“When the Elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”

 “Kyambogo University to close indefinitely; everyone to graduate, whether 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th year…”

A friend posted this on his Facebook wall and I was for like a quarter of a second alarmed.  I once had a lecturer during my 4th year at University who at the beginning of the semester made us introduce ourselves; name and study history i.e. the schools attended. I remember laughing, along with the rest of the class, when a colleague remarked that he did not think that his primary school was still in existence. This is; I think a very popular joke in this country, Uganda. We tend to take pride in the schools we attend because of the notion that they in some way will determine our placement in society.

I joined Kyambogo University in August 2008, around the same time Professor Ndiege was joining the University, as Vice Chancellor. The University was recovering from a 2 month long shutdown due to a violent strike, the first of its kind in Kyambogo, which prior to that was a rather peaceful University. Needless to say, so many things were amiss, some students had reported while others were away for Internship, some were doing exams while the rest of us were counting a month and we still were yet to see even a single lecturer. First semester was hard; my marks are a reflection of that. However, as the years went on, I can say things only got better in Kyambogo. I saw things in 3rd year that were just dreams in2nd year. When we received our 1st year Faculty Allowance, the students ahead of us told us we were lucky because that, in past years was more like a myth. It took me a whole year to see my first semester 1st year results. In 4th year, I would get to see my results the next semester, without having to first hunt down for them.

The first time, last year the Kyambogo issues were presented in print, I was amazed but not shocked. We had heard rumors while still at campus of death threats made on the Professor’s life. The University was not perfect, granted, but it was in the process of moving towards better. If we are to speak in general terms, the students seemed to like this Vice Chancellor; the different members of staff, not so much; for reasons which are not very clear. Apparently his management/leadership style is manipulative among many other things as was reported by a media house yesterday. So, maybe all the rumors we heard while at Kyambogo were true. Rumors like:  the reason Faculty Allowance was a myth being that money was re-routed to specific other accounts.

 When we joined the students had staged a strike because the lecturers had not showed up to class for 2 months, why? They had not been paid for close to 4 months or so and some of these lecturers were not suitably qualified for their positions. This clearly explained the not so low number of teaching staff of foreign decent (read Korean) especially in the science and Engineering disciplines and the high number of teaching Assistants as the years went on. A restructuring had been done. Toes had been stepped on and clearly the professor made some enemies.

It is a sad thing that is happening. The more I read about it, the more it seems like this is a personal war. I did not follow the court proceedings to the detail, someone should help me out here, but the charges against the professor kept changing; his nationality and academic qualifications were questioned, the procedures followed to hire him investigated and so on and so forth. He was taken to court on corruption, fraud and embezzlement charges. Now, the lecturers are on strike because they do not agree with his management style? Our lecturers should be brought to account for wasting the Students’ time. The latest I read in the News is that the students are asking to be sent home until these adults, have sorted out their issues. Unfortunately, even that is not the most favourable option to all. Some people travel for miles to go to school, and going home mid-semester is never part of the plan.

I am left wondering if the staff’s issues aren’t petty, but about 98% are in agreement. Maybe Kyambogo needs a re-boot, if only it was that easy. Bottom line, I better pick up my transcript before a one size fits all graduation ceremony is announced. I actually earned my degree; 4 years? Give me my piece of paper!

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2 thoughts on ““When the Elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”

  1. What is happening at the university is very sad. It shows that sometimes however much we work for the good of our society, some people might not appreciate. Baryamureba was also thrown out of Makerere. I think as a society we should begin to appreciate what people do for us for the good of the society. i hope the situation at Kyambogo will be sorted very soon.

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    1. We need more of such people in our communities. Remember, we get rid of darkness by shining light, Let’s keep on, even if things do not change in our time, at least they will change for our children and their children.

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