Soldier liberating students’ minds

By Zadock Amanyisa

Not many soldiers can become classroom teachers. So a man of Rev Can Fred Tumwine Bariira’s nature is a force to reckon with. In fact, he is what one would call a jack of all trades. From being a soldier, to teacher and then priest, Can Bariira has seen it all. His love for the army was shaped by his urge to liberate his country.

Thus in 1977 while a Senior Two student at St. Leos College, Kyegobe, together with friends, the 55-year-old escaped from school to join army recruitment. But their efforts were in vain as they were dropped on grounds of age.

Born in Ishaka Division, Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality in 1963, he is the sixth born of nine children of lay Can Elifaz and Rhoda Bariira.

Bariira started school at six and completed Primary Seven at Kashenyi Primary School in 1976 and proceeded to Senior One at St. Leos College, Kyegobe.

He joined Senior Five at St. Henry’s College, Kitovu in Masaka District in 1981. Bariira enrolled for a certificate course in accounting at National College of Business Studies, Nakawa and in 1985 during the liberation war, Bariira’s turn to join the army came. This time, he got in. “I went with my brother and many other young men and we were recruited. We fought until the National Resistance Army captured power in 1986,” Bariira recollects.

After the war between 1986 and 1992, Bariira worked with the finance department of the NRA as paymaster and officer in charge of accounts in Gulu, Jinja and Mbarara districts.

Early retirement
But his much coveted journey in the army ended in 1992 when he asked to voluntarily retire while serving as officer in charge of accounts in Mbarara. Back home, he was seen as a responsible citizen and was selected to serve as vice chairperson local council one and sub-county chief.

But ambition caught up with him and there was need for him to go back to school. In 2001, Bariira decided to go back to school but this time to study Education so that he is able to teach. Besides after liberating the country, he was convinced that liberating people’s minds was the way to go. “I felt it was necessary to use my experience, leadership skills to shape minds and characters of learners,” he says.

Because of his army background, Bariira in 2003 started teaching at Kadogo Community Polytechnic, Mbarara Army Barracks until 2008.

While teaching, Bariira enrolled for a Bachelor’s degree in Business Education at Ndejje University where he graduated in 2006 as a way of upgrading his studies. During the same time, he was inspired by his parish priest which led him to pursue a Diploma in Theology at Bishop McAlister College, Kyogera the same year he graduated from Ndejje.

He was in 2008 appointed and posted to Kitagata Secondary School where he served as school chaplain too and in 2009 ordained as a priest and posted to Bweranyangi Girls Secondary School as chaplain and teacher.

In 2015 Bariira was transferred to Ruyonza School in Bushenyi District as a teacher until 2017 when he applied for early retirement to enable him concentrate on Church ministry. He currently works as the diocesan planning and development officer, West Ankole Diocese.

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