By Denis Jjuuko
Around 2007, I received a call from Nkumba University officials asking me to help them teach students on the journalism programme they had just introduced. The programme had been designed by Deo Byabafumu, a journalist based in Entebbe, who died shortly before the semester started.
Four students had been enrolled and were not having lectures as they didn’t have a lecturer. The students were threatening to sue and/or leave. Nkumba had solely relied on Deo Byabafumu and his sudden death had caught them unaware and unprepared. They were like an owl under flashlights.
They called a close friend who gave them my telephone number. I saw an opportunity to impart knowledge to these young and not so young people. For the first few years, I was the only lecturer teaching everything until I recruited a few colleagues in the industry. Some were wiser than me and left before I did.
I had previously refused to teach even when some colleagues at Makerere asked. But I thought I would make a contribution more to Nkumba than Makerere. I accepted. I never negotiated, I accepted whatever they offered because technically they couldn’t afford me so whatever they paid I took it as a fuel expense. I live in Kampala and Nkumba is 40 or so kilometers away on previously the most traffic jammed road in Uganda to the extent that Entebbe had been classified a hard to reach area by some people.
After 10 years, my contract expired and I didn’t ask for contract renewal because I was honestly tired. It was no longer a challenge for me. I had lost interest in teaching especially marking exams! I wanted to spend my time dedicated to my businesses which were suffering because of my continued absence and I had done my individual social responsibility. It was never about the money!
So when I opened the New Vision today, I saw them splashing money on a supplement. They are celebrating 25 years of existence today. The leaders of the university said a lot of things in the newspaper advert apart from one—their inability to meet contractual obligations. My teaching was never about money but a contract is a contract!
For the last two or so years, I have been asking them to pay me what they owe me…which is close to Shs40m but they have refused to pay, they have refused to negotiate a payment plan. The labour officer for Wakiso District got tired of their lies and has advised court as best option. Btw the figure I have mentioned doesn’t include my unpaid NSSF! Another court case perhaps!
So as Nkumba University rolls out the carpet to celebrate 25 years today, I am printing out documents to go to court. Richard Branson advised in one of his books never to delay to “sue the bastards.”
Congratulations Nkumba University on your 25th anniversary, see you soon in court!
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