Wednesday, October 9, 2019

UGANDA: Professor Wandira, former VC Makerere (RIP)

Bereaved. Asavia Wandira
MARTHA LEAH NANGALAMA - I have only the most wonderful memories of Professor Wandira.  To start with, he was the inspector of schools / education when I first met him in September 1987.  He was also the head of the committee for the Scholarship program for UWC schools.

During the all day scholarship interviews where a committee of 10 grown ups were putting teens through hell to qualify for one of the 3 scholarships (we were 15 candidates), he was worked hard to put us all at ease because we were like his kids and we were facing 10 adults.

When it was my turn, the questions were easy.  Till the one guy asked me what I wanted to be. I told him a lawyer.  He then proceeds to ask me if I like reading and writing.  that was a moot question.

Next gentleman asks ''if given a scholarship, which country would you prefer".  I replied CANADA. Definitely not USA.  They are racist.  Not UK, they are cold hearted.  And that is how things fell apart. ''I will only accept the scholarship if you send me to Canada OR remain here and go to Makerere University".  LIKELY not the best answer to give when you are desperate but I swear, I would not have gone to UK or USA.

At lunch time, Prof. Wandira found me sitting by the steps outside Crested Towers. I had no money to buy lunch.  And we had to wait and return in the afternoon for the results. For some reason, I think he sensed that I had no money and I was hungry. He took me to the food place and bought me lunch saying ''I have no idea what will happen with the results but do not lose heart if you miss it this time. Certainly, you spoke the truth you felt and I hope you will always speak truth all your life and wherever you go.  The scholarships were just allocated to 3 students before the committee broke for lunch".

Back in the board room, they announce the scholarships (he is the one announcing).  ''Stephen Masaba gets the scholarship to Wales, UWC Adriatic College".  Hell no way, he is from Bududa, he just took my only option for Bugisu.  This totally sucked.

''Faith Kasirye gets the UWC scholarship to New Mexico USA". What the... Well, Faith just got the only scholarship I could have gotten for being also a female.  Remember there were 15 students interviewed.

FINALLY: ''And Martha Leah Nangalama gets the UWC scholarship to Canada for Pearson College""  NO WAY.... I told him 'can you say that again please"  He repeats: ''And Leah gets to go to Canada". I cried. I cried.  I even had no idea why I was crying. It was overwhelming.

THEN the passports, visas, airtickets super fast as we had less than 2 weeks to all fly from Uganda to UK, USA and Canada but for some reason, things were superbly organised and the British High Commission took care of everything.  We only had to pick up our passports with visas inserted and our airline tickets and show up at Entebbe.

On my run through Kampala, I stopped by Crested Towers and in his office for a 5mins Thanks.  This is what he told me.  ''The committee was looking for not only the brightest students in Uganda to represent us but also the ones we are sure will shine Uganda's light wherever they go.  And that they will either return home and build their community and country or do the same wherever they settle.  We chose you for Canada because you said you would not go anywhere yet we felt that you will speak for Uganda.  Go child, make us proud. Make me proud. Make the committee proud. Make your father and your mother proud. Make your village proud. Make Bugisu proud.  Then remember to stand up for Uganda all your life".

My heart breaks.  Such wonderful people should live forever. Prof. Wandira made me who I am building onto what my parents, elders, teachers had done.  What a great great man.  I WILL ALWAYS MISS YOU PAPA.  Your legacy will never die.

Makerere eulogises former VC Wandira as a man of integrity

The Makerere University fraternity has eulogised their former vice chancellor (VC) Asavia Wandira as a man of integrity and a diplomat, who served the institution with dedication.
He passed on yesterday at Nakasero Hospital in Kampala.

“He served the university when it was facing a number of challenges and he managed to keep it intact. We are now ranked highly in the work and on the continent, it is because of those former leaders, who managed to keep the culture and integrity of the university,” the Makerere University VC, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Prof Nawangwe also said Wandira will be remembered as one of the prominent VCs that Makerere University has had. Wandira served as the university’s VC for two terms from 1972 to 1975 and between 1979 and 1986, respectively.

The former VC, Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu, who said he was a student at Makerere during Wandira’s reign, described him as an orator.
“His death is a great loss to this country since he knew much about the history of this country. He was also an intelligent man since becoming a VC during those days was not easy,” Prof Ddumba said.
Mr Patrick Ibembe, the chairperson of Busoga College Mwiri Old Boys, said they would like to remember their fallen Old Boy Wandira for his refinement and composure.

“The late Wandira resided in Willis House at Mwiri. After graduation, he taught History at Mwiri, where his wife, Ms Nabbanja Wandira, also taught. The couple were parents of the late Tony Wandira, who was also an Old Boy of Mwiri. The late Wandira has been such a big figure in the Mwiri Alumni. Mwiri has produced 12 Vice Chancellors including the current Makerere University Vice Chancellor Nawangwe. Any big school is as big as its alumni,” he said.

Asavia Wandira first served as Makerere University VC from 1972 to 1975, after which he left Uganda for the University of Swaziland as a professor of Education.
Upon return to Uganda, he was named Minister of Education in 1979 and bounced back as Makerere University VC from 1979-1986.
Prof Wandira was also commissioner on the Constitutional Review Commission that sought people’s views on the 2005 constitutional amendments.

He was also instrumental in the formation of Busoga University as he was the chairperson of its pioneer board of directors that worked on its establishment in the late 1990s.
He last appeared in the public in 2012 when Makerere University made 90 years of existence to give a speech on the political history of the institution.

1 comment:

  1. It's always good to remember a person who gave a hand to your betterment.