Friday, March 25, 2011
DR. KKOLOKOLO A REAL ASSET FOR St. MARY'S COLLEGE KISUBI
I met Dr. Kkolokolo for the first time when he had turned up for one of the last meetings which were taking place at Christ the King Church in 2006 days to the St. Mary's College Centenary Celebrations. Dr. Kkolokolo was introduced to the meeting. When the meeting closed, the Doctor gave me his email as at that time I was charged with the responsibility of updating Old Boys of SMACK regarding developments with the celebrations. Unfortunately, I did not get his email well. After the celebrations, when I wrote to him, the email bounced back, but by Grace of God, Dr. Kkolokolo wrote to me shortly after leaving Uganda for France where he lectures from. Since that time, I have been in touch with Dr. Kkolokolo, and we have endeavoured to dig information concerning SMACK history; and I must say the Doctor has added a lot of value to the work.
The problem with some of us is that when we get big offices, we see ourselves as if we are already in heaven, and on dying we just perish with everything!
below is just one of the pieces by Dr. Kkolokolo; one of those that were carried in a special issue when we celebrated the Late J C Kiwanuka's 90 years.
I wish to say a big thank you to the efforts of Dr. Kkolokolo.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
SMACK’S FIRST A LEVEL GROUP: A PANORAMA OF CELEBRITIES
Dr G.H.Kkolokolo (Paris / France)
-BROTHER OSCAR WAS HEADMASTER WHEN HSC WAS LAUNCHED AT SMACK
Let me use this great occasion, when we solemnly mark Prof J. C. Kiwanuka’s 90th anniversary, to say some thing about that special class at St Mary’s College Kisubi, the class that brought uppermost honour and dignity to SMACK, to Uganda and to East Africa. That was our first A-Level group (1959 – 1960) of our HSC section, Prof. J. C. Kiwanuka’s brainchild! It was a special contingent composed of thirty very wonderful students who had shone brilliantly in their O-Levels at their distinctive Colleges of origin: SMACK, St Henry’s, Namiryango, St Leo’s Kyegobe, St Peter’s Tororo, St Aloysius Nyapea, some students from the Seychelles, Kenya, Tanganyika. This very eminent inaugural group, whose classes / tuition started slightly earlier than in other sister colleges which had also been authorized by the then British Protectorate Government to open an HSC section, similarly with 30 students each (Buddo, Makerere College School, and Mbale S.S.S.) was a very marvellous team. And the inauguration gave them added privileges that made them look more special than other students who literary feared them to the extent of even nodding to them as they passed! They had blue blazers whereas for the rest of the college the blazer was black, they sat in the upper section of the refectory, they slept in the western wing of Kiwanuka House, they received a pocket money allowance and never paid any school fees, they never washed even a simple utensil after meal, they never did any manual labour, they could go out on Saturdays after simply noting their names in an open absence-register, and they had their elegant building to house their classrooms, their very well-equipped library and their private study cubicles each one accommodating six students.
That HSC block, constructed by Rev Bro Paul Bourget, then a simple member of staff, immediately became a legend when O-Level students began to humorously refer to it as a “Beyond the Atlantic”. In other words crossing the Atlantic would mean being admitted to our HSC where one would enjoy some privilege. True, since its occupants were indeed the envy of even their companions who had been admitted for the somehow equivalent Intermediate pre-degree course at Makerere University which was offered not by Cambridge University but by London University. The HSCs also had the best teachers in the region since many of them were even regularly requested to give a hand at Makerere or in other institutions and a good number of them were subsequently recruited to top gear positions in government and other leading institutions!
The section with its newly arrived S5 was inaugurated with pomp. I was at Savio and we had an invitation to attend. The ceremony took place right in front of the HSC Building in the presence of all students with the new HSCs in their blue blazers receiving a bewildered gaze from every angle, many eminent personalities on Kisubi Hill were also present, and a skyline of prominent notables who included the then Archbishop of Lubaga, His Grace Joseph L. Cabana, the Great Benedicto Kiwanuka who by then was the region’s shining political star, Dr Josephine Nnambooze the newly qualified first woman doctor in the whole of East Africa and whose presence on any important occasion wouldn’t pass unnoticed, Rev Fr Modeste Raux, founder of SMACK, Rev Bro Arthur Greenwood, the much celebrated Provincial Superior of the Brothers of Christian Instruction, many leading OBs and European guests from Kampala and Entebbe. The H/M, Rev Bro Oscar, delivered a very brilliant speech which moved every attendee and guest; he then called on the Uganda Protectorate Director of Education to officially declare open the section. He too, before proceeding to acts, gave a very moving speech praising St Mary’s College Kisubi as a very original and intelligent school. He then performed the official ceremony by cutting the “rope” and then by opening the main entrance with a special key. Then guests and students began flocking inside the elegant building to admire the interior set-up, notably the cubicles which were to help turn that special edifice into the breeding ground of some of Africa’s topmost brand intellectuals, geniuses and pragmatic edifiers! And outright, SMACK’s first HSC Section had set the stage for this reality! Let’s now get a glimpse of this wonderful group which made history for East Africa, Uganda and SMACK by a massing far more than half of all certificates awarded by Cambridge to Uganda and by heaping up piles of Principal Level passes in virtually every subject!
I’ll try to produce the names of those personalities still fresh in my mind, as for the rest, I shall have an occasion to recall them sooner or later. Now, arrayed in alphabetical order, is the very glorious list of those legendary academic luminaries and intellectual potentates who, beyond any doubt, helped to prove to the very last letter prophet Prof J. C. Kiwanuka’s assertion that SMACK had sufficient intellectual resources and talent to start an HSC section. These are the great names:
01- Prof C. Atikoro, was a formidable athlete doing the long relay. He went to university and amassed a number of degrees and worked with Makerere’s Social Sciences Dept. He was a very formidable student at SMACK, admired by all.
02- Bor, was also a long relay runner who went to Makerere for Sciences and worked in
govt. departments and probably in the East African Community as an expert adviser. He was always very proud of his college and the Brothers.
03- Bukedde, one of the most famous students at that time for he had indeed a strong
personality as a tennis player, a footballer and a debater with oratorical skills. He was one of the first Anglophones to be admitted to the famous Lovanium University in the then rich Congo (ex-Zaïre) to do journalism and political science. He worked with government and private enterprises for a number of years. He died at an early age.
04- Gafa, a former Assistant Head Prefect and very influential figure on SMACK campus. He Was the one who announced the news of JFK’s election as US President. He had many brilliant grades and was admitted to London University for Law after which he was subsequently called to the British Bar. He returned to Uganda as a Barrister-at-Law and founded the very famous Gafa & Kirenga Advocates which was a very successful firm. He died in a car accident and was triumphantly buried in his native Hoima District. Very many people turned up for the funeral, some even came from London! Gafa’s death was a very great blow to SMACK because he loved so much his college and was indeed very popular among all OBs!
05- Dr Kabuubi, a brilliant science student who was admitted to Makerere for Medicine and eventually went to UK to specialise. His excellent performance led to his recruitment as medical doctor in the British Army where he is still very much appreciated and has the rank of a full Colonel!
06- Kakooza J., was a House Prefect, got very strong grades in Arts and was admitted for an LL.B. at the famous University of Aberystwyth in Wales, got an Upper Second and went to London for the Bar. He eventually got married to famous Theresa Tebuliggwa, first woman Maths graduate in East Africa. On his return to Uganda he joined the celebrated Ben Kiwanuka & Co Advocates in Kampala and he became a very prominent lawyer who later founded his own legal firm and continued practising until his death in the mid-1980s.
07- Kayiwa, was a brilliant Science student who was admitted to Makerere for a degree in Science and went abroad for further studies. He worked in Uganda and probably also abroad.
08- Dr Kazigo J was a House Prefect and a very intelligent Science student. He was admitted in a prestigious US university for medicine and specialized in heart diseases. He worked there as a very successful doctor until his death, was buried in Uganda in his native Masaka region.
09- Kirenga, the very prominent lawyer who went to UK for his law degree and eventually the Bar. He worked with late Lawyer Gafa in their joint legal firm which still enjoys a special prestige.
10- Dr Kitumba, got very good grades in Sciences and was admitted for Medicine at Makerere. He specialized in Medicine and Surgery and became a very prominent doctor in Mulago Hospital where he is strongly appreciated for his efficiency. He’s married to a High Court judge.
11- Professor Kiwanuka J., Principal and Director of the National Teacher Training
College at Nkozi. He is a renowned Anglicist who on finishing Makerere with a B.A. Hons) taught with distinction at St Henry’s before coming back to Makerere. He also worked at the East African Examination Board and did postgraduate studies.
12- Professor Kiwuuwa, long time Principal of Bukalasa Agricultural College and later Prof at Makerere’s Faculty of Agriculture. He is also a UN Consultant. He has initiated many essential projects to bolster the confidence of our agriculture. He sits on very many school boards of governors.
13- Kyefulumya Stephen, Uganda’s former Commissioner of Prisons who was one of the
first native Ugandans to be appointed to top senior positions in the then strongly British-dominated Prisons Service. He joined HSC from Namiryango. He did a B.A. at Makerere before specializing in Public Administration in UK. He is now a senior administrator in a British organization in UK.
14- Lakwo, a great athlete (400m and 4 x 400m relay), did Sciences and went to Makerere where he got a BSc (Hons) and worked in parastatal bodies as expert / specialist in many science-related fields.
15- Mayanja Francis, a very great performer in Maths and Sciences, went to Makerere for Medicine but had to switch to a BSc on getting married when in second year, passed very brilliantly and was recruited to SMACK to teach Maths and Physics, later he was recruited Asst H/M Namiryango College subsequently becoming full H/M after a very impressive service as administrator and Maths teacher. He finally settled in his native Masaka region where he accomplished a fertile teaching service until his death some five years ago.
16- Dr Mbidde, the superbly renowned Nairobi specialist in Medicine / Surgery, is the bro-
ther of famous Prof E. K. Mbidde, Chairman of SMACK’s PTA. He was a very popular
student at SMAK and was excellent at studies. He took Medicine at Makerere and he
went abroad for specialization.
17- Mubiru J., was a House Prefect, he was a perfect organizer who went to Makerere to
study agriculture. After graduation he was appointed to a senior executive post in
the Ministry of Agriculture. He speedily rose through ranks to finally become
Permanent Secretary and was always a very inventive and an extra dynamic officer
strongly appreciated by all colleagues in the Ministry.
18- Mudoola, a brilliant student who became H/M at Namiryango succeeding F. Mayanja.
He did a BSc and passed with honours and he also passed his diploma in education.
He too, did a very commendable work at Namiryango.
19- Justice Mulenga, a very exemplary judge who is also member of the African Union
Human Rights Court. He passed very well his HSC and was given a scholarship to
study law in U.K. He got his honours degree and was subsequently called to the Bar,
eventually returning to Uganda to practise as a very brilliant lawyer. Before being
appointed judge, he was DP’s powerful legal advisor and he was one of the brains
behind the party’s internationally acclaimed wonderful legal document strongly
worded to defend nationals of Rwandese origin who, at a certain period during the
Obote II regime, were having rather a rough time. Mulenga has won the reputation of a
very courageous impartial judge.
20- Prof Muteesaasira, was HP in 1960 and was a brilliant student. As HP he was a
person who had a lot of authority and he used it very effectively to the full satis-
faction of the entire college community. He scored brilliantly in sciences and the
American govt gave him a scholarship to do forestry in one of the Ivy League uni-
versities where he amassed degrees in sciences and forestry. He has lectured in
universities and has sat on several international consultancies.
21- Hon Olum Zachary, a former Minister and long time DP Vice-President. He was a
strong student in Arts and a very intelligent debater. After Makerere he worked in
many strong positions where he attracted a lot of public attention. A very powerful
politician, Hon Olum had a very natural touch with all types of people and had a
charisma. He is a revered politician all over the country.
22- Prof. Olweny C., a former House Prefect (Mugwanya) who was also a superbly very
prominent student with a very strong personality and had eloquent oratorical gifts.
He passed with very strong grades and was admitted at Makerere to do Medicine. He took a number of post-graduate courses and passed his MD and is one of the few Ugandans to possess that title. He became Prof at Makerere. He has had a much radiant international career and has been strongly appreciated all over the world! He was appointed Vice-Chancellor Uganda Martyrs’ University Nkozi and he is doing a very good job in continuing to successfully push the university to solid world class standards. Nkozi has also continued to be a very original and innovative university, always setting a very high academic standard.
23- Dr Pinto, was a Goan student who excelled in sciences. He was admitted to Makerere or Medicine and went to UK for specialization. He is actually a very sharp doctor in UK.
I think there were two other Goan students as well, whose names are out of my mind!
24- Ssentoogo Henry, leading East African architect who was among the region’s first
graduates in architecture. With his fellow Kisubi, late Dr Lubega, architecture
became a SMACK domain attracting very many of our fellow alumni who are doing
very well in the field. Ssentoogo who was a brilliant Maths student at SMACK was
one of the very first East Africans to be recruited for Architecture at the then famous
Royal College of Nairobi, later University of Nairobi, which at that time was the only
Institution offering the subject to candidates from Uganda, Kenya,Tanganyika and
Zanzibar. Mr Ssentoogo has helped construct many buildings including high-rises all over Africa. He is a very active member of the SMACKOBA. He helps his college and the
OBs in very many things and he has volunteered making a chain link and hedge
boundary fence to the frontage of Prof J. C. Kiwanuka’s residence! Bravo, Henry!
Mr Ssentoogo is an international figure in the field as has been testified by the
awards and decorations conferred to him by nations like Senegal and the Netherlands.
NB: The section had also some four students from Kenya, Tanganyika and the Seychelles.
It could also have had two more prominent personalities: Ssengooba Andrew and
Late Sserumaga Robert if they hadn’t been fixed somewhere. Ssengooba went to Make-
rere university for the intermediate and eventually to UK to study law. He is now a very
prominent first class advocate in Kampala. As for Sserumaga Robert, he was given a
scholarship to the University of Dublin where he specialized in many things including
literature and economics. He returned to Uganda and became a very prominent
professional who was consulted by many institutions including Makerere University
where he used to lecture. He was also a keen revolutionary mind who participated
actively in the 1979 Liberation War.
Apologies for any name left out or wrongly listed up, efforts will be made to rectify any
such mistake. Otherwise, these are the people who made a very great name for SMACK
and who are now real international figures winning glory and renown for our region!
And indeed, they deserve cheers, applauses and an explosive clap!
DR. KKOLOKOLO TELLS HIS LUZIRA STORY
Dr. George Herman Jjuuko Kkolokolo
June 15, 2007
I am Dr. George Herman Jjuuko KKOLOKOLO. I was born in 1943 at Villa-Maria in Masaka and I was baptized a Catholic at Narozari (Masaka), my mother’s home place. My father had worked as a Medical Assistant before being appointed chief in Buganda and by the time I was born he was a Ggombolola chief in Kkooki and he retired as a Deputy Ssaza chief.
I studied at St. John’s Junior School Kisubi, Ggoli Full Primary School, Savio School, St. Mary’s College Kisubi, Makerere University where I was awarded a BA (Hons), and the University of Paris (St. Denis and Sorbonne) where I received a Master’s and a PhD in French Language/Literature/Education and I am now an educator/examiner/researcher in the Academy of Versailles (Paris).
Before going to Makerere, I was detained for 17 months under the Emergency Regulations Act. So, my entry into university was in the rear for two academic years !
I was arrested on Sunday, April 30, 1967, with my mother at home in Mutundwe where I had come for a weekend as I was teaching in a mission school at Kiziba Parish in Wakiso, after my HSC.
We were accused of special connections with my younger brother, the late Lt. Andrew Kyeyune who, on completing Senior IV at St Leo’s College Kyegobe, had joined the army and was then living in Nairobi as a refugee. He was a young, brilliant soldier admired by Brigadier S. Opolot who was to become his inspiration in many things, including events leading to the Battle of Mengo Hill in which Kyeyune participated very actively!
Dr. George Herman Jjuuko Kkolokolo
Immediately after our arrest, we were driven to the CPS where we spent 14 terrible days! For the first night, I had to share a cell with a detainee accused of high treason, a Sikh (Singasinga) accused of fighting in a night club, and four kondos (thieves) arrested in Ssekanyonyi (Wakiso).We had two blankets full of lice and bedbugs and no bed, no mattress! Our only unique meal a day was a chapati and beans served at 6p.m.
It was on the occasion of our first meal that evening that I was surprised to see three leading personalities also lining up for their chapati: Dr. Abiasali Kibaya, the first Ugandan Medical Superintendent of Mulago Hospital, accused of conspiring to overthrow Obote; Hon. Bazilio Lukyamuzi MP (Masaka), arrested in Kenya and accused of funding pro-Kabaka Mutesa groups in Nairobi; and Hon. Semu Ssemakula (Oweekitalo), an outspoken Member of the Buganda Lukiiko, arrested in his hiding in Teso and accused of dangerous connections with Sir Edward Muteesa!
I took away my plate.I had no appetite! It was the kondo who ate my share !
Needless to say that a night at CPS is a night in hell itself! The Sikh almost spent the whole night yelling from time to time, as he scratched his head and beard!
It was only the kondos who could sleep! However, the Sikh was set free the following day which was Labour Day, a public holiday. The kondos were later taken to court and released, as they had a good lawyer from Ben Kiwanuka & Co. Advocates, a firm which also successfully defended many detainees and helped me a lot after my release.
At C I D headquarters
As for me, I was hand-cuffed and driven to the CID Headquarters at Parliament buildings for interrogation. The Goan officer who interviewed me decided to release me but when he contacted his immediate superior he was advised to refer me to a certain Mr. Farooqui, a terrible officer of Zanzibari origin who, on seeing me, exclaimed ‘Oh ! Oh! Glad to see you my brother Kyeyune!’
When he was told that I wasn’t Kyeyune but his brother, he immediately ordered the accompanying constable to fill a detention form for me stating in a Nota Bene that I was Kyeyune’s brother!
Then I was led to the office of the CID boss, Mr. Hassan, an officer of Egyptian origin, who was busy interrogating Hon. Lukyamuzi. Another CID officer, Mr. Wawuyo, a deadly Mugishu officer, dropped in for something and both were very happy to see me arrested! They frowned at Lukyamuzi’s remark that as a student I wasn’t fit for detention! Then I was driven back to CPS to continue my calvary!
Some 12 days later, early in the morning, a group of armed soldiers from the Special Force entered our section accompanied by the O/C who assembled us and read the names of detainees to be transferred to Luzira Upper Prison: Kkolokolo, Dr. Kibaya, Lukyamuzi, Lt. George Mpiira, a Munyankole army officer arrested in Nairobi and accused of connections with Sir Edward Mutesa, Opolot and Kyeyune’s group, the list also included my mother who was to spend three months at the Women’s Section, not far from Upper Prison.
We were put on an open Land Rover and driven first to the CID Headquarters to get our detention charges, then off to Luzira.We were immediately introduced to the O/C who happened to be Assistant Commissioner Mwebesa, a sharp, pragmatic, principled officer whom I had already known at St. Mary’s College where he did his HSC when I was in S1 and S2. He was indeed surprised to see me in the group!
Looking at his British assistant and other colleagues, he said a few words about me, then asked me some questions about the college and the Brothers! I observed the whole group felt comforted! Then a senior clerical officer recorded our full particulars in the prison register and gave us sheets of paper to write a will giving, in addition, the full particulars of the person to contact in the event of death in detention!
We were then given the official khaki uniforms in exchange with our ordinary clothes and all other belongings on us which were taken to the official store for custody. They also gave each of us a number of other items: a pair of blankets, toilet paper rolls, a toothbrush, powder, colgate, and a mug.
Then the O/C ordered a nice Musamia askari to take us to a dormitory in the prison’s central division. This was a nice room capable of accommodating a dozen inmates.When we reached there, we were handed to an askari on guard in that section. He was a somewhat stiff warder. Before he opened the door, he ordered us in Swahili ‘Mketi chini!’, meaning ‘Squat!’ Then, looking at both Dr. Kibaya and Hon. Lukyamuzi, he opened the room, saying in broken Swahili ‘Mtoke ndani, hapa pana yiko watu wakubwa!’, meaning: ‘Enter! Here, we don’t give a damn about important personalities!’
Next to us was a group of 18 individual cells all occupied by detainees accused of high treason against the government! Only three of them had been sentenced; the others, whose profiles ranged from a bicycle mechanic from Kiboga to a London University
graduate in civil engineering, were acquitted and placed into detention for two years!
So we got on to business. The whole group appreciated my presence in their midst because we were in general well handled due to my ancient acquaintance with the O/C!
I must say that compared to the brutal treatment at CPS or Hotel Brutus, as it was then known in witticism, Luzira Upper Prison was a rehabilitation in body, mind and soul! Here, we would bathe, wash, have three meals a day and enjoy a reasonable sleep! And twice a day we were allowed to walk in our small courtyard, an opportune moment to make our toilet. Our big problem was just getting used to posho!
Sometime later, a number of other detainees were added to our group.They included Oweekitiibwa Latimer Mpagi, ex-Minister of Finance (Omuwanika) in Mengo, reportedly caught with a letter from Sir Edward Mutesa, George Kalanzi, Chief Administrator of Mengo Municipality, accused of dangerous connections with Sir Edward Mutesa, and four young men ; one a Musoga, two Banyoro, and a son of Dr. E. Lumu (an Obote Minister already in detention).
All were accused of spreading malicious propaganda against the regime. It was Dr. Lumu’s son who informed us about the arrest of the Kyeyunes whom he had left at CPS. These new inmates gave us a lot of news and brought in a new warmth.
Bit by bit, due to stiff parliamentary action by heroic Opposition DP MPs, notably Alexander Latim (Acholi) and Boniface Byanyima (Ankole), things began to improve. We could now stay outside for four hours, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, beds were introduced, leading personalities among detainees were put on a special diet, etc…It was at this venerable period that the prison chaplains were officially allowed to come and pray in our dormitories.
In our wing we were all moved to full emotion when one afternoon we saw Rev. Fr. Joseph Kalyabe, a very exemplary priest popularly loved and respected by all in Luzira, entering our place while holding a small crucifix in his right hand. He recited some prayers, gave us nice words of comfort and finally blessed us and moved away to other dormitories, leaving the rest of us petrified and deeply grateful!
Fr. Kalyabe left an indellible mark on all detainees whom he never abandoned on any single occasion!
One day, for the first time since our detention, our group was taken to the tribunal. This was a kind of court empowered to hear detainees on CID accusations against them and also to deliberate on them by way of recommendation to the Minister of Internal Affairs. It sat regularly in the premises of Luzira Prisons and each detainee would be summoned to it once every three months.You could be represented by a lawyer. Its chairman was Justice Fuad, a British of Turkish origin who later became Chief Justice under Amin. He had three assessors to assist him.
Before entering the tribunal, detective Farooqui put me aside and asked me once again whether I was really the brother of Kyeyune! In the tribunal, I pleaded against the laughable charges lavelled against me and the chairman together with the assessors were already aware of the fact that the CID officer who interviewed me and who took my statement had found me innocent and had decided to release me but it was Farooqui and his group who were now [pursuing] me!
At the end of the hearing, I was surprised to see a CID chap stand up to tell the judge that the police was still inquiring into those charges against me! At that moment I knew that my detention would take very long and my chances of entering university were now jeopardised!
I was right since I was to be freed 16 months later, after my brother’s death in Nairobi!
Following the recommendations made by this tribunal, dozens of detainees were released, among them my mother who had been there for three months. Others included many Ssaza and Ggombolola chiefs, in addition to soldiers of the Kabaka’s bodyguard.
All of these had been in detention for 15 months having been arrested in connection with the Battle of Mengo Hill. Only three Ssaza chiefs remained in detention; Pokino Mukwenda and Ssekiboobo. All three had been arrested slightly before the Battle of Mengo Hill and accused of preparing an insurrection to back the Kabaka’s battle.
Many of the released chiefs wept on seeing that they were leaving behind Prince A.D. Ssimbwa, the Kabaka’s brother, who spent more than two years in detention! All detainees were madly loyal to Prince Ssimbwa who iconized the presence of their Kabaka amongst them!
Following this mass release, arrangements were made to group the rest of us in a much bigger dormitory.CID had wanted me to be transferred to a single cell, but O/C Mwebesa stood firm in my favour and I was put in the dormitory. I’m still grateful to Mwebesa for this gesture, it facilitated things for me. While in this dormitory, I was elected joint prefect for a year, sharing this responsibility with a certain Kassan Mulindwa, an ex-serviceman arrested and charged with planning military action with Sir Edward Mutesa!
It was at this stage that we were allowed to receive visitors once a week, to play football, to undergo an obligatory medical check-up once a month, to attend religious services on Sundays (the Muslims on Fridays), and eventually to watch a film every Wednesday.
As prefect, I arranged the room for the film and presented regularly our demands to the O/C as well as interpret for our colleagues who didn’t know English.
We were allowed to read boks from the prison library and I deepened my French. Newspapers and press articles were strictly forbidden although they could come in with the complicity of askaris, but we had to destroy them immediately after reading for fear of the dreaded search teams.
My role as prefect taught me many excellent lessons and enlarged my sense of initiative.When they allowed us to smoke, I was one of those who invented and encouraged barter trade! One could arrange through the kitchen services an exchange of a packet of cigarettes for an evening cup of tea for four days! We also initiated a secret way of letting in money from relatives.This would enable one to live more comfortably.
This took place once every month inside the prison. The prison medical doctor was a Korean who spoke poor English but good French and Russian! He knew his job well but he was less experienced than a person like Dr. Kibaya. To any detainees, this Korean was an
indispensable asset because he was the only person officially authorised to grant a special diet!
On finding out that you lacked a vitamin, for example, he would just put you on the list for that diet where you could regularly be served with meat, milk, rice, some greens, etc. The best way to access the good diet was through flatterring him! This method fetched us many rewards. Dr. Kibaya would also plead for many colleagues and the Korean would respond positively using his famous phrase, ‘Yes, that’s right according of this one!’
In case of a very serious health problem, the doctor would recommend a detainee to the sick-bay or to Mulago Hospital. The time I was there, only Hon. Amos K. Ssempa, ex-Minister of Finance both at Mengo and in the Central Government, was recommended there for an operation, and he personally chose Prof. S.Kyalwazi who carried it out successfully.
Among the detainees there was a number of very prominent personalities.There was the five legendary detainee ministers; Mathias Ngobi, George Magezi, Emmanuel Lumu, Grace Ibingira, and Balaki Kirya, all accused of conspiracy against Obote. They stayed in
Luzira for five solid years.
There was Brigadier Shaban Opolot, accused of collaborating with Sir Edward Mutesa to overthrow Obote. These six individuals were the detainees whom Obote feared most. The five ministers lived in strongly guarded cells in an area whose small courtyard had a very strong barbed wire fence atop of a solid high wall surrounding it! And it wasn’t very far from the section of the condemned.
The courtyard was also the place officially reserved for the administration of kiboko (caning) to the criminals.
A British prisons officer told us that the area was thus strongly fortified in order to eventually receive persons like Ben Kiwanuka, Paul Ssemogerere, Cuthbert Obwangor, W.W.K. Nadiope, Abubaker Mayanja, etc… And this is what really happened!
These persons together with Prince Ssimbwa, Amos Ssempa, Dr. Kibaya, Lawyer Mpungu and Major Katabalwa were permanently put on a special European diet since they had been in important positions or had serious connections! We could only get in touch with the five ministers during Sunday church service or on Wednesdays for the cinema.
Every detainee invested himself in prayers. There were the Sunday church service prayers (or Friday prayers for the Muslims) with the chaplains. Then the group prayers on a daily basis.
Catholic prayers were conducted by an ex-seminarian and Lukiiko Member, Pio Kizza, who was also the official arbitrator in any one of our conflicts. He was accused of trying to incite a pro-Kabaka rebellion.
The rosary was conducted by Buddu Ssaza Chief, Michael Matovu.
For the Anglicans, there was Dr. Kibaya and the elderly Rev. Kyobe, a Lukiiko member accused of secretly communicating extensive pro-Mutesa propaganda during church services.
The Muslims had Kassan Mulindwa and Mulongooti. It wasn’t unusual to see an inmate profoundly absorbed in spiritual recollection. People’s prayers did great wonders for Uganda.
By the time I was there, a small Protestant prayer group popularly known as Biafra Group had been formed under the auspices of one Musa Mukiibi, editor of Ddoboozi newspaper, arrested for having written an article judged insolent towards Obote. The group insisted on mentioning the name of Sir Edward Mutesa in prayers and on inserting it in songs, in spite of the presence of askaris on guard.
Sports and other activities
In that place where detainees didn’t work, sports was a necessity. Football was the major sport and Prince Ssimbwa, a former national player, would show his prowess in the game watched even by officers and askaris.
Other games included chess, taught to many by Dr. Kibaya, Ludo, the board-game (mweso) in which the official executioner (hangman), an officer of Nubian origin, would at times take part, regularly uttering his famous expression whenever things went well with him, ‘Ekyo kituufu!’meaning ‘That’s okey!’
We would also read books, the Bible, the Koran. Others would do personal studies in Swahili and other subjects. I improved on my French, Swahili and notions in Latin thanks to the ex-Seminarians we had. Many would consult the professionals we had in the group, notably the doctor and lawyer Mpungu, an advocate who helped many avoid trial in court. One detainee who refused to heed to his counsel fell prey to eight months’ imprisonment. He was removed from the group and taken to the criminal section where he served in the prison carpentery.
Conversation was mainly centred on politics, economics, religion, culture and education, etc. Many detainees would ask me questions about my Alma Mater, and the Brothers.
I found that St. Mary’s College Kisubi was very much loved by all.
About politics, there was a lot of interest in the Biafran War in Nigeria and almost all detainees were for Biafra. Then there was that eternal talk about the Kabaka since many were his chiefs and others his personal friends or former schoolmates at King’s College Buddo.
About national politics, very many appreciated the action of DP MPs in favour of detainees. This, coupled with the fact that most of the lawyers defending the detainees were from Ben Kiwanuka & Co. Advocates, rehabilitated Benedicto Kiwanuka and the DP among many diehard Kabaka Yekka inmates.
A rumour was an appetizer to [accompany] a plate of posho; it was a medicine, a relaxer and a sedative. Many detainees could bear prison conditions thanks to rumours.
The best rumours were those about a possible release from detention, about anything negative towards the UPC, and about the Kabaka’s possible return. Visitors, askaris, prisoners and ordinary prison personnel were always the source of these rumours. An askari could announce news about an imminent release of a group of detainees.
Then somebody could bring in an anti-UPC rumour which would provoke the emotions of detainees. Rumours about Sir Edward Mutesa’s return would tell how the Kabaka had been seen in Mombasa; how stamps and bank notes bearing his effigy were secretly circulating in Kampala, how his troops were amassing at the border, etc.
Many detainees would get excited and become stubbornly arrogant and big-headed towards the CID [officers] who now, whenever they came in to see them on formal matters, would go away humiliated.
Profile of detainees
We had a prince and Buganda chiefs, Kabaka Yekka supporters mainly from rural Buganda; some army officers like Brig. S. Opolot, Major Katabarwa, Captain Mugarura, Lt. Mpiira ; the five Obote ministers; very many Baganda, some well educated and others almost illiterate; two Europeans who were eventually deported: a young Briton from Scotland, arrested in the regions of Ntungamo where he had reportedly excited people in a bar that he was a mercenary on mission! The other, a European was from Denmark who had entered Uganda without official documents and was suspected to be a mercenary from the Congo. Both strongly regretted leaving Uganda. The general age-bracket of detainees was between 23-75 years.
On Friday, September 7, 1968, we all realised that the radio, controlled in the O/C’s Office and emitting to our dormitories through loudspeakers, wasn’t on. We then suspected that there was going to be a ggambo (great news) as we used to call news about releases.
At bedtime, the askari on guard secretly confided to us the news about the release of several detainees. Speculation began as the askari didn’t give any single name.
On Saturday, September 8, at 5.30a.m., lights were switched on in the O/C’s Office, another sure sign of a possible release because that was the moment when belongings of those to be set free were being sorted out and their names crossed out from the routine register.
At 7a.m., the morning session askari, a very nice guy from Tororo, arrived. He secretly disclosed some of the names he had heard on radio and, turning towards me, said in Luganda: ‘Kkolokolo, naawe bakutadde’ (Kkolokolo, you are also released !).
Half an hour later, the O/C arrived with the official list. When he read my name, all inmates applauded, thanking me for having been very good to them.
In all, 12 were set free. They included Prince Ssimbwa, the three famous ssaza chiefs, two Lukiiko members, an army officer, and Opolot’s brother-in-law, accused of helping Opolot’s family.
We dressed up and an officer accompanied us to the main gate where hundreds of relatives, friends, etc. received us with deafening cheers and ululations.
An ex-detainee, Mr. Ssekajja, then an executive officer at Namulonge and present on the scene, immediately gave me Shs 100 for entandikwa (start up capital).
I arrived triumphantly at home as anybody would imagine. Many people vowed to help me and they did so. A former schoolmate at St. Mary’s, Leonard Lubowa, one-time Mayor of Kampala, who was then a mere second year student at Makerere University, had the courage to introduce me to friends and to often familiarise me with Makerere University which I joined in 1969, after six months with Shell Co.
After Makerere, I taught at the prestigious St. Peter’s S.S. Nsambya before going overseas for further studies.
While abroad, I participated very actively in the guerrilla struggle, helping the three movements; UFM, NRM, and FEDEMU. At the same time, I advocated for human rights in Uganda.
I am now a keen supporter of the DP, a party I joined to say THANK YOU for what it did for us during and after our detention.
And I’m loyal to our beloved President General, John Ssebaana Kizito, and his team who are doing an excellent job for Uganda and whose very intelligent outlook, efforts and programmes are very highly appreciated abroad.
Detention under the Emergency Regulations Act was a very unfair deal which turned against its authors. It planted the revolutionary seeds that brought about the downfall of Obote I and Obote II.
It tarnished the image of Parliament which regularly enacted its extension, of the CID whose bosses paid a stiff price, of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for regularly misinforming all national institutions on Buganda.
Detention failed to achieve its objectives: the Baganda remained madly loyal to their Kabaka, UPC failed to woe them and they eventually ventured into DP, and the heroic action of such non Baganda MPs like A. Latim (Acholi), B. Byanyima (Ankole) ended by showing the Baganda the goodwill Uganda had towards them. This was among the things which gradually led to the natural demise of the Kabaka Yekka Movement.
And the prisons staff, a mainly non Baganda institution, somehow championed the cause of patriotism by showing a great deal of modesty towards the suffering mainly Baganda detainees. I even saw Langi officers and askaris extending true sympathy to us.
The non-Baganda thus seized the occasion to pass a special message to the authors of detention laws, some of whom were Baganda parliamentarians, that in all circumstances, Ugandans were indivisibly one and the same people bonded to the common ideal of their great nation.
Fortunately, the UPC of today under Miria Obote’s pragmatism is trying to make amends for the past ills, a thing appreciated as a sign of indubitable courage and wisdom.
Now let all of us Ugandans try to turn our back on the nasty past and look only at that common ideal that will peg all assets of our destiny only to God and our Country.