19th October 2006
Makerere College School known by its works
By Jackie Nalubwama

There is nothing particularly striking about Makerere College School. It has the basics a school should have: classes, laboratories and dormitories.

There is no beautiful extensive compound to boast of. Instead, a few flowers and hedges grace the neat paths that guide one around the rather small school, which borders on being cramped.

The girls’ dormitory rented from Church of Uganda

Don’t be fooled by the size because just like the adage, “Great things come in small packages,” Makerere College has many a great things to celebrate.

In 1945, a college school at Makerere started to offer teaching and training skills to the undergraduates at the School of Education.

According to Francis Buwule, an old boy, the dean of Makerere University’s School of Education has since then been the chairperson of the school’s Board of Governors.
This leaves no doubt that Makerere College School is truly tied to Makerere University’s cord, like a child to its mother.

Owing to what the deputy headmistress, Grace Mubiru Wanyana, called “policy”, The Weekly Observer did not get the chance to speak to the administration about the school. But the students, both old and current, were more than willing to talk about their dear school.
MAPA Extravaganza

Macos, as the school is popularly called, is one full of character. The students are as active as ants in a colony. If one is not a sports lover, then one is on stage acting, singing, playing an instrument or reciting a poem.

Robert Kiggundu’s experience at Makerere College tells of how seriously extra curricula activities were considered. Kiggundu, who is an architect in the private sector working at Arch Forum Limited, was at the school from 1989-91.

“When I went to Makerere College, I had never been on stage before. But I was singing and acting for my house Africa,” said Kiggundu.

In short, “everyone who has gone through Makerere College can act, sing or recite a poem,” he added. This is thanks to the renowned Makerere Performing Arts festival- MAPA, which has been part of the school’s tradition. It is during this festival that all the school houses: Africa, Lumumba, Muteesa, Bikangaga and Simba, compete in music, dance and drama.


The MACOSA President, Robert Kiggundu
Ben Kinene S.4 Yellow

Clare Sempebwa, an old girl of Macos, from 1989 to 1991, was a member of MAPA, like every other student was. And she remembers [Joseph] Ganatusanga, who told her to sing because her grandfather [Ernest Sempebwa] loved music. She said she was not the best singer arguably, but at least singing in MAPA gave her a chance to practice singing. Sempebwa is the Business Director of Cert Computer Solutions.

Francis Buwule, an old boy of Macos, attested to MAPA’s superiority. He was a member of a music group and he played a sousaphone. Buwule is a lawyer working at Buwule & Mayiga Advocates.

Afri Talent’s Abby Mukiibi is Buwule’s contemporary. Mukiibi said the American Embassy used to give the school musical instruments, “We used to play a lot of music.”
To date, the MAPA festival has not lost its steam. Students still look forward to this production that takes place in the first term; but in Kiggundu’s time it used to take place in second term.

Dorcus Nesacha is in S.4 Green at Macos, and she said that MAPA is what they all look forward to in the first term. At the end of this festival, the best house and the different outstanding performers win prizes. The performances would range from folk song, plays, poems and traditional dance. Nesacha said the whole event is quite colourful.

The wave of time

For those who were in this small closet of a school, many years back, life was a passing adventure. Places like Wandegeya and Makerere University, despite them being illegal for Macos students, were where students used to hang out.

Buwule was at Macos from 1977 to 83, under the stewardship of Sam Matte Mukasa as headmaster. The school during Matte’s reign was very free; strangers would meander in and out as they pleased. In fact, for decades, Makerere College School was like a panya (short cut) for pedestrians linking to Wandegeya, Nakulabye and the university.

Until the 2000s, the big gate that fences off the classroom and administration blocks was nonexistent. Only the then girls’ dormitory (it has since been transferred to a Church of Uganda hostel across Makerere Hill Road and indeed outside the school) had a fence.

“Girls would be picked up by men and they could also go to boys’ halls on Campus. Boys would drink from ‘Soweto’,” said Buwule, who was expounding on the freedom the school once had. ‘Soweto’ is in Makerere Kivulu, where the students used to also eat ‘sabulenya’, explained Kiggundu.

Edward Kasolo Kimuli became headmaster in 1979 and order has prevailed since then. “Kasolo Kimuli introduced changes. Discipline increased and the school became more of an entity,” said Buwule. Outsiders stopped walking in and out of the school, in spite of the fact that there was no gate.

“K.K. (referring to his former headmaster) was key to discipline. He also introduced MAPA.” Right now, a proper fence goes round the school, separating it from the School of Education, its mother.

Paul Obasoni is doing PCM/E in S.5 at the school, and he has never heard of terms such as ‘Soweto’ because times have changed. Obasoni is a speaker in the Students’ Council and speaker of the Uganda National Students Association.

Diana Nanziri, an old girl who left in 2005, says the academic system of the school keeps students abreast with their studies. “We had beginning of term tests, so we would be encouraged to read in the holidays. Then mid term exams and finally end of term. We were somehow always prepared.”

The school is now more than ever set to achieve academic excellence, and according to Ben Kinene in S.4 Yellow, even at the cost of extra curricular activities.

“We call going for sports ‘fluking’ because they chase us away,” said Kinene. Kinene loves playing football and basketball. And to this youngster, “books are too much.” Proof that Macos is growing stronger every year academically can be seen through Kinene’s achievement. He won the East African Community Essay competition.

Coaching, which the school was famous for in the holidays, has also waned. Almost every high school student in the holidays used to pitch camp at Macos for coaching. This is no more.

However, Kiggundu explained that at the time, Macos teachers used to coach mainly because they used to be UNEB examiners and the school used to perform well in sciences. So students trusted that the coaching would help them pass the final exams.

“Some of our teachers were teaching at Makerere University, like Prof. J.Y. Mugisha, who used to teach Maths, and Prof. Banda for Physics,” said Kiggundu.
Interestingly, Macos students didn’t attend the coaching. “I never coached because they were teaching the same things they taught us,” Kiggundu said.

This coaching was eventually banned.
“Students now coach from Bat Valley, Buganda Road [primary schools],” said Diana Nanziri who, like her father Kiggundu, is an old student of the school.

Sometimes this school acts like a tiger whose spots don’t fade. Take for example MAPA, which has withstood time. Well, the Macorean is another spot which has not faded.
The Macorean is a school magazine, which Kiggundu compared to popular newspaper gossip columns. Back in the day, it was handwritten by students on manilla paper and hang on the notice board every Wednesday.

“It had student scandals, like who has a girlfriend in another school, and things like that,” said Kiggundu.
During Nanziri’s time, the Macorean evolved into a magazine, and now includes news as well.

Kiggundu told of the old fun times when students used to tear it down from the notice board to avoid scandal, but if caught, students would be punished. “We used to look forward to Wednesday for the Macorean,” said Kiggundu.

Macos F.M. is also an interesting aspect of Macos. As explained by Nanziri, students make fun on the assembly of what has been topical in school.

“They could even imitate the headmistress, and she would laugh. And teachers as well.” She likened it to ‘Kalisoliso’ on CBS FM.

Luckily for the students and the school administration, the old students never forgot where they came from. Through Makerere College Old Students Association (MACOSA), the old students support the school in various projects. The new library block, which also accommodates S.2 and S.5 classes, was an old students’ project, although parents helped out as well.

Kiggundu, the president of MACOSA, said the association also repainted the school two years ago. Currently, a design for a girls’ dorm is on the table because the school rents the girls’ dormitory from Church of Uganda. Kiggundu explained that this is why girls’ boarding fees are higher than boys’.

This weekend, on Saturday, MACOSA is at it again, at Sheraton Kampala Hotel. A long-serving member of staff and an outstanding old student will be honoured as is the Macos style, during the annual dinner.

At a fee of Shs 180, 000 for day-scholars and Shs 450, 000 for girl-boarders, and 340,000 for boy-boarders, a girl gets to don that famous yellow dress with a matching belt; and boys grey shorts and white shirts for O-level. The HSC girls wear grey skirts and white shirts, while their male counterparts wear the same colours in trousers and shirts.

Macos students are known for studying hard, making friends and staying close together even after school. Old students attribute this to Macos’ free culture, which breaks all barriers and enables students to associate freely with one another and everyone else out there.

In any event, old students link up and help out one another in their respective fields because of a proper networking system. No wonder Macosians are known by works.

The jargon

Macos should take the jargon prize because it is simply superb. It is told to The Weekly Observer by both young and old Macosians.

Comrade Kim
Headmaster Kasolo Kimuli
Kakuti (still used)
The meal bell
Dining hall
Outside Lumumba Hall where waragi was sold
A gap in the burglar proofing through which the boys escaped
Counter 2
Illegal food vendor
Counter 1
The dining hall
Jumping the food queue
(still used) A boy and girl talking about matters of the heart
The school nurse

The School Anthem

What are moments to remember
In this fellowship good and bright
Let us then all sing together
Praise Him, God on high.
Let’s make one pledge
And forward ever.
On the path to see treasure
But what a joy
Beyond all measure
To be known by works
And only good works.

Prominent Old Boys

Hon. Edward Sekandi Kiwanuka
Hon. Steven Kalibba
Hon. Stephen Tashobya
Hon. Khiddu Makubuya
Hon. Abraham Byandala
Hon. Moses Apiliga
Hon. Daudi Migereko
Hon. Saida Bbumba
Hon. Kibirige Ssebunya
Owek. Twaha Kaawaase
(Buganda government).
Hon. Prof. Victoria Mwaka
Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mugisha Muntu

Justice Solome Balungi Bbosa
Justice Oscar Okumu Wengi
Fredrick Ssentomero
Elias Kisawuzi
Francis Buwule
John Katende
Hudson Musoke
Brig. Henry Tumukunde

Prof. Livingstone Luboobi
Prof. Eric Kibuuka
Prof. Fred Wabwire-Mangen
Prof. M. Otim
Rose Zizinga
Joseph W. Ganatusanga
Fred Kiggundu
Dr. Chrysestom Muyingo

Dr. Edward Naddumba
Dr. Gideon Kikampikaho
Dr. Seggane Musisi
Dr. Joseph Kigula-Mugambe99
Dr. Agatha Nambuya
Dr. Sam Zaramba
Prof. Ssenagabula
Prof. Nsereko
Dr. Lawrence Kaggwa
Dr. James Sserumaga
Dr. Sam Kalibbala

Abdul Kagga
Eng. Batumbya
Abel Katahoire
Davis Birantana
Edward Mukalazi
Luyimbazi Ssali

Robert Kiggundu
Tom Sanya

Tumusiime Mutebile
James Garuga Musinguzi
Juma Walusimbi
Solomon Rubondo
Jehoash Mayanja Nkangi
Francis Babu
Ahmed Kezaala
Kabagambe Kaliisa
Patrick Mutabwire
Abby Mukiibi
Hellen Mukiibi
Evelyn Kiapi
Edgar Watson Suubi
David Pulkol
Ps. Stephen Mukulu
Christine Guwatudde
Charles James
Senkubuge “Siasa”
Rev. Kefa Sempangi
Michael Ezra
Sam Mulungi
Florence Tumwine
Sharp Ssewali
Paul Kim
Moses Ssali “Bebe Cool”
Dr. Johnson Byabashaija
Shaka “Winston” Mayanja
Justine Bayiga
Mary Apio
Veronica Wabukawo
Ann Ssebunya
Oliver Acii

Next week we visit Aggrey Memorial