Namilyango-SMACK rivalry is born out of mutual respect for the other

Two incidents stood out for me this month; one a matter of national interest and the other a chance meeting of personal importance.

We will start with the former.

Prominent Smackist Gen Kale Kayihura was relieved of his duties as Inspector General of Police and replaced by Okoth Ochola, a former Ngonian.

Right on cue, the Namilyango College Old Boys Association (NACOBA) twitter account posted a message laced with humour and judicious satire.

It read thus:

‘Congratulations to our own Martin Okoth Ochola (Hanlon, 1974-1979) who has been elevated to the position of Inspector General of Police replacing long serving weevil General Kale Kayihura’


The 29 words in the tweet went some way in summing up the relationship between Namilyango College and St Mary’s College Kisubi.

There was recognition, grudging approbation, celebration and muffled respect.

Namilyango College and St Mary’s College Kisubi should in many ways act like twins.

They are two of the oldest academic institutions with both boasting of a combined 228 years of existence. Namilyango was opened in 1902 with Kisubi being started four years later.

The similarities do not stop there. The two are catholic-founded schools and have nurtured some of the most influential Ugandans across generations in nearly every sector.

Yet in many ways, there is credence to the theory that Namilyango feeds off SMACK and vice versa.

Without one another, they would be half the giants they are today.

It explains why the NACOBA tweet found it apt to gloat over the appoint of a Ngonian in place of a ‘weevil’ as we loved to call Smackists back then in the 90s when I was a student there.

Had the former IGP been an Old Boy of Nyakasura or Ombachi, either the tweet wouldn’t have mentioned his former school or the NACOBA handle would have said zilch about the development.

In the eyes of Ngonians, the only male school that matters for good or otherwise is Kisubi. Not Budo, Ntare or Mwiri.

Why that is the case is a subject for another day. But for now, we can be sure the two schools based in Mukono and Wakiso love to rival the other.

The name ‘weevils’ has stood the test of time and is not about to be erased in the diction of Ngonians.

The bantering doesn’t end there, though. Back in the day, our pit latrines were referred to as Smacks.

I found it odd, hilarious and scruffily creative. It is a term that whose culture won’t diminish.

The mentioning of ‘long serving’ in the post was an inaudible admission that that huge post had been held for far too long a period by the adversary and now was the appropriate moment for a Ngonian to steer the wheels of the force.

The second incident that I alluded to earlier was a meeting with the First Son Maj. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a famous Old Boy of Kisubi.

We met at a function at Serena where he was the chief guest at a cocktail to see off Uganda’s 69 athletes for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

Introduced to him by UOC President William Blick, also a Smackist, I told Muhoozi that I was an Old Boy of the only school in the country.

“Which one?” he asked.

“Namilyango College,” I responded.

He responded with a wry, wide grin before observing that, “that one is among the top four or five schools in the country.”

“Maybe the fifth,” he added.

It was clear that Muhoozi did rate Namilyango but wasn’t going to betray his Smack DNA by elevating my old school higher.

Throughout my time there, we were always keen on how Smack performed at the O and A Levels because we felt we had a divine right to beating them.

I suspect that feeling was mutual.

Many schools referred to us as ‘fumblers’ but it is word that Smackists probably copyrighted to use solely for Ngonians.

There was also the small matter of rugby rivalry and whenever the two schools played, the grass tended to suffer.

Namilyango has for a long period been the dominant rugby school but the sweetest victory was always the one over Smack. Not Budo or Hana.

The Namilyango-Kisubu rivalry has spanned decades but purely built on ethos that have made the two schools the outstanding institutions they are today.

Long may that rivalry continue.

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