Sunday March 2 2014

Making chapatti to pay my tuition fees

Cohen Tumusiime makes chapatti, his source of tuition.

Cohen Tumusiime makes chapatti, his source of tuition. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

For 23-year-old Cohen Tumusiime, life is not about sitting back to wait for his father- only surviving parent, to pay his tuition at Makerere University. Unlike some of his peers that waste away their education chances, he makes chapatti to earn his tuition and upkeep for his siblings.

His mother passed on during Senior Six vacation and his father could not do much with his meagre income from his small business. To pay his tuition, Tumusiime uses his self-taught culinary skills to make chapatti that he sells before going for classes at the College of Education.

“I wake up at about 6am to mix ingredients and make dough for the chapattis. I clean my small table and display shelf. At 7.45am, I light the charcoal stove and get ready to roll out for business,” says Tumusiime. Opposite Caltec Academy in Kikoni, Makerere, is his workstation that keeps him busy as he serves fellow students from hostels around from 8am to 3pm. He has a workmate who sorts and cooks beans to make Kikomando (chappati mixed with beans). The 23-year-old serves his clients with pleasantries and most of all a smile to draw clients.

Best foot forward
On joining the university, Tumusiine had some money from the father. Then, Sam, a friend of his, introduced him to a sacco. They used to save money every month. He became thrifty to the last letter as he thought up how to make a living and survive to the last year at school. After saving Shs 300,000, making chapatti was the best idea he came up with. He paid Shs250,000 to rent the place for a whole semester and used Shs50,000 to buy equipment for using in the business.

“On receiving the Shs300,000, I thought about establishing business whose returns would finance my studies above anything else. Little as the capital was, I had to put it to good use,” he recalls.

As time went by, Tumusiime made a handsome Shs30,000 per day as profit. By end of month, he could afford to pay his hostel fee and other requirements. “My first clients used to be my friends who talked their friends into supporting my business,” Tumusiime says adding: “They praised my culinary skills and always said my chapatti tasted like no other.”

It was not long before he completed first year. The savings group still went on as business picked up he started making more chapatti. By that time, his tuition was Shs700,000. Life seemed to get better.

Balancing the act
Tumusiime stresses that he reads on top of working hard. But school is prioritybecause it is where his future lies. “Unlike in my first year, now I entrust the business with my workmate who has proved trustworthy. I have ample time to read and later return to get accountability of the day. I trust him because we have been together for a while too,”he says.

Because Tumusiime is the eldest of five, he wants to be the role model. He dreams of financing their education. He does not involve himself in anti-social acts. “Since my father cannot afford to take care of the educational needs of my siblings, I want to be the sole provider,” he reasons.

Apart from chapatti business…
Outside his main trade, Tumusiime practices music. His stage name is Mc Scurvey camera. His passion has seen him produce two tracks including Ebintu sibyangu which plays on airwaves in Masindi and Bunyoro region. He says he needs a promoter to become a proper artiste. His role models in music are Navio, Good lyfe, Wilson Bugembe, R Kelly and Judith Babirye.

Waking up every morning to make chapatti and going for lectures later on is tedious. Over the weekend and school holidays, there are few clients, thus less sales. However, the third year student urges the youths: “When a challenge strikes, work hard and combat it. Believe in yourself and get enterprising.”