By Kefa Senoga
As a young boy, Julius Izza Tabi gave his parents the confidence that his career destination would be one in the field of sciences. As such, Tabi’s father — Izza Soyi Severino — encouraged his son to pursue a course in human medicine. Just imagine what went through the mind of Severino when his son told him he was not interested in becoming a doctor.
Tabi said he was feeling a different calling from God, one of pastoral ministry. At first, Severino thought the reason for his son’s change of heart was because he had not garnered the necessary grades to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. As such, he encouraged his son to repeat Senior Six, and that he was ready to pay the tuition. Tabi had sat his Senior Six exams at Metu Senior Secondary School in Moyo district, northern Uganda.
However, Tabi, who is now the director of the Uganda Christian University Arua Campus, said his heart was elsewhere. Fortunately, the son did not have to convince his father to pay tuition for a course he didn’t think was right. When Tabi enrolled at Lake Victoria Christian Centre for a diploma in Christian ministries, he was on full bursary.
At the end of the one-year course, Tabi not only returned home with his diploma, he also emerged as the best student in the cohort.
Upon graduating with a Diploma in Christian Ministry, Tabi continued with youth ministry activities in the church. It was during this time that he and Severino agreed that the former should return to school and get a second qualification.
Tabi is the sixth born in a family of nine children. His father, Severino, was a primary school headteacher and his mother, Asianzo Catherine, a housewife.
Tabi thus pursued a Diploma in Education at the National Teachers’ College, Muni, where he specialized in Chemistry and Biology. Upon qualification, Tabi was employed at Usindi Secondary School in Arua, northwestern Uganda.
Teaching in close proximity to the UCU Arua Campus led Tabi to become part of the UCU community. In 2011, he was admitted for a Bachelor of Divinity at UCU under the Ma’di-West Nile Diocese scholarship. That same year, Tabi married Oliver Driciru, with whom he has three children — two boys and one girl.
At his graduation in 2014, the Rev. Tabi’s grades earned him the accolade of second-best student. The best student at the graduation was Jonathan Tumwebaze, now also a staff member at UCU.
Tabi’s outstanding performance persuaded Joel Obetia, the Bishop of Madi-West Nile Diocese at the time, to post him to UCU Arua Campus as the Assistant Chaplain in October 2014. That officially marked the start of Tabi’s association with UCU as a member of staff.
The following year, he was given extra roles when he was appointed a tutorial assistant in the Department of Theology. He later pursued a Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues from the Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo. Upon Tabi’s return from Oslo, he was promoted to Assistant Lecturer. In 2018, he was appointed the institution’s Dean of Students.
Three years later, in September 2021, the Rev. Tabi was appointed the acting director of the campus, a position he was confirmed into after the campus went through the requisite process of hiring the position holder.
In an interview that Tabi granted Uganda Partners in August this year, he enumerated his areas of focus as infrastructural development, elevating the campus into a constituent college, a massive student recruitment strategy, beautification of the environment and infrastructure, implementation of the multi-billion masterplan project, development of an endowment project and a staff recruitment plan.
This year, the campus marked 20 years of being part of the UCU family and 64 years of being a training institute. Before the campus was made a theological college and part of UCU in 2003, it was offering diploma and certificate courses in theology and also training Lay Readers in the region.
The nature of Tabi’s job means he always has a full plate. However, he says his wife is the reason he has been able to fulfill the demands of his office because she has been “filling for him whenever needed, especially when it comes to family matters.”