9th November 2006
Enduring art, sport at St. Henry's Kitovu
By Jackie Nalubwama

Perched up high on a hill is St. Henry’s College Kitovu, which celebrates 84 years of success this year.
This Catholic founded school in Masaka district was started in 1922 by the White Fathers, although it was later picked up by the Brothers of Christian Instruction.

In the beginning, St. Henry’s was a feeder school for St. Mary’s College Kisubi; it used to teach up to O-level, after which the boys would join SMACK for A-level.

The Administration block

Kitovu, also commonly called SHACK (St. Henry’s College Kitovu), has a most captivating compound. Stretches of lawn cover the school, along with very old firm trees.

Despite the clean lawns, it is the sculptures that arrest the eyes, starting with that of St. Henry, the school’s patron saint. The sculpture is well curved into the likeness of King Henry, who appears tall and regal.

When one moves around the compound, one feels the presence of life in the stone works, as if they are keeping watch of the stranger on the hill.

In front of the sick bay, there is a sculpture of two boys supporting a sick one. Perhaps this re-affirms the fact that this school is artistically inclined.

The school’s patron Saint Henry statue

Old Boy sentiments
Joseph Katongole, who was at St. Henry’s from 1991 to 96, loves his school without a doubt. When Katongole had word that The Weekly Observer was visiting Kitovu, he offered to take the writer around his former school. Katongole is a lawyer at Kibuka Musoke & Company Advocates. He was a student during Bro. Michael Butolwa’s reign as headmaster.

Although Katongole loves and is proud of his school, he is concerned that other Old Boys are not as proud. “They can’t speak up proudly,” he laments.

But that doesn’t take away the fond memories of the school he has. For instance, he recalls the time Bro. J.B. Kawuki installed security lights at the school, forcing grasshoppers that used to cover the Nyendo area to divert to Kitovu.

“We caught many and gave them to cooks to prepare for us. We would even boil them and dry them, to preserve them,” said Katongole.
These boys’ creativity stretched to eating the grasshoppers with Blue Band!

Katongole also remembers the rivalry they had with Masaka Secondary School. “We hated each other. They had girls because it was mixed but if they saw you talking to their girls, there would be trouble. We also used to fight at every [football] match we played against each other.”

Rev. Fr. Adrian Laberge and Rev. Br. Eugene Paquette in Founders Park

John Ssegawa, who was also at Kitovu [1985-88], explained why some Old Boys are not so proud of the school. “Some of us would come from Savio [Junior School Kisubi] and other schools in town [Kampala] to join Kitovu. And others would come from within Masaka. So we were kind of divided.”

Ssegawa said that those from Kampala felt they had not passed well enough to join St. Mary’s College Kisubi, while those from Masaka felt they had achieved their lifetime award by joining St. Henry’s.
Ssegawa remembers farm work as one of the most interesting activities at the school. Kitovu owns a farm near Lake Nabugabo, where each class used to go every weekend, for farm work.

Robert Kigula, an Old Boy as well [1984-86], has a different opinion of Kitovu from Ssegawa. “We had a lot of liberty. We would go dancing.” Kigula believes his school was one of the best in the country.

And indeed for long, Kitovu was the “University of Masaka.”
An older OB, Yusuf Katumba, says life at Kitovu was fun during their time. He was at St. Henry’s from 1970 to 73, for his O-level.
“Discipline was good [because] no one escaped. We were free to move out as long as we were there for prep,” Katumba recalls. The meals were simply the best, he says, because the school menu had chicken, beef, bread and tea with sugar.

Bro. Aidan Michael Mulabanaku was Katumba’s headmaster. He recalls that Bro. Aidan was nicknamed “Kisolo” because he looked tough, so whenever students saw him, whether in the right or wrong, they would run.

He also remembers an incident in 1972, when the school’s golden jubilee celebrations were postponed because Benedicto Kiwanuka, an Old Boy, had just been murdered. The boys grudgingly accepted postponement of the much anticipated celebrations. Kiwanuka, a founder of the Democratic Party, was Chief Justice in the Idi Amin regime.

The headmaster, Brother Brian Matsiko

Gutter and California

Perhaps Kitovu is the one school in Uganda where the divide between lower and upper classes is as fanatical as the problems in Gaza.
The S.1 to S.3 side is referred to, as “Gutter” and S.4 to S.6 is “California.” Basing on what the Old Boys said, if you were in Gutter, you had no business crossing over to California. After a walk round the school, I could tell the difference between Gutter and California; the latter is quieter and cleaner than the former.

Katongole said that the origin of the name ‘Gutter’ is the gutter on the roof edges, which are relied on to channel rain into the school’s underground tank.

Ssegawa of the Afri-Talent fame had bad memories of life in Gutter. “The teasing was too much,” he says. During his time, Gutter was one dorm per house while California had the much-envied cubicles. S.3s were the kings of Gutter.

“In S. 3 you were the bosses in Gutter, so S.3s would beat us [S.1s and S.2s] with sticks when we were sleeping,” said Ssegawa. “They would [connive] with the dorm prefect who would switch off the lights [before the beating began].”

These raids would happen when S.1s and S.2s were “insubordinate to their bosses”; for example when they refused to buy kabalagala (pancakes) at the canteen.

Ssegawa says that they would look forward to joining S.3 because they would then take their “revenge” on the S.1s and S.2s.
Unfortunately for Ssegawa, he never made it to California because he was expelled from Kitovu in S.3.

“We used to go to Masaka, Shamji Patel Hall to dance on weekends.” he says. But his luck ran out the weekend Segico Disco went to Masaka and on their way back to school the next day, at 8 a.m., the then deputy headmaster who was heading to Masaka saw them. He got expelled.

Ssegawa’s only chance to sleep in California came during the bush war in 1985. He recalls that during the third term that year, Yoweri Museveni’s NRA guerrillas took control of the southern region, cutting off areas beyond River Katonga - including Kitovu – from the government in Kampala.

“We could not go home. We had no lessons. We became labourers.

We slashed and the bigger boys cooked,” he recalls. Students from around Masaka were however able to go home, giving him and others a chance to sleep in California for the first time. Even Katongole admits that crossing to California after S.3 was a welcome relief.

Kitovu dialect
Today, Old Boys laugh at the genius they were in creating the jargon that still lives at Kitovu. For instance, Ken Bbale, a student in S.5 told The Weekly Observer that ‘Mbokya’ means porridge for St. Henry’s students. Yet this is not a new term. According to Katongole, after one was served with steaming porridge in the dining hall, it was common to hear students say, “mbokya” (Luganda for, I’m burning you), as they cleared the way for their hot meal.

Even Katumba’s time had its own jargon, referring to early morning reading as “winter”.
“We used to call morning prep “Kawundo,” said Katumba. Why? He doesn’t know. He found the jargon already in use.

“Nsale”, according to Katongole, were old Peugeot Estate taxis, which brought back the boys to school after they had escaped on a dancing spree. Katongole says they were so fast that they could take you from Kampala to Kitovu in 45 minutes.

Perhaps the funniest name ever coined at Kitovu is for the school bus, which is named ‘Mugongo gwa mbwa.’
Katongole, with a nostalgic smile, remembers that bus mainly for transporting Kitovu’s footballers to and from matches, which they periodically won.

But ‘Mugongo gwa mbwa’ is no more because friends of the school from America donated a new bus, whose name has not been coined yet.

Wonderful sport

Kitovu’s love for football is so great that to talk about the school and miss the sport would be tantamount to sacrilege.
This school has six football pitches. “Each class has a pitch,” says Ssegawa.

Although he personally preferred basketball, the soccer fever caught him when he joined St. Henry’s.
Fr. Cornelius Ryan was the school’s renowned sports’ master, whose passion for football made the school quite famous.
He trained boys and in so doing made many pledge allegiance to the sport.

“We used to go and support our team. We would beat other teams [in the match] and after we had won, we would also beat them up,” said Ssegawa.

Katumba also remembers Kitovu’s football success in the 1970s.
“I don’t remember any school beating St. Henry’s,” he says cockily.
He adds that although the school did not have a swimming pool, Bro. Richard used to take them to Lake Nabugabo to swim.
Despite football’s fame, which overshadowed other sports, the school also had/has a variety of sports disciplines. Basketball, athletics and table tennis are some of the other sports enjoyed at Kitovu.

Academic progress

St. Henry’s is not about ball and all play. Bro. Francis Brian Matsiko, the headmaster, says that the school is an academic giant.
He has been headmaster here since 2001.

Evidence from the results registered at O and A-level in the recent past suggests that Kitovu is on a steady climb on the academic ladder.

At O-level in 2001, there were 163 candidates and 155 passed in first grade and the remaining eight in second grade. In 2002, with 139 candidates, 123 passed in first grade, 15 in second and 1 in third grade.

In 2003, 125 sat for O-level exams and 117 scored first grade, with eight getting the second grade. The following year also did Kitovu proud as all the 150 students were in first grade.

And last year’s results followed the same pattern. There were 159 students and 157 of them passed in first grade while the other two were in the second grade.

With this performance, St. Henry’s statue might be found smiling one of these days because both on pitch and off the pitch, the boys keep shining with success.

Prominent Old Boys

Benedicto Kiwanuka (RIP)
Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere
Ken Lukyamuzi
John Baptist Kawanga
Joseph Mukwaya
Prince Vincent Kimera (RIP)

Noah M. Ssekabojja
Henry Mwebe
Bernard Mugisha
Joseph Katongole
Andrew Wamina
Edward Kaahwa
Rogers Kakooza

Prof. J.B. Kakooza
Prof. Francis Musango
Associate Professor David Kiwuwa
Mike Nganda
Bro. Edward Bukenya
Bro. Peter Kakooza

Dr. Lawrence Kaggwa
Dr. Emmanuel Seremba
Dr. Emmanuel Kalemera Senyondo
Dr. Ssekibunga
Dr. Herman Kigoye
Dr. Joseph Ojwang
Dr. Wasswa Wanja
Dr. Martin Ssendyona

Dan Nvule
David Matovu
Keith Busanja
Ronald Lule
Aloysius Lubowa

Sidney Mukalazi
Ronald Kamulegeya
Richard Kigozi
Johnson Galabuzi

Polly Ouma
Derrick Muyanja
Sula Kato
Sam Mukasa
David Obua
Henry Mpagi
Peter Byaruhanga
Fredrickberg Ddungu
Fred Sekitoleko
Carey Karungi
Dean Kibirige
Kaddu Kiberu
James Bakyayita
Jude Obitre
Livingstone Sewanyana
Godfrey Kateregga
Godfrey Ndaula
Paul Kivumbi
Ben Muhigo
Vincent Ssekono
Lawrence Lugwana Kaggwa
John Mary Mpagi
Dickens Nsubuga
Charles Lugemwa
Phillip Besiimire
Samuel Kyambadde
Gen. Elly Tumwine
Anacheret Turyakira
Dan Kazibwe (Ragga Dee)
R.S. Elvis Kalema
Joseph Kirabo
Mathias Mulumba
Paul Njala


The school anthem

St. Henry’s, St. Henry’s
You are mother, you are all
We love you, We praise you
We shall love you forever

Horizon, Horizon
Horizon Henry’s
Pray for us
Shall we rise
We shall all rise forever

Our parents
Our parents
We thank you very much
We pray for you
We love you
We shall love you forever

Lead us Lord
We beg you
To Horizons
Shall we rise
St. Henry’s, St. Henry’s
The School of life
and distinction.