By Watuwa Timbiti
Those in poultry rearing say a hen does not drink once from the drinker, but drinks and looks up in the sky, picks the water again and looks up in the sky. It patiently does so until it struts away satisfied.
This anecdotal inference not only validates the often uttered clarion call to us to be patient in everything we do if we are to get the ultimate we desire, but perfectly resonates with Barnabas Arinaitwe’s murky journey to the top.
The 25-year-old former security guard graduated on January 28, with a first class degree in Social Sciences at Makerere University.
Predating this achievement is a tale not so flowery, but of tough moments that Arinaitwe has waded through.
Right from the start, attaining education could not have been easy considering his parents’ peasantry status, which comprised eight goats and banana, beans and sorghum plantations unworthy of any serious commercial value.
Indeed, upon completing his O’ level in 2006, the fourth born in a family of seven children could not proceed with his studies.
“There was no money for me; my father asked me to wait so that my younger siblings could go to senior four as well,” he says.
This eventual state of uncertainty weighed him down. Waiting for an undefined time in Nyagatanda village, Busanza sub-county in Kisoro district was unimaginable, prompting him to move to Kampala in search of money.
“Immobilised by this hazy situation, someone only known as Hajji, in collusion with the local chairman, came to Nyagatanda and secured the consent of our parents, saying he was taking me and six other boys to Kampala for jobs,” Arinaitwe explains.
He adds that he was ready to work for any amount. Swayed by such naïve and frosty expectations, Arinaitwe and his group were, in 2007, herded like serfs onto a late evening Kampala-bound bus.
From the bus park, they were whisked to a place he later learnt to be in Luzira, where they relaxed the following day.
The next day, the group was herded onto a pick-up truck to a destination only Hajji knew.
It is at this point that strands of reason began trotting back to their minds; they became suspicious of what their destination portended.
They realised at about 6:00pm after a gruelling journey, that they had reached Mubende.
“The driver could have taken a longer distance to confuse us so that we could not easily find our way back,” Arinaitwe says.
The expansive cattle farm, whose extreme ends could not be seen easily, was their destination. “The next day, Hajji, who was the farm manager, briefed us on our work on the farm,” he says.
Like slaves, they toiled and only got to excite their throats with a morsel of food late in the evening despite the enormity of the work and heavily sickened bodies.
Being the only one with some rough knowledge of Luganda, he was tasked (by his colleagues) to talk to the farm owner about their plight.
“When I saw him, I expressed my concerns. I told him I could not manage the work anymore and wanted to go back to school. He gave me transport fare of sh20,000, cautioning me not to incite others. He instructed me to pack my bags and leave the next day,” Arinaitwe says.
Indeed, after two weeks on the farm, he left the next day with the help of the farm manager. However, while in the taxi to Kampala, the thought of going back to Kisoro troubled him.
A flicker of hope
His brother, a dairy truck driver living in Namuwongo, took him to hospital for treatment and shortly after regaining his strength, his brother’s friend told him of the recruitment by Ultimate Security. The training, which lasted for a month in Entebbe, was not a cup of coffee either:
“Running and the push-ups were a hard nut to crack,” he recalls with a grin.
With the training done, his expectations of a monthly pay of between sh100,000 and sh120,000 got deflated; instead, sh75,000 was the pay.
Desperate to earn more, Arinaitwe worked overtime, for instance, getting deployed for a week to guard someone’s residence, attracting additional sh25,000.
“My first posting was in Kololo. In my entire life, I had never thought of holding a gun and because of unavoidable circumstances, I ended up holding one,” he regretfully says.
Two months later, in June 2007, Arinaitwe was moved to Vision Group, another world of challenges and punctured expectations.
Fortunately, in the chambers of the hearts of some staff members, he found warm tidings, especially Asiya Camilla, the Vision Group’s front desk manager. She is a mother with a refined character.
Arinaitwe’s next posting after Vision Group was a bank branch on Jinja Road, where working in the parking yard earned him more insults than money.
“I had arguments almost every time with customers.
Others abused me to a point I could not contain anymore,” he says with a stern countenance.
He resigned in December 2007, determined to go back to school. “I had saved about sh500,000 and Ultimate Security, upon accepting my resignation, granted me a package of sh200,000.”
Back to school
In 2008, he started A’ level at Kisoro Vision Secondary School, where he studied HED/ENT and when he sat UACE in 2009, Arinaitwe scored 20 points.
“This was surprising considering that I sat my UCE at Busanza SS, a school based in the village, with poor education standards,” he says.
Realising the A’ level vacation would be long, Arinaitwe who got admitted to Makerere on the district quota system, trotted to Kampala and joined Group4, another security firm, to raise money.
Arinaitwe, who went to Buhozi Primary School, left Group4 in July 2010 in preparation for university.
He has ambitions of doing a master’s degree although his immediate need is to start a family, having worked hard, patiently to hit the top.
How asiya inspired Arinaitwe
On getting posted to Vision Group, Arinaitwe looked unacceptably too young to be a security guard. Asiya Camilla, the Vision Group’s front desk manager inquired more about his background and the revelation that he cherished going back to school and chisel out a meaningful future landed onto the fertility of her generosity.
Touched and with a tinge of regret, she aided him with a monthly sum of between sh20,000 and sh50,000 for upkeep to enable him save his salary for school fees.
“He looked young and was earning too little to enable him realise his dream. He told me the circumstances that led him to become a security guard, and I was touched,” Camilla says.