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Beyond The Fourth Heritage

A Personal View on How to Transcend Our Heritages of Birth

A unique blend of memoir, academic treatise and self-help, the book is optimistic, open and honest in its approach and will educate and move you to tap into the often ignored sense that you are destined for – and capable of – something far greater.

What happens when you are finally comfortable with the choice of your dominant heritage of birth? Whether it is the tribal, national or religious heritage, what then?

The author answers this question, by arguing that the next logical step is for each of us to become co-creators beyond the comforts of our heritages of birth. If we each don’t transcend our first heritages, we sabotage our self-actualization and forfeit our natural obligation to leave the world a better place than we found it.

And it results in a continued fracture of self-identity and society as a whole.

What are readers saying?

Your parable, the skinny father parable. This is another great contribution that you make. The fact that we shouldn’t be blaming the outsiders for our weaknesses. The outsiders basically took advantage of our weaknesses. So, we need to be able to come up with home grown solutions that buttress us from the next possible wave of invasion. So thank you so much for conceiving those three books and for the amazing summary EDISAC

James Opiyo, Uganda

August 2021

From growing up illiterate in Uganda to obtaining a master’s degree from UT Austin and now authoring his third book Beyond the 4th Heritage, Kirunda has lived an intriguing life from which he draws extensively to make a compelling case regarding our responsibility to co-create the existence we wish to experience in this world. His book significantly enhanced the understanding I have of my own history, heritage, beliefs, present state of life, and future potentialities.

Jonny Murdock, Utah, U.S.A

July, 2016

Emmanuel makes a deep and candid analysis of the African mindset and makes a case for the need of a mental and cultural paradigm shift to enable our holistic development as a people. His proposed approach can possess and at the same liberate the African mind.

Irene S. Kwaga, Uganda

July, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very well written and unsentimental. Although I disagree with the author’s view that religion and science are compatible, it’s an understand-able advocacy in light of his core message, namely a call for the end of tribalism that is such a killer social disease in so many poor parts of the world. His descriptions of morality and science are so well done that I’ll refer back to the book when I feel some reinforcements are required from time to time.

Stig Aune

May 2015

Often we mistakenly rank books we ‘ve just read higher than those we read earlier (due to the freshness of the impact of the former). But I truly think Emmanuel Kirunda’s The Fourth Heritage is the most important non-fiction book ever written by a Ugandan

Nick Twinamatsiko

February 5th, 2012

The contrast here with the Asian ‘tiger’ economies is dramatic: they have struggles but their cultures and religions have been more integrated with Western influences, so they can put their peoples’ energies to work. The idea of the fourth “heri” looks like a good teaching device, so that your readers in Uganda can appreciate reason/science as one of their heritages, along with tribal culture, religion, and Western influence.

Lynn Gilbert

October 4th, 2011

The Fourth Heritage written by Emmanuel Kirunda is a must read for Africans from any corner of the continent and those who strive to find real solutions to Africa’s demise. It is a common sentiment that Africa is a continent full of potential. Other’s have referred to mother Africa as a sleeping giant. Kirunda offers a framework we can follow to lift Africa and her nations out of dormancy. Events in Uganda are used as the case study but the themes of this philosophy focusing on integrating tribal, religious and the colonial heritage reach out to all Africans. Our nations have a shared history and have fought on the same front-line for decades without making the much needed ground to compete on the global stage. Reading this book extricates some of the core-myths that continue to cast our nations in a backward-state of mind.

Kirunda sets out with a mission to help us understand the fundamental weaknesses of our society and then offers a platform we need to re-define who we are. This platform is characterized as a ‘heri’— every advanced society has had a ‘heri’ which offered a springboard from traditional society. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. What Ugandans and Africans need is a ‘heri’ which will provide a ray of hope towards helping ourselves and advancing our societies rather than continue to rely on others.
If we (Ugandans and other Africans) are to change the course we are on, the transformation has to come from within. External intervention as the author emphasizes only focuses on visible problems such as war, poverty, disease, corruption, human rights violations, refugees e.t.c which is only the tip of the iceberg. Often ignored are the invisible problems which the author defines as a lack of a heri and domination of our heritage by religious and European heritage. The fourth heritage is characterized as a paradigm shift that would address the problem from the foot of the ice-berg and in the long-run the author argues that the visible problems will also be solved. A fourth heritage would kill two birds with one stone.
The narrative about the author’s childhood struggles from humble beginnings and his journey to the present day is a testament to the transformative power of knowledge. His trials and tribulations as exhibited in the traditional/tribal, spiritual and scientific growth highlight the benefit of extracting ideas from each of our heritage and defining our own heri. This focus is the core foundation of the argument that as a people, we have to evolve. The heri— is characterized by the author as a development inducing phenomenon. He compares the impact of a ‘heri’ to a ‘gene’ and a ‘meme’. A gene propagating biological entities and a meme propagating cultural entities such as values and behavior from one person to another through imitation. A heri on the other hand brings commonality to a group of people to engage in activities or a creative mindset that brings progress, advancement or prosperity to that group. The author highlights the impact of a ‘heri’ in several societies. The Americans having a ‘heri’ rooted in personal freedom and equality for each individual. The German ‘heri’ is rooted in the Protestant work ethic. Japanese ‘heri’ is rooted in work perfection and finally the ‘heri’ for Scientists is based on skepticism and the desire for proof through experiments.
The author is making the case that our nation(s) lack a ‘heri’ to exploit the creative energy and potential of the people. We have so far failed to find a universal platform. Our indigenous or tribal heritage–the core of our being has been overwhelmed by forces from religion and western/European heritage. We are in a state of cultural confusion with numerous competing and conflicting ideologies. This accounts towards the invisible problems at the foot of the iceberg—a disease whose symptoms are wars rooted in tribalism and religion, poverty, tribal conflict and the social turmoil facing many African nations today. The author suggests coming up with a fourth heritage that eliminates the chaos and shackles holding Ugandans and other Africans from realizing their productive energy and achieving results for their intellectual prowess.
Is it too late to turn the tide? Are we realistic in pursuing the fourth heritage? Is the fourth heritage already in play?
In my article “The Loss of the African State of Mind” I stated the need for Africa to change course regarding our education system. Education is critical in shaping the minds of young Africans and I believe it can be a tool towards installing the fourth heritage. My critic of the current education system in Uganda is the notion that it fails to address the realities of Ugandan people. There is little emphasis on the indigenous concepts and Kirunda in The fourth Heritage raises this point— with the case of Ugandan students being punished for speaking their native languages at school. I personally received my share of spanking for speaking vernacular. It is such practices that have given rise to a generation of Africans who can neither speak their native languages nor grasp the critical features of their culture. Education is an area which the author could explore more when it comes to laying a foundation for our ‘heri’. For instance an education system with the concept of a fourth heritage would still offer courses that explore universal knowledge such as science and mathematics but should include a heavy dose of subjects that equip students with the tools to explore and optimize resources in their immediate surroundings.
There are numerous barriers towards achieving the ‘heri’ defined by the author. First, is the perception that the western or European heritage is vastly superior to our indigenous ways. Success in our society has been tied entirely to Africans grasping the western ways of life. Our social, political and economic framework has been deeply infiltrated by the dominant western and religious heritage. Speaking the most fluent English will for instance elevate one’s level of achievement and social status. Such perceptions make it difficult to have a practical conversation about a paradigm shift. Is it too late to turn the tide? How do you repair a system that has too many holes?
Another barrier we have is the ever growing clash between and within the indigenous/tribal heritage and the western/European heritage. The political climate in Uganda has been volatile with internal power struggles between the central government and the traditional kingdoms particularly the Buganda Kingdom.The question is whether the Fourth Heritage would bring an end to this tag of war or will these clashes be a stumbling block towards its attainment. The traditional governments had been completely abolished in the 1970s and a similar event could have a widespread impact on the cultural and traditional dynamics in our society.These clashes have not only been inter-heritage but we have also witnessed catastrophic intra-heritage clashes and genocide. It is a complex maze to navigate however a pathway towards a Fourth Heritage and defining our ‘heri’ would have to address the political ramifications.
Overall the philosophy of rebooting the system to find a path that will harness the potential of our society to rise to greater heights is quintessential.The question we will continue to ask is what our ‘heri’ should be?

Dr Daniel Kawuma

October 21, 2010

After reading your book, my american mind was enlightened to the internal, and phsychological struggles Ugandans, and Africans as a whole, deal with on a very deep level. Understanding the three heritages (religion, european, and tribal) has laid the groundwork for your book to show the people of Africa that using their knowledge of these heritages will allow them to change their psyche and gain empowerment to improve their own situations. I’m very proud of your passion, and i was honored to read “the fourth heritage.”

Christopher Bond

November 22nd, 2010

As I finished reading this book, I started to ponder what will become Uganda’s Heri? Is it possible to create a Heri and join the elite group of Americans, Germans, and the Japanese? I cannot see why not. But in order to create a new way of life, Ugandans must change ideas and philosophies that no longer have validity in the present time let alone the future. Of the first three Heris, I would say that Uganda would follow the path of the Japanese in the beginning in their search for an independent way of thinking. Japan is rich in keeping with the respect and traditions of their ancestors. As a whole, Japan has learned to use the teachings of the past with the new found knowledge of the present in order to continue to flourish for the future. Japan knows that some traditions have become obsolete and have no benefit of moving forward. This would be the first step for Uganda to claiming its own Heri.
Then, as traditions and rituals become less significant and considered a non-factor in the progression of moving forward, hard work and determination will begin the new phase. The Germans were known for their hard work. Does hard work have to be labor? No. I believe that the hard work will come from the politicians with laws, bills, and policies. Also, the struggle to keep corruption out of any government entity. From lobbyists to the President, keeping a model of a system of checks and balances may help curb these inhumane acts. This would be an American influenced way of thinking. Not all of the Heris come from perfect systems, people, policies, nor philosophies. But every idea has a beginning and will never stay the same. Ideas, as the years pass by, may not be suitable for the next twenty years as it was for the first twenty years. Time continues to evolve or we evolve over time. And that is why Uganda has every reason to gain by incorporating the Fourth Heritage. Time. And the time is now to start creating its own Heri; not just for Uganda, but for the rest of the world.

Daniel Yanez, Austin (TX) USA

November 19th, 2009

Emmanuel Kirunda’s book “The Fourth Heritage” succeeds with great ease in providing an account of a young Ugandan boy’s academic journey that starts with practical tribal beliefs, but in an instant (like the big bang) rapidly expands to include western religious beliefs, western cultures, and a modern scientific understanding of the cosmos we live in. He recounts his personal struggles (feelings) with the many contradictions found between the teachings that come from a tribal upbringing, a Christian boarding school, and a formal western scientific education. In the end he suggests a path for his Ugandan countrymen to consider in hopes of eliminating decades of economic stagnation that his country has experienced.

Roy H. Herlocher, Austin (TX) USA

October 3rd, 2009

Are you dominated by your culture, religion, government or all? What makes certain nations more advanced than others? Why are scientists so unique? Rarely has an author come out with such a compelling discourse that challenges the readers to redefine their social DNA and become in charge of their destiny. Targeted for an African audience but applicable to all human beings, Mr. Kirunda’s “The Fourth Heritage” is an ambitious journey through mankind’s intellectual and religious history, Africa’s tribal culture and a new pragmatic framework for each individual to realize their full potential. You will find the content original – a rare blend of scientific critique of philosophy and spirituality, mixed with the author’s innovations such as his “heri” concept – a must-have for developing nations to get out of their rut, redefine their sociological DNA and finally make some progress. Mr. Kirunda will make you think about what truly defines your own adoption of culture, religion and the approach you take to your life. His objective analysis of the human condition, particularly in Uganda, is a gale of fresh air; shifting away from the victimization and traditional mindset to a revolutionary way of thinking. “The Fourth Heritage” is a must-read for all who care about the world, including citizens of developed countries and all children who need intellectual development

Jehanzeb Noor, McKinsey & Company/MIT

October 2nd, 2009

What you are saying is that there is no big difference between the Americans & Germans and us Ugandans. They are just human beings like us. Their heritages are not superior, but it is the way they work. . . I …like the way you write about our clans. Each of us, as individuals, has to think for him/herself without clan leaders dictating to us what we should or should not do

Pauline Babirye

September 30th, 2009

If you have ever left home to live in a different culture and analyzed the changes within yourself, you will identify with the author. The author’s experiences and psychology transformations are likely far greater than any of us Europeans have experienced, but they are very honest and real. The openness of heart and mind, the breadth of knowledge, and the simplicity of writing made this for me a very enjoyable book to read.

Justas Staisiunas, Lithuania/New York

September 6th, 2009

Mr. Kirunda is on the right path promoting reason and science as a way to help his nation’s woes. I hope that all Ugandans read his book and take it to heart.

Jayson X, Deputy Director, World Union of Deists

August 12th, 2009

Emmanuel (or KESA as I fondly remember him from our days in school at King’s College Budo and subsequent discourses) has in this book successfully merged his “brilliant scientific mindset” with a simple and honest style of writing. His sincere call to action to embrace a “4th Heritage” becomes clearer on reading this book because not only is it packed with well researched facts that can hardly be disputed(how my disbelieving mind sometimes doubted his arguments!), it is written with a sincere touch based on his experiences of coming “from village to town”.
I too hope, as sincerely as he does, that as Ugandans, we shall truly embrace the “4th Heritage” and experience a true paradigm shift we so desperately need and that when someone boldly asks me “what about you, what are you proud of?” I will look to the 4th Heritage and proudly answer him.

Dickson Wasake , Ugandan Poet

August 5th, 2009