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Leaving the public service opened my eyes â€" Mukaira

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th October 2008 03:00 AM

Very few people are brave enough to give up work in the public service, at least where they are assured of a monthly salary. For William Mukaira, the risk he took four decades ago in 1966, has turned out an eye-opener and a blessing.

Very few people are brave enough to give up work in the public service, at least where they are assured of a monthly salary. For William Mukaira, the risk he took four decades ago in 1966, has turned out an eye-opener and a blessing.

By Chris Ahimbisibwe

Very few people are brave enough to give up work in the public service, at least where they are assured of a monthly salary. For William Mukaira, the risk he took four decades ago in 1966, has turned out an eye-opener and a blessing.

Today, Mukaira, 78, has no regrets for not getting a pension. He boasts of a wine business and a prominent secondary school in Bushenyi district.

“It was a risk leaving salaried employment and venturing into the unknown, but I had nothing to do. I felt I was being exploited,” says Mukaira, the director of Valley College in Bushenyi town council.

“I retired from the public service because I wanted to serve myself and I am doing so,” Mukaira says.

Two years after retirement, Mukaira imported two hybrid cows from Kenya and started livestock farming. Four years, later, he was earning more than he used to in public service. However, he later abandoned farming after realising that he needed more resources, including land, to remain in business. More people had also joined farming, creating stiff competition.

Mukaira then switched to grapevine farming and later wine production. He entered the business with one seedling which he got from Mbarara and planted it on his farm. After discovering that the plant could do well on his land, he decided to grow it extensively. Currently, Mukaira has over 20 acres under grape vine cultivation.

“I do not think there is anybody producing more wine than I do in this country,” he says.

To boost his business, Mukaira hires expatriates from Germany to train him in wine production. He has also established outgrowers in Mbarara and Ibanda districts.

With good care, Mukaira says, vines take two years to mature and he harvests twice a year. However, without proper management, he says, the crop can take up to five years without bearing any fruits.

He says although vines can be grown anywhere, they mainly flourish in hilly areas.

Although he does not disclose how much he reaps a season, Mukaira encourages other farmers to join the business.

“If I was not getting any profit, I would not be doing it,” he says.

Mukaira produces juice and red wine; both sweet and dry, under the brand name of Bushenyi Wines, at his plant in Bushenyi. He sells the wine locally in Bushenyi, Mbarara and Kampala supermarkets and is yet to start exportation.

In 1998, Mukaira started Valley College, which has earned him a name in Bushenyi. The school, which began with one class (Senior Five), with 32 students, has grown to O and A’level with an enrolment of 1,200 students, majority in A’ level.

A teacher by profession, Mukaira says he started the school because he believed private schools could perform better that the government-owned. He also wanted to improve education standards in the district and create employment.

“I wanted to challenge government schools. How can a school buy a bus when students do not have a laboratory and teachers lack accommodation?” he asks.

Today, Mukaira has realised his dream since his school is among the best in the country.

Born in 1930, Mukaira attended Bweranyangi Junior School, Canon Apolo Teachers College and Kakoba Primary Teachers College (currently Bishop Stuart University).

Mukaira, the Forum for Democratic Change chairman for Bushenyi district, has been in politics for most of his life. In 1966, he was appointed minister for education in the former Ankole kingdom, a position he held for a year.

He is also the former Bushenyi district Democratic Party (DP) chairman, a party he joined after disagreements in Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).

“Some people wanted only Protestants in UPC, we disagreed and I joined DP,” Mukaira recalls.

In 1987, Mukaira was elected Bushenyi district chairman, a position he held for a year.

His secret to success? “Always work hard and have a vision.”

Leaving the public service opened my eyes — Mukaira

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