QN: Where did you go to primary school and which years were they?
ANS: In 1940, I started formal education atSt. John’s Boys Boarding Primary School, at Kisubi, which was run by the White Sisters, some of whom, including the Mother Superior (“Mameeya”), Rev. Sr. Felix (“Maama Filikisi “), had known me earlieras a baby when I was with our sick father in their hospital.
After attaining “Elementary Vernacular (E-V) Leaving Certificate” (i.e., P IV), at St. John’s Boarding School, I moved on to complete “Full” Primary School (i.e., P VI), first at St. Henry’s College Kitovu, in the Primary Section, before the Primary component was abolished; and then at Kisubi Boys (later renamed St. Donozio) Primary School, where I attained the Full Primary Leaving Certificate in 1946.
QN: When did you join St. Mary’s College Kisubi?
ANS: I joined St. Mary’s College In 1947 in Junior Secondary One when:
Bro. Amator was Headmaster;
Anthony Ssingo was Head Prefect;
Bro. Anthony Kyemwa was in Junior Secondary Two.
After obtaining the Junior Secondary Leaving Certificate in 1949, I was admitted to Senior Secondary One in 1950; and I obtained the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate in 1952.
During this period, the College was headed by four Headmasters in succession: Bro. Amator; Bro Eugene; Bro. Louis; and Bro. John Leonard.
In 1951, I was directly elected Head Prefect by the students, the first - eversuch direct elections, under an innovation introduced at SMACK by the first American-born and American-educated Headmaster, Bro. Louis.
QN: What House did you belong to at St. Mary’s College Kisubi?
ANS: I belonged to Lourdel House; and our banner was “Excelsior”.
QN: What are your memories of SMACK?
ANS: The School’s outstanding reputation;
The tidiness, especially by comparison with other schools, of the Brothers’ and students’ attire, as well as of the school compound;
The valuable learning experience;
The wonderful teachers and fellow students, who made one feel we were a family;
The well-stocked school library and the encouragement we received from our teachers to read beyond the Class text books, and to develop a reading culture;
The rich extra-curricular programmes, in whose activities I joyfully participated and excelled:
St. Mary’s College Cadet Corps (KCCC):
St. Mary’s College was one of only two (and later three) schools in East Africa which conducted a Cadet Corps training programme; the others being Namilyango College (and later, St. Henry’s College, Kitovu).
I was enrolled into the KCCC and rose to the rank of Sergeant Major and Platoon Commander: there were four Platoons in all under one Company; and our overall Company Commanders were, in succession, the late Paul Nnyungwe and John Lukwago.
In 1950, I was one of 10 cadets selected to train students at St. Henry’s College, Kitovu, who, subsequently,became the pioneers in the introduction of theCadet Corps programme there; and, on completion of Secondary School, some of them, e.g., the late Gilbert Sseruwagi and Edwin Wasswa, joined Uganda Police as officer-cadets and rose to the highest ranks in the Force.
In the same year (1950), I was among a group of cadets selected to undergo some elementary military training at the King’s African Rifles (KAR) base, at Jjinja; another member of our group was Leonard Kigonya, who, after St. Mary’s, joined the Prisons Department and eventually headed it. Unfortunately he was killed by Amin’s hit men.
The Debating Society:
The society shaped and sharpened my debating skills, leading the Headmaster, Rev. Bro. John Leonard, to refer to me, in his officials Letter of Recommendation about me, as the best debater in the school (1952);
I led the Debating Society as its President in 1951-2.
The society gave me, and St. Mary’s, an avenue and a rare opportunity to prove ourselves in a hot debate at the time, which washosted by our arch-rivals, King’s College, Budo, and presided over personally by the College Headmaster, Mr. Cobb: proposition, which I led, and by which we scored an impressive victory, was, “Bride price should be abolished”.
The Literary, Dramatic and Musical Society (LDMS):
Participation in LDMS activities greatly improved our command of the English language and provided us with a good insight into the lives of some of the leading personalities in history and some of the important events of their time;
I was active in Drama where I played leading roles in characters, such as the “Chauffer” in the Italian play, “The Brigands of Bravenza”, and Shakespeare’s “King Henry the Fifth”.
Lawn and Table Tennis: these two were my most favourite sports (1947-52); and in which our teams won the Uganda Senior Secondary Schools Championships Finals Cups, defeating the favourites, and the country’s leading Asian School, Old Kampala Secondary School, on their premises, in both the Singles and Doubles events (1951).
The “noble art” of Boxing: I was active in the Boxing Club; and I won the Uganda Feather-weight Champion Trophy in 1951.
I took part in many other extra-curricular activities, which included: Football; Cricket; Swimming; Volley Ball; Gymnastics; Athletics; Shot-put; Drafts.
In 1951, I received St Mary’s College “Best-All-Rounder” Student Award.
QN: Can you remember the type of feeding you were having at St. Mary’s College, Kisubi?
ANS: The typical diet at St. Mary’s, during week days and Saturdays, was sweet potatoes and cassava with groundnut sauce and beans; and bananas with meat on Sundays. We also had breakfast and evening tea.
QN:￼Were new students being teased then?
ANS: There was teasing of new students; but the teasing was directed mainly at the relatively “rather old” new-comers, and especially those judged to be lacking in manners. However, by comparison to other Boarding Schools, e.g., Kings College, Budo, and Namilyango College, teasing at St. Mary’s was minimal and short-lived, and never brutal.
QN: By the time I entered SMACK (1974) there were about 20 children or more admitted or more on a yearly basis to Form 1 from Savio. What was the situation around your time?
ANS: There was no Savio (nor Kabojja) by the time I entered St. Mary’s in 1947.
QN: Today, St. Mary’s College, Kisubi is much more of a school for the rich. How was it around your time?
St. Mary’s College Kisubi was not a school for the rich, although some of the students came from families of rich parents:
In making admissions and evaluating students, the criteria were academic competence and character.
While some students came from well-to-do families, e.g., families of chiefs etc., they received no special treatment; and they were required to conduct themselves in strict conformity with the same school regulations and norms as the rest of the students.
On the other hand, St. Mary’s College made special efforts to institute a bursary scheme of her own for deserving students from modest and poor families; I was a beneficiary from this scheme, right from the beginning on my admission to the College.
In addition, there was a Buganda Government scholarship scheme for students who performed well enough in the then Junior Secondary Leaving Certificate examination (i.e., Junior Secondary III) and were continuing with their studies in Senior Secondary; I was a beneficiary from this scheme as well.
QN: Who inspired you at St. Mary’s College Kisubi?
ANS: Many Brothers on the Teaching Staff, the Chaplains, fellow students and visiting Old Boys and clergy were a great inspiration to me. Outstanding among all of them was our Biology Teacher and Headmaster, Bro. Louis.
QN: Where did you go after leaving St. Mary’s College Kisubi?
ANS: I enrolled at Makerere College, then the University College of East Africa, when it was still an affiliate of the University of London, where I underwent an Intermediate Course (the equivalent of Higher School Certificate) and, thereafter joined the Faculty of Education for a Diploma in Education (Dip. Ed. EA; 1959)
QN: How did you meet the tuition for your higher studies?
ANS: It was the rule, at that time, that on gaining admission to Makerere, the student was automatically granted:
Full scholarship,by the Uganda Protectorate Government, for fees, full board and lodging; and,
A bursary by the respective Local Government (in my case the Buganda Government) for such items as stationery, books, clothes, transport and incidentals.
QN: Can you tell us about your family members?
ANS: I am married (1974 to date) to Dr. Germina Namatovu Ssemogerere (BA Vassar, NY; MSc & PhD Economics, Duke Univ. N.C. USA; Assoc. Prof. Economics, at Makerere University, in the School of Economics, College of Business and Management Sciences (COBAMS));
The eldest child and daughter, Theresa Grace Nabatanzi Sendaula (Mrs.) passed on in May, 2011;
The rest of the children are:
Karoli Lwanga Ssemogerere (an Old Boy of Kabojja, Savio & SMACK), now an Attorney at Law with offices in New York and Kampala:he is a Law Graduate of Makerere University, and the Law Development Centre Bar Exam; and, at the Masters’ level of Harvard Law School and the New York Bar Exam; and also of the University of Maryland for a Masters Degree in Public Administration;
Anna Maria Namakula (an Old Girl of Namagunga Boarding Primary School and Mt. St. Mary’s College, Namagunga), now a Finance Manager in New York: she is a graduate of Baruch College, New York, and a current Candidate for a MSc degree at St. Peter’s University, New Jersey, USA;
Mary Immaculate Nabatanzi (also an Old Girl of Namagunga Girls Boarding Primary School and St. Mary’s College, Namagunga), now a Fashion and Apparel Designer in private business in Kampala: she is a BSc graduate of T. John’s College, Bangalore University, Bangalore, India; and
Paul Joseph Joseph Ssemakula (an Old Boy of Kabojja Primary School and Namilyango College), now ICT Manager at Mengo Hospital: he holds:
A BSc Degree in Computor Applications from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India; and
A MSc Degree in Information Systems from Uganda Martyrs University (UMU), Nkozi.
Please note: Information about his family members may have changed given that I got this 10 years ago in 2012.