as quick take homes for anyone willing to begin on this journey of defining our heri;

All Ugandans have a triple cultural and psychological identity of the tribe, the religion and western influence. This is a fact and we should not deny or downplay it.

 We need to advance as a society and stop being a scar on the face of the conscience of the world.

 We have two types of problems that hinder our development; visible problems that the world sees and tries to help us with e.g. poverty and wars, and the invisible problems that only we ourselves can solve e.g. the lack of a heri.

 All the solutions employed so far since our independence have been addressed to the symptomatic visible problems, we need to come up with solutions that address the deep-seated invisible problems.

 The objective of this work is to stimulate our intellectual imaginations to see if we can espouse a new thinking that can set the foundation for our advancement.

 Embracing the Fourth Heritage is the best way to forge the strongest moral aptitudes within our society.

Reading this book makes the reader emerge with an unfair advantage. Emmanuel has spent so many years reading widely on pretty much every topic; religion, science, history, philosophy, astronomy, economics, cultures, development, name it, and he references and quotes mind boggling material from countless authors and thinkers of all time from antiquity. If the reader wasn’t interested in the primary ideas explored in the Fourth Heritage, they would still emerge with an enormous reward from this book, if only, for the glimpse they would take into the works of greater thinkers like Carl Sagan, Jacob Bronowski, Ali Mazrui, Karl Popper, Jared Diamond, Emmanuel Kant, Michael Woolman, Michael Roskin, Daniel J Boorstin, Socrates, Stephen Hawking, Galileo Galilee, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, just to mention but a few, all quoted, explored and/or referenced in this book.

Emmanuel Sunlight Kirunda is also the author of The Fourth Republic and he is working on his next book: Beyond The Fourth Heritage, which will be coming out in July 2016, and is an extended work of the ideas explored in The Fourth Heritage and I am excitedly looking forward to grab my copy! You can check out some short videos about the forthcoming book at or order for The Fourth Heritage on amazon here >> and on author house here >>

Emmanuel S Kirunda is undoubtedly a de facto charter member of a small club of Ugandans who have stepped out of the comfort zone to contribute to our scholarly and push our philosophies onto the mainstream and create a paradigm shift in the way we think.


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