Mr. Balitta Joab retired from University service as Senior Foreman-Carpentry, Estates and Works Department in 2004 after 49 years of dedicated service. Mak@90 had a chat with the 82 year old 1955 graduate of Carpentry and Joinery and now brings you Part Two of the three-part interview.
The Makerere Institute of Social Research-MISR was very popular with American Researchers at the time. From MISR, they went into the slums of Kikoni, Kivulu and Katanga to conduct their research. They also took keen interest in the activities of the populations in Kisenyi especially in what they later discovered was the crude waragi making process. They were amazed that the residents were buying beverages sold out of previously discarded jerrycans and on sampling the product, discovered that it was a very potent brew!
Makerere had only two entrances at the time, The Eastern gate was located below the present day Infectious Diseases Institute-IDI (Makerere Office) and the other entrance was located between the School of Law and Makerere College School.
There were only 3 cars in Makerere at the time, hence the garages at the main building. Owing to this, Makerere enjoyed a dust free environment and the lush greens were regularly patronized by students dressed in white.
By then there were few buildings with Makerere College there were only 2 halls, Mitchell Hall (Old Mitchell) and The Guest House was a girl’s hall. The girls later migrated from The Guest House to Mary Stuart Hall. The Guest House was built in the early 1940s. The first foundation for the main building was laid in 1930 using our former hoes shaped like Mango tree leaves tied with banana fibres.
The Main Building was one of a kind at the time in Uganda. The main Hall was as such was the best venue for National, Millitary, Police and other grand functions. It was the best hall in Uganda!
Makerere College’s boundaries where defined by houses constructed at the edges running all the way from the Main Makerere grounds along Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road to the Present day School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bioengineering. The present day College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology site acted as a dumping ground then.
The Main Building, St. Francis Chapel and St Augustine Chapel stood out as the College’s Major buildings. The School of Agriculture and The Queens Court; preset day College of Humanities and Social Sciences Building, were yet to be constructed at the time. The Faculty of Science site was occupied by staff residences and the Swimming pool was yet to be constructed. Whereas Nkurumah Hall was yet to be constructed, Northcote hall existed and was bordered by the National Labour and Welfare Office, housed at Makerere at the time. The Buildings currently housing the Police Station and Northcote extension blocks served as dormitories for the Technical Students and the Guild Offices housed the Dining Hall. Blocks Grant A and Grant B; currently housing the Makerere University Building Unit-MUBU, also used to act as dormitories for the Technical Institute, while the first floor straddling both blocks acted as the Chapel and Library. Across the road, Mackay and Lugard across the road; currently housing Security Offices (University Police), were also dormitories. uniports were also introduced to house additional students as the population grew,
University Hall was constructed on land originally belonging to a Nubian Family.
The Uganda Museum was initially housed at Makerere University at the Present Day Department of Fine Art Building, prior to its move to the current site in Kitante on 30th June 1954. The First School of Psychology Building (closest to Mary Stuart Road) used to house the Old Mitchell Hall Kitchen, while the next building housed the Old Mitchell Hall Dining. These were later converted into classrooms and thereafter Department of Psychology Offices.
Recreation and Social Life
Owing to the popularity of the game at the time, tennis courts were constructed in the gardens behind Northcote Hall. The Rugby Grounds near Nsibirwa Hall were the first of their kind to be constructed in Uganda by students of the Technical Institute in 1928. It was the only pitch in Uganda that boasted of being completely flat with no incline/slope whatsoever.
Katanga (located between Makerere and Mulago hills) derives its name from the Katanga Province of Zaire, currently Democratic Republic of Congo. Katanga was complex to any first-time visitor. Popularly referred to as the “Warzone” its activities were wild and public brawls were commonplace. As a result, murders were a regular occurrence. That notwithstanding, Katanga was the only source of entertainment for the more daring African Staff and Students in the 1950s. They often ventured into these slums during their leisure time to indulge in the local drinks of waragi and kwete. Bottled beer and soda were unheard of at the time.
Kikoni (located between Makerere and Kasubi hills) also had a similar background. It derives its name from “Enkoni”, the Ankole name for a stick, as beatings were commonplace. Kikoni’s population constitution was akin to the United Nations. Residents were the Nubians, Batooro, Lugbara, Baganda, Banyoro and people of foreign descent. Other tribes like Bakiga, Banyankole, Bagisu and many other Ugandans were yet to venture into those parts of the city then.
End of Part Two of Three