People & Power

Luzira prisoners should go teach sanitation at Makerere

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By Joachim Buwembo

Posted  Sunday, December 22  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

The best place to learn from is prison. Several years ago, Ugandan prisons were so filthy that you could hardly tell the difference between the warders and the prisoners. In some villages, you could find prisoners being marched to go and work in people’s fields and the only way to tell the officer herding them is that he had a gun, otherwise they were all equally shabby in their rags.

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But how can Biku harass the country’s top and oldest university like that?” my maid said as she switched channels in disgust from the local news that was showing the bedbugs problem at Makerere.

“Since it is the oldest then it is understandable that the have bedbugs,” commented the minister’s maid who did not seem interested in the subject either.

“But can’t all those clever students fight the bed bugs?” insisted my maid. “It is understandable if the villagers in Busoga get harassed by jiggers but students at the highest institution of learning!”

“Stop comparing tomatoes and mangoes,” retorted the minister’s maid.
“What?” my maid was thrown off balance.
“You heard me,” said the minister’s maid. “Makerere is an institution while Busoga is an area, so you cannot compare the two. After all, some students at Makerere come from Busoga. So you can compare Busoga to Acholi for example and Makerere to another institution.”
“Like which one now?”

“Well, think of an institution where many people live and sleep having come from different parts of the country, and also within Kampala city. Luzira prison for example.”
“Kyokka you!” exclaimed my maid. “How can you compare the university to the prison where most inmates are illiterate?”

“That is what comparison is for, you don’t compare two things that are equal,” explained the minister’s maid. “So bedbugs are a sanitation issue in an institution with many residents.

The best place to learn from is prison. Several years ago, Ugandan prisons were so filthy that you could hardly tell the difference between the warders and the prisoners. In some villages, you could find prisoners being marched to go and work in people’s fields and the only way to tell the officer herding them is that he had a gun, otherwise they were all equally shabby in their rags.

But today, Uganda Prisons have sorted out their mess and both prisoners and warders are clean in their respective uniforms. I used to disagree whenever honourable said that these days anywhere you go in this country where there is a prison, the neighbouring population is happy and healthy because they benefit from some of the prisoners’ facilities. But when we paid a visit to one of his relatives in Luzira recently I started to believe. You know Madame refused to go, saying she cannot go anywhere near a prison. So I accompanied honourable and I was impressed by the level of hygiene in Luzira.”

“You mean the prisoners are cleaner than the university students?” my maid asked wide eyed.
“Yes, that is why you were right when you said Makerere and Luzira are not equal, though for you you thought Makerere was the better off.

But in sanitation terms, Luzira is far ahead of Makerere. The cells are disinfected, even though the disinfectant really smells like poison, but it is disinfectant or the same. The prisoners bathe everyday and their uniforms are clean.

No wonder, the women prisoners even hold beauty contests and do the catwalk these days. They even plait and fashion their hair, and all use makapad sanitary towels. But there is no minimum sanitation standard in Makerere’s hostels. So if you want to rid Makerere of filth, the quickest way to do it is to ask the prisoners to teach the students how many people can live in one place.”

“How do you think that can be done, since the students are doing different courses. Take them to prison for orientation in cleanliness?”

“No, that would be resisted since the students feel they are very important and think their intellectual status would be insulted to be sent to Luzira to learn sanitation,” argued the minister’s maid. “Instead the prisoners should be taken to Makerere and teach sanitation right on the ground. I think every floor in every hall of residence and hostel should have a couple of inmates from the prison to teach the clever students how to clean their surroundings. If you see the rubbish around the halls of residence these days you really wonder what kind humans can stand such filth.”

“But wont the prisoners escape once sent to live in the university?”
“No, the prison authorities know how to select those who are at low risk of escaping,” explained the minister’s maid. “Someone who has been in prison for five years and has only one year to go cannot dream of escaping because he would lose all the money the prison has been saving for him over the five years that he has been working for. Even at the rate of one thousand per day, that is quite some money.
Secondly, it would be such a serious matter and once caught he would be in worse trouble. People who have been in prison for a while are certainly smarter than your Bad Black who jumps bail and has to serve the sentence without rebate when apprehended. Those prisoners who have served several years in Luzira are the answer to resolving the filthy conditions in which the very clever people of Makerere are living.”
buwembo@gmail.com