I was a freshman at university when Makerere celebrated 90 years of her existence. One of the activities done to mark off the celebrations were a series of lectures on different topics. However, the main public lecture which filled the main hall to overflowing capacity was the one where Dr Martin Aliker was hosted.
We all sat straight up, the senior citizens, the teaching staff and us, the young and excited students who really just wanted to rub shoulders with the mighty who and who. He took off the time to read out his lecture. It was a loaded pack of information. He schooled all of us in attendance. His lecture would pass for a book of its own like Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture of sort. After the lecture, the MC announced that a copy of the paper would be shared with the journalists covering the event. I was not a journalist but somehow I could not leave without a copy of my own.
I do not know how many times I re-read the lecture during my stay at university and I used the information therein written to superintend over other students on matters university history. I still have my copy.
I was overjoyed as I turned the last pages of his memoir to find that Dr Martin Aliker republished this same lecture. It is relevant today as it was then.
Given that there are not many senior citizens in this country that have written down their stories, The Bell is Ringing stands out as a master piece of its own, not that the narrator is so humorous but because he teaches more than many of us know about our country. A number of authors have written on the political history of the country but very few, if any, have written about the business history. The commonest business history of the country that you will ever hear of is the expulsion of the Asians by Idi Amin in 1972. Dr Aliker has been at the pinnacle of the corporate business in Uganda and he tells it all.
The few times I have had the honour of being in Dr Martin Aliker’s audience, one thing has always come up; the pronunciation of his name. With the English background, most of us miss on the Acholi dialect where the name is pronounced as [Alikay]. This book brings you to laughter a thousand times. You find yourself pausing, thinking through and laughing out loud.
You cannot fail but hear the voice of the old man read out this story to you, if you have had the chance of meeting him, there is one thing that cannot be missed, his jokes. His voice rings in your ears like a one Morgan Freeman narrating one of those end of year reflections. Dr Aliker is full of humour in his personal life that he shades it on everything he touches. This book inclusive. You cannot run away from how he lightly breaks down complex subjects.
His is a very long story of a life full of events experienced first-hand. This is a rare collection given that most memoirs cover lifespans of seventy years and below. This particular one is unique since it runs close to 90 years of a lifetime, how good God has been to Martin and Camille! The story of this memoir is not necessary the author’s alone, it comes as a story of a country that has an elder.
For the first time, I have come across someone from whom the president sought advice. Not to say that the president does not seek advice but it is a rare gesture more so in a country where he has identified himself as the grandfather and the rest of the nation as his grandchildren.
This senior citizen is the real jaaja if we are to go by the real meaning of the word. In his writing, he narrates, teaches, counsels, jokes and prophesies just as grandparents do to their children. He uses simpler but correct language well knowing the kind of English that his readers are accustomed to.
This book should be a must have for each family. For everyone in business, corporate life, or anyone with an aspiring future, this is one book you ought to read. We may not have the honour of meeting Dr Aliker one on one but that should not be a problem, his voice speaks louder to us through his words written in this masterpiece.
I wish this book to be a source of motivation to the living senior citizens of this country to write their stories down. We need more of such wisdom to be shared.
You deserve to have a share of this well told story.
THE BELL IS RINGING! Merry Christmas!