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Museveni Reunites with Teacher Who Saved Him from Chickenpox

Museveni hands over a signed copy of his book (Sowing the Mustard Seed) to his former teacher, Gerald Sullivan

Sometime in 1963, ambulance as a young teenager while at Ntare School, search Museveni came down with a serious fever at a temperature of over 104C, which was strange considering normal body temperature is said to be between 37C.

“According to one of my teachers who took the temperature, I was practically dead. The temperature was too high. I was taken to hospital and I became delirious,” Museveni spoke of the situation, recalling how his former Economics teacher Gerald Sullivan saved him from chickenpox.

During his two-day working visit to the United Kingdom, the president met Sullivan and his wife Mary Sullivan, who were accompanied by John, a former Head teacher of Mbarara High School; Ailsa Nicholsan, Brian Remmer and Maurice Reeve, a former English teacher.

The nostalgic meeting that raked in emotions from Sulivan who at the time described Museveni as “A tall, serious looking student.” He also recalls how he even contracted the disease while treating him.

Museveni also remembers how he got a bout of malaria that lasted for three days, but as he sat on his bed one morning; one of the boys noticed blisters on his chest and immediately called a one Dr. Philpot.

“Dr. Philpot came immediately and said this is very serious. They took me to an isolation center and later Tr. Sullivan took me to his house to look after me. The school was closed because of the chickenpox,” he reminisced.

Museveni further narrates that there was no immunization at the time and even at 18 years; students were susceptible to contracting chickenpox.

“Teacher Sullivan took him in and fed me until I fully recovered,” he said.

Sullivan said he contracted the Chickenpox from Museveni and was down with a fever when Obote visited their school.

“I never forgave you (Museveni) because I contracted the chickenpox from you and missed seeing Obote when he came to our school,” he said.

Sullivan would later write a book “The Making of a One-Handed Economist” in which he described the young Museveni as a tall, serious looking student who asked him a fundamental question, which stopped him in his tracks.

Sullivan had been teaching about the location of Industry, telling students why Britain had a car industry because of its abundant resources while East Africa lacked resources and focused on Agriculture.

“All straight forward stuff in the textbooks of the day which I merrily spouted fourth until, I was stopped by a raised hand. A tall, serious looking student had a question: ‘Why shouldn’t East Africa develop its own car industry?’ he asked,” Sullivan wrote in his book.

“I had been trotting out standard bourgeois economics which favoured advanced industrial economics. Yoweri Museveni, for that was the student, had asked a fundamental question which stopped me in my tracks. As I write, Museveni has now been President of Uganda since 1986,” he wrote.

Museveni talked about several of his former teachers including Mr. Reeds and Robert Ball with whom they acted “Murder in the Cathedral,” a play by T.S Elliot

Sullivan later handed the president Ntare alumni classist of 1967.

Museveni said the British teachers gave them a strong foundation and said his former teacher must be proud that he taught a student who has contributed to the development of Uganda.

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