BACK TO SCHOOL: In the recent years, a number of our notable public figures have been returning to school to acquire academic qualifications. But why are they seeing the need to get these qualifications now? Esther Oluka finds out.
Last month, the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) results were released and to many people’s surprise one of the jubilating candidates was singer Joseph Mayanja, aka, Jose Chameleone. He had scored Aggregate 12 but for his critics, question was; when did he sit for his exams? They even went ahead and dug up dates. Their findings: At the time some of the exams were sat, Chameleone was away performing at international shows in Sierra Leone and London. Of course the singer came out to defend his results and to back him up was his headmaster from Katuuso Community Secondary School.
What we know for sure is that Chameleone’s purpose for returning to school was to support his political ambitions.
Before he declared his intentions to run for political office, Robert Kyagulanyi, known to many as Bobi Wine, had enrolled for a Law degree at Cavendish University. This was to supplement his degree in Music, Dance and Drama that he attained from Makerere University. So when he joined the race for Kyadondo East MP, it all finally made sense.
We have heard stories of parents categorising music as a career for school dropouts or failures. And indeed from the various interviews we have done with artistes, many note how their parents were opposed to their career paths because they did not want to see their children drop out of school or turn to drugs. For some, ultimatums were given – finish school, then you can get my full blessing.
Many artistes will confess to not finishing school, choosing to pursue their music dream. Some promise themselves to return and complete school as soon as they are done laying a foundation for their careers, but we all know how demanding the music industry is. Now in an era where things seem to be changing and we are seeing musicians taking on the political route, we see many returning to school.
Parents back in the day emphasised the need for education but we have seen some of our celebrities go on to become very successful despite dropping out of school.
Chameleone, for instance, is among the artistes we have seen return to school, and like his counterparts Geoffrey Lutaaya, Bosmic Otim and Khalifah Aganaga, it is all for political ambitions.
We look at some of our Ugandan celebrities who did not get the necessary school credentials during their vibrant school years; Why did they fail to do so at the time? Why now? Is school that important afterall?
Jose Chameleone – Contesting for mayor in 2021
It is now an open secret that Joseph Mayanja, aka Jose Chameleone, plans to run for Kampala Lord Mayoral, in the 2021 general elections.
Last year, he was quoted in the Daily Monitor, saying his reason for returning to school was so that he can contribute towards liberating the nation.
But to run for a political office of that magnitude, a candidate requires a certain level of academic credentials.
Mayanya’s early education remains a mystery to many. Some critics say because his musical career kicked off quite early, he hardly found time for school.
The singer’s return to school was somewhat quiet, and many only got to know after the UACE results were released last month. Chameleone sat his exams at Katuuso Community Secondary School and he scored 12 points.
Although many doubted the results, the musician has come out and refuted claims that he just paid for the results. The school head teacher too was forced to come out in the musician’s defence.
Peter Sematimba, Busiro South MP
People failed to understand the American version of my qualifications
On February 28, Sematimba spoke to this reporter about his UACE results. The businessman and legislator sat for his final examinations last year at Kakoola High School in Luweero District. When the results were released this year on February 27, he scored 6 DDB in Divinity, Literature, Art and a credit four in Computer Studies. He scored 13 points out of 20.
“I expected a minimum of 16 points. But then again, 13 points are also good. I passed,” he says.
Sematimba says prior to sitting last year’s examinations, he already had academic documents that were equivalent to Senior Six or UACE.
“These documents were obtained after studying in America. However, every time I win an election here (in Uganda), people take me to court, saying I am not educated enough. That I do not have what is required to be a viable candidate,” he says.
“As a matter of fact after winning the elections to become Busiiro South MP in 2016, it was when the court battles began. Legal action was taken by Ssekigozi and company claiming the same thing that I do not have the academic qualifications which of course I did and the National Council for Higher Education proved it.”
The court case cost him an incredible Shs350m to prove his case. Sematimba eventually retained the seat.
“People failed to understand the American version of my qualifications. For instance, every time I explained to people that I have an associate’s degree in computer technology from the Pacific Coast Technical Institute (PCTI), they got confused. At least now I have the Ugandan version of the academic qualifications that these local politicians understand.”
And since the 2021 elections are just around the corner, Sematimba says he wanted to save himself another round of expensive court battles.
William Otim, aka Bosmic Otim – I did not have a chance to finish school early
Of late, the musician’s name has been making numerous rounds in media circles for different reasons, including supposedly switching camps from People Power to NRM, claims he has persistently refuted. But, this is not our concern. Rather, our interest in him is because of academic reasons.
Otim, an artiste based in northern Uganda, is known for songs such as Peace Returns, Revenge is Not Good, Equal Rights, Akemo Dwong Ento Guvu Pe (literally translated as “I’m angry but I have no energy/capacity”).
He was among the candidates who sat for Senior Six last year and the rumour was that Otim sat for them because he did not have the necessary academic qualifications, yet he was silently embracing the idea of seeking for political office. There were claims he wanted to stand as Member of Parliament representing Kitgum Municipality in 2021.
“I did not sit Senior Six last year for political reasons. Besides, I am not standing for any political office in 2021,” he says.
And so, one wonders, why then did he go back to school after all these years.
“Besides the northern insurgency that brought instability to our community, I also lost both my parents at a young age, so life became hard. I barely kept in school because there was no money. Eventually, I dropped out promising myself to return and complete my studies,” he says.
Last year was that year, but his performance was poor after scoring F9 in General paper, F in History, F in CRE, F in Arts and X in CST.
“I don’t blame anyone for my bad grades,” he says, adding, “Things happen. I plan on re-sitting the papers sometime, probably after the elections.”
Otim says perhaps had his parents been alive, he might have finished university. He advises children with parents to utilise the opportunity to get an education.
About 20 years ago, Geoffrey Lutaaya dropped out of school to pursue and concentrate on his music career. He is known for songs such as Oli Miss, Nassanga, among others
Lutaaya, like a section of some Ugandan musicians, has been declaring intentions of standing for a parliamentary seat in the next coming elections.
Many of us will never forget how Lutaaya expressed his joy when the 2018 Senior Four results were released. The musician smiled from ear to ear after scoring Aggregate 62.
It was then that his wife, Irene Namatovu, of the famous Okuzala Kujagana hit revealed that she was also returning to school for Senior Six.
Lutaaya opted to sit for his Senior Six examinations in November 2019 but has not been forthcoming in sharing his results this time round.
Khalifa Aganaga – Political ambitions
Fresh Daddy’s former manager, Sadat Mukiibi, aka Khalifa Aganaga, has for a while now spoken out in different interviews about his intentions to contest for the Rubaga South MP seat come 2021.
And with his revelation, a number of critics came out and said he does not have the required academic qualifications to run for the office. It was probably for this reason that Aganaga felt it necessary last year to post his Senior Six results as proof that he had what it took to run for a political office.
He performed well, having scored AABB in History, Economics, Entrepreneurship and Geography. The exams were written in 2009 at Kawanda Secondary School.
He did not end there. The musician went ahead and posted that he was a registered student of Law at Kampala International University.