Kihanga Boys Primary School in Mparo, Rukiga, Kigezi is the place where my formal education journey started. It sits atop the hill by the same name, with a commanding view of the neighbourhoods of Kanywero, Kibaare, Omurukiri rwa Kanzikwera, Sindi, Nyarurambi, Iborozya, Ibumba, Butatuurwa, Nyakarambi, Buteekumwa, Rutooma, Kangondo, Rukondo, Kashaki, Kiyogoore, Mparo, Kabumbiro, Katungu, Kasooni, Noozi and, in the dark shadows to the north where the Earth ends, Kyokyezo.
I was at Kihanga from Primary 1 to half of Primary 5. I should point out that the primary school was located where the present secondary school is. In my day, the current primary school was the Junior Secondary School. It was a 3 kilometre trot from home to school, my light body carried swiftly by my naked feet through rather treacherous paths. The callus on my feet was a cobbler’s envy, my soles as thick as the fashionable shoes on the racks these days. Stepping on sharp stones was not a big deal, unless said stone was hit head on by my toe (okuteera ensibo), in which case I would immediately worry about the punishment that would be mine for being careless. “Waaba noorebahe?” my mother would ask. (Where were you looking?) But I digress.
Kihanga Boys has been led by many headmasters. I list those that led the school between 1947 and 1967, as a sign of my gratitude and respect for their work. (I am not certain who was headmaster after 1967.)
- Kezekia Kasisiri
- Adoniya Ndarubweine
- Yakobo Rwamayaga
- Lazaaro Katakura
- Festo Rubahimbya
- Fred Rwasika
- James Ndagijimaana
- Ishmael Kabuga Bamwangiraki
I was a student under Rubahimbya (a Muhima from Nyabushozi), Rwasika (a Munyarwanda from Bufumbira), Ndagijimaana (a Munyarwanda from Bufumbira) and Bamwangiraki (a Mukiga from Rukiga.) Those were wonderful years when character, ability, value addition were more important than ethnicity. The people respected these men. For those who like to know such details, I should point out that Festo Rubahimbya was the brother of Mr. Kataaha, the father of Janet Museveni. We have a lot to say about him in our story. (Not now.)
The first photo below is of my actual classrooms – P1, P2, P3 (cut off to the right.) In here I was taught by the following gentlemen:
Nasani Murwani (Primary 1)
Yakobo Rwamayaga (Primary 2)
Bampata (Primary 3)
In this building, my buttocks were subjected to high velocity caning for infractions like: failing an arithmetic question; mispronouncing a word in the books Mutebya, Ninshoma, Baiburi; being a few minutes late on account of a tough climb up the slippery Kihanga hill after the rain, and so on. I often wonder whether my two teachers who caned me at this school (and only 2 of them ever did) were child abusers.
The second photo below is of the actual classrooms where I attended Primary 4 (far left) and the first two terms of Primary 5 (second door on the left). The ugly white picket fence would have mortified my headmasters. It was all green those days, before the culture of uglification afflicted the land.
On this lawn, we assembled every morning for roll call and inspection. Lord have mercy on you if the teacher found your hygiene a bit wanting. Teeth were checked. Hair was checked for any signs of enda (lice) or ebiguuna (ringworm.) The neck was checked for enziro (caked mix of dust, sweat and dead skin that suggested infrequent bathing.) Hands were checked for obuhere (scabies). Feet were checked for enzito (jiggers) and emiceka (heel fissures) that I learnt many years later to be due to shoelessness as well as various medical disorders like eczema, psoriasis, xerosis (very dry skin), thyroid disease and so on, and certainly not due to laziness.
On this lawn, people were caned, in front of the whole school. One morning, a woman (whom I shall call Mrs. Nyamuhango for privacy reasons) arrived with her walking stick. Her son and stepson, who were my classmates, were in the habit of absconding from school and whiling away their time in the company of shepherds. Mrs. Nyamuhango elected to punish them in front of us, in the hope that they might change their ways and that we too might learn a lesson or two. She proceeded to batter their buttocks with the stick, with the headmaster encouraging the proceedings and sounding a dire warning to us not to follow the ways of the two lads. We were in primary four! Said lads did not change their practice. Sad personal journeys after that. Both deceased. Did anyone bother to find out why they preferred life away from the classrooms?
On this lawn we presented our plays, songs, art and crafts on Parents’ Days. We would turn out in our clean uniforms and do our thing before our parents. Speeches were made. Awards were presented. No records of our literary and creative works exist as far as I know. Pity.
On this lawn we attended the Christmas Day worship, occasioned by the very large numbers of people who came to the hill to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It was also the venue for ebiteerane (Christian revival meetings) at which great sermons were preached, public confessions and repentance of sins were made and people, in tears, turned from their dark ways to Christian living. (If one did not confess and repent some truly serious sins, one was suspected to have “left somethings behind”!) To hear Rev. Abraham Zaaribugire preach once again! To see and hear Ms. Jureina Mufuko give her testimony of salvation and transformation by our Lord once again! We live with the memories.
My first teacher in P4 was Mr. Ntabizi, who gave way to the wonderfully kind Mr. Nuha Kakwenzire Buhaburwa. The latter taught me in late P4 and in the first two terms of P5 until we left Mparo and joined Kigezi High School Primary in Kabale. It was Mr. Buhaburwa who turned on the switch that, 53 years later, still propels me to seek knowledge. Before Buhaburwa, I hated every moment in the classroom, but loved every moment outside. P1 and P2 were great, for I did absolutely nothing but play. At least I do not remember much except learning to write a, e, i, o, u, w, y, b, p, f, m, d, t, l, r, n, z, s, j, c, g, k, h. (That was the Rukiga alphabet, in that order, during my childhood. We did not have q, v (?) and x). I remember the fun we had with great classmates like Byaruhanga bya Mulera, Kateiguta ka Mushaho, Wiriba wa Bimbona, Bwiza, Ntarangi, Mucoori, Kamanyi, Bangyendereire, Kuribakanya, Katwesigye ka Bampabura, Teriyeitu, Tugume wa Bareebaki, Nyangi, Twebaze wa Zindonda, Tumwebaze wa Ruhindi, Rubaganzya and Batete ba Rwemanja. I would appreciate news of these boys.
I remember Kihanga because teachers are the single most important people in a child’s life outside of his or her home. I salute these men. I would love to hear from their children and grandchildren. Who were they? What were their careers before and after Kihanga? What happened to them? What about their spouses and families? Any photos of them? Please share their full stories or whatever you can – here or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org