If you live in Uganda, chances are very high that you’ve ever set your eyes onto Makerere University’s Ivory Tower either in a newspaper, on television, or physically for those who have been to Makerere.
This could perhaps explain why the grief and shock over Sunday morning’s fire reverberated way beyond the gates of the prestigious Makerere University.
Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University summed it up well when he said in a tweet that;
“It is a very dark morning for Makerere University. Our iconic Main Administration Building caught fire and the destruction is unbelievable.”
Current students, alumnus, and Ugandans across the divide woke up to unpleasant photos of the Ivory Tower burning to ruins on Sunday morning.
A good number of those who graduated from Makerere have since expressed their grief and memories on social media:
Amanda Ngabirano, an alumnus and lecturer for Urban and Regional Planning at Makerere University said a part of her was burnt with the tower.
Ngabirano said, “Why? 😭😭😭…when I was traveling miles to Kigezi High School, this building was always on my mind…when I was waking up for “winter”, this building was always on my mind! When I was sitting exams, this building was always on my mind! A part of me is burnt! My heart is aching!”
Bernard Sabiti, an alumnus shared photos of his ‘fresher’ days at the university and said that back in the day, all first-year students had to pose in front of the tower, ‘to show haters that you made it.’
“I performed the ritual in 2003 after arriving from Kisoro. For village kids like me, this was a bigger deal. MAK was/is a great equalizer,” Sabiti said in a tweet.
Munini Mulera said that the Ivory Tower is more than just what meets the eye.
” It’s a symbol of a great story of triumph, challenge, and recovery. It is a big part of my identity. Our identity,” Mulera said.
With its thick walls and arch designed doors that lead into the several rooms that serve as offices, the Ivory Tower is reminiscent of Makerere University’s glory in the colonial days.
The Ivory Tower was designed based on the architectural design of Britain’s University of London.
It was built with funds from the Colonial Development House and was completed under the leadership of George C. Turner, the Principal of Makerere College (1939-46).
Several years later, the Ivory Tower could still stand out as the most authoritative piece of architecture at the university campus.
Vice-Chancellor Nawangwe said there is hope, that it will be ‘re built for the future.’