FOREVER TEACHER: Professor Senteza Kajubi

Kajubi took time off for politics. He was a Contituent Assembly delegate

Professor Senteza Kajubi of Nkumba University is a Fulbright Scholar, a three-time Vice Chancellor and three-time Salongo. He told Angela Nampewo about the teachers that shaped his life – the one at Mengo and the one that he himself became.

QWhat did you study?
AI studied Geography and Education at Makerere College at that time. Then I went to University of Chicago where I studied Geography again. When I left University of Chicago, I taught Geography at King's College Buddo. I was the senior Geography teacher there. At the end of 1958, I went to Makerere and lectured in “Methods of Teaching Geography in Secondary Schools”. I was lecturer and later Senior Lecturer in Education. In 1965, I became the Director of the National Institute of Education. The Institute was responsible for the development of curricular, examination and certification of primary school teachers. For the first time, we brought primary school teachers nearer to the University. In 1977, I was appointed Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, a position I ceased to occupy in 1979. Thereafter, I became Professor for Higher Education at Makerere. In 1986, I was appointed Principal of the Institute of Teacher Education, Kyambogo (ITEK).

QWhat is the greatest thing you have done?
AI have worked in positions that have opened a door to higher education for many people. The National Institute of Education for instance, trained many people who have gone to higher levels, gained PhDs and international jobs… These people have come up because the National Institute was there and our policy was to widen access.
Secondly, in 1979, when the war came and I was Vice Chancellor, I was in charge of the lives of all students. The University did not close. It was the only institution in the country which did not close. Thank God no student was killed. They were fed very well and when the war ended, I felt like a war general. At that time, the minister of Education wa s a Brigadier but when the first gunshot rung out, they all ran. We had a clergyman who read a section from the bible that says that a real shepherd does not run away from his sheep. When the first shell fell on Makerere, he was the first one to run.
QHow did you prepare for retirement?
AWell, we made savings. I built myself a house so that I would have something to move into and then plan a new route. I'm not a businessman and I'm not a farmer. My interest is in education.

QWhere is your family now?
AMy family is scattered in many parts of the world. I've got two children who are permanently here. One of them is the Deputy Director, Bank of Uganda. The other one is a florist and a landscaping expert. The rest of the children are in the United States of America. I've got six children there plus grandchildren. The children went to the U.S. during the Amin period when it was very difficult here. They went to school there and when they left school, they got jobs there because the economy here wasn't all that boisterous.

QHas anything happened and turned your life around?

AThe event that turned my life around happened a long time ago when I was in Junior Secondary School. When the headmaster asked me, ‘When you grow up, what would you like to do?’ I was very much interested in agriculture. At home, I used to plant flowers. So, I told the headmaster that I wanted to become an agricultural officer. He respected my choice and said, ‘But have you ever thought of being a teacher?’ He put it to me and then he said, ‘If you're going to be a teacher, it seems you are below the age of your peers. I am going to recommend for you to go to Buddo and study among people your own age.’ In 1943, I left Mengo Junior Secondary and went to Buddo.
Then, in 1947-48, when I was at Makerere, there was an American student working at a PhD. He asked me to be his research assistant. I did and then he promised to help me to go to the U nited States. He helped me get a Fulbright Scholarship. I think I was the first person from Africa to get a Fulbright Scholarship. n

do you do for the rest of the time when there are no plays on?
AThink. That's what I do. When I don't have a play to put on, all I do is think. It takes me about six months to really think about a play and the next six months to perform it.

QWhich school of drama did you go to?
A I was educated in Uganda and that's it. I am self-educated basically. I went to Makerere University where I didn't even finish because of contradicting schools of thought.

QHave you learnt any lessons in life?
AYeah, lots of them. Basically what I have learnt in my years and from my experience is that the most important thing is to free yourself. Free yourself from mental, spiritual and physical barriers which keep you from being a free man and someone who can realise and maximise their potential. To do that, you have to let go of a lot of things like bitterness, grudges, hate, lack of sleep and greed… Most people lose themselves in greed, trying to grab everything. You live better when you subtract all these things. Even when you subtract your money, you become a better person. (Money) is the reason why most people are unhappy.

QHas something happened in your life that totally changed it?
A I was betrayed. I won't mention her name but betrayal led me to turn around. When you are betrayed by people who you really never expected to…then somehow it hits you and when you look into yourself, a lot of revelations come up.

Sunday Vision: Sunday, 8th February, 2004

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