By Pauline Luba
Picture this: You are a top contender for a political office. On voting day, after casting your ballot, what do you do with the rest of the hours to ease the tension as you wait to know the results? Harry Mukhooli recently found himself in such a situation. Mukhooli, the new Guild President of Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mbale campus in eastern Uganda, said he isolated himself from people the entire day as he waited for the results.
Luckily for him, he emerged the victor, with 46% of the people who cast their votes preferring him as their new leader. At first, it was a battle against five candidates. However, along the way during the campaigns, two of those dropped out, leaving Mukhooli against three others — two male, one female — whom he beat to clinch the topmost office in the student leadership hierarchy.
So, how did the 22-year-old student of Bachelor of Education (English and Literature in English) use to draw people to him?
Mukhooli started campaigning in May. One issue that Mukhooli promised to hinge his term of office on was improving relations at the institution.
“I wanted to bridge the gap between the students and the university administration,” Mukhooli said, adding that he hopes to use his position as Guild President to “give others a platform” to voice their challenges at the university.
Among the needs that students have voiced include the desire for renovation of some of the buildings at the campus, as well as challenges in paying tuition on time. These, among others, are issues that Mukhooli hopes to bring to the discussion table, with the aim of making the stay of the students at the institution as comfortable as it can be.
On voting day in October 2023, Mukhooli spent considerable money transporting students to cast their ballots. He said many students struggle to fend for themselves, and, as such, they see it as a waste of resources to spend money on transport to go to the university to cast their votes and return home. It is this category of people that Mukhooli said he sought to reach out to, so they can exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot. Could this act have endeared the voters to him? Maybe.
Mukhooli takes office from 30-year-old Daniel Kunya, a student of Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration who has held the office since November last year.
When the need for the funds for the campaign arrived, Mukhooli turned to proceeds from his poultry business. But that was not enough. Contributions came from his father — Namasake Peter Wandeka — whom Mukhooli considers one of his greatest inspirations, including during this run for office. His other cheerleaders were his mother, Namuwenge Sarah; step-mother Bisikwa Sarah; and Munialo Tracy Wandeeka, his younger sister.
Growing up, Mukhooli wished to become a journalist and a sportsman. While not strongly interested in football, but is a talented soccer player who has been on all his school teams. In fact, while in primary school at St. Edwards Junior Academy in Manafwa district in eastern Uganda, Mukhooli was the captain of the school football team. He also is the current captain of the UCU Mbale campus football team. He says he is a beneficiary of a sports bursary at UCU.
When not attending to the academic needs or his political office, you will find Mukhooli either in his passion fruit farm tending to the plants or looking after the chickens that he rears in his poultry farm.