By Jackie Nalubwama
In 1978, at 36 years old, Abbasi Kaawaase Mukasa took over
as headmaster of Kibuli Secondary School. Unknown to him,
he was going to serve the school for 24 years to come, until
his retirement in 2002.
“When I was transferred from Kololo High School to
Kibuli, it was already an old school,” said Kaawaase,
now an old man.
“It was started in 1959 as a secondary school by a
combination of members of the Uganda Muslim Education Association
(UMEA, which was then in charge of Muslim education),”
According to Prince Lukanga Khalifan Kakungulu, his father
the late Prince Badru Kakungulu donated 80 acres of Kibuli
Hill to Muslims so that they too could excel in education.
“My first challenge was how to improve the results
of the school. How do I measure it up to the standards of
“I discovered the main problem was lack of discipline.”
So he set out to straighten out the students with a system,
which embraced both students and staff problems.
“A good headmaster must look into students’
problems, teachers and workers. Even if you fail to solve
the problems, they’ll appreciate you were with them,”
But that did not mean the good old headmaster was a stranger
to the cane, because Kibuli was known for caning. In fact,
at one time the caning became the strongest Kibuli tradition
during Kaawaase’s reign. Naughty students –
even in HSC – received a lashing and, according to
OBs, it wasn’t strange for one student to receive
“You would agree with the teacher on a timetable
– how you will receive them. You could pick 20 on
a Monday, 50 on Tuesday, another 20 on Thursday… until
you were done,” one OB said.
The only exemption was royalty, according to Carolyne Nakazibwe,
who was in Kibuli from 1993 – 1995.
In the shoddy slum stands
the school’s signpost
“I was in the same class as Prince Khalifan and I
remember on several occasions Mr. Kinene (the then economics
teacher) tried to cane him with the rest of the class for
one thing or another. But Khalifan always refused to be
touched by a cane and would simply walk out of the classroom,”
“I had never believed that one would part with the
cane,” said Kaawaase, “Time came when I stopped
using the cane, when boys and girls understood the system.”
He said he preferred caning because it wasn’t time-wasting,
like slashing and cleaning the bathrooms.
Kaawaase is also responsible for having put Kibuli on the
sports map. “When I was training as a teacher from
Kibuli Primary Teachers’ College, the value of sports
in a student’s curriculum was emphasised,” he
Indeed sports and Kaawaase are almost inseparable. In his
office at Peacock Paints on Sixth Street, Industrial Area,
a football rests in a corner on his desk.
Being a mixed school, he also supported netball for the
girls and they became indomitable in the discipline.
“Co-curricular activities help students relax from
books. By the time they go back to books, the brains are
When The Weekly Observer scouted for old students to tell
their story of Kibuli, praises and affection for former
headmaster Kaawaase were underlying. Hajji Ibrahim Lule
was a student at the school from 1979 to 1986.
“I liked the school because of the handling of the
headmaster, who was a parent and a teacher,” said
Lule, now headmaster at Kololo High School. “Being
admitted [to] Kibuli was pride, not technical-know-who,”
He remembered Kibuli as a school that gave students autonomy
- referring to prefects. “Once you were a prefect,
you could exercise the administration skills under the guidance
of [Mr. Kaawaase].”
And for Kaawaase’s Kibuli, this autonomy included
caning. Yes, a prefect could pull a whip on fellow students
at Kibuli. And disobeying a prefect could cause your suspension.
| Abbasi Kaawaase Mukasa, Former
headmaster (1978 - 2002)
Former student Edris Kiggundu, who is now a reporter at
The Weekly Observer, remembers an incident when the Director
of Studies, Bashungwa once locked a student – Sekiziyivu
- in his office for caning. The boy instead turned on the
teacher and beat him up to the point of hospitalisation.
“The student (Sekiziyuvu) had to expel himself immediately,”
At Kibuli, Lule belonged to Africa House, for which he played
Lule was a prefect, but because he was a school sheik,
he said he didn’t cane. “I didn’t cane,
I negotiated [with students],” he says.
Having been a student, Lule said he would have hated caning
but it was accompanied by explanation, which students appreciated.
“The caning is one of the things I never understood
about Kibuli. I joined for A-level from Mengo S.S. where
caning was rare. I had received my last cane as a P6 pupil
at Buganda Road. And in my first term at Kibuli, I got caned.
The shock!” Nakazibwe recalls.
“I remember in our S5, the head boy Wasswa Hashim
was elected from our class. One day he came to class wielding
a cane after assembly and found us making noise. He told
the whole class to kneel down. We laughed, thinking our
classmate was definitely joking, but he started beating
up people and we scrambled to our knees!” she adds.
But for Abbey Bakayana, a student from 1994 to 2000, the
good memories overpower the bad ones. “In football
we were stars,” said Bakayana, “We kept on winning
the post primary championships.”
He recalls that during the finals, having defeated Kawempe
Muslim, St. Leo’s Kyegobe and Old Kampala, Kibuli’s
teams - Juventus and Flamingo - would play against each
other. As a result, many players in top clubs and the national
team were also Kibuli OBs.
Bakayana also recalls that the sports gala was fun and
his house, Aga Khan, used to win a lot. Besides Africa and
Aga Khan, Luwangula and Kakungulu were the other houses.
Bakayana also recalls the time students complained about
the food and Kaawaase told them Kibuli was not a hotel and
if they wanted hotel food they should wait for the holidays.
“[We ate] Posho with boiled beans where you could
even see your own reflection,” said Bakayana, rather
Lule went back to his former school in 1988 as a teacher
of Islamic Religious Studies. As a young teacher, he says
Kaawaase respected him.
“He never called me by my name. He would use ‘Mr.’,”
According to Kiggundu, Kaawaase personally took long to
punish. During his time at the school, it was the teachers
who used to cane.
Bakayana especially remembers Lydia Wanyoto Mutende (now
East African Legislator) as one of the teachers who loved
“Wanyoto was a strict [literature] teacher, who would
organise ‘raids’ on students,” said Bakayana.
These ‘raids’ happened when teachers went checking
for radios and other illegal property students sneaked into
As Kaawaase grew older, he delegated running the school
to his deputies and staff.
“Kaawaase was a good headmaster who didn’t
have that policy of ‘teachers are always correct,”
Bakayana also says that Mohammed Kinene, the then deputy
headmaster, would run the school as Kaawaase was away most
of the time.
Just before he retired, Kaawaase made Lule, his former
student, a deputy headmaster. Lule says that being deputy
was hard because he became leader of his former teachers.
What helped him though was Kaawaase’s guidance.
Kaawaase is proud of the institutional framework he established
at the school. “Many times I would travel abroad but
the system stayed compact,” he says.
An old boy who was at the school from 1989 to 1995, but
preferred anonymity, was laughing hard as he remembered
his days at the school. “I remember the millet porridge
on the basketball courts.
I don’t know why we preferred having the porridge
in buckets while squatting on the courts, but it was a daily
ritual for the boys after prep.”
He says sometimes the boys would sneak into a banana plantation
behind the girls’ dormitory and watch the unsuspecting
girls change into their pyjamas.
The basketball courts which separate the girls’ dormitories
from the boys’, was also the venue for ‘parking’
students, as high school relationships were called.
“After prep, we would stealthily escort our girlfriends
up to the basketball courts, because parking was illegal,”
Nakazibwe remembers the Islamic prayers before the final
exams, when all candidates – Christians and Muslims
alike – donned the hijab and went to the school mosque
for a final blessing.
“That was my first and only time in a mosque,”
she said. However, on regular Sundays, Christian students
were allowed to hold prayers in classrooms that doubled
as chapels on.
For Bakayana, who now works with Ernst and Young, the Saturday
movies that were very recent, and dances that were commonly
known as ‘vigour’, are some of the things to
remember about Kibuli.
Kiggundu who was at the school from 1995-1999 agrees that
the movies were good. “The school had the best entertainment
of all the schools I have gone through,” Kiggundu
He added: “I don’t remember a time Cineplex
ever showed a movie that we hadn’t already watched.”
Kiggundu also said that Kaawaase used to hire Soul Disco
for the trans-day dancing that took place three times a
He remembers students bringing sheets and blankets to cover
the main hall windows so that the day-disco would resemble
a night disco.
Kiggundu also says that after prep, the boys often enjoyed
what they called ‘before-bed’ which mean small
buckets full of porridge.
“We would sit on the basketball court and talk,”
says Kiggundu, explaining that the cherished talk was mainly
gossip about teachers, girls and nosy prefects. “We
would also plan attacks on prefects with ‘lugezigezi’,”
Being a town school, Kibuli often had students escaping
to the nearby slums or Angenoir Discotheque at night. ‘Asumbi’
was what students called the slum nearest the school.
“After the movie, or after prep (9.30 p.m.), we would
escape to Asumbi,” said Kiggundu. He explains that
escaping was quite a perilous affair. “If you escaped
and there was a roll call, you would be suspended.”
But still, the boys especially, escaped. “There was
this ‘crew’ that was always escaping to Angenoir
and on vigour day, they would go upstairs in the main hall
and step onto a dais there in smashing, uniform clothes.
They would then display the latest dance strokes they found
in Angenoir and the rest of us would copy. By the end of
the trans-day, everyone would know the stroke,” Nakazibwe
Most OBs also talk fondly of the once-a-month day out for
A-level students, when students spent the day off the school
And who can forget Riviera days, when the girls’
matron, Monica Kisalare (now head mistress of Gayaza High
School), would allow a few girls to watch the popular soap
in her house and they would then spend about two hours narrating
to the rest of the girls waiting in the dormitory.
Kibuli today is under the leadership of Ibrahim Matovu
who has been headmaster since 2004. He declined an interview.
Many of the traditions are no more. On a good note, the
caning was banned. But the weekend flicks and regular dances
were scrapped and the school is operating under something
comparable to sharia law.
Female visitors in trousers are turned away at the gate;
the old uniform of grey skirts/trousers and white shirts
for O-level, and navy blue skirts/trousers and white shirts
for A-level, have been modified by Matovu – an old
boy – to make the skirts long and include a compulsory
white veil for the girls.
Also, where parents visited every Sunday, it is now limited
to once a term.
Last but not least, we visit St. Henry’s College
Prominent Old Students
Abbey Kafumbe Mukasa (RIP)
Sarah Kanyike Sebaggala
John Ssebaana Kizito
Badru Mukalazi Kabega
Nabila Naggayi Sempala
Ashe Ssali Mayanja
Irene Mbabazi Kabaziguruka
Aisha Ssengendo Lubega
Nasser Mayanja Lumweno
Moses Lassu (RIP)
Ahmed Hussein Semakula
Prince Khalifan Kakungulu
Jaberi Katongole Ddungu
Steve Jean Serunkuma
Sarah Luzige Kasozi
Faizal Bagegulira Katongole
Dr. Umar Bagampadde
Dr. Amina Nakawuka
Dr. Zubair Muyanja
Dr. Achilles Katamba
Dr. Ahmed Luwaga
Brig. Kasirye Gwanga
Brig. Henry Tumukunde
Moses Senyonga Kiwanuka