50 – School: Princes, Ministers and Askaris

I went to the nearby school, an ordinary school, but the pupils were not that ordinary.

The Kabaka - kongwa2london.comUganda is made up of several kingdoms and Kampala is in the middle of Buganda, whose Kabaka’s (king’s) capital Mengo is nearby. His name was Major General Sir Edward Frederick William David Walugembe Mutebi Luwangula Mutesa II, affectionately known as King Freddie. He had eleven ‘wives’, twelve sons and nine daughters some of whom went to my ‘ordinary’ school, (the children, not the wives).

Other interesting classmates were children of government ministers and members of parliament. I made friends with a mix of Ugandan, Asian, Seychellois, British and American children.

Askaris - kongwa2london.comSometimes a chauffeur-driven car would collect one of my friends and we would all pile in for a tour of the city. With all friendships, you inevitably get an invite to their home. A memorable one was when I was invited to a minister’s son’s birthday party. Presents, cakes, games and then mischief; this house had a flat roof and we all climbed upon it armed with water bombs. As this was a government minister’s house, he had armed Askaris (originally an Arab word for a soldier, a term also used by the Europeans in colonial Africa).

We crept up to the edge of the roof and dropped water bombs on an unfortunate soldier. We quickly retreated as he shook his rifle in anger, then we chose another victim and repeated our actions. After the third Askari had received a soaking, there was a real danger of us being caught, so we hastily climbed down from the roof and ran for it, expecting to hear gunfire at any moment.

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