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Trolled Makerere Fresher Gets Last Laugh as Twitterverse Scrambles to Help

You cannot help at times but fall in love with social media, especially when its callous hand that strips and shames, suddenly turns around and starts to give; to embrace and mollify.

And so as a young man, Mr Henry Kiyimba Suubi, walked into gates of Makerere University early this week to commence a new life as a university student, perhaps the last thing he expected was to be a social media troll victim, an instant trending topic of discussion, or to be ushered into the Vice Chancellors’ flashy office to shake hands with the head of the university, all in his first week at campus.

But as he strolled into his new residence at Makerere’s University Hall, black bag strapped to his back, a metallic case in one hand, a large “Osoufia” bag in the other, and what appears to be a pair of red rubber sandals in his feet; a phone camera shutter went off right behind him.

And that was it. That’s all it took; a singular wonky photo taken by Twitter user Emmanuel Aupal — a fellow student — meant to humiliate Kiyimba, which instead turned him an instant hero.

As a custom nowadays, at the start of August as most universities open up for the new academic year, continuing students and often former students take to social media to welcome (sort of) the new students joining university life.

Under varying hashtags, (this year’s was #HeyFreshers) the freshers are treated to some online orientation, although this “campusers’ banter” can often take the form of mockery, bullying,  shaming and downright threats.

But whatever motivated Emmanuel’s photo of Mr Kiyimba, it quickly backfired.

As the photo started trending, harsh reactions piled up as many Twitter users couldn’t hold back their disapproval of Emmanuel.

Several commentators rushed to point out that while Kiyimba might be from a humble background, he was able to make it to the country’s leading university on account of his good grades.

 

According to the University Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, Kiyimba was admitted to Makerere on Government Sponsorship under the National Merit Scheme, to pursue Bachelor of Science degree with Education (Economics).

Mr Nawangwe, yesterday met Kiyimba in his office and “encouraged him to enjoy his stay at Makerere and work hard on his future career.”

Meanwhile University Hall also butted in to put the trolls in their place, and also make Kiyimba feel at home.

The backlash however, later on morphed into charity, with many offering to help out.

Championed by UK based Ugandan journalist Alan Kasujja, efforts are now underway to offer support to Kiyimba.

 

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