That Namilyango College is the first born of Uganda’s secondary schools is reason enough for Ngonians to hold their heads high as they celebrate a record-breaking 110 years of existence this Saturday March 24, 2012, at the College.
But “Ngonians” (as Namilyango ‘citizens’ both old and current are called) will walk to the school with their heads even higher this time, having come first in the national examinations for Ordinary Level, and if one counts the overall performance, first in the Advanced Level examinations as well.
More than half a dozen bulls will pay the price of this success as the Ngonians roast away in celebration on Namilyango Day, starting at 8:00 a.m on Namilyango hill in Mukono District, 19km from Kampala.
The College was opened on March 23, 1902, with 13 students, by the Mill Hill Missionaries, and was the first post-primary school in Uganda, and a boarding one at that.
Namilyango College was started with a two-fold purpose: to train Catechists for evangelism and to educate the sons of chiefs. The aims and objectives of the school were summarized in the motto “Education for Responsibility”, which was adopted to guide students and teachers alike. Later, the motto “Nisi Dominus” (without God nothing is possible or worthwhile) was adopted in line with the Catholic foundation of the school.
Under Bishop Hanlon, the school’s founder, the school emphasized a system of free discipline. During class hours, the boys would be without supervision. Hanlon felt that the rigid supervision of the students’ spare time activities would be detrimental to their character development. The school thus developed a liberal tradition at the very time of its inception. Every Wednesday afternoon, the students were allowed to walk as far as Seeta, the nearest trading centre to purchase items, or simply enjoy a good old-fashioned walk. Every last Saturday of the month, they could take a ride to Kampala and be back by 6pm.
In September 1906, the catechists who constituted a certain percentage of the students in Namilyango, were transferred to another institution that had been created for that purpose. After this move, the school’s name was changed to “Sacred Heart Namilyango High School”, although the school was generally known as “Namilyango High School”.
In 1907, Fr Philip Jackson, the headmaster, was appointed the pastor of Namilyango Parish. This new arrangement meant that the school and the parish were inextricably linked. In September, 1912 the parish was once again separated from the school, each with its own head.
Change of name
In August 1929, the Brothers of Christian Instruction order (The Kisubi Brothers) took over the school and named it ‘St. Aloysius College.’ However, after three years, the Mill Hill Fathers took it over again in 1932, under Fr. P. Preyde.
The school became known as Namilyango College after the government introduced a new system of naming schools whereby secondary boarding schools were to be called colleges.
During 1941–1945, new dormitories were built and enrollment rose to 125 students in 1945. In 1943 the school was chosen as one of the self-governing schools of the Protectorate under the terms of The Thomas Report. In the same year, the Cadet Corps and Boxing Clubs started.
Towards independence, many of the students who had passed through the school had occupied important positions in the civil service, society and pre-independence politics. In 1960, two years before National Independence, the school was granted ‘A’ Level status, thus becoming a fully-fledged ‘A’ Level boarding school for boys.
Culture of excellence
Namilyango College is among the most prestigious schools in Uganda, owing to its excellent academic performance and dominance in sports disciplines. For long, it was Uganda’s best school in boxing, equipped with the world class boxing facilities in the “Pyramid” built just for that. The school also excelled in football. Boxing was stopped in the school in the early 1990s. Rugby is now the biggest sport in the College.
Namilyango has won the national schools’ rugby title more than any other school, and this is reflected by the numbers of players it has sent on to the national team.
In 2003, Namilyango College was rated the 65th best high school on the African continent and today it remains the highest rated Ugandan high school in the various continental rankings. Namilyango College was a pioneer in Information Technology in Ugandan schools, building one of the first and today, possibly the finest school computer laboratory in the country.
Over the years a tradition of Namilyango College has been the rivalries with fellow prestigious schools, in academics, sports and ‘socials’ – to be precise the dances organised for candidate classes – with their counterparts in one of the best girls schools.
The rivals have included, in decreasing order of rivalry: St Mary’s College Kisubi, King’s College Budo and Busoga College Mwiri. It is the rivalry with SMACK though that every Ngonian enjoys, and pursues even after school is over and done with. They call us “Fumblers”, we call them “Weevils”, with a sneer. On the other hand the school has maintained cordial relations with schools like: Mount Saint Mary’s College Namagunga, Gayaza High School and Trinity College Nabbingo, in that order.
Any school can give good grades, but there is that value-addition that schools like Namilyango give that you don’t just find in most schools. Beyond good grades, the most enduring legacy for almost every Ngonian is the free-spirit that the college affords its students. You leave Namilyango, not as a robot, but as a beneficiary of a wholistic education, able to think on your own, face life with confidence, survive every adversity, wiggle out of every corner and triumph over every trial.
Houses of residence
The College has ten residential houses and a hostel. The “O” Level students reside in the residential houses while the “A” Level students reside in Minderop Hostel, named after Father Minderop, the first Headmaster of the College. The ten residential houses are:
1. Biermans House - Named after Father Biermans, a Mill Hill Missionary (MHM)
2. Billington House - Named after Bishop Billington (MHM)
3. Campling House - Named after Father Campling (MHM)
4. Doyle House - Named after Reverend Father Captain Bernard Doyle (MHM), a former Headmaster
5. Hanlon House - “House of Lords”, named after Bishop Hanlon (MHM), accommodated the first students on 23 March 1902
6. Kiwanuka House - Named after Archbishop Kiwanuka, the first native African to be appointed Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in East Africa
7. Kuipers House - Named after Father Bernard Kuipers (MHM), served the College for 30 years as teacher, Headmaster,and Chaplain
8. McKee House - Named after Father McKee (MHM)
9. Mukasa House - Named after Mr. Noah Mukasa, a former Biology teacher at the College
10.Rensick House - Named after Bishop Reensich (MHM)
11.Charles Lwanga – the newest house, named after a Buganda martyr.
Prominent OBs of Namilyango
• George Cosmas Adyebo, Prime Minister 1991–1994
• Cuthbert Obwangor, Minister of Regional Affairs 1962–1967
• Matthias Ngobi, Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives 1962–1966
• Gerald Sendaula, Minister of Finance 1998–2005 and MP for Bukoto 1980–2005
• Kezimbira Miyingo, Minister for the Environment 1996–2006
• Norbert Mao, Democratic Party 2011 Presidential candidate
• Prof. Semakula Kiwanuka, Minister 2001–2006, Ambassador to UAE and MP 1996–2011
• Fred Mukisa , Minister for Fisheries 2006–2011 and MP for Bukooli Central 2006–2011
• Andrew Lutaakome Kayiira, Minister of Internal Affairs 1979–1980
• Prof. Isaac Newton Ojok, Minister for Education 1980–1985
• Jeremiah Twatwa , MP for Iki-Iki County 2011–
• Justice Bart MagundaKatureebe, Justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda
• Justice John Bosco Katutsi, Judge of the High Court of Uganda
• Bernard Katureebe, lawyer of the High Court of Uganda and Solicitor of England and Wales
• Pius Kawere, lawyer (RIP)
• Joseph Bossa, lawyer and Secretary General of UPC
• Livingstone Sewanyana, lawyer and human rights activist
• John Sempebwa, lawyer
• Chris Kasami, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance
• Prof. John Sebuwufu, Vice Chancellor Makerere University 1993–2001
• Prof. John Sebastian Mugerwa
• Prof. Nelson Sewankambo, Dean Makerere College of Health Sciences and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians
• Prof. David Serwadda, Dean Makerere University School of Public Health
• Austin Bukenya, author, playwright and literary scholar
• Augustine Omare-Okurut, poet
• Allan Ssekamatte, sports telecaster and commentator
• Joseph Kabuleta, sports writer, New Vision
• Alan Kasujja, radio personality, Capital FM
• Henry Ssali, Entertainment editor, Daily Monitor