When fire gutted the historical Mbarara High School Addis Ababa Dormitory in April 2016, the pain was immense and good memories of OBs almost billowed in the smoke that rose from the ashes. Lo and behold! A new dream was conceived by the OBs, irrespective of which dormitory they had resided in, to replace the charred and archaic block with a more modern dormitory. They embarked on erecting a mega three-level building with large rooms, washrooms and other amenity rooms.
Upon completion, the new Addis dormitory will accommodate about 300 students. In addition, washrooms for a yet-to-be rebuilt Achimota House are also due for completion in the Addis Dormitory phase. What is most astounding is the exceptional zeal with which the OBs from different year groups and professions have mobilised for the project. While I have had the rare opportunity to interact with OBs of different schools where I taught and where my children studied, I have been wowed by the camaraderie spirit of Mbarara High School or better put Chaapa Boys.
The distinguishing factor is that the bonding between OBs of different year groups, professionals and political persuasions is so effortless and natural. One Old Boy confided in me how he had played naughty by conversing with another OB while stuck in Kampala traffic jam and the duo exchanged business cards when both were behind their steering wheels! The varying mobilisation strategies for resources and money has been yet another unique tool of ensuring all and sundry contribute towards the project, in the school’s traditional style of cheering each other on in the proverbial kasaayi (kinship), a catch phrase for raising “morale” when the school sports teams are up against opponents. The kasaayi spirit has on several occasions resulted in phenomenal sports success.
The campaign to raise money kicked off in September 2016 with a dinner at Kampala Serena Hotel. Five different WhatsApp and Facebook groups each commanding about 200 membership were formed. A Rebuild Addis charity was launched and promoted by artiste OB Kimuri, aka Pablo.
Many OBs and well-wishers bought tickets and prizes were offered to lucky winners. Progressively different strategies like monthly and weekly campaigns ensued in promotions dubbed 150k Campaign or 50k Campaign where poor or rich OBs could contribute to the cause in varying proportions based on their capabilities.
My recent tour of the OBs Addis project was humbling. I was overwhelmed by the extent to which OBs (or OGs) can cause a fundamental change at their old school. I was informed of another extraordinary upcoming project to be shouldered by one OB who pledged to mobilise and replace the current outmoded Nairobi dormitory with a state of the art block.
The same OB recently mobilised Shs300m and refurbished his former primary school before he joined Mbarara High School. A month ago, the same OB sponsored establishment of a bakery at Mbarara High School to cut costs on purchasing buns for students. A couple of months ago, two OBs refurbished their former dormitories at the school. I am optimistic the spirit of dedication towards recreating Mbarara High School will only gather more pace as more OBs of the centurion school get on board to create a new look for the school.
The Rebuild Addis project has left no lingering doubt in my mind that if all schools in the country emulated it, we would have a fundamentally different and pleasant picture of what our schools look like today.
The Rt Rev Mwesigwa is the Bishop
of Ankole. |