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MATANDA DENNIS EMMMANUEL

Trade Policy Strategist
School:    Namasagali College - -Kamuli
Alumnus:    Class of 1994
Years @School:    1988-1994
YClass Completed i.e. P7/S4/S6: S6
Dormitory:    (Unlike other schools, we did not reside in our assigned ‘Houses.’ In Namasagali, you were assigned a metaphysical house: Kobs, Panthers, Cranes, Eagles, Lions or Leopards, and you shared dormitories with people from other houses. For Senior 1 to Senior 3, I oscillated between Jinja 1, Jinja 2, and Soroti 1, and for Senior 4, 5 and 6, I was in Kampala 1.

Three Words (that summarize your years at school):

Exhilarating | Fulfilling | Unforgettable

Favourite subject in school & why?

Literature – Understanding syntax, allegories, rhyme schemes and of course, author intent and context enriched my appreciation of books even more – something that has stayed with me all these years later.

Favourite food in school & why?

Cassava and Soya – If you did not finish this food in the dining hall, it was also just as delicious to eat as ‘cold power’ after preps.

Favourite story about interschool rivalry?

We did not have any viable rivals. Other schools paled in comparison – especially in terms of sports like swimming and chess. We were not even allowed to participate in National Drama Competitions.

What is a message of inspiration to anyone reading this profile?

Because who you are/were in High School is the Person you’ll be when

you have kids and grow old, work on becoming the best person that

you possibly can be before you turn 30.

What is your current job/profession?  

I am a trade policy strategist (this role is often confused with trade policy analyst. An analyst analyses and may not go into the field to implement policy. Strategists analyse commercial programs and policy, engage with stakeholders to design programs around policy, and then help clients or stakeholders implement the strategies they have helped design. Many strategists eventually become lobbyists or communication consultants.

What is your life motto/mantra?

Focus on people’s strengths and see the optimistic side of things.

What are you up to now in life?    

On top of trying (and failing miserably) to mould two rambunctious three-year olds into polite, respectful and responsive ladies, I am a little overwhelmed with arduous tasks, initiatives, and self-imposed deadlines. As a result, I have packed on pounds of extra unattractive flesh. Invariably, if certain things do not happen in a timely manner, I just might change my career.

PRIMARY SCHOOLS ATTENDED

  • North Road Primary School, Mbale
  • Victoria Nile School, Jinja

SECONDARY SCHOOLS ATTENDED

  • Namasagali College, Kamuli

TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS ATTENDED

  • Makerere University Kampala;
  • Maastricht School of Management/ESAMI
  • Northeastern University, Boston, MA
  • currently pursuing a post-doctoral program in North Central University, California.
  • Class Monitor: 1988 (Voted Out/Succeeded by Deo Rubbani)
  • Chancellor: 1992 (Demoted/Succeeded by Andrew Kanyegirire)
  • Judge: 1992 – 1994
  • Swimming Commissioner: 1992 – 1994
  • Choir Commissioner: 1992 – 1994
  • Co - Kobs House Captain: 1992 – 1994 (With Mercy Mutono, RIP)
  • Swimming: 1988 – 1994
  • Modern Dance: 1988 - 1994

What are 5 routines/rituals/cultural aspects or that you remember from school and what did they mean?

  • Waking up at 6:00 am every day, and going to dance class by 6:15 am every single day for 6 years;
  • Going to class for First Lesson, and then running for porridge (boge)
  • Leaving class at 1:35 p.m. and heading straight to the pool to practice with my fellow Dolphins (school swim team) until 2:15; running to get lunch and making it to literature class at 2:30.
  • Looking on forlornly as many of my classmates hooked up with girls during the short break between 1st Preps and 2nd Preps (9:15 – 9:30).
  • Wearing my red gown over my school uniform on the days that I had to go to court; attaching my purple ribbon (for judges) to my silver ribbon (for those that came top of their class), and then to my cords (indicating that I was also a civil servant/commissioner) – and pinning these to my left shoulder everyday of Senior 5 and Senior 6.

What are at least 5 slangs you remember from school and what did they mean?

  • Ogumpe/Ogunsoph – Father Grimes
  • Maining – Hanging out with your girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Kadoos – Sex
  • Kidaaga – Bread/a bun | Omondi – Riceballs
  • Ombaki – Being on the lookout (for Reeves/Prefects)

“What Aspects Do You Miss about School?”

Technically, I miss the community – being close with so many people and participating in the myriad of extra-curricular activities. I loved being a judge. We had real power and had opportunities to develop our moral backbones. On a personal note, I think I ‘miss’ the opportunity to tell Juliana how I really felt. It did not help that she was dating none other than the Lord High Reeve himself (she was Chief Justice).

How could I compete with that? On the other hand, there were lots and lots of ‘fatal hesitations’ – the kind that relegated me to being a late bloomer.

What is the one thing that the school “taught” you?

That every decision I made – everything I did – had a consequence; short-lived or otherwise. This has stayed with me.

What in your perspective (opinion) is your school known for?

I really ought to give my answer context: Namasagali is, perhaps, the most misunderstood school in the world. As one of the most successful education experiments in Uganda, former students, mistakenly, assume that Father Grimes impacted their lives. Actually, with the ubiquity of self-governance, each and everyone of us had a much bigger impact on the other than Grimes could have ever had. The only reason Father Grimes plays an outlandish role is simply because he set the scene and also tried to manage it as best he could. However, he was usually the lender of the last resort – the one punishing. For the most part, we were left to our own devices.

Now to answer the question: Namasagali is notorious for frivolous individuals. However, like I try to explain in the first part of this section, we were, perhaps, some of the most serious-minded and most mature students Uganda had at whatever pre-2000 juncture you look at.

What was your OWN most impactful memory from school?

While I have a whole host of them, I think the dark, mysterious and exotically beautiful Juliana Ssali who made a perfect split on her first stage appearance has a special place in my heart. I, no doubt, fell hopelessly in love with her right there and then. However, for the two years she was in Namasagali, I never really spoke more than 10 words to the object of my affection on account of a cat getting my tongue. But almost every night, although she was 4 classes ahead of me, we wrote letters – signed ‘lots of love’ to each other. Almost Every Night!

Which teacher was your greatest influence & why?

Mr. David A. Allen (RIP): His comprehensive understanding of literature and he had an uncanny ability to awaken characters from books and make them part of your everyday life: Rubashov from Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon; Gregory and Sampson from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and of course, the tractors ‘… raping the earth methodically without passion …’ in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.

What did you think you’d end up doing in life; and where has life brought you so far in comparison?

While I, almost instinctively, wanted to be a lawyer, I actually ended up in the exact same field my father eked his career out of. He worked for the East African Community between 1969 and 1978 (when it broke up the first time), and he, unbeknownst to me, lived in the same block of flats I ended up living while I was in that city. Nonetheless, I also knew that I was going to be successful at whatever I put my mind to. And my former school gave me countless opportunities to excel.

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