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Academic Work by Uganda Adventist Leader Reveals Plagiarism

Moses Maka Ndimukika, Bugema University, and Sahmyook University

Two academic papers authored by Moses Maka Ndimukika, president of the Uganda Union Mission, show significant evidence of plagiarism. These papers, written during his PhD work at Sahmyook University, a Seventh-day Adventist institution in Seoul, South Korea, are publicly available online at

Academic plagiarism checker Turnitin returned reports showing partial and full sentences and portions of paragraphs that were directly copied without quotation marks or attribution. Maka’s paper “The Laws and Institutions Concerning the Widow in the Pentateuch” produced a similarity report of 38%. The report on his, “The Roman Institution of Slavery,” indicated 68%. Similarity percentages do not imply a total amount of plagiarism, and some of what Turnitin notes is de minimis. Additional spot checking of Maka’s papers shows uncredited writing that matches wording on internet sites including Wikipedia,, PBS, and (one of several websites that make available commentaries and dictionaries in the public domain), and at least one published book. Below, the first screenshot comes from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (on, and the bottom is a screenshot from Maka’s paper “The Laws and Institutions Concerning the Widow in the Pentateuch.” 

Screenshot of article “Widows,” accessed August 2, 2023.

Screenshot of Maka’s paper, “The Laws and Institutions Concerning the Widow in the Pentateuch,” p. 4, accessed August 1, 2023.

In another example, in “The Roman Institution of Slavery,” Maka copies from the Wikipedia article “Slavery in Ancient Rome.” Furthermore, as a crowd-sourced website, Wikipedia is being continually edited, and previous versions of the Wikipedia article “Slavery in Ancient Rome” resemble Maka’s paper even more than the current version—a similarity not revealed by Turnitin. 

Screenshot of Wikipedia article, “Slavery in Ancient Rome,” accessed August 1, 2023.

Screenshot of Maka’s paper, “The Roman Institution of Slavery,” p. 1,  accessed August 1, 2023.

A large paragraph in the same paper, about the nature of slaves’ labor in ancient Rome, includes at least four sentences copied from the book Backgrounds of Early Christianity (Eerdman’s, 1987). While the book appears in other citations throughout the paper, including in proper quotation form, there is no reference to the book in any of the three footnotes from this paragraph.

Screenshot of Backgrounds of Early Christianity (Eerdman’s, 1987), p. 57.

Screenshot of Maka’s paper, “The Roman Institution of Slavery,” p. 13,  accessed August 1, 2023.

In other places, Maka footnotes the internet sources he uses but copies from them verbatim, providing no quotation marks to indicate he is doing so. For example, in “The Laws and Institutions Concerning the Widow in the Pentateuch,” he footnotes the source, Encyclopedia Judaica (which is reproduced online at but copies from the article word-for-word.

Screenshot of article on biblical usage of the word “widow," accessed August 1, 2023.

Screenshot of Maka’s paper, “The Laws and Institutions Concerning the Widow in the Pentateuch,” pp. 2–3, accessed August 1, 2023.

The paper’s section “The State of Widowhood” closely follows the entry “Widow” from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (available on, with at least nine sentences reproduced nearly verbatim, including a section of seven consecutive sentences. Again, the footnote cites the Baker’s source but neither indicates the direct quotation nor acknowledges the larger source dependence for the paper’s section. 

Screenshot of article “Widows,” accessed August 2, 2023.

Screenshots of Maka’s paper, “The Laws and Institutions Concerning the Widow in the Pentateuch,” pp. 4–5, accessed August 1, 2023.

Finally, beyond direct copying without attribution, Maka’s work also contains significant portions that are thinly disguised rewordings for online content as well. See the following example from the PBS website on a program about The Roman Empire in the First Century

Screenshot of Maka’s paper, “The Roman Institution of Slavery,” p. 12,  accessed August 1, 2023.

Turnitin also produced several false positives—instances in which the textual similarity is clearly not plagiarism, such as Biblical quotations or later websites that quote the paper. However, the above examples reveal work that does not meet the basic standards for academic integrity. 

Administrators in the East-Central Africa Division and at Bugema University responded to requests for comment by appealing for a non-public way to correct the mistakes that were made. One church leader did indicate that Maka was aware of Spectrum’s requests made to his office and to him personally. Spectrum received no reply. 

Sahmyook University, where Maka received his PhD in 2015 and where these papers were submitted, replied to a request for comment stating that there was initially no concern about plagiarism when Maka submitted his dissertation. However, given the evidence presented here, they would be opening a “preliminary review in accordance with the university’s research ethics process.” A request for an update has not been answered. Two inquiries for comment from the General Conference Communication Department went unacknowledged. As a result, a question left unanswered concerns the existence of Bugema University’s statement of professional ethics, requirement 1.2 of the General Conference Education Department’s Adventist Accrediting Association guidelines.

As president of the Uganda Union Mission, Maka is the ex officio chancellor (or board chair) of Bugema University, an Adventist higher educational institution with over 2,000 students, where Maka has also taught.

Maka assumed leadership of the Adventist church in Uganda about eight months ago. In May, he made news for his involvement with the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), an advisory panel of various faith leaders that heavily influenced the Ugandan parliament in its passage of the so-called “anti-gay bill.” The bill increased the severity of punishments for members of the LGTBQ community, initially stipulating the death penalty in certain cases until some penalties were later softened. On June 20, 2023, in an effort to clarify his role and beliefs, Maka released a statement on “human sexuality issues” that was published by the Adventist Review. The Twitter account of @pastortedwilson also shared Maka’s statement. 

Maka's administrative responsibilities exist within the East-Central Africa Division of the global denominational structure. As a union mission president, Maka is a member of the General Conference Executive Committee, the second highest governing body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 


Alexander Carpenter and Vaughn Nelson contributed to this article. 

Jeremy Gray is adjunct faculty at Andrews University and a correspondent for Spectrum.

Title image by Spectrum / Images from Sahmyook University and Bugema University.

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