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Rwot Ananiya Akera's walk down memory lane

  • In Sciences
  • 15 Sep 2009 - 10:04am
  • By Anonymous (not verified)
  • 223

It is just a few days shy of September 22nd, the date Rwot Ananiya Akera, a prominent farmer of Lakwatomer Farm, Gulu and 1943 graduate of Makerere University will celebrate his 96th birthday.

L-R: Gulu LC V Chairman Hon. Norbert Mao,  Ps Grace Kityo(IACE) & Mzee AkeraOn 11th August 2009, Mzee Akera paid a courtesy call on his former institution after a period of more than 60 years. Key on his to-do list was to visit a cubicle he once shared with the late Tanzanian President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, a prominent African freedom fighter with whom they shared principals of Education. The former Nsubuga Hall currently houses the Department of Distance Education in the Institute of Adult and Continuing Education (IACE).

At 95 years old, the towering and slightly hunched Rwot Akera is one of the oldest living alumni of Makerere University, a major reason he was invited to attend the Makerere-Mazruiana project launch, aimed at recogninising and paying tribute to Makerere’s illustrious alumni, former professors, deans, friends and exceptional supporters. In an interview with the Rwot, he wondered where the government is taking all the money. “We are decaying if an institution like Makerere is not given funding”, he said.

Not like many graduates who opt to work in prestigious offices, education for self reliance is what drove Rwot Akera into farming. He opted to drop teaching, a profession he had acquired from Makerere and in 1948, two years after graduation, he was awarded a trophy as The Top Commonwealth tobacco farmer in Uganda and since then he never looked back. In 1949, he was producing 30% of the country’s Tobacco and employing over 700 workers on his Farm.

Mzee AkeraBy practically engaging in farming, Rwot Akera discovered that this was the best way to influence others to actively take up the trade. Using his skills as a teacher, he spurred his peers on to earn a living quoting a famous Irish saying “Where there’s muck, there’s money”. Asked about the famine that has killed over 30 people in the Eastern part of the country in relation to his quote, he retorted “Uganda is rich with fertile soils. A country is not worth it if it cannot sustain its own people”.

Mzee Akera greets Chancellor as Prof. Mazrui looks onRwot Akera proudly spoke of the then politics free Makerere College which followed the British College curriculum and was affiliated to Oxford University. His well-spoken English is one of the reasons that his former student and President of Uganda, Apollo Milton Obote (RIP) joined Busoga College Mwiri, a school Rwot Akera attended before joining Makerere College. At 96, Rwot Akera managed to stand firm for over 10 minutes to deliver a speech, with clear eyesight and an unwavering voice. He attributed his good health to his hard work that kept him physically active. He further intimated that he doesn’t suffer from mental fatigue, which he considers a key ingredient of poor health because he doesn’t have to worry about money, food and clothes.

“We must change our attitude in Education, sink our differences and put our heads together so that this sorry problem is put down”, this was his advice to the friends, alumni and well-wishers of Makerere University, as a solution to solve the current problems with the education system. He finally requested the Makerere University Management to consider renaming CCE Hall to Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Hall in honor of his late roommate and former Tanzanian President.

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