MASAKA - On June 30 this year (2018), Bukalasa minor seminary celebrates 125 years of existence, having been founded on June 9, 1893.
Many will rightfully contend that this institution, which is one of the iconic landmarks of Masaka Diocese, is the first of its kind in providing formal education in Uganda.
Indeed it has pioneered in educating and shaping incredible numbers of both laymen and those who year after year, have gone on to assume their candidacy to further priestly training in Sub-Saharan Africa.
After 125 years, the country will truly be celebrating a remarkable existence of a giant among educators.
Needless to say, by now; everyone should be waiting for June 30 with great anticipation.
Those who have argued Bukalasa's case as ranking among the all-time greats in the annals of Uganda's educational history quite are oftenthe Alumni of this institution.
Their feeling is that of being entirely within their rights to sound bullish and vainglorious as they brag about their Alma Mater.
They see no reason to apologise to anyone for this rare egotism.
Perhaps they are right to behave in such a manner as they seem to have a strong case to make.
After all, as an institution, Bukalasa has come a long way and survived beyond expectations.
Yet after all this stretch, it's still full of sap, still green and still bearing fruits.
Talking of fruits, Bukalasa has for years produced some, if not most of the prominent citizens that Uganda as a nation can ever remember and boast of.
Some of them include the late Archbishop Joseph Kiwanuka, a man of extraordinary intellect and courage who led the Catholic Church during the momentous years of the country’s history as the very first African catholic Bishop and Archbishop of Rubaga and Primate of Uganda from 1960 to 1966; Emmanuel Cardinal, Nsubuga a courageous and charismatic leader who shepherded the Church through a quarter-century of turbulent events and violent changes of government from 1966 to 1991); Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala, a man of courage and disarming humility and a former university professor who led the Church during a period of fundamental political change and socio-economic transformation in the country from 1991 until his retirement in 2006.
Obviously one cannot talk of fruits without mentioning the late Rt Rev Adrian K. Ddungu - a man of charisma and extraordinary intellect, fluency and mastery of foreign languages; the late Right Rev Paul Kalanda, Archbishop Paul Bakyenga and the retired bishop emeritus Henry Ssentongo are both sons of the same institution.
Bukalasa's fruits, however, are not only limited to Uganda but also spreadacross East Africa and far beyond.
The retired Archbishop of the metropolitan diocese of Nairobi - NdingiWamwana'a Nzeki and the late Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa of Bukoba Diocese were both once students from the same institution.
Bukalasa provided elementary training for the first two African priests BazilioLumu and VictoroMukasaWomerakaordained at Villa Maria mission on June 29, 1913.
The list of the all-time greats as fruits of Bukalasa goes on and on. But what has to be highlighted in this tribute article though, is mostly the effort to demythologise all previous hagiographic accounts of this institution, as only being consigned to the production of ordained clergy.
This has always seemed a total misconception for many. And this is why the focus on this occasion, is rather on the institution’s broader and the bigger picture that has benefited Uganda as a whole and the world at large for the past 125 years.
Being a (minor) seminary, Bukalasa derives its' name from the Latin: Seminarium; or seedbed; a breeding ground (in English).
Praise God, one can say that the institution has truly lived to its name and symbolism.
Despite all the misconceptions, this iconic institution has paradoxically defied and detested the adage that it is exclusively a factory for priests as it is often misconstrued.
Rather, Bukalasa has authentically demonstrated that she is an establishment whose unique style of education and discipline is in the best interest of all humanity as one family.
Virtue and decency in human living after all, can never be regarded as a monopoly for the clergy.
They are values that remain imperative to all men and women.
History sometimes has a bad memory. Otherwise, how could anyone forget that Bukalasa has for years, metaphorically served as a breeding ground for thinkers - well-mannered people with discipline and big ideas.'
This pioneer of all secondary schools has produced lawyers, judges, politicians, bankers, academicians, accountants, engineers, doctors, psychologists and all men of good character serving society in varying categories.
Talking of good men with impeccable character, one cannot fail but to mention the late Joseph Mary Mubiru (1966-1971).
This Alumni of Bukalasa and a local boy of Bweyo - Villa Maria, was the first Governor of the Bank of Uganda. He was appointed Governor on August 15, 1966; the day the Bank of Uganda opened.
He was also the General Manager, Uganda Commercial Bank.
Prior to this however, after the Seminary, Mubiru briefly worked with the National Bank of India before joining the University of Kerala, Southern India from where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree in Economics 1954 -1959.
He then attended New York University and obtained a Master of Arts degree1959-1962.
From1963 -64, the late Mubiru was briefly engaged by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) before taking up a position as Assistant Secretary to the Committee of Nine for the establishment of the African Development Bank.
While serving as Governor, Mubiru was designated a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers (London) and the International Bankers Association (Washington).
He was also a founder member of the Uganda Institute of Bankers.
Indeed history has a bad memory sometimes! Or else, one would recall that in August 1971 when the late Mubiru's contract expired, he joined the Madhvani Group of Companies thereafter.
In 1972, while still working with the Madhvanis, Mr.Mubiru was appointed Advisor to the African Department of the International Monetary Fund.
The story of accolades for this dear member of BUSOBA can go on and on.
Needless to say though, is that this marvellous son of Bukalasa will always be remembered for his contribution to the Banking industry in various professional capacities during the formative years of not only this sector in Uganda but also beyond.
The devil is always in the details.As I write this,am conscious that, I might be accusedof singling out the late Mubiruas an OB of Bukalasa and give him such a special treat by presenting his story in a lot more detail.
I deliberated did so just to give a taste of how much quality those who have walked through the gates of this great institution, can add to any given society.
However, this is not to suggest that there aren’t even other Old Boys of Bukalasa that have served or still serving our nation and made Alma Mater so proud.
Among these one can mention Owekitibwa Joseph MulwanyammuliSsemwogerere, Katikiro of Buganda, former RDC Masaka, Governor of Ssembuule, and a business person.
We all remember well Mr Mathew Bukenya, former UNEB secretary.
EmilianoKayima, the Spokesperson of Uganda Police is another public figure representing the young obs. Mr V.K Musuubire serving in the Vice President’s office.
Mr Moses Ntambi Serving in the New Vision Group and obviously Pastor Joseph Sserwadda leader of Victory Christian Church.
What becomes clear is that as an establishment, Bukalasa has not only laid the foundation for priestly training, but most importantly she has also earned a reputation for being an archetype where pioneering in good leadership through its Alumni has taken root and disseminated to all walks of life.
Even as she grows feeble and senile at 125 years mark, Bukalasa has defied odds to succumb to virtual intellectual menopause like other traditional schools have.
Somewhat, she remains a seedbed where ordinary young men learn to do ordinary things but in an extraordinary manner. From there, her children go on to exercise good citizenry and become Uganda's good ambassadors to the whole world.
As one of the Alumni of this iconic institution, I feel sentimentally persuaded to make an extravagant claim for Bukalasa to be defined and proclaimed as Uganda's National Treasure ─ a UNESCO World Heritage site for all humanity to visit and cherish.
Obviously, such a claim, will make other celebrated institutions such as Namiryango College and Mengo Secondary, flinch and hurt with jealousy.
But that's okay. After all, that is the very point and the subliminal message for this piece of writing.
What should remain unquestionablethoughis this: Come June 30th this weekend, Bukalasa will mark 125 years as the champion and Pioneer of education in Uganda. That's a fact.
Until that claim is challenged and reversed with credible evidence in support of the opposite, this legendary institution will remain the top dog in the country and indeed one of a kind in grooming and nurturing people with big ideas.
The only question about her, perhaps is: how much further can that legacy be sustained?