In 1994 Richard Kiwanuka, 35, walked into Tipsy Restaurant in Wandegeya, Kampala desperate for any available job
In 1994 Richard Kiwanuka, 35, walked into Tipsy Restaurant in Wandegeya, Kampala desperate for any available job.
He was 15 years then with nothing specific to refer to after her had dropped out of school at Makerere Education Center in Primary Four.
Kiwanuka who was nicknamed “Boyi” was so young when he started out for a job search and finally landing one at Tipsy.
Before that he had combed the streets of Wandegeya searching for a miracle as well as trying to forge a life doing manual jobs in the Katanga slam
His is a miracle story that started as a cleaning opportunity at Tipsy Restaurant which had opened up in the busy streets of Wandegeya, Kampala a few months into 1994.
He started out mopping floors but his interest seemed to lie elsewhere as he kept close contact with people in the kitchen where he currently works as a chef.
Over the years Kiwanuka has become a master of sorts with the ability to prepare any meal on the restaurant’s menu. He has for the last 23 years been part of the larger Tipsy Restaurant family.
The sixth born in a family of 12 Kiwanuka was born to the late Joseph Kulubanga and Ruth Namubiru of Makerere, Kampala.
He went to Makerere Education Centre for his primary education but dropped out in Primary Four.
“My father’s financial status was bad and we were many children. The situation kept worsening all the time. That is why I dropped out of to start working,” he says, as he tidies up a chicken grill at Tipsy Restaurant where I met him for the interview.
At Tipsy, Kiwanuka, started as a causal labourer whose task was to fetch water and sweep around the restaurant for Shs2,000.
However, in 2000, he made his first attempt at making chaps after one of the chefs at the restaurant had fallen ill. This was the start of a journey that would later see him become the chef, a position that elevated his income to the current Shs15,000 per day.
“I had never trained nor have any interest in cooking. I was only looking for a job. I pushed myself to learn. One time, the chef got sick for close to two months and I was the only option. I had learnt a few things, which after I tried them out, impressed my boss,” he says.
This was an opportunity for a boy who had grown up lacking in everything and with no formal education.
And indeed, he says, all this has been achieved through patience, hard work and trustworthiness.
“My boss [Nuuruh Kasule] liked me from day one. It was all left to me to either betray her trust or work my way out of the life I was living. I chose not to behave like a teenager by avoiding drugs and alcohol,” he says.
Through the years Kiwanuka has contributed to the growth of Tipsy which currently has a number of restaurants in other parts of Kampala including, Kansanga, and Bwaise.
He has been able to contribute to the growth of the restaurant by establishing a chicken grilling, one of the cash cows for Tipsy currently.
“Grilled chicken was lucrative. I interested my boss and she liked it. It has been one of the best innovations so far,” he says.
However, just like any other job, Kiwanuka had one of his worst experiences when a heated oven almost killed him.
“It [oven] caught fire. I tried to put it out by pouring water but the steam burnt me. I was hospitalised for some weeks,” he says.