Prof. Timothy Wangusa
NABUMALI High School is in a shambles! The former academic giant of Ugandaâ€™s far-east now ranks among the nationâ€™s academic kwashiorkor patients! And that way it might continue unless some radical medication reverses this pitiful scenario.
But what can one expect, I hear someone asking, of a school that burns its library and the bursarâ€™s office, starves its science laboratories of equipment and substances, overcrowds its classrooms with PLE leftovers and allows its chapel to steadily deteriorate and decay into a massive ruin?
Look for Nabumali HS in the year 2009 among the schools sending students to university on government sponsorship â€“ and the number on record is zero. (I am sadly reminded of Trevor Huddlestonâ€™s book Naught for Your Comfort. â€œZero is what you have for your comfortâ€!)
For good measure, compare this unflattering performance of Nabumaliâ€™s to the enviable performance of a handful of neighbouring schools that used to be third-rate examination achievers. And on this one, let no friend or foe of mine try to convince me that â€˜changeâ€™ is better than â€˜no changeâ€™!
And yet, look for Nabumali HS among the high-profile servants and citizens of this land â€“ and the number is impressively positive. Among them, let me name Fayce Barlow, the first African woman secondary school teacher at the school, Justice James Ogoola, Justice John Tsekooko, Hon Beatrice Wobudeya, Hon Dorothy Hyuha, Hon Aggrey Awori, Hon Michael Werikhe, and Hon David Wakikona.
To their number, let me add a host of past, recent and present parliamentarians, other judges and justices of the courts of judicature, engineers, doctors, top civil servants, head-teachers, ambassadors ordinary, ambassadors extra-ordinary and plenipotentiary; industrialists and entrepreneurs.
Neither can I forget to single out those illustrious dead who prominently played their part upon the public or national arena and, as Stephen Spender would say, â€˜left the air signed with their honourâ€™.
Among them I name the medical doctors: Pande son of Nasaneiri Mukhwana, Mike Wamuwaya, Job Walumbe, and Wilson Wamukoota. The model of all teachers, James Aryada, the statesmen: Stanley Wanambwa, Arthur Nagimesi, Joshua Wakhooli, William Wepukhulu and James Wapakhabulo.
Nor yet can I fail to catalogue the eminent professors whose intellects were first fired and catapulted at Nabumali HS. These are intellectuals who attained or have attained their very highest in their respective disciplines in academia. The list boasts of Jethro Opolot, Jovan Kiryabwire (RIP) Cooper Odaet (RIP), Job Walumbe (RIP), Wilson Wamukoota (RIP), John Ilukor (RIP) and Hannington Taligoola.
Therefore, having such rich evidence of what Nabumali HS is capable of producing, the event that has been dubbed â€˜HOMECOMINGâ€™ ought to produce some tangible results! Slated to take place at Nabumali HS on Sunday June 13, 2009, the event was conceived and is being organised by a steering committee of Old Boys and Girls of the school to get as many alumni as possible to come visit it and, it is hoped, commit ourselves to contributing to its rehabilitation.
A golden chance such as this one was carelessly thrown away in 1989, when President Museveni was Guest of Honour at the schoolâ€™s belated Platinum Jubilee. The majority of us empty-handed alumni blankly looked on, expecting the visiting politicians to be the main fundraisers! Consequently, the fundraising effort was a colourful flop.
By comparison, in 2005 when the President was in a similar role at Masaaba Schoolâ€™s Golden Jubilee, he was overjoyed to see that we the alumni had rehabilitated one of the dormitories. He happily reciprocated on the spot by asking the minister of education to find some billions of shillings from a certain government fund to rehabilitate the rest of the school! Currently, Masaaba School is for sure being thoroughly rehabilitated.
Fellow NHS alumni, at our much touted homecoming, could we not between ourselves, for instance, raise just enough funds to rehabilitate St Peterâ€™s Chapel? If we did, this embarrassing and strategic eyesore at the entrance to the school would be turned into the beautiful and inspiring edifice it once was â€“ to the glory of the Lord our God.
Our challenge is that whereas Nabumaliâ€™s recent record is as bleak as the caves of Mt Elgon â€“ its future should be as radiant as the morning sun upon Wanaale Ridge. Only then will the schoolâ€™s emblematic eagle resume flying onwards and upwards.
The writer is the Presidential Adviser, Literary Affairs
(NHS Alumnus 1958-61)