Monday, 15 April 2013


Late Idi Amin’s Visit to SMACK (1970)
Idi Amin as Commander and Chief of Defence Staff (Uganda Armed Forces) visited the school. He came with his officers for two reasons:
1) To offer condolences for the 12 boys who had lost their lives in a road accident involving an army lorry and the school truck.
2) To interest the students to join the National Army as Officer Cadets.
When Idi Amin was taken around, he saw mounted skeletons in the Biology Laboratory. He made an offer of bones of a Tiger for mounting. Mr Sebastian Nsubuga says that, “the dead Tiger’s carcass was brought to him. He removed some of the flesh and put the remains in water to facilitate the rotting. Thereafter, the remaining flesh got off easily, them he used glue to stick the bones together and them the skeleton was put in the current infrastructure.”

It is alleged that the Tiger killed a warden by the name of Matovu at Entebbe Zoo (Uganda Wildlife Education Centre) as he gave it food. It is then that the animal was shot, and eventually the bones donated by Idi Amin to SMACK.

Developments at St. Mary's College Kisubi during Brother Kyemwa's time

The developments during Brother Kyemwa’s time include:
1) As the White Brothers got phased out slowly, there was a challenge to build staff houses for the non – Brother Teachers, hence the construction of the staff quarters found along SMACK Road. These were strategically located at the school land borders. In addition, he expanded, those houses, which existed from accommodating 2 teachers to four, by adding two extensions on each structure.
2) He bought a bus for the school in replacement of the Lorry, which had been involved in an accident in 1964. This innovation excited students very much.
3) A modern Electrically Operated Kitchen was built to replace the firewood one.
4) More Classrooms were built (the two blocks behind the Main Administration Block), the Agriculture block, the Bursar’s block and the 2nd HSc dormitory (near Mugwanya and Kiwanuka Dormitories).
5) A Parlour for the students was built (currently it is the school canteen).
6) A cement/concrete basketball court at the western end of the main athletic field was made, it was offered by an American Peace Corp Teacher’s family.
7) The school uniform was re-established consisting of a white shirt and Grey trousers supplied at the school. Sports uniforms were also supplied according to house colours and badges. Navy blue shorts with golden lining on either side were added for all students.
8) House Masters slept in their houses using the central dormitory cubicles between the two wings of each dormitory. These lived closer to the members of their houses as a family.
9) Every Wednesday, sick students would be accompanied by the school nurse in the school bus to Entebbe Hospital where they would be treated free of charge.
10) Interschool dances Sosh were normally held during daytime to avoid traveling at night due to rampant acts of insecurity during the 1970’s.
11) A second Water tank was put up.
12) The school excelled in Sports.
13) St. Mary’s College maintained academic excellence in the country.

“Assumed Right of Way”

A personal account by Brother Anthony Kyemwa of one of the challenges he had as Headmaster during the Late President Idi Amin’s time.
One morning in the 1970’s, a soldier in Army Uniform came to the Headmaster’s Office at St. Mary’s College. He wanted to force me to bring back a student whom I had sent home indefinitely because of gross misconduct pending the next Board of Governors meeting. He made his way past a number of students waiting at the Headmaster’s Office and closed the door behind him.
He then inquired from me about the boy in question whom he said was at his residence at Entebbe Military Barracks. He wanted him back into the school immediately. I asked if he was the parent or a relative of the boy. He retorted saying that he had come from the Intelligence Military Wing. I told him that he had taken a wrong procedure. He would have to go through his Commander to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence who would, in turn, talk to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, down to the proper officer who would finally contact me about the matter at hand.
He told me that the Intelligence Military men had “right of way” to anyone in the country! He followed his statement by picking up the telephone to speak to his officers. I was quick to ask him whether or not he would foot the bill of the call, because all school expenses had to be accounted for. Without answering my inquiry, he went ahead and pretended to be talking to somebody at the other end. I asked him for his identity card and he handed me one from the pocket of his trousers. I read his name and the number of the card. The moment I started writing down the information, he snatched it away from me. I thought that was a weakness on his part. He told me as he went out that Johnny must be back in school the following day!
I quickly wrote down his name and number of the identity card he had just shown me and called up the officer concerned at the Ministry of Education to inform him about the incident. He blamed me for letting the Military man into my office to which I answered that he had forced himself into my office.
He asked me if I had taken down any information about him and I gave him the above information. I also described his hands, which bore white scars like somebody burnt by fire or acid.
After several weeks, the soldier was brought to my office; his wrists cuffed and between two military men and an officer who had led them. The officer asked the would-be prisoner to repeat what he had ordered me to do about the student I had sent home. The victim did not give any answer; instead he bent his head and looked at the floor. The officer apologized for the intrusion of the soldier in school matters, and the group walked out.

Dr. Simon Kagugube's remarks about Brother Kyemwa

The Eagle Magazine team of 2004 Interviewed Dr. Simon Kagugube and below is an Excerpt.
Dr Simon Kagugube was at St. Mary’s College from 1970 to 1975
The Eagle: Any negative memories of SMACK?
Dr Simon Kagugube: No negative memories, none at all. A few difficult times maybe. For me it was very good. I don’t have anything to regret. I have been to America for 6 years, Yale…all over; Kisubi is the best place I have lived in period. There are no serious worries when in SMACK. No negative memories, tough moment’s maybe. When I was House Prefect for Kiwanuka there was a near strike. That was one of the most challenging moments in SMACK, not negative. We were new prefects and there was a near strike in the school. And remember these were Amin’s days they could bring Military Police! As leaders we had to balance the pressure of the students and the administration. So, we collected all the students, had them sit in the middle of the school buildings that is (Administration block, the Chapel, Chemistry Laboratory and HSc Block), we then asked them to write down all their grievances. I was assigned the role of writing out these grievances because of my good English Language. I sat in Cubicle A (HSc Building) and for the bigger part of the night I was writing. And, remember Brother Anthony Kyemwa (the Headmaster) was the type whose No! was a NO! Nonetheless, we had very good working relationship with him. There was respect for each other. I wrote out the students’ complaints and gave students to reproduce (I still have the original copy in my papers). I read it out to the students; that is before the entire school. We had to control the crowd… charisma, and I felt like a real politician. Brother Kyemwa insisted on reading it to the members of staff himself. The staff members came out asking why we were so hard. However, I am very proud of that effort.
The Eagle: Any role SMACK has played in your life?
Dr. Kagugube: My whole life in SMACK; right from S1 one is called a gentlemen. That makes you feel that you are somebody. It builds self-confidence; mine has never suffered. You never feel like anybody is better than you. You interact with very many people from all over. Education was fantastic, went to Makerere and was one of the best, excelled at Yale University for my Masters, went on for my Ph.D. I am able to fit anywhere because of such an education…
The Eagle: How would you compare yourself with say people from Buddo?
Dr. Kagugube: SMACK is the best.

Brother Kyemwa's message on retiring

“During the 1979 Liberation War, an Amin soldier confronted Brother Kyemwa. He wanted to know where the fighters of Uganda National Liberation Army/Front (UNLA/F) were. Brother Kyemwa did not yield. Shortly after the encounter, the Amin man was shot by a UNLA fighter,” says Mr. J.L. Mukasa former Deputy Headmaster and Head of History Department, SMACK.

Brother Kyemwa had no holiday up to 1980 when he broke off. The main reason was that during Idi Amin’s time as President, there was scarcity of commodities, and as Headmaster, he had to be there in person to get these supplies for the school not anybody else.

Asked about what led St. Mary’s College Kisubi to be at the height of glory and fame it enjoys as far as academics is concerned, Brother Kyemwa said, “ In my opinion, the aspirations of the students and staff led to the rise of the school. There was a strong spirit of competitiveness with other leading schools; that is Kings College Buddo, Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga, Namilyango to mention but a few.”

Brother Kyemwa’s message to the SMACK community if they are to maintain the established tradition of excellence is: “Discipline should be emphasized because it is with discipline that one can concentrate on one’s work. There should also be a strong school spirit among the students because this unites them in all aspects.” “When I meet former students of St. Mary’s College Kisubi, they always thank me for having emphasized discipline.”

Brother Kyemwa would like to be remembered as one who tried under the circumstances of the time. He tried to keep the school standards up and never down. 

No comments:

Post a Comment