Parenting involves supporting children to become what they want to be, regardless of what the parents want them to pursue. Jonathan Kasule, 34, wanted to be a mechanic and his mother guided him all the way. He is also mentoring his three children.
Jonathan Kasule, 34, is a specialist in repairing European vehicles, especially Range Rovers. He is the proprietor of Rover Motors, where he works with mechanics, university interns and trainees, who include former street children.
In addition, he is mentoring his three children, who are below eight years. They spend their holidays at the garage on Bukoto-Kisaasi road, on the outskirts of Kampala.
Kasule believes in instilling vocational skills in children early enough. He says his children already know the names of the tools he uses. “The first born knows how the computer works. He can tell if the problem is with the fuel or engine,” he says. Kasule says some parents shun vocational skills and force their children to pursue careers they (parents) are interested in, yet children need liberty and support to become what they want to be. He hails his mother, Margaret Nalukwago, for listening and guiding him along his career journey even though she was not educated.
“I do not regret learning a skill. It has taken me places, connected me to important people and earned me investments and a dream home,” he says.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, as some businesses collapsed, Kasule’s garage thrived, because most of his clients were essential workers.
For that, he says, parents should not look down on vocational skills, but rather encourage their children to acquire them alongside academics. Even if the child drops out of school due to unavoidable circumstances, they will still thrive.
This way, the child will grow up while perfecting their skill. If they pursue a course in that line, they will be better than their counterparts. He gives an example of a child who grows up working in a garage and later pursues mechanical engineering; he will be an expert of some sort in his class.
“If a child shows interest in something, enroll him or her on that program and give them all the support they need,” he says, adding:
“They shouldn’t first get to university then come back for the skill.”
Kasule gives an analogy of someone who first oils his body before bathing. Bathing should come before oiling.
“We should stop receiving interns who cannot repair basic things on a vehicle,” he says.
“A student doing business management should have owned or operated a business before,” Kasule says.
Dropping out of school
Kasule was born in Wampewo village in Luwero district. His parents separated when he was about four years old. He never saw his father again. His mother later remarried and had six more children. Growing up, Kasule says, life was hard, but his mother wanted the best for him. She struggled to educate him.
Kasule started his education journey at Kayindu Primary School and completed from Nkokonjeru Primary School in Kalagala, Luwero in 2003. He would walk 5km to and from school, every day.
Kasule says his mother valued education, much as she did not get the opportunity to attend school. She also listened to her children and encouraged them to achieve their dreams.
“Mum is my biggest inspiration. She did not have much but raised us with loving hands. She was also tough on discipline and hard work,” he says. For the entire 2004, Kasule was home helping his mother to raise school fees. He fetched water and worked in neighbours’ homes while saving for S1. In 2005, Kasule enrolled in Brilliant College SSS Bamunanika and pushed on up to S4.
“I always reported back to school late due to school fees but would be among the best performers. This motivated mum to work hard to keep me in school,” he says.
See, Kasule wanted to be a mechanic since childhood. In fact, by 10 years, he had been christened the ‘home mechanic’. He would repair radios, watches and bicycles. Even at school, Kasule repaired gadgets and appliances for his fellow students and teachers.
“I loved mechanics and everyone around me knew it. Mum believed in me, and this helped me to focus on my dream,” he says.
On a sad note, Kasule dropped out of school in S4, after his mother failed to raise his school fees and registration fees. She was overwhelmed because by this time, all Kasule’s six siblings were also in school.
“Dropping out was painful. I tried to start a workshop, but I failed to get capital,” he says.
Kasule worked at a hotel in Bamunanika for three months, after which his mother advised him to travel to Kampala and find a garage rather than waste time doing hotel work, which he did not like.
Realising his dream
In 2009, Kasule travelled to his uncle ’s place in Kireka, a suburb of Kampala. There was a garage in the neighborhood. His uncle enrolled him, but before he could complete his training, the garage closed. He joined a car bond and while there, Lady Luck smiled his way.
One day, a white man went to pick a new car from the bond. In a way, Kasule caught his attention and from then on, they became friends. Kasule would later discover that his friend was also a mechanic and manager at Motor Care Limited. “Bob loved me more when he learnt of my past. He also realized I was passionate about mechanics,” he says.
A few months later, Kasule moved to Bob’s home in Naguru, an upscale neighborhood of Kampala, where he had a garage. He specialized in repairing European vehicles. Kasule started learning the skill under Bob’s tutelage. Thereafter, he started earning a good salary and also worked with Bob’s son.
“Life got better, and Mum was happy. I built her a decent home and educated all my siblings,” he says.
Unfortunately, in 2010, Bob’s son died in an accident. The family was devastated. They failed to get over the death and moved back to Europe. Kasule says the couple would cry whenever they saw him, saying he reminded them of their only child.
However, they offered him the garage before leaving and luckily, by that time, he had mastered the skill. All was well as Kasule carved himself a niche in repairing European vehicles and specialized more in Range Rovers. He also registered his business under Rover Motors.
His clientele kept growing steadily, but later, he shifted the garage to Kisaasi, Nakawa division. Kasule also continued enrolling in short courses and trainings on the advice of his mother. “Mum has been instrumental in my life. She is my counsellor and advisor. She also raised me well,” he said.