MAKERERE GUILD PRESIDENTS AND THE TALE OF GALOGITHO

Stephen Renny Galogitho had already defied all the odds by the time he walked into Makerere, where he had been admitted to do Medicine – and he was not yet done.

A year later, the petit but smart talking ex-Seminarian had charmed Makerereans, to become only the second student from Padhola (West Budama) in Tororo to become a guild president at Uganda’s highest centre of learning.

He joined a similarly short list of stars from the original Tororo to have taken the highly contested Guild presidency.  These included Emmanuel Dombo, now a former MP and the NRM party’s communications head, and  the towering Wilbrod Owor (B.COM) also from West Budama, whose oratory skills took him to the top ‘job’ at Makerere. Wilbrod is the son of Kwar Adhola Moses Stephen Owor, and is currently the Executive Director of the powerful Uganda Bankers Association.

Galogitho and Wilbrod Owor were both from St Peters College (TC). Those were the years TC used to punch at the same weight as Kampala’s giants, sending hundreds to the University annually. Those numbers counted when Wilbrod and Galogitho contested.

Others from the greater Tororo area were Taligola, Robert Okware and  Susan Abbo, who like Galogitho and Owor, are from West Budama. She now works in President’s office. 

Elsewhere, another son of Tororo Yoga Adhola had earlier made it as Guild President of Nairobi University. Yoga Adhola was later among the founding members of FRONASA and Editor of the People’s Newspaper.

That however marked the start of the end for Galogitho. He soon led a strike in an open fight against government, to ensure all students are supported after they get to ‘The Hill’.

At that  time, the government had considered introducing cost-sharing measures and abolish free university education for the best students in the country, a move that Galogitho opposed as a student leader.The administration reacted worse than the colonialist, and expelled Galogitho and several of his colleagues. Most of his colleagues eventually returned to study, but Galogitho had know one to lobby for him. 

It can be recalled that when Abu Mayanja was expelled from Makerere during the 50s after a students strike, the colonialists acknowledged his brilliance, and instead gave him a scholarship to study in the UK.

In his the book “Student Power in Africa: A case of Makerere University”, Frederick K. Byaruhanga  says that 1950s Vice Chancellor Sir Bernard de Bunsen used his connections within the Governor’s office to obtain scholarships for the expelled students to study abroad, because he considered them ‘young men of real worth’. Those that had been expeled were Uganda’s Abu Mayanja, Josephat Karanja, Isaac Omolo and Said Hamdun from Kenya.

All attempts by Galogitho to continue his studies in other universities were frustrated by the current NRM government.

He was ruined. He returned to the village, until the Makerere Univeristy tower burned down in September this year, 25 years later. He posted a comment on facebook, his colleagues spotted it, he was fished out, and the rest is history!

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