Galogitho: Mak’s short tower in need of rebuilding

Fred Jenga

What you need to know:

  • He mobilised students to protest the government’s decision and the student protests went on and on. With only months left to the end of his studies as a medical student, Galogitho. was expelled from Makerere. He sort of fell off the face of the earth after that. 

Francis Imbuga’s play Betrayal In The City focuses on the dashed hopes and aspirations of ordinary African citizens in their post-independence governments. Jasper Wendo, one of the main characters, is a frustrated university student leader who engages in activism so as to better his country.

 Jasper faces all kinds of odds in his work of social justice. At some point he blurts out “when the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind, it is not enough to say the man is mad.”  
There are parallels between Jasper Wendo’s life and the life of former Makerere University guild president Renny Stephen Galogitho.  

At a time when the government was under economic pressure due to the structural adjustment programme and considered introducing cost-sharing measures at higher institutions of learning, Galogitho as a student leader opposed such a move. He mobilised students to protest the government’s decision and the student protests went on and on. With only months left to the end of his studies as a medical student, Galogitho. was expelled from Makerere. He sort of fell off the face of the earth after that. 

 Galogitho.’s activism happened at the time when we were A-Level students. Many years down the road, as a priest and serving as a board member of a secondary, I had the privilege of looking at the teachers qualifications and their students’ performance. 

One of the teachers always posted excellent student results, but in the column of the qualifications, his name always had ‘No Degree.’ 
I inquired about the situation and I was told that the teacher was Stephen Renny Galogitho. He was dismissed from Makerere before he finished his degree. All the memories started coming back. 

Githo moved on from the secondary school to try other things in other areas of life. I have kept in touch with him, but life has been tough and sad for him. We regularly talk. I offer counsel or small financial resources I can get. But life has never been the same for him. Many friends abandoned him when he sacrificed his bright future as a proud and an articulate medical doctor.   He is currently unemployed. He depends on friends and well-wishers.
  
When the Makerere University fire broke out and burned the tower, the symbolism in relation to Galogitho’s life could not be missed. Galogitho’s life is the “short tower” that burnt down through expulsion in 1996. 
It is now 25 years since it happened and Galogitho has hit his early 50s. He is rugged, unkempt, poorly dressed, and appears malnourished. 

Jasper Wendo’s words are Galogitho’s words too: “When the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind, it is not enough to say the man is mad.” 
A passionate concern for social justice for those on the fringes and the ensuing frustrations that came of it, make Galogitho walk around like a mad man.

I have a degree from Makerere’s Mass Communication Department. I am proud of the university and feel sad at the burning of the iconic main building and its tower. I plan on making a small financial contribution to the rebuilding efforts. 

One point, however, that I wish to highlight, is that as the university rallies alumni to rebuild the burned down tower, it is also important that alumni consider rebuilding the life of Galogitho so that he gets a life of his own. 

He is the symbolic “short tower” of Makerere that was burned 25 years ago, but has laid in ruins ever since. He is symbolic of Makerere’s history that went up in flames and urgently needs restoration. 
Every time I exchange a text message with Galogitho, I keep asking myself like Eddy Kenzo in his music: “Gavumenti weyayu? 

Past Makerere University guild presidents weyayu? Makerere alumni weyayu?” 
Let us keep politics out of this. Let us focus on rebuilding “the two towers.” 

Fr Fred Jenga is a friend of Galogitho.
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