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.

Nyamango seen from Kikuba-1-2
Original Kihanga Boys Primary School on the terraced hill (near, left). The school soccer and athletics field in the valley (centre of picture).

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.)

  1. Kezekia Kasisiri
  2. Adoniya Ndarubweine
  3. Yakobo Rwamayaga
  4. Burimpakari
  5. Katungwensi
  6. Lazaaro Katakura
  7. Majoro
  8. Ntaruhunga
  9. Festo Rubahimbya
  10. Fred Rwasika
  11. James Ndagijimaana
  12. 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.

Kihanga Boys Primary School (P1-P3)

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.

Original Kihanga Boys Primary School P4-6) classrooms.

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


23 Responses to “Kihanga Boys Primary School: Remembering my headmasters, my teachers and the buildings”

  1. Avatar
    Nitusiima Doreen

    Thank you Dr.for your insightful articles.This is one of the best I have read.Its detail is good.I can’t say that I have clear memories of Kihanga boys but I have that hill in my mind as a place where I was born.My father was a Deputy HM up to 1984 when he was promoted as a Headmaster of Kamwezi PR.Sch.which he headed for 16years.I don’t know for how long he worked at Kihanga boys but I have heard a lot about the school and seen many pictures.We left Kihanga boys,when I was just 1year Old.Thank you for this article.

    • Avatar
      Muniini K. Mulera

      Hello Nitusiima, why do I think I know who your father is? Are you from Kabumbiro?

  2. Avatar
    Micheal Kwarikunda Mbareba

    When was the first picture taken? As always good piece

    • Avatar
      Muniini K. Mulera

      I’ll check the metadata and let you know, but I think this is about 5 years ago.

  3. Avatar
    Roland TUsiime KAmujanduzi

    Dear Muniini,

    Thank you so much for sharing the story, Memories, joys and love of my school.
    The school where my story began, with Mr. Barihamwe as my teacher and Mr. Ndyanimanya as my Headmaster.
    The joy of Friday school band, Boys’ brigade, still create a smile when down. Handwork; going “kucwa ebitogo” in the “rufunjo” (cut reeds in the swamp), a day we waited for. The “wedding day” where we Kihanga boys’ would meet with Kihanga girls’ “ahakashaha”, read letters (these would be letter written to or from a boy friend or girl friend intercepted by the administration), and call the couple for wedding. The wedding would be administered by the class teacher from both schools, by giving each six strokes of cane.
    Oh!, Kihanga Boys, now in shadows, where are the fruits you bore?

    Thank you Munini, This week you have blessed

    • Avatar
      Muniini K. Mulera

      Sadly all those swamps are gone! The environmental consequences are yet to be felt in their full wrath. The “wedding” thing is something I had never heard of till now. Imagine punishing young people for writing love letters to each other. Suppressing normal human emotions was part of the terror of education and upbringing. One suspects that such things are partly responsible for the intolerance that remains in the land – in adulthood.

    • Avatar
      Muniini K. Mulera

      You may be right, Alex. I thought I was in class with Charles wa Zindonda. I think Tugume was a year behind us, but we played and engaged in lots of mutual mischief. Mr Eli Nasani Zindonda, Twebaze’s father, was one of my baptismal witnesses. Tugume’s parents were my parents great friends. That closeness made our interactions close. That may also cloud my memory re: who was where. Please clarify these for me.

      • Avatar
        Marion Kyomuhendo

        Thanks for this Munini, I have been lucky to witness the relationship between the Mulera and the Zindonda families even in later years – lovely. I am a mother of Twebaze’s lovely twins, now all grown up. One of them is exactly like Twebaze-Zindonda both in looks and character…., what a journey it has been to see such a copy. When you are in Kampala come check on us and you will see a copy of your friend.

        • Avatar
          Muniini K. Mulera

          How wonderful it is to read this! I am now back in Canada. It would be great to see you and Twebaze’s offspring.

  4. Avatar
    Kiiza Eron

    Great story. I hope this inspires your contemporaries to record their stories for posterity. My Rwahi isn’t too far from Kihanga.

  5. Avatar
    Aryeija Micheal

    So Great Dr.I feel the story though ididn’t school there,but all my uncles(sons of Rubahika,Sindi) are all OBs.Currently at Shooko P/S

  6. Avatar
    Akankwasa James Ravens

    Thanks for making our Kihanga Boys Primary School proud. That picture showing my homeland and my ancestral home (Mahiira’s homestead) makes me feel at home although am many miles away from it.

    • Avatar
      Muniini K. Mulera

      Oweitu Akankwasa, I remember Mr. Mahiira very well. He used to grow ebikweijo (sugar cane) and ebitunda (tree tomatoes)right near the path we used to take to and from school. You can imagine how often those things were borrowed by pupils. One of his sons was our schoolmate– I think in our class or maybe one year ahead of us. Did he migrate to Nyarushanje area? I would love to know more about the family. Please e-mail me.

  7. Avatar

    The last headmaster mentioned on the roster was not “Ezra” but Ishmael Kabuga Bamwangiraki from Ibumba parish Mparo. He died in March 1968 shortly after his appointment as the District Education Officer Kigezi. He led the transfer of Kihanga Boys from the old campus near the Church of Uganda buildings to the current campus as Kihanga Intergrated School. The old campus then was promoted to become Kihanga Senior Secondary School and the first non-native headmaster was an expatriate called Gaffa who drove some 1950s model automobile. Bamwangiraki was known for his music skills that led the school choir to several national level competitions, and also his strict disciplinarian ways by his ready use of oruga cane (termed enjubu by the students). One of the old school blocks at Kihanga Senior Secondary School was named in his honour at one time.

    I recall the Sunday School days when the entire school had to attend Sunday service at the Church of Uganda parish all dressed in the kitaani (white) uniforms. We were encouraged to make our kitaani uniforms look even more brilliantly white by rinsing them in a solution called bururu (blue dye) that gave them an extra white look. The entire school would carry the school benches from the classrooms to the Church nave on Friday morning after school, and carry the benches back to the school after Sunday service ready for Monday morning. The Boys Brigade Band would lead the procession for service from the school on the current campus and pick up the girls from Kihanga Girls also dressed in kitaani uniforms.

    My best memories include morning prayers in the new P2 room led by the late Rev. Bugaiga (RIP) who was the chaplain. By the way, the Rev. Bugaiga had been named Bwooro in his childhood but as he took holy orders, the presenting rural dean of the day thought the name did not fit a man of the cloth so they persuaded him to change the name to Bugaiga. Similarly the Rev. Kaijuka of Bugongi hill in Kabale (father of Dr. Emmanuel Mutabaazi Kaijuka and the late Edith Bataringaya and grandfather of engineer Kibandama Kimanzi) was named Kabwagura in his childhood but when he took holy orders the same rural dean suggested a more fitting name was required and he accepted the name Kaijuka. My best teachers were my mother of course Anne Kasisiri Bamwangiraki (P1) Mrs Kabachenga (P1, P2), Katungwensi of sindi village (burser & P2), Kivebulaaya, and Kastigazi. I recall my most brilliant classmate from Shoko village called Kalibala who went on to attend Kings College Budo.

    • Avatar
      Muniini K. Mulera

      Thank you Ben! Rich addition to the memories. Thank you for correcting me on Mr. Bamwangiraki’s baptismal names. How could I have forgotten the names of my God parent! Yes he and your mother, together with Mr. Eli Nasani Zindonda of Nyarurambi, were two of my God parents when I was baptized in 1961. Thank you! Please share any photos of you have so that we enrich this document.

  8. Avatar

    a, e, i, o, u, y, b, p, f, m, d, t, l, r, n, z, s, j, c, g, k, h!! You really cracked my ribs, omushaho omutendekke!! I recall learning that very alphabet by rote pedagogy as the entire class sounded out the letters but in their phonetic pronunciation as follows: ah, eh, yi, oh, wu, (pause) waya, (pause) ba, pa, fa, ma, (pause) da, ta, la, ra, na, (pause) za, sa, ja, kya, ga, ka, ha! The final “ha” was shouted in as a climatic crescendo! After studying semitic languages in my seminary studies, I realize that Rukiga is a phonetically based language like Amharic of Ethiopia but we were stuck through colonialism with the Roman alphabet! I have addressed these concerns to the current experts in the field to create a phonetic based alphabet for the language if they can. Canon Dr. Emmanuel Muranga of Bishop Barham College Rugarama and Mzee Festo Karwemera are working to complete the translation of all the Biblical proper ames of both locations and people into their Rukiga equivalents (for example Seth really is Mugarura and Eve is Nyinaboona).

    We also missed out on reading the Nintebya reader but still got Nisnhoma . We instead had to study the Mutabingwa family safari reader.

    The Kihanga school hygiene regime continued on after you left Kihanga for further studies. In my P 2 days, I recall the surprise health checks at morning school assembly that always turned out to be in my view community building events. The shirts came off and were placed in the grass. Every student would examine the head of the student lined up directly in front of him and check for lice (enda) which you would remove and crush between your thumb nails (uuhhh!) and lice eggs (emigi) which you would remove and toss to the ground. Enziro would be found the same way by rubbing your thumb against the next student’s skin. The culprits were post haste sent en masse to the creek/stream (akalindi) between Mzee Bimbona’s and Mzee Basobokwe’s homes, wash up and return to class under 30 mins!. Another day would be for checking for jiggers (enzito) also done mutually one student checking another’s feet and toes and obligated to report any findings to the nearest teacher! The culprits with jigger infestations would be immediately processed with the removal of the bugs using ebikwaaso (safety pins) and to drive the point home, eshonde (a liquid collected from the stalls of domestic animals like cattle and sheep- this sounds nasty today but was normal in my day) was available on such days to pour into the cavities and the students would have to dance a full round of ekizino (Kikiga dance involving stomping the feet really hard on the ground). Lesson taught and learned. Dig your jiggers out soon as they infest your feet to avoid public humiliation. All physical education called P.E. time was done shirtless (and across the valley the Kihanga Girls would do the same but with dresses off for the lower classes).

    Great educational foundation for the entire person, physical, mental, spiritual, community, and above all accountability to each other and to authority. I now find myself counseling students that have only one value in life: get a job that means the greatest cash flow earnings as the ultimate purpose in life:- just today one of my most gifted college kids changed her plan from attending medical school to becoming a nurse practitioner, as her guardian convinced her she would not only study for less time but make $120K a year straight after graduation. Practical economic sense this may make, but what about the greater capacity of a medical degree in spite of all the attending longer school time and funding like was this girls dream? Times have changed for all of us indeed but I hope our children can have values beyond just cash flow (the mafuta mingi ethos of the 1970s) as the ultimate meaning of life. A fresh graduate of an American university with a software engineering degree was happy to educate me that it was better for him not to work in his field but to just return to Uganda and be a “landlord” collecting rent money from his families real estate properties on his parents’ behalf. The cash flow was higher with no headaches of dealing with people in a work/job environment.

    • Avatar
      Babugura, Allen

      Thanks, Muniini K. Mulera, for those memories of our Primary school days! What must not be lost to your reader is the nostalgic flavor of what would have been an ordinary narrative, had it not the color of the past! I recently spent several hours perusing the Rushoroza Baptismal Records, spanning the 1942-1951 period, simply because this decade covered the births of the first 4 children of my family, with me 3rd in pecking order of age. What captivated me in this exercise was the near mystery of the past! The recorded birth dates accompanied by baptismal dates were, to me, euphoric!
      Back to our school days, more needs to be added to enrich the story you have started! Why, for example, the Kihanga alphabet was composed and ordered as you indicate, while the Buhara alphabet was the complete English Alphabet a,b,c,d,e,f,g, h,i.j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z. The letters were sounded in tune with the rukiga orthography. Of the letters q and x, clear strangers to the Rukiga language of those days, I wish to share that they were sounded “ka” and “kisha” respectively! The place of music in classroom events was vivid. The learning of the alphabet was enhanced by song. Singing itself was a major activity. Tonic sol-fa characterized the musical practice! Oh, those songs we called “Negro Spirituals” (where have they gone?) were a dominant menu of the school songs!
      Then we must recall the nature of our school meals, complete with snacks. Dakltari, what was your usual lunch at Kihanga? What were the snacks and how were they packaged? Of course, these two questions are meant to provoke only the tip of the iceberg with respect to the range of things that the history of our Primary School days color with fondness!

      • Avatar
        Muniini K. Mulera

        Great comments and memories Allen. Thank you! From Primary 1 to 3, we used to run home for lunch and then back for the afternoon classes. The thought of running up the hill with full stomachs sounds rather horrifying now that I know better. In P4 and the 2 terms of P5 that I spent at Kihanga, we carried ENTANDA (packed lunch) in stackable round containers made of steel. Memory fails me now and I can’t say exactly what we used to eat. I am sure it was not meat, for that was a rare treat at home. Of course sweet potatoes and beans or Kigezi potatoes (emondi) and peas were likely common contents.

        We had a classmate with a habit of sneaking into the lunch storeroom and helping himself to people’s food. We feared him because he was ekihanda, clearly suffering from untreated Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We could not even report the matter to the teachers!

        That classmate did not do very well, dropping out of school after 6 years of education. By then I had left Kihanga and I lost track of him. In recent years I have asked about him and nobody seems to know what happened to him.

  9. Avatar
    Allen Babugura

    Thanks, again, fellow swimmer in the “Gakyali Mabaga” pool, whence our life paths first crossed! I wish to linger, some more, on the food sociology of our Primary School days! At Buhara Boys Primary School (1957 to 1962), I had an option of running home for a hurried lunch and running back to the after lunch school session. Such a break was called “okuhuumura”. But the preferred option was to carry packed food to school. Up to P3 (1959), I used to parcel my lunch in dry banana stem fibre (ebireere) but from P4 to P6, I used an aluminum food box that was called ” akabuuri”. I still have no idea as to the linguistic origin of that name! On occasion, I would carry some sorghum soft drink (obushara) in a gourf for lunch. Only social loners would eat their lunch aine , otherwise, friends would form groups of several children who would eat together during the lunch hour. Boiled sweet potatoes with cooked beans or peas were the common food items packed. For snacks, many of us used to carry dry germinated sorghum (amamya) or some recipe of roasted maize grains in our shorts pockets. Our teachers, however, discouraged this snack practice on account of its unhygienic ramifications!

  10. Avatar
    Patrick Turyo

    Thank you for sweet memories. Kihanga Boys 1969-1975. Great years.

  11. Avatar
    Annette Orishaba

    great article full of memories. it has reminded me of my parents story when my grad father chased away the headmaster because he (h/m) had failed to get first grade in the national exams. he later became the acting H/M for two months till the government gave them a New H/M.
    great nation indeed. knowing and having interacted with the OBs of the school makes e proud because partially what am today because of their mentorship.

    you didnot mention of the sister school, KIHANGA GIRLS P/S.!!!!!!


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