Zambezi Times Online

Prof. Mushanga Opens School

KAMPALA, Mar 24 - Professor Mushanga these days spends his days teaching villagers in Itendero. "Part of my daily schedule is to sit here and explain to these people that lightning is not a bird. I teach them about hygiene, agriculture and natural sciences," he says seated under his open-walled hut behind his rural house.

This seems a contradiction for many, that a man who as a diplomat rubbed shoulders with world leaders should be doing this. But he says it is better than living in Kampala.

"I was born in this village. I know what poverty and backwardness is. My message to everyone is that education and training in multilingual skills was the most important thing. It should be everyone's priority."

And true to his word, he has built the secondary school for residents of Itendero.

"I built this school with help from friends in Germany, and gave it to the community. The school charges sh65,000 for O' Level and sh100,000 for A' Level. It is the cheapest in the district, and I want to give a chance to children from low income families to get an education,"

A noble aim it is, but one that Itendero residents have ignored because they consider it a school for less promising students. For a long time the word in Itendero was that Mushanga's school would not be so cheap if it had substance.

Then the school began to excel for three years and produced the second best student in the district last year. The professor had outwitted the skeptics.

"They now understand my logic of affordable education", says Mushanga as he bursts into laughter.

He asks me if I would like to have a beer or soda. I settle down for rich Ankole milk tea. His youthful beautiful daughter Sheila puts a flask before me minutes later. And as I fill my cup, the spirit of intellectualism descends on the retired don.

"How can two million banyankore fail to publish a single book in one year,?"he wonders, "this is plain unseriousness." He asks me if the New Vision could publish his books. Prof Mushanga, who has a PhD in Criminology has 10 manuscripts ready for publication. I saw a few titles; From Generation to Generation, The Uganda We Want and Essays in Criminology.

I tell him I would make inquiries and let him know available opportunities. I am through with my first cup of tea. So the professor invites me to his library. I see a collection of over 500 rare books in Sociology, Anthropology, Politics, Criminology and others. He shows me some of his published books.

"The Kenyans used to envy us when we were lecturers at the University of Nairobi. Okot p'Bitek's book would come out, then we would throw a party for the whole week. Then Ruganda's book would come and the party would continue, just when the party was almost over, Mushanga's and Taban Lo Liyong's would be announced."

As he speaks, I see in the Professor the African-bred academic that he is. I am not surprised when he tells me that his best days were the days when he was a lecturer at Makerere and Nairobi Universities. But being a true African academic has it's shortfalls as Mushanga found out during diplomatic service.

He annoyed President Kenneth Kaunda one day by telling him it was scandalous that 400 white farmers should own all the prime farmland in Zambia, decades after independence. Kenneth Kaunda rang to President Museveni in protest. The matter was settled diplomatically.

In Rome, the Pope was glad to host him because he came from the land of the Christian martyrs but was left puzzled, when the Professor confessed he was not a Christian. Professor Mushanga's first name was Musa, but he renounced it along time ago.

In Germany and Canada, he spellbound the diplomatic core and university audiences who loved to hear him lecture on Africa.

We come back to the hut and he continues. "For me, reading and writing is a full time job. I wake up at 6.00am to listen to the BBC and other stations. If I am not reading or writing, that means I am under this shed talking to people."

Mushanga was furious to learn that The New Vision company will be privatized.

"What will the government do after that," he asks. "No one would publish for us if we don't do it ourselves. On politics the Professor says he was one of the original UPM members and wants clean and straight forward leadership.

by Joe Nam
Source: New Vision/All Africa Global Media

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