Reviews & Profiles
The 70-year-old in primary four
Posted Wednesday, October 23 2013 at 00:00
Financial constraints stole his childhood time in school but Mzee Mulangira Iddi Mutaaka is not about to let age deter him from achieving his education dream.
Behind Bundibugyo District Headquarters, next to the community conference Hall, is a unipot where Mzee Mulangira Iddi Mutaaka resides. I find the septuagenarian reading for beginning of term three exams.
Mulangira was born to Adunga Likuta and Nkabadeda Evallet Nanseghiya in Tokwe village, Kakogha Parish, Bundibugyo District. He did not go to school until about the age of 16 when he was staying with his uncle, Joseph Muhindi, one of Kabaka Muteesa II’s servants who lived in Kitebi, Kampala.
He used to sneak into the palace to play with princes Jjuko and Simbwa. It is because of his presence at the palace that some people mistook him for a Muganda thus the genesis of the name Mulangira (prince). While at the palace, he learnt Luganda and different cultural norms of the Baganda.
However, Mulangira felt he had not achieved much from the palace because he was not a Muganda. This motivated him to start studying at Aggrey primary school in Bunamwaya. However, he dropped out shortly after.
“I decided to join hands with my uncle to serve the kabaka in order to better our stay there.”
After the death of his parents in 1962, he decided to go back home and start an independent life because he felt mature. He bought a small piece of land next to Bundibugyo District headquarters. Mulangira started by farming but later dropped it for cleaning and guarding the district headquarter premises. He supplemented income by providing dry cleaning services.
During Obote I’s regime, Bundibugyo hospital hired him as a senior dry cleaner, a job he carried out until Yusuf Lule’s regime and resigned because he had other plans of making money.
During the 2011 elections, he expressed interest in the Bundibugyo LC IV chairperson’s seat but pulled out because of illiteracy.
Journey to school
Mulangira was inspired by the Human Rights seminar which took place in the Bundibugyo community hall, just opposite his home. At the seminar, they were given books and pens to write what was being taught that day. As others wrote, like a lost sheep, he just looked on because he could not read and write. This irked him because he was left embarrassed before his comrades.
“I felt ashamed and I just thinned in my coat. The whole seminar ended without causing any impact because my mind was far. It is from this that i realised that failure to study pains in adulthood,” he recalls.
In 2012, armed with his voter’s card and birth certificate, he enrolled at Bundibugyo Muslim School. He was warmly welcomed.
He started from primary three because he had completed primary two while in Kampala. The next morning, he stormed the office of the Bundibugyo LCIV chairman to seek financial support, which he got.
“When I started schooling, many people laughed at my wrinkled face and wondered whether I had run mad. They were silenced by his consistence. I became a common topic in the whole district to the extent that if a child was asked about Mulangira, they would laugh and say yes, ‘that mzee who is a pupil.’”
Mulangira’s popularity increased when he graced the airwaves of local radio stations. Despite being looked at as a ship without a compass, he believes that being 70 years old cannot stop him from going back to school because he fears to die an illiterate man.
“I want to at least have some level of education such that I can also be able to discuss on issues happening a round. I don’t want to be cheated by these educated people,” he reasons.