Tuesday, July 5, 2011
THE VERY GREAT REV BRO ANTHONY KYEMWA
I just didn’t know what to say when our very dynamic editor, Mr Willy Kituuka, contacted me and threw me the idea that was in the offing of his brilliant schedule, and that was his intention to publish something in honour of a very great person whose name never deserts the lips of thousands of Ugandans in their daily talk. And that is the intellectual, scholarly and prime first class Rev Bro Anthony Kyemwa, one of the greatest academic dons and principals Uganda has ever had and one of the most prominent and courageous headmasters SMACK has ever seen! Indeed, Rev Bro Anthony already has a very big place in SMACK’s history and he deserves to be honoured to the highest! And I agreed to agree with myself on the proposal to write something on a Brother I so much admired and I still appreciate for all he did for me and for my college.
By the way, who can speak of education in our land and who can also speak about SMACK and forget to mention the name of Rev Bro Anthony Kyemwa, a person who correctly carried out his immense responsibilities and at times at the peril of his life, and at the most dangerous milestone in our nation’s history? Is it all that easy to compose something on such a person? And in addition, on a Brother? A Brother is always a man beyond excellency and above prominence as this was again recently proved abroad with the death of Rev Bro Emmanuel Kisitu, long time H/M at Savio, etc. How his former students, friends and anonymous people jammed the internet with pictures, messages, testimonies, etc. All in honour of a poor Kisitu whose demise touched even those who never knew him! And now a poor me is endeavouring to produce something on a very great person whose legend, re-nown, celebrity go far beyond the limits of horizon: and this is the very real Rev Bro Anthony Kyemwa!
I first discovered, in flesh, this very wonderful Brother when he was transferred from St Leo’s College to SMACK. Prior to that, I had already heard of him from my late younger brother who had just joined St Leo’s and they had Rev Bro Anthony as their very excellent Maths and Fine Art teacher and they indeed regretted his departure to Kisubi! And in the ordinary civilian life when my late father was appointed chief in Mawokota County in the Kabaka’s Govt (1952 – 1959) our family always, almost on a daily basis, used to interact with the family of the late Chevalier Andrea Kyemwa who was Rev Bro Anthony’s uncle and who probably gave him the name Kyemwa. This very famous Chevalier Andrea Kyemwa was once a very great chief in Buganda, having been a county chief on many occasions and having later on been appointed Regent during late Kabaka Muteesa II exile by the British (1953 – 1955). Omutaka Kyemwa, as he was popularly called, was also one of the most decorated Ugandans of his time. He was a Papal Knight of the Order of St Sylvester, he was a Kabaka’s Knight of the Order of the Shield and Spears, he was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal by the British, and had a British military decoration for his feat as a World War I hero. And among the many things I witnessed about him was his very historic triumphant funeral which brought to his home hundreds of cars and thousands of people from all over Uganda who, among others included the formidable Dr Joseph Kiwanuka, then Bishop of Masaka whose funeral oration in praise of Andrea Kyemwa was almost a canonizing process in style! That’s the Kyemwa whose exceptional qualities in merit, spirituality, and gallantry would eventually portend the arrival on scene of our very much celebrated Rev Bro Anthony Kyemwa!
When he arrived at SMACK as our Biology teacher and eventually our Fine Art teacher I was an S2 student. As a teacher, Rev Bro Anthony was very original in his method and he was always very punctual! His biology lessons were indeed very instructive and full of genius! I remember the very first lessons dealing with the human dental formula eventually followed by those on dog and cat dental formulae, etc. And every student really enjoyed those lessons. And, as one of the greatest African scholars in Art and Sculpture, Rev Bro Anthony helped SMACK opt for the most original papers from the vast programme Cambridge University proposed and, to the surprise of many, SMACK would literally shine in exams amassing dozens of distinctions in the subject for both the A & O-Levels ! He helped students develop that keen sense of intuitive critique which later on at university became for many of them a useful tool to handle with very sufficient depth and analytical approach studies in arts, social sciences, sciences, law, medicine, etc..and those who took fine art, drawing, sculpture, modelling, etc. found things very easy thanks to the excellent background obtained from this brilliant artist. I’m sure some of our boys would have made it very easily to Europe’s very highly reputed schools of Fine Art or universities had they had any type of reasonable sponsorship ! However, one of them, expert artist Mr Mathias Muleme, who made it to Canada after obtaining Grade A in fine art in his HSC, is now a star of high esteem in his city. This Muleme while in S6 staged a personal art exhibition at Lugogo where it was ceremonially opened by the then H/M, Rev Bro Paul Bourget. And I also think of several other Kisubi talents like Gaston Ssemboga, J. Piwang, Ssenjobe who made wonders as Fine Art teacher at Nnamagunga, etc. All are very outstanding artists in East Africa! You can just have a full catalogue of them if you are in contact with institutions specializing in the field. And there you will find Rev Bro Anthony’s legacy as a person who specially cultivated interest in fine art at SMACK.
How did Rev Bro Anthony train his students in this field? His tactic consisted in building his students in matters regarding relating nature to aesthetic value through appealing to a student’s mind and sense of beauty as the basis for external production and overall creation. With Rev Bro Anthony’s method students at SMACK had already a know how in treating those tough Cambridge questions whereby a candidate would be requested to imagine a scenario impacting a certain mood on its surroundings or environment where a student would act as a serious observer. Such topics were hard to treat but for SMACK, under Rev Bro Anthony’s coaching methods, everything of the kind was a mere child’s play. In our O-Levels, in that fateful accident year, 19 out of 31 candidates got distinction in Fine Art and the rest high credit. Idem the previous year, same number of distinctions for the same number of candidates! And one of its students, C. Musembya, was awarded a German Govt scholarship to study and specialize in art! Many of Rev Bro Anthony’s super excellent Fine Art students very successfully majored in other disciplines to even become scholars of great repute. I can think of Professor F. Katamba (Lourdel) who was one of SMACK’s ever greatest academic giants and who has actually climbed the ladder to become Professor and Head of the English Department at the University of Lancaster (UK). He was a naturally very brilliant artist. Many other students discovered their intellectual aptitudes, thanks to art, and via art, got special university degrees in fields related to art. Makerere University’s notable don and director of the university’s very eloquent printing press, the influential Mr Simon Ssagala Mulindwa, is one of these very great figures among whom one can count plucky businessmen who have also made it thru art. Late Mr Tom Kiyegga created TOTEX Co Ltd to specialise in designing and the company was very highly reputed all over the region. Think of ROSMA Designers who made history during Pope Paul VI’s visit to Uganda in 1969. ROSMA produced thousands of T-shirts, flags, etc. bearing the Pope’s effigy.
Rev Bro Anthony was an equally very successful educator as a notable sports adviser whenever asked to be the prop of the Sports Master in matters of monitoring such and such sporting event. I remember very well how he was helping SMACK take off in boxing when a number of students were trying to re-establish the defunct Boxing Club! It’s only other unforeseeable circumstances which included the transfer from Kampala to Fort Portal of our renowned coach, Commonwealth Gold Medallist Tom Kawere, then Chairman of the Uganda Boxing Council at Lugogo, who would regularly come to SMACK on Fridays and give a two-hour coaching session, that let down the loved project which had already started producing notable punch to punch experts like one Misango (Mugwanya), a boy from Jinja, who during the Amateur Boxing Championships at Nsambya Police Sports Ground punched his way to semi-finals only to be stopped by a guy from the far experienced Kilembe Mines Boxing Club which at that time was the only club to rival the powerful Namiryango College, the hub of Uganda’s boxing!
Rev Bro Anthony was also an exemplary House Master when he was in-charge of Kiwanuka House! The House won two great trophies, thanks to the Brother’s very sharp wisdom. They took the very first ever Drama Trophy at the college’s inter-house drama festival. Their play was voted first class by the jury led by Makerere University’s legendary Mrs McPherson who was strongly impressed by the decor that corresponded very well with the theme of the play. And this was painted under the guiding inspiration of Rev Bro Anthony. The House equally won the Horticultural Trophy thanks to its very well set up and regularly well maintained flower garden whose perfect excellence was an inspiration drawn from Bro Anthony’s well updated artistic imagination and aesthetic impression. And needless to mention the very many high achievements to his credit when he exercised with super distinction his duties as assistant headmaster, and discipline was strengthened. He helped to chase away anything to do with divisionism and tribalism. And he is remembered for having been a very natural deterrent to alcoholism and beer-drinking, a habit into which some few students would secretly and clandestinely take refuge. On many occasions those local brew drinkers, in order to escape on-spot detection would chew some wild edible greens and roots to conceal the scent of the brew.
This strategy proved to be efficacious on the part of the drinkers who would then disturb the Sunday evening classes notably by moving about on the verandas and taking the opportunity to address classes, through the windows, using an array of top concrete academic show-off vocabulary, etc. But this had to come to an end the day Rev Bro Anthony was appointed Deputy H/M, for this time brew drinkers and addicts realised, perhaps to their affliction, that there was, in addition, a native authority who couldn’t be fully tricked through knacks and gimmicks of the kind! And furthermore, this authority, known for his ubiquity due to his exceptional efficiency at work, was often on service on the campus and in the Headmaster’s Office on Sundays!
As Deputy H/M Rev Bro Anthony is still remembered for the big role he played during the very sadly sinister hours and period of that fateful road accident in which 12 students perished. He was a real comfort to the H/M, fellow staff members, parents, OBs and students. His contribution helped the College to recover smoothly from the shocks of the perilous incident and get ready for the long- awaited Cambridge School Certificate exams (O / A Levels) in which SMACK came up top-dog that year, and to the surprise of the entire nation who had expressed worry and concern about the chances of doing anything substantial. When he left for further studies, Rev Bro Anthony had already planted a special impact in the college life to the extent that the national political events that followed in 1966 found the college strongly united and they didn’t thus create any havoc within the students’ body!!!
Rev Bro Anthony Kyemwa was equally very successful as full Headmaster when he very bravely ran St Mary’s College Kisubi as its very first even African H/M at a very crucial period in our nation’s history. And SMACK always remained the most intelligent, brilliant, dynamic, attractive and outstanding college in the country! And its legendary re-nown spread further and further all over the region as a school run by a very respected diligent headmaster strongly reputed, in all serious circles even at the Ministry, for his sharp administrative wits and for his efficient handling of finances! On this, as one leading personality, now a Minister, once told us in Paris, Rev Bro Anthony Kyemwa won the admiration of the entire Ministry of Education as a person who could do great wonders using the little given to him !
Great wonders? Yes, this has always been the miracle of our superb Rev Bro Anthony Kyemwa who has always been a doer of exploits and feats whether in his speciality as an outstanding African artist and sculptor who was even once dubbed by his students “the omnipotent creator of distinctions” for both the Cambridge O & A-Levels, and has monuments to testify to his memory: the Kisubi Virgin Mary in the quadrangle, the school eagle effigy in front of the main building and the then filmed and reported triumphal arch constructed in 1955 at Savio on the Kabaka’s return from exile; or as a sharp administrator always serving with efficiency and special distinction; or as a very wonderful genuine servant of his nation who, unlike many headmasters at his time, refused to enrich himself on the college’s resources, and instead used every coin available to invest in projects that enhanced SMACK’s great prestige; and, as a headmaster who at that critical period was strongly appreciated for his resolution by his entire staff, many of whom were expatriates who still proudly brandish his name whenever they recount their memories on Africa ! And finally as a very much devoted member of the Congregation of the Brothers of Christian Instruction to which he has won an infinite first class honour and a super excellent dignity. For almost sixty years now, Rev Bro Anthony
has been a very faithful member of the Congregation and has fully shared in its joys and sorrows.
At the peak of this writing, it’s important to recall that as a teaching Brother, Rev Bro Anthony won the hearts of all his students on account of his total commitment to his duties. He would be seen spending an entire full day in the Art Room preparing the most original items for his students. His khaki trousers and a short-sleeved red shirt which he put on whenever he went in the Art Room made him a legend of a devoted teacher always seriously applied to his responsibility. And this won him great respect among his students who, in turn, reciprocated this devotion with hard work and admirable attitude in the art classes which regularly topped Uganda. And Providence has rewarded Rev Bro Anthony’s teaching career and efforts with an abundant lot of gifts. Can anyone succeed to count the number of his former students who thru fine art rediscovered their aptitudes in other subjects and later on professions? Who can enumerate the crowd of artists who owe their talent to Bro Anthony? Look at the artistic monuments his legacy will leave to SMACK : the statue of the Virgin of Kisubi in the dormitory quadrangle, the Eagle effigy in front of the Main Building, etc..
And who can forget the immense contribution, on behalf of the Brothers of Christian Instruction, Rev Bro Anthony has made for God and our beloved country and the entire region? It’s only Providence that knows how this very great Brother, who put everything of his to the service of others, including his tremendous gift as a leading African artist and sculptor, will be rewarded in heaven!
May the Good Lord continue to bless and grant more and more longevity in life to the very useful Rev Bro Anthony Kyemwa! May the Good Almighty God, in full recognition of the Brother’s very wonderful high achievements for Him and for our country and for the entire Congregation of the Brothers of Christian Instruction, prepare a gilded ornate heavenly throne that will seat in very great regard our very much beloved titled merited omnific exemplary courageous devoted parent, the very highly respected and the almost quasi-venerated Rev Bro Anthony Joseph Kasule Kyemwa the Great!
Dr By G. H. Kkolokolo (Paris/France)
BROTHER ANTHONY KYEMWA MORE THAN A FATHER!
I will never forget the parental care of Brother Anthony Kyemwa former Headmaster of St. Mary’s College Kisubi (SMC). Kyemwa saw the school through very difficult time in the 70’s. The school had no fence but trust the Brother, he was in control. There was insecurity in Amin’s time, but the Brother made it to see us go for preps where teachers at times were scared. He endured through the strikes mostly due to food. I thank the Brother for the parental care. For the students, reading was pleasure (unlike the situation now when cheating of examinations is the norm by a number of students who don’t want to read yet they fictitiously want to show they excel at books. For us we could even compete in bathroom! Those students who would go for Express (reading from midnight to 3.00am) would wake up their friends for Oriental (reading from 3.00am to breakfast time or thereabout). Cooking water with bedsprings for heavy coffee was normal. We were good at summarizing for exams. Brother got respect from students; they could see him from a distance and would get moving very fast to wherever they were required. The Brother gave us freedom to move around Kisubi hill but this never compromised academic standards/excellence. Asked about what led St. Mary’s College Kisubi to be at the height of glory and fame it enjoys as far as academics is concerned, Brother Kyemwa said, “In my opinion, the aspirations of the students and staff led to the rise of the school. There was a strong spirit of competitiveness with other leading schools; that is Kings College Buddo, Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga, Namilyango to mention but a few.” Brother Kyemwa’s message to the SMACK community if they are to maintain the established tradition of excellence is: “Discipline should be emphasized because it is with discipline that one can concentrate on one’s work. There should also be a strong school spirit among the students because this unites them in all aspects.” “When I meet former students of St. Mary’s College Kisubi, they always thank me for having emphasized discipline.” Brother Kyemwa would like to be remembered as one who tried under the circumstances of the time. He tried to keep the school standards up and never down.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka