On Saturday, former students of Busoga College Mwiri will head back to the school for a homecoming.
The homecoming is an annual event where members of Mwiri Old Boys Association (MOBA) visit their alma mater. This year’s comes at a time when the school, which was founded in 1911 by the Church Missionary Society celebrates 107 years, which puts it among the six oldest schools in Uganda.
One of the activities lined up for the function is an exhibition by some of the alumni. The president of MOBA, Dr Patrick Ibembe, says this is a pointer at new thinking in the association.
“We need to see a change in the mode of engagement. Let us focus on business networking and exchanges through exhibition of the world of Mwirians. We should cut deals to create sustainable relevance to each other,” he says.
Dr Ibembe says it was in part due to this new thinking that MOBA formed an investment club.
The developments come seven years after the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, challenged the alumni to help the school regain its glory.
“I would like to see Mwiri regain its leading position in various disciplines, including academics and sports. From 1911 to 2011, Mwiri has produced an army of successful people who can help revive the institution that shaped them into what they are today,” she said during the centennial celebrations held at the school in September 2011.
At the time, performance in national exams was at its worst and the infrastructure was in a pathetic state.
That year, only seven out of the 100 students who sat for A-Level had been admitted to university on government sponsorship and only 64 out of the 145 students who sat for O-Level had obtained Grade Ones.
Most of the buildings still had asbestos sheets and were in a state of disrepair. The administration could not afford more than a coat of paint. Staff houses had not been spared the rot.
Kadaga’s challenge sparked off some action. Mwiri were runners up in the Boys’ Schools’ Cricket week in 2017 before clinching the title this year by beating St John’s High School as they ran off with a record 17th title.
They also made it to the finals of this year’s Schools’ lawn tennis championship.
Dr Ibembe says that as part of an initiative to establish itself as a sports powerhouse, MOBA has set up an endowment fund to attract talent.
The deputy headmaster, Paulo Butono, says the Old Boys have been deeply involved in the renovation of four out of the nine dormitories.
“The OBs raise money and decide on which work to be undertaken. We only supervise the work,” Butono says.
Dr Ibembe says the alumni have also helped renovate the volleyball and tennis courts and also donated equipment and kits for rugby, cricket and chess.
“Part of our mission is to make Mwiri more visible locally and internationally. To achieve that, we have already formed global Alumni chapters in Canada, the Middle East and UK to strengthen the brotherhood,” he says.
Not yet Uhuru
However, despite the interventions of both government and the alumni, Butono says a lot needs to be done.
“Much as the dormitories are shining, the teachers’ quarters are in a very sorry state. Government released some funds, but they went to the renovation of the waterborne systems, the kitchen and the buildings in the academic triangle,” he says.
Will that be fixed? “We hope to be doing so in time,” says Dr Ibembe and one hopes that it happens before “the school” as the OBs fondly call it, makes it 110.
•1911 Balangira High School later Mwiri opens as a school for royals and Busoga’s nobility.
• Between 1920 and 1931 school opened up to commoners.