SERIES: CENTENARY SCHOOLS
 
 
20th July 2006
Gayaza, where ladies sprout
By Jackie Nalubwama
WEEKLY OBSERVER

Imagine a school so practical that on arrival in S.1, one is given a piece of material to make her own uniform!
This means that she has to sew her sleeves, badge, hem and yoke onto the skeleton of a material, which will be her uniform after the first week of school.

This goes on till the end of O-level because in A-level, the school is sure the girls know how to sew.
Well, do not go farther, because that is Gayaza High School, where not only do the girls excel in academics but life skills as well.

Built in 1905, Gayaza High School has helped shape generations of women, as it still does their daughters.
The school structures belie with the history of the school because they do not take you back to the 1900s. This shows that great effort was inserted in rebuilding the school.

The chapel
Gayaza Style: Swa’s, Medium Swa’s and Jegs
The first students
The Drum that brings everybody to attention

Upon entry at the gate, a cool breeze blows through the trees, which make up a beautiful avenue of old tall trees.
As you advance into the school, organised, well-kempt lawns are open to quietly receive you. There is not a sound on the compound, and the only semblance of students is those who have reported late to school; the rest are in class.

The reporter, determined to find someone to talk to, ventured into the headmistress, Victoria Kisalare’s office. She was on her way out and left the acting deputy headmistress to take charge.

Ms. Robinah Katongole Kizito, an old girl (alumnus) of the school, said that Gayaza was previously one school, with both junior and upper sections. But in 1939, that is when it gained the status of a secondary school. Grooming wives for Budonians

Gayaza girls were groomed to become good wives for King’s College Budo boys. “Our school colours are the same as Budo’s - white and red,” Kizito said.

Gayaza girls are labelled aloof [almost bordering on proud]; and Kizito said that it is probably because of their close relationship with Budo, which is also labelled proud.

Kizito also said that Gayaza has changed since the time she was a student. “In the 80s life was not as competitive as today,” she said.

“We did not have morning prep as is the case today.” It seems the new generation has to endure the changes because as the headgirl, Dorothy Turitwenka said, “Morning preps were started in 2004, but I miss the time when they were not here.”

Ms. Sheelagh Warren
Headmistress 1972 - 1990

Turitwenka also said she likes the school. “It is the best because it is not just the books; it is the relaxed system even though pressure has increased.” And the ease with which Pauline Korukundo (deputy head girl) spoke to Kizito, showed how relaxed Gayaza’s system is.

The students liaise with the administration quite easily.
Turitwenka said, “When you have been through Gayaza, there’s no housework you can’t do.” Well, maybe because the school had the philosophy of producing “good wives”.
The school has undergone transformation over the years, and the uniform is one such example.

Puffed hairstyle
Originally in 1905, for a uniform the students used to wear a suuka (wrapper), with a sash. But the headmistress, at the time, Alfreda Allen found the suuka unsuitable for school activities and designed a yoke with a square neck and short sleeves. Thus the busuuti or gomesi was invented.

And over the years the uniform became shorter and it is now a dress, but there are many colours the girls can choose from: blue, green, brown, mauve, and red. (This information on the uniform was got from the school’s centenary magazine).

Rhoda Nsibambi house

Despite the few changes, such as the time table, Gayaza, just like other old schools, has aspects that have become tradition.

The ‘Gayaza puff’ is one of the school’s traditions.
Turitwenka, also wearing her hair in a puff, said, “The girls are known for their neat hair, which is held back in a puff.”

Kizito explained that the style of plaiting hair is part of the Gayaza tradition. “The girls plait hair during the week, different kinds of swaz (corn rows) and take it out for Friday assembly.”

The most outstanding tradition, however, is “bugu”, the old drum that has been part of the school from 1905. Kizito said that bugu to a Gayaza girl is the wake up call at 5.00a.m., and sometimes roll call as well. “When bugu is sounded, you know it is time to get up and start the day,” said Kizito.

Punishment tree
Of tradition in this school, the punishment tree is the most notorious of them all. Standing haphazardly in front of the administration block, this tree would serve as a podium for students who have misbehaved. Teachers send insubordinate students to stand under the tree, so that almost every one from the administration block can see the bad ones.

The name - punishment tree - is befitting of this tree because it is deciduous in nature. So sometimes it has no leaves to give the punished shade, explained Elizabeth Agiro, an old girl.

One of the old girls who said that the tree was inescapable is, Ruth Nvumetta Kavuma Lutaaya, now Kalangala Woman MP. She was in Gayaza as a student from 1963-1975, and headmistress of the same school from 1990-2002.

Kavuma said, “I was very talkative in class and no student could escape the punishment tree.” The old girl and former headmistress also said that she enjoyed herself as a student. “We had a lot of fun. We had Saturday dances and we would also go for a dance with Budo, Namilyango and Kisubi.” She added that her year was the adventurous one because they went for dances with all those schools.

Even in Kizito’s times, as is the case today, Saturday dances were popular with students. Kizito said the dances were called “Open”, short of open dance, and they used to take place in front of the headmistress’ residence. In the 80s, “Open” was in front of Ms. Sheelagh Warren’s house, and now it is in front of Ms. Kisalare’s.

To Kavuma, life in Gayaza for students has not changed over the years. “Gayaza has always been the same.”
Joy Male, like her counterpart Kavuma, is an example of an old girl who became headmistress of Gayaza.

As a student, Male was in Gayaza from 1959 to 1966, for both junior and secondary. “I used to enjoy games and sports. I think I participated in all the games,” Male said.

Students resist change
However, unlike Kavuma, Male made some changes when she became headmistress in 2002, having joined from Mengo Senior School.

“I re-introduced the Sunday uniform,” she said. Male explained that this uniform had been in the school in her times and didn’t know at what point it disappeared.
“I also removed telephone booths because students were no longer active in class. They would think about calling home and telling their parents that they were very sick, yet they were in good condition.”

At the time of these changes, Male faced some resistance from the students who did not welcome change.
Male echoed Kizito’s words, when she said that Gayaza is unique because the girls are cultured.

To Kizito, the girls are also achievers because they derive it from the school motto-Never Give Up.
“They stand out wherever they are. And if you want them to stand out, make them leaders,” Kizito affirmed.
Universal Secondary Education is knocking on the door, and Gayaza High School will be one of the schools that may have to open for it.
“It [USE] has already come. We can’t fight it. UPE is in Budo Junior and Gayaza Junior but they are still performing well. We can also still perform well,” said Male. But Dr. Sylvia Tamale, an old girl (1976-82), does not think USE is good right now.
“I do not think Uganda is ready for USE. Period!”

njackie@ugandaobserver.com


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GAYAZA Anthem


Give thanks to the Lord because He is good;
His love is eternal
In peace and war, in fire and flood,
His love is eternal.
In times of plenty, in times of need,
Trust Him you'll find Him a friend indeed,
His love is eternal, so never give up,
His love is eternal, so never give up.

Give thanks to the Lord, because He is kind;
His love is eternal
In light and darkness, He has you in mind,
His love is eternal
In times of failure and when you succeed
Trust Him you'll find a friend indeed
His love is eternal, so never give up,
His love is eternal, so never give up.

Give thanks to the Father
Give thanks to the Son
His love is eternal.
Give thanks to the Spirit who makes us one
His love is eternal.
Lord of the future and Lord of the past;
Now and forever, He'll hold you fast.
His love is eternal, so never give up,
His love is eternal, so never give up.


Prominent Gayaza
Old Girls


Joyce Mpanga
Miria Kalule Obote
Cecilia Ogwal
Betty Bigombe
Beatrice Nyakaisiki Byenkya
Sarah Nkonge
Carol Bitature
Lady Justice Bahigeine
Dr. Sylvia Tamale
Jennifer Ssemakula Musisi (Commissioner URA)
Dr. Florence Mirembe
Dr. Margaret Mungherera
Dr. Rebecca Nyonyintono
Anna Bagenda
Ruth Kavuma (Woman MP, Kalangala)
Jessica Kayanja
Beti Turomwe Kamya (MP, Lubaga North)
Charlotte Kawesa