Life in Uganda


Some corrective after-thought, not so random!

A few days ago I was reading a blog, Jacana Days, from my “Irish colleague” on her experience in Nkozi. Well I must say the picture was pretty grim and one wonders how she managed to stick it out there.

I must admit that there was a lot of truth in what she wrote and I do remember the rodents scouting the then kitchen of the university. They were in fact well fed and healthy! I remember too the pitiful state in which the infrastructure was found; it really was a war zone. Two armies, the Obote 2 army and the National Resistance army were facing each other in the early 1980s. The first one was camped on the then Teacher Training College campus, now UMU, the other in the valley of the Katonga river. When travelling from Masaka to Nkozi you reach a point where you see a hill with radio masts: that is Nkozi. That was where the armies were camped and it is not difficult to imagine how this hill became a perfect target point for exact and precise shooting and bombing! Sure, roofs were blown off and buildings collapsed, but we still had something left when we took over. Walls can be rebuilt, roofs replaced and amenities restored. As we were the new occupants and did not know much about the past of the place, except that it was a former Teacher Training College run by the Sacred Heart Sisters and later became a National Teacher Training College, run by Government, we were entering with an almost clean slate! Not so clean in fact! Bats had taken residence on campus and we never managed to really get rid of them. At one time we did remove all the tiles of roofs and wash them as well as the concrete roofs of some buildings, disinfecting them with the strongest possible chemical! All very good for the environment (not)! The bats returned, seemingly happy to settle down once again in a clean environment! So you learn to live with them and that is what I told our students on many occasions.

I must admire the stubbornness of my “Irish colleague” (she is from Belfast!) to bite through all these difficulties and stick it out not only in this unwelcoming environment but also with my own stubbornness in wanting to see the university get off the ground. In fact, it brought us together and over the years we did manage to set up a class university. Maybe the sight of rubble, bat dung and all other unpleasant objects, made us both appreciate the efforts made to clean it up and make it a place where it was good to be.
She is also a musician and composed the university anthem; in the second stanza she wrote:

“May we remain faithful to the name: Uganda Martyrs University,
a place of love where it is good to be,
guide us in wisdom to lead the world. Virtute et Sapientia.”

I am sure that the thoughts of the first months at Nkozi gave her some inspiration in writing this and were constantly at the back of her mind.

In my blogs about Uganda Martyrs University I have been rather factual but her blog brings a breath of fresh air to it all. Maybe the two combined give us a more exact picture of Uganda Martyrs University. I attach herewith three pictures one of the original gate to the university when we arrived there, and two of the administration building before and after renovations. On the first photo of the admin building are the very first visitors to campus in 1993, we amongst them, and another photo of cleaning and beautifying the campus. Maybe this gives a better picture of the place! But if you go today, you are entering a marvellous world of green, flowers and shrubs. The campus is back to its old glory: a beautiful botanical garden. And in fact one of our pioneer staff got all the trees on campus identified and marked with their scientific name! Could you have a better environment, conducive to study?

The Gate in 1993
Administration building as received in 1993
Beautifying campus 1994
Administration building restored

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