Francis Drake Gureme, former classmate
At the 100th birthday celebrations of Nelson Edmund Nkalubo Sebugwawo last Saturday on April 28, there was a huge presence of ‘who is who’ in Buganda and from other parts of Uganda. I shared a table with retired Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi, retired Chief Justice Mayanja Nkanji, and my friend and former Budo classmate, Prof George William Ssenteza Kajubi. When I finally espied him, I called out “Stalwart” to which he responded “Stalwart.” That was the praise name we called ourselves as finalists in Senior Six (S.6) at King’s College Budo.
It can be imagined how shocked and horrified I was when Mike Ssegawa of the Monitor called just before 8am to tell me that my friend had died. I could not believe it. I begged him to call the family and confirm the terrible report. Hardly five minutes had passed when he called back and confirmed what I thought was a tragedy.
I called Apollo Nsibambi who had already heard the terrible news. He also told me that Senteza had had a stroke earlier. It is then that I remembered that I had noticed that Kajubi leaned rather heavily on his walking stick, and wondered why he was ageing rather fast. Both of us held grandiose sticks, mine was a gift from India imported by Esther, my daughter-in- law, eight years ago. I swung mine as a “malidadi” (stylish). His was an old man’s cane.
When I noticed the way he walked, I talked about how old age had come to me with many ailments and that I was spending a fortune on medications. He also told me he had a number of ailments. Senteza, the man who was not given to self-pity mentioned nothing about his stroke.
Senteza Kajubi and I, had entered Kings College Budo in senior four in 1944. We are both well-known Budonians. We are not of the Budo family like the late Daudi Ochieng who had joined in Primary One. We had come from what the Budo family termed as “Bush schools.” Senteza had done his ‘bush education’ at Mengo Junior Secondary school; I had done mine at Mbarara High school.
The death of Senteza hurts me because out of the class of about 20 boys and girls, only three of us still lived who had entered joined Budo in 1944; Peter Mpagi Bakaluba, Senteza and myself. With the exit of Senteza, that lives me and Peter above ground. I have not seen Peter since we left Budo at the end of 1946. But Senteza assured me that he is alive. Senteza was good in class especially in Geography which was my weakest subject. In those days all the subjects we did in class were examined in the Makerere entrance exam. Depending on which subjects a candidate did well, they would be assigned some three subjects for “higher sciences” or “Higher Arts.” A candidate had to pass all the subjects. Senteza and my other classmates knew that I would never enter Makerere because of my low grades in Geography.
I told my classmates that I would enter Makerere even if it meant cramming World Geography, our textbook then. I memorised all the chapters in our syllabus. I passed the entrance exam highly in all subjects including Geography. At Makerere I was assigned Mathematics, English...and – you guessed it - Geography. Senteza would call me “Mr. Retentive Memory”. But it did not take long before a lecturer in Geography recognised I was an “impostor.” I was made to substitute Geography with Fine Art. Needless to say, Senteza continued to do so well in his combination, gradually advancing to professorship.
Our Budo times under headmaster Denis George Herbert were in the wake of the closure of the school during what was called the Kabaka’s riots of 1943 when the picture of the British Queen was destroyed and replaced with that of the Kabaka.
Under Herbert, strict discipline was observed. At Mbarara High, we’d been told that there was no discipline at Budo and that boys drank local brew and smoked. There was no boozing but, surely, some of us smoked. However, pupils were displined and proud of the good name of Budo that up to now, OBs (Old Budonians) say people go to other school for instructions but only those that go to Budo get educated!
The best-behaved student I came across in my education career is Boniface Byanyima, who as far as I can remember has never been involved in schoolboy notriety nonsense. The second is George William Senteza Kajubi. But hold on, in our time at Budo, there was a road situated above the library, the chapel, the quadrangles, and the boys dormitories. Below, there was a large playground beyond which there were the girls’ dormitories. The road was called the ‘Equator’. Nobody was allowed to cross the Equator from either side beyond 6pm. But the assembly/concert halls were all above the equator. Apart from big functions such as debates (Senteza was a great debater).
When however, the results of the Makerere entrance exams came, those of us who had passed, crossed the equator after supper and invaded the girls’ territory. There was free kissing at one of the girls’ residences where each successful candidate kissed as many as five girls, and girls kissed as many boys as they found (it was a ritual of sort). Significantly, George William Ssenteza Kajubi was one of us that night.
Country at loss
The death of Prof Ssenteza Kajubi has deprived this country of a significant academician, scholar, administrator and politician.
Senteza was the first born child of Lugonzi of the Nsenene (grass hopper) clan. His dad drove the Post Office Mail bus all over Uganda and was awarded a certificate of honour by Queen Elizabeth of England for his 40 years of service. Senteza’s mother was Bulanina Namukomya of the Mamba (lung fish) clan. They lived in Busega, one of the suburbs of Kampala. The man destined to be a great professor and schoar, started out at Natete’s Mackay Memorial Primary School in 1933. He was in Mengo Junior School in 1941-1943. We entered senior four of Budo together in 1944 and joined Makerere College in 1947. He was there till 1950 until he got his teacher certificate (1947-1950). He bagged his M.SC in Geography at the University of Chicago in 1952-1955 and taught at Kako Junior Secondary between 1951 and1952. From 1955 to 1960 he taught Geography at Budo and became director of the National Institute of Education of Makerere between 164 and 1977 where he brought teachers closer to the university and taking the university nearer to the teachers.
He was a professor of higher education between 1979 and 1986, Vice Chancellor from August 1977 to April 1979 (Makerere), Principal of I.T.E.K between 1986 and 1989, VC of Makerere, between 1990-1993 and VC, Nkumba University from 1994 to 2008.
He will among others be remembered for his participation in the designing of the national flag and emblem, and more particularly for stimulating, Wilberforce Kakoma to compose our prayer and national anthem.