A monstrous act took place last week in Makerere University: the mob murder of a student, into what can loosely be referred to as ethnic cleansing.
Was Ojok ethnically cleansed?
So for the students, who are a generation or two, removed from moral behaviour, this is the kind of act that resonates with the political talk of interring people “six feet under”. In the sane old days of the sixties and the seventies, that kind of talk was not there. Also, the way the students were admitted to the higher institutions of learning was through a selection process that required moral and academic merit. Not any longer. Today the people who get to these institutions come through, for lack of a better word, dubious means and through non-academic institutions, controlled and rendered by other considerations.
The Makerere of those days was the one of academic luminaries like the late Prof. Ali Mazrui, whose enduring refrain to students was that they were to be informed by the excitement of ideas; that was the mark of intellectuals or people who aspired to be that. Such people in the NRM echelons who rubbed shoulders with Mazrui are people such as: Prime Minister, Ruhakana Ruganda; Bank of Uganda Governor, Tumusime Mutebile; General Duties Minister, Prof. Tarsis Kabwejere; and the like. It is unimaginable that such people would have been caught in such an act of unwarranted crowd behaviour.
The Makerere, or the other universities of these days, is anything but. Many, if not all the students, who are admitted there have to undergo what is called patriotism training. It is supposed to inculcate what is referred to as “values”, but the training is called “mchaka mchaka”, a military training that is meant to make the students to take orders, instead of arguing ideas. That kind of militarism easily translates into mob action such as the students exhibited last week by killing Ojok.
Moreover, the patriotism classes are “directed” by a soldier, whose first claim to professionalism is an idea of war. In such a situation, how can anyone expect Makerere students, who are now admitted by their tens of thousands and attend classes even by looking through the windows of the lecture halls because of the excess of their numbers per class, to behave? There are no longer any subject tutorials and no direct contact with the lecturers, unless the individual student takes an exceptional interest. So, there is now a situation of people sitting exams for other people, if they do not descend on Nasser Road to print fake but genuine-looking certificates to indicate that they have got degrees.
The undercurrent of the NRM regime is corruption. Ojok was murdered on the claim that he was a thief. Patriotism classes of Lt. Col. Henry Matsiko, are supposed to instill the values of a “hard work” and else, but with the regimental eye of a sergeant major at the trooping of the colours. How can anyone else regard those students, who have no moral values in their tertiary training?
What is more, even from their earlier schooling, these children are now brought up in the ambit of the NRM regime whose values are stilted towards aggrandizement at whatever cost. Never mind, or because, of the Ministry of Ethics. The only hope is that the courts will see through the morality smog to sentence those students found to have acted in such a dastardly manner accordingly. But the tertiary institutions should wake up to this bad name; we cannot have graduates as murderers.