When I joined St. Mary’s College Kisubi in 1987 as a Senior 1 student, I was assigned to one of the “baddest” dormitories which was Kakooza House. After the usual clearance, I had to struggle with my tin suitcase, basin, jerrycan and mattress all the way to the dormitory. Upon entering the dorm, yells of “Mupya” filled the place and all I could see were muscled guys excitedly looking at me the same way a hungry lion would upon seeing a stray goat or cow. Matters were worsened by the fact that the S1s had to walk through the S4 and S3 wings before reaching the S1/S2 wing. The untold suffering I went through meted upon me by names like Bullelu, Bomolo, Mutumba, Gideon and others left a permanent scar in my memory. Is SMACK like that today? I don’t know.
The 19th of February 2019 saw me make my maiden trip to Gayaza high school as a parent, never mind the fact that I had first set foot there twenty six years ago as a student of Agriculture at Makerere University. With my daughter in tow, we went through the registration requirements and as we neared the end, a young lady approached me.
“Hi, I am Kylie,” she said.
“I am Wire,” I replied.
“I will be your daughter’s mentor/buddy,” Kyle confidently stated.
Being the strict parent I am, I engaged her in a quick conversation trying hard to look for signals about her values and whether we were aligned. To be honest, she passed the test. That is when I encouraged my then nervous daughter to reach out to her and talk.
Fast forward, the checking was completed and before I could figure out how we were going to lift stuff to the dormitory, a group of five other girls joined Kylie and volunteered to carry all the property. I was beaten!!! This is not the kind of reception I had even remotely envisaged.
Chatting while walking to the dormitory, my mind went back in time and I narrated to them my experience as a newbie in Senior 1 close to 32 years ago. I nearly shed tears of joy when Kylie offered to lay my daughter’s bed upon reaching the dormitory and she went the extra mile to orient her about the place in my presence.
By the time we were done, I could hardly imagine that the same Kylie would have the guts to tease any S1 entrant let alone my daughter.
It has taken me a while to pen this experience but the main reason I have been forced to is to teach other schools where bullying is still the norm that the tradition can be curtailed through such an ingenious approach to orientation.
To Kylie and all the Gayaza S2 girls, I am proud of you. Keep it up
@wirejames on Twitter