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
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
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.
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 &
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
“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
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.
Macos should take the jargon prize because it is simply
superb. It is told to The Weekly Observer by both young
and old Macosians.
Headmaster Kasolo Kimuli
Kakuti (still used)
The meal bell
Outside Lumumba Hall where waragi was sold
A gap in the burglar proofing through which the boys escaped
Illegal food vendor
The dining hall
Jumping the food queue
(still used) A boy and girl talking about matters of the
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
Hon. Prof. Victoria Mwaka
Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mugisha Muntu
Justice Solome Balungi Bbosa
Justice Oscar Okumu Wengi
Brig. Henry Tumukunde
Prof. Livingstone Luboobi
Prof. Eric Kibuuka
Prof. Fred Wabwire-Mangen
Prof. M. Otim
Joseph W. Ganatusanga
Dr. Chrysestom Muyingo
Dr. Edward Naddumba
Dr. Gideon Kikampikaho
Dr. Seggane Musisi
Dr. Joseph Kigula-Mugambe99
Dr. Agatha Nambuya
Dr. Sam Zaramba
Dr. Lawrence Kaggwa
Dr. James Sserumaga
Dr. Sam Kalibbala
James Garuga Musinguzi
Jehoash Mayanja Nkangi
Edgar Watson Suubi
Ps. Stephen Mukulu
Rev. Kefa Sempangi
Moses Ssali “Bebe Cool”
Dr. Johnson Byabashaija
Shaka “Winston” Mayanja
Next week we visit Aggrey Memorial