The fire, which started at a few minutes past midnight, according to eyewitnesses, burned down the main administration building, destroying computers, printers, furniture, books and vital documents that were in the burnt offices.
Fortunately, the police fire brigade reached in time and managed to fight the infernal until they put it out, although by then much of the building had been destroyed.
We have established that the police have since commenced investigations into the matter to establish what could have caused the fire.
“Police are actively investigating a fire outbreak at Makerere University Main building that started today at about midnight. Fire and rescue services responded at the scene and managed to contain it’s spread,” Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson wrote on social media.
He added that; “The fire is believed to have started from the roof spreading to floors that house both records and finance departments, a lot of property has been destroyed. Investigations are ongoing to ascertain the exact cause of the fire.”
The MUK Vice Chancellor wrote thus on twitter about the incident; “It is a very dark morning for Makerere University. Our iconic Main Administration Building caught fire and the destruction is unbelievable. But we are determined to restore the building to its historic state in the shortest time possible.”
Makerere University, Kampala is Uganda’s largest and oldest institution of higher learning, first established as a technical school in 1922, when the Ivory Tower was constructed.
It became an independent national university in 1970. Today, Makerere University is composed of nine colleges and one school offering programs for about 36,000 undergraduates and 4,000 postgraduates.
U.S. News & World Report has ranked Makerere University as the eighth best university in Africa and the 569th best university worldwide.
In the 2020 U.S. News & World Report ranking, Makerere is the highest-ranked university in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa.
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2016 ranked it as the fourth best university in Africa.
Makerere University was alma mater to many post-independence African leaders, including Ugandan president Milton Obote and Tanzanian presidents Julius Nyerere and Benjamin Mkapa. The former president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, and Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki are also Makerere alumni.
In the years immediately after Uganda’s independence, Makerere University was a focal point for the literary activity that was central to African nationalist culture. Many prominent writers, including Nuruddin Farah, Ali Mazrui, David Rubadiri, Okello Oculi, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, John Ruganda, Paul Theroux, Nobel Prize Laureate V. S. Naipaul, and Peter Nazareth, were at Makerere University at one point in their writing and academic careers.