By Joan Akello
Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, Vice Chancellor of Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU) spoke to Joan Akello about education and career.
Any three things we don’t know about you?
I speak better Luganda than Runyankole, I’m already planning things I want to do sixty years from now because I’m very ambitious. That is why I got a PhD at 30 and became Makerere University Vice Chancellor when I clocked 40.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Love those you love, be happy with what you have, but work hard to get more. You should never chase for what you cannot have; you’ll be very unhappy.
And your happiest moments?
In 2004 when my mother, at 75, had a successful operation for jaw cancer and in 1996 when I survived an accident in Norway. Some of my happiest moments are sad days; when Makerere University said they did not need me as VC, I was so happy to handover – I was going to announce opening UTAMU the next day. Then my first born was delivered on the last day of campaigns when I was standing for the Ibanda MP seat. I’m the people’s MP though I was rigged out.
What is your greatest fear?
I rarely fear things but I fear God.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I’m so determined that I can do what I want even if people abandon me.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I repel lazy people.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I never drive a cheap car; I swore this when I survived that motor accident in Norway and I invest in people and my family.
What are your greatest achievements?
I’ve served the society though helping people and teaching; I’ve been a great parent to my 14 and 11 year old daughters; I had quality education but I have to take them to Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) because one wants to be a medical doctor and the other an engineer.
What is your current state of mind?
I’m very sane.
What is most exaggerated in society?
Economic statistics that show that Uganda is developing. Has the quality of life changed in terms of education, health? Has corruption reduced?
On what occasion do you lie?
At times because you can tell people stuff and they get confused or will sabotage you.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My weight; I don’t have time for exercise.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Courageous, stands up for something like Martin Luther King, J.F Kennedy.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
The one who knows and always predict what I want, conversational and can engage with me, not one who fears me. Image is everything and if not, I have to add money but to make it easy get a beautiful one.
Who is the greatest love of your life?
It is between my daughters and my wife.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I have an incredible voice and always wanted to sing and I think in future I will. I can compete with the late Whitney Houston. Also the day the Catholic Church will accept those who are married, I would go back to the church, become priest, even Cardinal and may be Pope.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To expect less from people so I can accommodate those who cannot perform at 70 percent. Some people are not top performers.
What would you be if died and came back?
As myself; I live everyday to the fullest.
What is your most treasured possession?
My education; you can take my everything but not what is in my brain.
What is the lowest depth of misery?
If you want to see or find misery, go to any government hospitals, schools. Ibanda used to have about 12 white doctors and now has only one doctor. Rwanda is developing because everybody is on medical insurance.
What is your favorite occupation?
I’ve been in education but from now until I’m 60 I’ll concentrate on business and at 60, I’ll join politics for ten years may be. I go after my father who loved business, education, and interested in politics.
Who are your favorite writers?
Those who write about great people, I have over 150 books about such people like Mandela.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
J.F.Kennedy; he was a Catholic like me who had great plans of Americans reaching the moon and they did. He was assassinated for the things he believed in.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Barack Obama who invited himself to the high table, Nelson Mandela, President Johnson Sirleaf, the first female African President. Winnie Byanyima has a lot of energy but not like that of Miria Matembe, some of that energy can be destructive. Angela Merkel was an academician and she has turned around Germany. Many of us admired President Museveni before we started elections, if we had continued without them up to say 2006, we would be a middle income country. We have had elections but had the same president. It became a game of `how do I stay in office?’. But I blame those who forced us to embrace elections.
What is your greatest regret?
Working with bad people at Makerere University; I’d have achieved so much if there were many like-minded people.
How would you like to die?
Above 100 years after achieving all my plans.
What is your motto?
Be simple and great.