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.
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
“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]
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.
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
“What made Nyakasura slide were wars which cut off
the school from the national element because they made the
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,”
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
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
Kitara also believes that the academic performance is undergoing
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
“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.
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