“From the School of Hard Knocks”

As the adage goes, “history repeats itself”; though that happens, we the mortals refuse to remember what actually happens time and again. Should we keep consoling ourselves that “we learn from our past mistakes” and yet the same mistakes come again and again and we refuse to take heed?  Just a few days ago, (to be precise, over the festive season) a.k.a. end of the year, I happened to come across an O.B. (Old Boy) of the famous St. Leo’s College Kyegobe (the only College south of the Sahara and North of the Limpopo).

As the adage goes, “history repeats itself”; though that happens, we the mortals refuse to remember what actually happens time and again.

Should we keep consoling ourselves that “we learn from our past mistakes” and yet the same mistakes come again and again and we refuse to take heed?  Just a few days ago, (to be precise, over the festive season) a.k.a. end of the year, I happened to come across an O.B. (Old Boy) of the famous St. Leo’s College Kyegobe (the only College south of the Sahara and North of the Limpopo).

Believe you me, we hadn’t set eyes or heard from each other for two decades or over.  What would you expect from such a re-union?  We quickly began winding back the clock of time and the verbal “diarrhoea” (forgive me for that word) caught us! This guy was from the famous (rather infamous) Igara County of Bushenyi, in
Western Uganda.

Famous in that, it was the first stop of the Late Dr MAO (not the Chinese Chaiman Mao Tsetung, but Milton Apollo Obote) during his first return from exile; some may ask of his second return! Ya, the second return, he came back in his “past tense” (the Late Milton Apollo Obote - RIP).

During those turbulent days, one of MAO’s ministers hailing from Bushenyi had taken it upon himself and decided to evict all people of Rwandese origin from the lands of Ankole, reasoning that, they support the M7 rebellion and hence were all guilty of being rebels!  

Now, as some would have argued that, since they had been born and brought up in Uganda, they were Ugandans. He quickly countered them with his equally infamous reasoning, “so what, if your dogs had puppies in a kraal, do they become calves?” he asked!  Some years later, we used to jokingly refer to people of Bushenyi as “puppies in a kraal”(inyana z’imbwa).

Here I was in front of a guy from Bushenyi. We began by reminiscing of the old days at school and after. We went back to topics like the many tough looking characters.  The majority of these chaps either hailed from Igara county of Bushenyi district or Kigezi district, all in the south western region of Uganda.

Any visitor could have easily mistaken many of these characters for school porters or teachers.  The majority of the Bakiga and Banyankore boys began attending school at a late age of ten, by the time they completed primary seven and joined secondary school, many of them already had wives back at home.  

The youngest of them began secondary school at the age of eighteen or even twenty, by the time they “graduated” from secondary education, many of them had kids as old as primary school going age.

Some of us who joined secondary school at the tender age of fourteen, we were considered as pre-matures to the extent that, the big boys used to call us product of abortions or miscarriages.  

We had our fair share of teasing and torture at the hands of the huge boys from Igara and Kigezi, we had nothing to complain about, with the consolation that, our time would come to do like wise.

When we had eventually graduated from being “Lobos” (dogs or S1 students) to “Pogos” (S2 students), we now took it upon ourselves to extract our rightful “pounds of flesh”(if I may use Shakespeare’s expression).

The S4 students wanted to supervise and monitor every activity going on in as far as teasing was concerned.
Having been inducted into the system, we were more than eager to take on the senior role.  

To understand this, you need to get an insight on the school’s lay out.

The school comprised four major dormitories (Houses), spread out in a circular arrangement.

The dormitories made a semi-circle, while the other comprised classrooms, the administration block and the main hall.  In the quadrangle, there were some trees and an anemometer and of course, a well kempt compound.  

The dorms (short form for dormitories), were storied and comprised four huge rooms know as “Chambers”; there was the S3 & S4 chambers downstairs and the two upper chambers where S1 & S2s mixed so that, they could easily defend the Lobos.

The dorms were named after the great sons of Africa like,  Kwame Nkrumah, Kabalega, Lumumba and Nasser (later to be re-named Nyerere , after Nyerere helped exiled Ugandans to chase Field Marshall, General, Dr Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE).  Each house was well known for a particular phenomenon,

Nkrumah was the Casino of the school (gambling), Nyerere House was home of Drankos (proximity to Gweri village), Kabalega was for the Madume (gluttons), it was close to the dining hall, Lumumba was the home of “bad boys”.

Despite the fact that many of the S4 students were huge characters, we the S2 students in Lumumba House took it upon ourselves to bar any unfriendly S4 student from entering into our chambers.  

These guys were a real pain in the wrong place, they used to come and extract sugar, cigarettes, and cash, seeds (g-nuts & maize) from S1 at our detriment and so, we decided to sanction them.

We employed the “scorched earth policy”.

mfashumwana@fastmail.fm

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