SMACKOBA, the Saint Mary’s College Kisubi’s Old Boy’s Association, is planning to, or planned to hold a dinner/fundraiser (maybe it already took place. I don’t know. Reasons for my ignorance of the fact follow anon).
I have received a couple of phone calls asking me to contribute and I thought I should mention that here because it is, after all, my intention to occasionally say something gut-bustingly funny.
Ashton Kutcher couldn’t have come up with something more hilarious than SMACK calling me to ask me to donate my own time and money to it.
It should be evident by now that I did in fact attend this school. For four years—from my S1 to my S4, when I was finally able to leave and go get a real education in a real school. The years in SMACK? Well, I entered that school with a four in PLE and acclaim as an academic natural. I was one of those kids who don’t revise—we just sit in class and get things. If you ever see those Four Kids as adults and they don’t have Harvard degrees and you wonder what happened: well, places like SMACK happened.
Class used to be interesting. It used to teach me things. It used to feed my mind and knowledge was delicious. I used to like teachers because they served all these things to it, morsels and meals, and I had a good appetite.
Then one year of Kampala Parents killed that. And four of SMACK buried it dead.
Most saliently, I think of the career I eventually took up: that of a writer. I remember class in SMACK. Studying Literature particularly was the perfect time for a young budding writer to exercise his imagination and practice his skills at crafting plots by concocting dirty fantasies about the student teacher chicks from Makerere.
Because this was no Dead Poets Society. All we did in Lit class was take turns reading paragraphs out loud. For an hour. You read your part for your four minutes and then the rest of the hour was yours to do with as you please. No discussions, no explanations, no, if I have not nailed this point firmly enough down to the board, no education about the book. Just droning reading and then the teacher shut the book and left. Maybe to go hit on the student teachers—I wouldn’t put it past him. Teachers in SMACK ruined any respect for authority figures.
I used to believe it when they told me that children should listen to their teachers because their teachers knew best. SMACK showed me otherwise. Too many flagrant abuses of this authority, too many indiscretions, fouls, vile and unrepentant. Too much impunity and too little regard – they didn’t even pretend. A teacher walking into the assembly drunk, another caught defiling a minor, oh, and the monk whose door was opened by a woman in a nightie when you went there early in the morning to ask for a permission slip to go home…
I guess they felt they didn’t have to explain as long as they could cane and this is where I root my grudge. For their moral lapses and their uninspiring education I would have just sneered and moved on. But for the canes.
I am old enough to know that when a child is punished it is for his or her own good. Punishment is necessary and instructive. It saves you from yourself.
But I am also old enough to know what bullying is: what picking on people weaker than yourself just for the thrill and the rush of power is, what delighting in hurting children is, and what sort of person does this with glee and impunity. And I am still furious about having been a victim of that, and I despise everyone who was a part of it.
So I have only one thing to contribute to a SMACK: the finger I used to type this sentence.
In other news, Happy Birthday, Mildred.
Note: I did not think it was essential to point this out, but from some of the comments made below this post, I guess I should make it clear: SMACK is a very old school. Evidently, from your comments, the school is now staffed by wonderful, kind, caring and gifted teachers. But SMACK is a very old school, and was there a long time before some of you enrolled.
More recent alumni may have had a different experience from mine, but before your utopia there was a time when the faculty were jerks. And those of us who were there under the older regime retain the effects it had on us.
Other Note: I am quite tired of having to explain to people who were in SMACK in 2000s that I am talking about what happened there in the early 1990s. Surely Maths was not that badly taught. So before you fume and call me names in the comments, first remember that I was not in the same school as you.