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Posts Tagged ‘king’s college budo


King’s College Budo Schooldays
by john otim

I was in the Upper Chamber devouring international publications, British really. They included Boys Own, fine adolescent adventure stuff. They included the Illustrated London Magazine, Filled at the time with glossy pictorials of British elites and their European cousins. The London Times was there as a matter of course.

"Budo's Upper Chamber"

popular student hangout at king's college budo

            Time Magazine and Newsweek, were not officially there. But once in a while some young American on the faculty brought in a few copies. At times he threw in copies of Sports Illustrated for good measure.  Sports Illustrated was typically American. Its contribution to sports’ photography is a story. Its marvelous photos of sportsmen in action, gave the Illustrated London Magazine a run for its money
            The lone Indian teacher at the school had not the resources to showcase the sub continent’s rich heritage. He was a proud man nevertheless and enjoyed nothing more than to rattle a few nerves among the majority English on this White enclave on the shores of Lake Victoria.
            As students we were on our own. There was not a single black face on the faculty. And this was a prestige school. Today King’s College Budo on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda still ranks among the best. Further south in Malawi, President Hastings Banda was yet to create his dream school, the Kamuzu Academy that would rise to rival our school if not surpuss it. On th President’s orders the school when it got going would be staffed exclusively with holders of the masters’ degree from Oxford and Cambridge. People laughed at Haistings Banda. But in today’s Africa Banda’s model is hot cake and they cost a fortune to attend.

         
"Kamuzu Academy"

Hastings Banda's dream school

            The British authorities at our school were smart. They distanced themselves from the former colonial authorities of which they had been a part. They won a lot of goodwill. While firmly maintaining control they appeared not to insist on anything. They did not verbalize it but they were saying. We are part of the new Africa. We are Africans really. They lined up a coterie of Africans from downtown who came to the school to talk to us. They were young people and immensely successful. They had studied in Europe and North America. They were the inheritors of the colonial state. They talked no revolution. There was no need, independence was won. They were saying. The future is now, you are lucky fellows. Get on with it. Don’t make noise. Look at us.
            One day I was in the Upper Chamber. Named for the room in which Christ and the disciples had the last supper. It was a large upstairs room, wooden floor, large mahogany tables, shelves of books and magazines. The room made you feel good. Here boys and girls converged on Sunday afternoons. You came washed and dressed. For girls these were precious showcase moments.

            Here I was one Sunday afternoon when a stunning young woman made her way. Followed by a crowd of students I knew were members of the Christian Union. This was a group whose membership proclaimed themselves the inheritors of Christ. Now they created a stir. There was nothing to it, the evening was at an end. I stood up to leave. A girl grabbed my hand and bade me stay. I spent the evening receiving the message of Christendom, streaming from the lips of the starlet.
            It turned out the babe was a Makerere University student and had graduated from our school a few years back. Makerere was big stuff. Clearly someone had brought this girl over to dazzle us. I had never seen a woman that lovely. The organizers of the evening for sure had class. Huray! Boys and girls stayed on, nobody left. There was quiet in the room. The young woman began to speak.
            Look around. You are gathered from all corners of this country. You are the best. But you are also lucky. How many of your primary school fellows do you see around? You must be thankful. You are the cream of  the world. We are the cream! What did that mean?
            The theme of duty and of responsibility was absent. You are not here. Luck is not with you. You are not smart. You are excluded. The system said. Exclusion meant neglect. It was demanded of the excluded, that they offer their services in the interests of the lucky ones. Nothing was extended in return. Exclusion degerated into abuse. Primitives, good for nothing. Abuse brought conflict. African education systems such as it was, such as it is, set the course and now provides feeds.

John Otim
Formerly of the Ahmadu Bello University
Zaria in Nigeria