Four years ago, Henry Suubi Kiyimba was scorned by a section of the public after reporting to Makerere University with an empty metallic suitcase, old mattress, backpack and a dream that with education, he would be able to help his single mother and eight siblings.
A photo of a young Suubi, who was 20 years old at the time, with his back to the camera heading to University Hall, was shared on various social media platforms, immediately turning him into fodder for ridicule.
“A rare photo of a fresher attached to University Hall reporting today with a metallic case and ousofia (paper bag)” was the caption of the photo that was shared on Twitter.
It wasn’t long before a “Suubi challenge” was being churned out by internet trolls, albeit to his advantage as several Twitter users started looking for Suubi, who had no slightest idea that he was trending all over the country.
Suubi, whose mother sold pancakes, avocados and sometimes offered firewood to pay his fees, wasn’t sure of what awaited him at Makerere University. A revelation that he owed his former school fees arrears amounting to about Shs2m was clear testimony that he was from a poor background.
A “GoFundMe” page was activated which enabled sections of the public to clear his high school fees arrears and get his certificate, he was privileged to meet the University’s Vice Canceller in person, who encouraged him to enjoy his stay at the institution and work hard on his future career.
Letshego, a microfinance deposit taking institution (MDI), gave his mother Shs2m and a motorbike, he received laptops, clothes, beddings, and the course to which he was admitted on government sponsorship (Bachelor of Economics) was changed to mechanical engineering in which he had interest, and a leading engineering firm in the country gave him full scholarship.
But above all, he met and forgave the person who took his photo, describing his work as “a blessing in disguise”.
What’s the latest?
Suubi, who is currently in his Fourth Year, final semester, is just two months away from becoming a mechanical engineer.
“A lot has changed. I joined Makerere University with no knowledge about engineering, but it was my dream. I didn’t know I could make it to Makerere. It is not hard, but when you put your mind to it, you can succeed,” he told the Monitor in an interview on Friday.
He added: “The stage we are in now is to join the industry, become engineers and change the technological and innovation terrain. I have always been a hustler and when I decide to do something, I put everything else aside.”
Life at Makerere
“When you get to Makerere University, you encounter many challenges, especially if you are from the village because you find children from urban settings and prominent schools.’’
“So, you start by learning from them because you are put in the same class and room, and therefore, you have to learn from them. In all ways, your confidence has to be lifted, confidence boosted, and manners aligned,” he adds.
Suubi says he has done placements with several companies, including Afro lights, Uganda Baati, adding that the future is bright. “I have connected with most prospective employers on LinkedIn among other platforms.
Advise to those like him …
Currently, there are many destructions that can lead someone astray, but society has changed. Those who have a chance of studying should seize it because chances come once and one may never get a second chance.