5th October 2006
Nyakasura School; The lion is still awake
By Jackie Nalubwama

What kind of girls are these? They have hairy faces, deep voices and they walk like men. Moving farther into the school, I realize these are boys.

For the first time visitor that I was at Nyakasura School, keeping the bubbling laughter from spilling out of my mouth at the sight of boys in kilts was easier said than done.

For this unique uniform, the school has to thank its first headmaster, Commander Ernest Ebohard Calwell who designed the kilt because he was Scottish, said the deputy headmaster, Rev. Frank Ruhweza.

The headmaster, David Ocan Kitara (above), and the Administration block (below)

However, the headmaster, David Ocan Kitara, said that it is an Irish kilt because the commander was Irish. Whatever the case may be, Commander [as he is commonly referred to] seems to have been a man of great character because he is still spoken highly of to date.

In 1926, due to the request of Batooro boys who had been in King’s College Budo for a school to be built in their region, Commander left Budo and built Nyakasura School.
Commander, having been a teacher in Budo, built some elements of Budo in Nyakasura.

Rev. Ruhweza explained, “This school is part of Budo. Our lion is half, theirs is full (referring to the symbol on both schools’ emblems.) Indeed these schools still link up because at the recent Budo centenary celebrations, Budo invited four teachers and 20 students from Nyakasura.

Commander was charged with providing educated chiefs to the Omukama of Tooro, and thus Nyakasura began in 1926; but it has come a long way because it served Tooro and beyond.

Old Nyakasura
As a student, from 1966 to 1971, Rev. Ruhweza said Nyakasura held high standards. “It was teaching people all round [not academics only].” He was at Nyakasura for both O and A-level, under Edward Bachelor as headmaster.

Rev. Ruhweza found the once all boys’ school mixed because in the early 60s, under Everd Parrens as headmaster, girls were permitted into the school.
Kitara said Commander did not like girls and women in general, that is why he had catered for boys only.

It is even rumoured that if Commander woke up and the first person he met on his way was a woman, he would go back to Nyakasura and would not leave the school that day. I bet he is frowning in his grave at the sight of girls on his compound, learning with his boys.
For memories, Rev. Ruhweza harbours pleasant ones of the school.

“Academic excellence was insisted on. But the programme involved games and sports. The meals I am afraid were high class; we wouldn’t expect them today.”

The lion is still awake

The dining hall

Currently the school has 850 students but in the reverend’s time it was half the number it is today; that is why he said that the good meals, which included fish and meat, cannot be expected today.

In the 60s, Nyakasura represented the Tooro region in football, said Ruhweza, who even remembers Jaberi Bidandi Ssali the library prefect, as having been a good footballer.

The former minister of Local Government was better known for mentioning “The School” (Nyakasura) at the slightest prompting or provocation in Parliament. And all Nyakasura OBs share that pride in their school.

Ssali said he was at the school from 1955 to 57, when it was still an all boys’ school. “It was a very well run school; very organised with students all over Uganda and students of all denominations,” said Ssali.

His love for football goes way back to his student days in Nyakasura, where he played Number 9 as a striker.
Of all the many schools Daily Monitor’s Andrew Mujuni Mwenda has attended (and they are many) he speaks constantly of Nyakasura. It seems to instil that sense of belonging in all that walk through its gates.

Tim Lwanga, the former minister of Ethics and Integrity, was at Nyakasura the time Ruhweza was there.
Lwanga did his O and A-Level at the school and was there at around the same time as Ruhweza from 1965 to 70. “It was the best school in the country, which moulded leaders: [Crispus] Kiyonga, Bidandi Ssali, Bikangaga, [Beatrice] Kiraso.”

Lwanga remembered his stay at the school as having been good, ading that 99% of the staff was European, who left in 1972 and the school was left with poor leadership.
“At the time the choice was between Budo, St. Mary’s Kisubi, Namilyango [College] and Nyakasura,” Lwanga affirmed. Right now Lwanga said, “It is an ok school but not great.”

Well, Peter Odyambo resounded Lwanga when he said, “[Edward] Bachelor left in 1973 and we got an African headmaster [Francis Kasiragi]. Things collapsed from that time up to tomorrow.”

Odyambo is a news editor of MEGA FM in Gulu and was a student at the school from 1971-74.
Before Bachelor left, Odyambo said he enjoyed school in Nyakasura. “It was a wonderful school. That was the time I enjoyed what they call school; everything was in order: games, food and studies.”

Odyambo enjoyed Nyakasura with contemporaries such as: Richard Buteera [Director of Public Prosecutions] who was a class ahead of him; Bataringaya who was a classmate, [Maj. Gen. Benon] Biraaro and [Dr.] Francis Adatu.

Nyakasura today

Odyambo will soon eat his words because Nyakasura is on a steady rise back to its good days, since the current headmaster Kitara is working on it.

Kitara is lucky that of his challenges, infrastructure is not one of them because the school is still in good shape. To him “structures don’t make a school but the ability of the person to use the available facilities.”

Last year due to the national power crisis, a girls’ dormitory got burnt as students were reading on candlelight and carelessly forgot to blow it out.
“We are going to install solar systems in the dormitories,” said Kitara so that the disaster does not reoccur.

“The school is still ok. We need to improve the catchment area because the primary schools around perform poorly,” said the headmaster.

Kitara said to understand Nyakasura’s slump in the academic arena one needs to look at the wars that ravaged the country.

“What made Nyakasura slide were wars which cut off the school from the national element because they made the school regional.”

In the years gone by, Nyakasura used to attract students nationwide, but it has now gone regional.
“The principles under which the school was built drove people from all over Uganda to learn. There was a strong feeling that you had to pass highly to be a part of Nyakasura,” Kitara said.

He said that he is trying to bring back the national element, and he has so far done so by marketing the school. “When I came [in 2001] there were 600 students but now we have 850 students.”

He further explained, “There is a co-relation between how much a school charges and the number of students.” By this he meant that schools that charge a lot in school fees are bound to afford all the facilities [such as text books] and so students pass.

“When I came, it [school fees] was Shs 154,000 but now it is Shs 225,000 and we have done some improvements.”
The school, due to the increase in school fees, is a proud owner of a bus, lorry, pick up and a farm with 20 Friesian cows.

Kitara also believes that the academic performance is undergoing steady improvement.
Last year, of the 131 A-level students that sat for UACE, 92 got 2 principal passes and above.
“The state in which I found the school was to get them to university level. Then later for government sponsorship at university level.”

Speaking to Alex Jerome Tuhairwe and Isaiah Musinguzi in S.4 B, they said the school expects better results from them.

“It has been performing poorly. Last year they got 22 first grades but now they expect 60 first grades from us. That is the target,” said Musinguzi.

On a lighter note, the boys said they liked their brown kilts because they are unique, and that they were not dying to join A-Level for a change in uniform.
The A-Level boys wear brown khaki trousers and long-sleeved white shirts while all the girls in the school wear brown khaki skirts and white short-sleeved shirts.

For jargon at Nyakasura, these students really re-invented the meaning of language. Tuhairwe said latrine is “mashaka,” a fat girl is “Bina Babe,” and someone who tells lies is “Ngoni.”

Being candidates, Musinguzi and Tuhairwe are looking forward to the school’s traditional candidates’ dance, popularly called “CD.”

This year CD will take place on October 14. Musinguzi and Tuhairwe can’t wait to get smart and dance with beautiful girls of Nyakasura. Thank God they will take off the kilts and wear either a nice suit or go traditional with a tunic.

School Anthem

Years of struggle lie behind us
Ceaseless labour little gain
Ever let those years remind us
Sunshine follows after rain.

Alternating joy and sorrow
Hope deferred success achieved
Teach us that on each tomorrow
Each day’s loss may be retrieved.

May the joy of serving others
Be to us our true reward
Let us love indeed as brothers
As disciples of the Lord.

So today and so tomorrow
Nyakasura School shall be
Equally in joy and sorrow
Faithful Lord of Hosts to Thee.

Prominent old boys

Members of Parliament:

  • Hon. Adolf Mwesigye
  • Hon.Kamanda Bataringaya
  • Gen. David Tinyefuza
  • Hon. Crispus Kiyonga
  • Aston Kajara
  • Judges and legal professionals:
  • Patrick Tabaro
  • Paul Mugamba
  • Herbert Ntabagoba
  • Julia Sebutinde
  • Seth Manyindo
  • Richard Buteera
  • John Agaba


  • Dr. Edward Nyatia
  • Dr. Nathan Twinamasiko
  • Dr. Edward Kajura
  • Dr. Apuuli Bwango
  • Dr. Vincent Karuhanga


  • Beatrice Kiraso
  • Tomasi Sisye Kiryapawo
  • Wagonda Muguli J.
  • Ben Turyasingura
  • Maj. Gen. Benon Biraaro
  • Maj.Edward Rurangaranga
  • Maj. Rwaboni Okwir
  • Tim Lwanga
  • Jaberi Bidandi Ssali
  • Prof. Edward Rugumayo
  • Frank Kalimuzo
  • John Kazoora
  • David Kasingwire
  • George Kihuguru
  • Patrick Rujumba
  • Anthony Lubombora
  • Andrew Mwenda
  • Don Kitamirike
  • Mustafa Mutyaba
  • Hamis Mpagi
  • Hannington Karuhanga

Next week we visit
St. Leo’s Kyegobe