Makerere University’s guild boss, Bala David Bwiruka will always be in the media for good or bad reasons simply because he is leading the ‘Al mata’ of this region.
Campus Times Senyonga Derrick caught up with the flamboyant politician and discussed a number of issues; his relationship, 2016 presidential elections (politics), achievements and challenges, Mak-Gashumba relations, and to ascertain if the university is on ‘normal progress’.
The ‘tiger’ as popularly referred to by those close to him opened up on a couple of topics.
Makerere university has been rated third best, don’t you think it needs to be number one?
You cannot say your hundred if you have never been one (in terms of age). It’s a gradual process, despite the challenges Makerere has been facing, we have created an impact both locally and internationally. We have been recognized in terms of research and the team is not settled, they keep thinking.
Out of the 900 PHDs that Uganda has, 700 are concentrated on this hill. I won’t be a surprise if we become number one. We have come a long way, we have a long way to go, but we are moving on well.
Who is Bala David Bwiruka?
I am current guild president Makerere University elected by a very big number of students, more than 5,000 students.
But of course your victory is still challenged in courts?
To say that am not guild president Makerere is a psychiatric emergence, I was voted everyone knows that, everywhere, I am called president. I am a member of council, its losing touch with reality to say that I am not guild president of Makerere.
How did you get to be called ‘tiger’?
That is what we call master of language, you see when you go to school and learn English you don’t only learn what you know but you also learn what you don’t know and that helps you master language. Great inspirations people like PLO Lumumba (former Director Anti-Corruption Authority in Kenya).
He uses great parables, phrases to explain. You see that word tiger is not animal in nature but attribute, a tiger does not go around saying I can kill, I can kill, you only see its capacity when it has killed a bigger animal and skeletons are exposed. Simply meaning we cannot go around bragging I can do this, people’s expectations are not words, actions was the simple message in that name.
What is Bala’s background?
I stay here in Salaama Munyoyo, I am a city dweller my friend, I went to St. Peters Nsambya in primary, Naalya SS, then Jinja College.
What was the young Bala like, was he also a leader?
Yes I have been a leader my friend. You want me to show you my certificates? My leadership desires started so much in secondary school. I have attained top most jobs at every level.
What are your hobbies?
I love listening to music, (before interjecting), I am not so much into it (pressed to mention one song, he takes long guessing and says) I love these Christian songs, what, but even.. I don’t want to be selective but I love to listen to any music I feel is good.
Do we see you in sports?
I love to watch sports but I don’t per say have a sport, I used to play soccer. My best sport is jogging.
Sure which position?
Ah, my friend, I am a very good number one member, I have just stopped being a sportsman because I didn’t give it attention. Everyone at home plays football; it would be out of order for me not to love soccer.
Apart from that (Bala interrupts), I also love to watch movies with my friends
Which movies, do you go to cinema?
I take long without going to the cinema but I love to watch movies at my free time, like in an evening of sorts when am not going out and I watch it like up to 4am.
How do u hang out, dinner, beach?
I love to go to the beach.
Are you organizing one (beach bash)?
We will be organizing not one, but very many, soon. People should be ready to go.
Does Bala drink alcohol?
That’s an ambiguous question; I love to take soft drinks that make me reason. (Smirnoff?) As long as I don’t get drunk.
The non-teaching staff are striking, will the semester open as scheduled on August 15th?
It’s not only in Makerere but all public universities. It’s a national challenge. The university is working with other universities to see that the challenge is addressed.
Talking about Gashumba and his comparison of Makerere students like dogs with rabies…
Ahhh, Gashumba, well, he has been silent of well, I think he fought the battle he lost, eventually, he went silent. Just to speak to him, one on one, just like a citizen, I don’t know if he is a citizen of this country.
I think Gashumba needs to realize that this university has stood the test of time, its recognized, we are 3rd on the continent and the criteria of grading is not dependent by how much you speak, in fact after his speech we have more than 20,000 students who have applied to join Makerere.
More than 20,000 as compared to other universities; so Mr. Gashumba should be a little more disciplined and respect institutions.
We know that students sometimes can annoy you, but you see there is always a right channel, the students guild is here we were willing to settle disputes between Mr. Gashumba and the organizers of the event but he took the battles to the radios, so if you can assess and say he went to the radios and spoke but what were the implications, no result. If next time he has a problem with the university, let’s address it for the good of the university.
Prof. Mondo Kangonyera contract as Chancellor Makerere University expires in January 2017, who do you think would make a better replacement?
I have seen many very people who can best serve as chancellors here. As chancellor you’re the father of the university to offer oversight and guidance. If Dr. Wana Etyam (current chairperson Council) is made chancellor, we would be in good hands.
Any message you would like to rely to the student’s community?
The guild is working, it is not seated. I am going into a meeting this afternoon; we are going to discuss tuition increment. I have been here preparing myself. You see my approach is a little different that when it is an issue of tuition increment we are able to solve it internally and say no.
There cannot be tuition increment (because) eventually students will have to demonstrate so we will have wasted time to be in such a meeting.
Let us find other avenues; press government to give you more money, make sure those the university is demanding pay, and make sure there is accountability and transparency in the money we have, we will be able to run.
How about to the freshers?
Makerere is the best place you can live in as a university student, it is still the pride of Africa, there are so many opportunities, maximally use them. As the student guild we want the university to be on normal progress.
Bala is such an interesting person and you should not miss to read about what the Tiger says about rumors that he picked a very good girlfriend from one of his ministers to be his girlfriend. …..coming soon!!!!!