Namilyango College is celebrating 115 years of fruitful existence
The famous Namilyango College, in Kyaggwe, Mukono District, has celebrated 115 years of fruitful existence and great service to Uganda and the whole of East and Central Africa. The celebrations took place on March 25, at the College on Namilyango hill overlooking Lake Victoria.
This year’s celebrations were the biggest I have ever seen at the College since it was founded 115 years ago. This year’s theme was: Moral uprightness to greater heights.
The chief guest was an Old Boy, His Lordship Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe, the Chief Justice of Uganda. The High Mass was celebrated by the Right Reverend Christopher Kakooza, the Bishop of Lugazi Dioceses assisted by five priests.
Katureebe thanked the Mill Hill Fathers for building the College saying they had a wonderful vision for this country.
He gave a very interesting history of how he came to join Namilyango College in 1969 all the way from his village in Ntungamo in Ankole.
He said he was told by his elder sister about Namilyango College, which is far away from Ntungamo. That was when he was still in primary school. When he was completing primary, he selected Namilyango College as his first choice.
When the headmaster saw this, he tried to convince him to join Ntare High School and that he will do everything possible to get him a scholarship at Ntare High School but the young Bart Katureeba could not take that and as he was determined to join Namilyango College.
When he got the news that he was admitted to Namilyango, he was not feeling well but he insisted on travelling. By the time he arrived at the College, he was very sick with malaria. He was straightaway taken to the College medical clinic for treatment.
He joined Namilyango College in 1969 and Studied English, Economics and Geography. He said the reason why he joined Namilyango College was because he is a Catholic.
While still at Namilyango, he met a beautiful girl who was studying at Namagunga College and nine years later, they got married and God has blessed them with children.
Justice Katureebe called upon parents to advise their children to do well when they grow up and serve this country. He said he has served this country very well in all departments where he has been.
He called on student to be prepared to serve this country well just like the missionaries who built the school structures more than 100 years ago and they are now standing strong.
The Board Chairman, Msgr. Dr. Richard Kayondo thanked the outgoing headmaster, Gerald Muguluma, who has been there since 2002.
The new headmaster, Mpuuga Constantine Sajjabbi, said Namilyango College is celebrating 115 years of fruitful existence.
Mpuuga said Namilyango College prides in production of countless exceptional personalities over the years. Today as we celebrate 115 years, I would like to recognise the elevation of one of our own to the position of Chief Justice.
The PTA Chairman, Mathias Nalyanya said it is fitting to celebrate the 115 years, but we must pledge to continue the great legacy of the College and pursue the vision of the founders.
The NACOBA president, Fred Gyaviira Kyaka, congratulated Muguluma for successfully retiring after fourteen years of service as headmaster and six years before as a teacher. He welcomed the new headmaster along with the new deputy headmistress, Mrs. Margaret Kyambadde. He thanked the College staff and Administration for the great 2016 results, especially at O’level where the College emerged top in the country. He told them that his challenge to them is embedded in the word of a football coach, author and educator, Jim Tressel who said: “The hallmark of excellence, the test of greatness, is consistence”.
How Namilyango College was founded
The College was established by Bishop Henry Hanlon of the Catholic Mill Hill Missionaries, who came here in 1895 from England at the Mill Hill Mission headquarters.
The coming of the Mill Hill Missionaries in Uganda was a very interesting story.
When Kabaka Mutesa I invited the White Missionaries from Europe to come and educate the people of Uganda in 1875, the first to arrive here was Bishop Mackey of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) who arrived in 1877.
They were followed by the White Fathers who were led by Rev. Father Lourdel and Brother Amans who arrived here on February 17, 1879. Later on Kabaka Mutesa I, through the conversations with Father Lourdel, gave him (Lourdel) a name Mapeera, which they have named the Catholic Church building, Mapeera House that is housing the Catholic bank, Centenary Bank.
Kabaka Mutesa I gave the White Fathers Rubaga Hill as their Headquarters to spread Christianity in Uganda. Mutesa moved his Place from Rubaga to Kasubi where there is the Kasubi Tombs now.
When you enter Rubaga Cathedral you see the Holy Alter and that is the exact spot where Kabaka Mutesa’s Place was.
Sekabaka Mutesa I passed away in 1884 and his son Kabaka Mwanga succeeded him. Seeing the White Fathers who were French and the CMS Missionaries, who were from England, Mwanga came to believe that there was no Catholicism in England.
When the White Fathers knew this, they quickly communicated with the Catholic Mill Mission in England and requested them to send British Catholic Fathers immediately to Buganda so as to dispel Kabaka Mwanga’s belief, who thought that there was no Catholicism in England.
They sent Bishop Henry Hanlon of the Mill Hill Fathers, who arrived here in 1895 and the Kabaka gave him Nsambya Hill as their headquarters. The administration of the Mill Hill Missionaries stretched from Nsambya and covered the whole Eastern area of Uganda and the whole of Kenya up to Mombasa.
While the White Fathers built the other famous Catholic School, St. Mary’s College Kisubi in 1911, the Mill Hill Fathers built Namilyango College in 1902.
As soon as Bishop Hanlon arrived here, being a British who knew the characteristics of his fellow British especially the colonialists, he worked very closely with the three Buganda Regents who were administering Buganda when Kabaka Sir Daudi Chwa II was still young.
The three Buganda Regents were; Sir Apollo Kaggwa (Katikiro), Stanislaus Mugwanya (Omulamuzi) and Zakalia Kitaka Kisingiri (Omuwanika). Bishop Hanlon was their chief adviser at the time of making the 1900 Uganda Agreement which extended the British Protectorate from Buganda to cover and create the present-day Uganda. He was also a signatory on the Agreement.
Stanislaus Mugwanya, who was the head of the Catholics in Buganda, requested Bishop Hanlon to build Namilyango College as the High School for Buganda Catholic Princes and those of Bunyoro, Toro, Ankole, Busoga and other areas.
Bishop Hanlon built the College and turned it into a high school for all Africans from Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Congo, Rwanda Burundi and Sudan as long as they were Catholics. The headmasters who took over in the later years allowed students of other denominations.
The first Buganda Prince to be educated at Namilyango was Joseph Musanje who painted the portrait of the famous Kabaka Mutesa I which shows him with big eyes.
What made Namilyango famous
So many factors made Namilyango College famous but the most outstanding factor is that the school educated thousands and thousands of Ugandans, Kenyans and Tanzanians and other nationalities who are serving all over the world in many areas of medical, economic, educational, political and social development. The other outstanding factor is that the College has produced many scientists who became medical doctors from Makerere University and they are now serving all over the world.
One of them is Professor J.C. Ssali a surgeon from Kyaggwe who was at the College during my time in the 1950s. There is also Professor Josephine Nambooze the first woman medical doctor in East and Central Africa.
There is also Doctor Nelson Sewankambo who was until recently the head of the School of Health Sciences at Makerere University. There is also Doctor Stephen Bbosa, a professor of psychiatry and he was the first African to qualify in this profession in East and Central Africa and he helped to set up Butabika Referral Hospital.
The other old boy of Namilyango College, who is in a high position of leadership in this country, is Joseph Bbosa, of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).
Right now, we have Dr. Kiyengo, a surgeon, who is serving in the UPDF and he is working with the Uganda Peace Mission in Somalia. He is a darling of the people in Mogadishu because he has saved so many lives and he has made so many scientific discoveries, which the Somalis had never seen before.
Namilyango College has one of the best Science Laboratories in East Africa. It so happened that in 1945, the Mill Hill Missionaries sent to the College Rev. Father Bernard Kuipers to teach science. He was from an extremely rich family in Holland. He brought huge amount of money from his family as well as equipment and he built that science laboratory.
Father Kuipers became the headmaster of the College at the end of 1954 succeeding Father Houston from UK, who was there for only one year when he was recalled by the Mill Hill Mission in England. Father Houston had succeeded Father Doyle, an Irish, who ran the College for many years and he introduced the boxing as a sports game.
The other factor which made this College famous was because it had two streams. At the senior four level, there was the academic stream and the commercial stream for a student to choose.
The academic stream was for science subjects: Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics leading one to study medicine at Makerere.
The commercial stream was for one to study commercial subjects like office administration accounts marketing and salesmanship, secretarial, public relations, architecture and mass communication.
Many people who took commercial ended up working in many Government ministries and corporations such as UDC, Agricultural Enterprises, Uganda Hotels and others. Others worked in the then office of the former Resident Buganda who was the link between Buganda and British Governor before independence.
Because of being trained by the British at Namilyango College, they spoke the Queen’s English and many of them were office administrators in Government Ministries, clerks and interpreters at the Buganda Lukiiko when the Governor or the Resident went to address it on important matters between Buganda and Britain.
The College had cadet corps activities once a week in the evening where the boys were being trained to use a rifle by a teacher called Andrew Lugoloobi, who was an ex-service man from the Second World War. At times they were trained by the army officers from the then King’s African Rifles (KAR) from Jinja.
Namilyango students used to compete in shooting practice with Soldiers from KAR, at the Kaazi and Bukasa shooting range near Lake Victoria.
Unfortunately, when Milton Obote became President of Uganda in 1966, after the Mengo crisis, he abolished cadet corps system at Namilyango and Kisubi, saying that “the Catholics were training an army to rule Uganda”.
The students at Namilyango were wearing a white uniform smartly designed like a military uniform with ribbons on the shoulders. The ribbons were either blue (Hanlon dormitory), yellow (Biermans dormitory) and maroon colour (Campling dormitory). The dormitories were named after the Bishops who served at the Mill Hill Mission at Nsambya many years ago.
Finally the College introduced the game of boxing and Namilyango boxers were no nonsense boys when it came to boxing.
Among the famous international boxers Namilyango produced, were now the old man Tom Kawere, who competed in the 1957 Commonwealth games in Edinburgh, Scotland. The other famous boxer produced by Namilyango College was the late General Francis Nyangweso, who also served in the Uganda Army and was very instrumental in the 1971 military coup by General Idi Amin when he overthrew the Obote Government on January 25, 1971. General Nyangweso was the one who took over the Magamaga military barracks and took control of Eastern Uganda.
Unfortunately, the game of boxing was abolished at the College by Peregrin Kibuuka, when he was the headmaster of the College. Kibuuka said, Namilyango College should produce scientists, economists, accountants, agriculturalist, teachers, rulers, engineers and academicians.
Namilyango College will continue being famous in the promotion of economic development in Uganda as its Motto “NICI DOMINUS” stands.
We thank God that the Christian missionaries came to Africa to educate the African people, the African people would still be spearing each other with poisoned arrows and sharp spears and would still be living in terrible primitively.
Writer is an elder from Kyaggwe in Mukono District