By Jackie Nalubwama
Of the schools I have visited, I have not seen beauty such
as I did at St. Mary’s College Kisubi (SMACK).
Perched on top of Kisubi hill, the school gate opens to
a wonder world of green grass and trees, as well as randomly
The effects are utter beauty and magic; they help me momentarily
forget the ugly fracas with the gatekeeper who surprised
me with a “no women in trousers allowed on the school
campus” announcement, referring to my jeans-clad self.
But the magic disappears when the reality of the bell sets
in and the boys get out for lunch. Alongside SMACK’s
enchanting beauty, the school has an interesting history.
of part of the school in 1996
In 1906, when the White Fathers opened the school, St.
Mary’s College was in Lubaga. Later in 1924, the college
was shifted to where it now stands because the students
had grown in number and facilities in Lubaga had become
inadequate. The school that therefore celebrates 100 years
of existence became SMACK after the move to Kisubi.
SMACK could fool any new visitor with its brand new look,
but it has nestled boys and groomed them into gentlemen
for 100 years. And by the look of it, the school still has
the duty to make other young boys’ dreams come true.
Bro. Edward Bukenya, the headmaster said that it was the
old boys’ initiative to give the school a new face.
“We removed the old asbestos roofs and replaced them
with new iron-sheets.”
Although the headmaster is not an old boy, he has managed
to keep SMACK’s tradition alive. Bukenya said that
SMACK’s tradition is principally success “in
every thing the boys do.” It is this spirit of success
that makes SMACK unique, explained Bukenya.
“When you look at the product, the old boys are professionally
Who is who OBs
Without a doubt the list of old boys easily rolls off the
headmaster’s tongue, as if their names were a regular
prayer he says daily.
But you cannot talk about Kisubi without mentioning its
first layman teacher (and first African graduate from Cambridge
University), J.C. Kiwanuka; and the first African headmaster,
Bro. Anthony Kyemwa.
Kiwanuka started teaching at Kisubi in 1951 and by the
late 1990s, he was still a common figure on the school campus,
with speech slurred by old age and a stoop after years of
teaching Mathematics. He is now retired.
Right now there are 974 students in the school but many
more have gone through SMACK, pledging allegiance to the
school. The car stickers with “SMACK 100” are
seen all over town as proof of the old boys’ loyalty.
These old boys, through SMACKOBA: St. Mary’s College
Kisubi Old Boys Association, have contributed to SMACK’s
reign in achievement.
Different projects such as, the new Junior Library, computer
laboratory, a HSC block and swimming pool, are all courtesy
These also include the school and old boy websites; www.smack.sc.ug
and www.smackoba.or.ug created with the help of MTN Uganda’s
Charles Mbiire and Dr. George Mayanja. Indeed, it pays to
give good education, since the new developments have the
old boys written all over them.
Eng. J.B. Walusimbi realised his dream in SMACK from 1961
to 1966, and memories of his student days are still fresh
in his mind. He belonged to Kakooza House for which he played
football and participated in drama and debate. SMACK has
three other houses besides Kakooza. They are Lourdel, Mugwanya
However, Walusimbi said that much as the school has kept
the high standard of academics, “These children are
not as we used to be in behaviour.”
“Sometimes as chairman of the board [of governors]
I come to talk to them,” explained Walusimbi, who
said that in his time, they never got to see the chairman
of the board because there were no cases of indiscipline.
Sports and SMACK are like peas in a pod, they go hand in
hand. Football, tennis, badminton, rugby, basketball, volleyball
and athletics are popular and with the on-going construction
of a swimming pool, the list is expanding.
It is therefore no surprise that Uganda’s football
leagues were graced by SMACK talent.
Alphonse Temaligwe, John Kaddu, Lusico Kasozi and Herman
Sebazza, are SMACKists who played on that famous national
football team of the 1950s and 60s, which played without
soccer boots in England in 1956, and won!
The story goes that the team was conceding goals until
it was agreed that the boots were the problem because they
were used to playing barefoot back home. Everyone kicked
off the shoes and their luck changed. Present-day Kisubi
students would break their delicate toes playing without
shoes, I bet. How times have changed!
Former Democratic Party president, Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere,
was the national boxing featherweight champion while at
Besides academics and sports, SMACK is renowned for its
creativity in dance and drama. Who can forget the day MP
Omara Atubo fondly supported Gilbert Bukenya’s candidature
for his first term as Vice President, by saying on the floor
of Parliament: “When all of us were preparing ourselves
for outings, the good Bukenya was there shining our shoes.
I therefore recommend his candidature to Parliament. He
is a good man.”
Kisubi invented the popular “Jaba” dance stroke,
which every school and youth later adopted. They shuffle
their feet, sway side to side and swing their waists.
Victor Seruwagi, an old boy (1989-93), says that he is
not sure who the dance genius was that created “Jaba”.
One moves smoothly on the feet, as if gliding on the floor,
while artistically moving the body to the groove. Seruwagi
was ‘Mr. SMACK’ in 1992, which he says is an
To win Mr. SMACK, the best dancers in the school competed
for the post.
Besides Mr. SMACK, are the SMACK twins, which too are competitions
of the best twin dancers, who co-ordinate their dance moves
beautifully in order to claim the title.
George Mbidde and Isaac Mpagi were the SMACK twins in 1997,
and to date the twins are proud of their achievement because
it is one story they never tire discussing.
SMACK is a school that can not be characterised as an island
because of its interactions with other schools, specifically
girls’ schools. This is especially through the S.4
and HSC dances with girls’ schools, commonly known
as ‘Social’; but the students call it “sosh”.
SMACK invites schools such as Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga,
Gayaza High School, Nabbingo Girls’ and Nabisunsa
Girls’ School for this dance.
An old boy who spoke to The Weekly Observer on condition
of anonymity shared his social experience. He said there
was an arranged system of getting a date for ‘social’,
which was called “Cinderella”. Like the fairy
tale, girls would leave one shoe outside, and the boys would,
one by one, pick a shoe and then look for its owner. The
owner of the shoe would then be his date for the dance.
He however said it was terrifying because there was a high
risk of missing the shoe of the girl one admired.
Aside from the ‘sosh’ fun, the school has also
gone through some sad times. The Memorial Library at the
school was named so in memory of 12 students who died in
a motor accident in Kibuli, after winning the secondary
schools’ football trophy. The tragedy happened on
November 14, 1964.
And now every SMACKist is told the story and honours the
memory of those old boys.
Back to the fun side, the school is going to celebrate
100 years of existence on August 13, this year. Important
to note is that even the old boys from Kigali (the Kigali
Chapter) are preparing to join in the festivities.
It goes without saying: You can tell an Old Budonian from
their pride; a Gayaza OG from her spirituality and ladylike
demeanour; a Ngonian (Namilyango College OB) from the ‘rough
edges’, but a SMACKist stands out of a crowd because
of his humility and gentlemanly ways. Well, largely.
They tend to treat their women right, work diligently
at their jobs and many would lay their lives down for the
No wonder, their motto is: Duc in Altum (Latin for the
biblical story when Jesus asked the disciples to “Launch
in the Deep”).
Excerpts of an interview with Geoffrey Onegi Obel
extracted from SMACK’s magazine-‘The
Brother Edward Bukenya
at the helm of Kisubi
Eagle: In which years were you in SMACK?
Obel: 1965 to 1974.
Eagle: How did you first hear about SMACK?
Obel: Well, I started in Entebbe and had
my primary school there. SMACK to us was always first choice.
I did not even put a second choice when we were asked to
fill our choices. It was also the nearest Catholic school
Eagle: What was your worst moment in SMACK?
Obel: That would be when some friends went
for a function, got into trouble and were suspended.
Eagle: In your opinion what do you understand
SMACK culture to be?
Obel: It’s hard to put into words.
It is the desire to be the best. It is something you grow
into at SMACK. There was also neatness and smartness instilled
by Bro. Kyemwa. Even at campus, you could spot a SMACKist
in a crowd.
College, Choir - 1940
Eagle: What did you study?
Obel: I did a corporate law degree at Makerere,
[and] then went to Princeton University and [got a] master’s
Eagle: How did SMACK mould you for your
Obel: Without SMACK, I would not be where I am. If you make
it to SMACK, you have the confidence that nothing is impossible
unless you make a very big mistake. With that attitude you
only have to do your best and pray to be successful.
Eagle: Tell us about your sosh.
Obel: It was no different from the ones
you have now. For my six years the school was always Namagunga.
Eagle: What makes you happy to be associated
with the 100-year-old college?
Obel: It is still the best. It has performed
excellently in the past and still continues to do so. It
is a neat place and produces highly productive people who
add a lot more value to their societies than most people
do; there is surely a lot to be proud of SMACK.
|Air force one
|The SMACK bus
|Former SMACKists in Ngo
|The few girls’ schools that relate with SMACK
|The SMACK movie-viewing area
|A guy with ornament value of accumulated metal work
|A guy who gives consolation to not so appealing chics
|Someone with a low I.Q
|Chic with a large rear
|Instant rejection from a chic
|A chic who feels wanted
|A financially stable guy
|Timon and Pumba
|A tiny chic in company of a fat one
|A guy who gets away with crimes
|Dirty dancing involving two chics with one guy
|An ugly chic
|A rather fat chic
|Mail that comes without an envelope
|Slashing as a punishment
|Bout at the canteen
|A not-so-beautiful girl
|Being seen with a “horse”
|A young girl with prospect via beauty
|A guy with a high libido
|Vibing a chic in a lower class
|Vibing a chic in a higher class
|Unconstructive conversation with a chic
|Survival rugby on pitch
|An appealing female
|Shiny yellow teeth
|Girls’ schools constantly rejected for the senior
|A guy with bad taste via chics
|An addict to school meals
|Someone who goes against the majority
|Extracted from “The Eagle 2005”
Some prominent Old Boys
Politicians: Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, Speaker
Edward Sekandi, Henry Muganwa Kajura, Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere,
Omara Atubo, Hilary Onek, Charles Bakabulindi, John Kawanga,
Baguma Isoke, Prof. Joseph Mukiibi
Educationists: J.C. Kiwanuka, Brothers
JV Tinkasiimire, Anthony Kyemwa and Michael Butoolwa.
Medics: Prof. Francis Omaswa, Doctors
Katongole Mbidde, Edward Ddumba, Charles Lwanga Sezi, Alex
Coutinho (TASO), Sebastian Kyalwazi (RIP)
Judges: Joseph Mulenga and Remmy Kasule.
Lawyers: Prof. Frederick Sempebwa, John
Mike Musisi, Protazio Ayigihugu, Karoli Ssemogerere, Francis
Dr. Louis Kasekende,
Charles Mbiire, F X Kitaka, Martin Kasekende, Charlie Lubega,
Dr. Geoffrey Onegi Obel, Dr. Simon Kagugube, Stephen Ngobi
Mbalule (Citi Bank – South America), Julius Kakeeto
(Citi Bank - UK)
Sportsmen: JB Semanobe, William Nkemba, Mike Mukasa, Charles
Temaligwe, Paul Nkata, Paul Mukatabala, Mark Ssali, Joel
Eng. J.B. Walusimbi
Maj. Muhoozi Kainerugaba
Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura
Prince Kassim Nakibinge
Richard Tebere (RIP)
Richard M. Kavuma
The School Anthem
Lives are in the making here
Hearts are in the waking here
Up and on!
We are arming for the fight
Pressing on with all our might
Pluming wings for higher flights
Up and on!
Up boys truest fame lies in High Endeavour
Play the game, keep the flame burning