Ex-Serenje Boys Mobilise Delayed Golden Jubilee Celebrations

IT could have been the most joyous moment but the Serenje Boys Golden Jubilee celebrations this April 25, is a sombre occasion rising from the ashes.

And thanks be to a maddening criminal elements posing as students who torched the Serenje Secondary School Administration Block last year, fire that destroyed the school’s records of the past 50 years, and decapitated the running of the school forever.

Rioting students set fire to the office block after the scheduled Golden Jubilee celebrations were postponed by management when the students had contributed some money towards the festivals.

Faced with the reality of destruction some former students of Serenje Secondary School, popularly known as Serenje Boys, chagrined by failure to celebrate the jubilee, have begun the healing process organizing the delayed celebrations.

Leading the campaign is Mr Lazarus Phiri of Kafue, known in literature class as “Petrus Son of God” because of his humility, and by his closest friends, as “Vumbwe.”

Mr Phiri, a chemist, and the author of this article were in the class of ’71, the fifth graduating group since it was opened at the verge of independence in 1963.

Mr Phiri visited the school this year and was horrified and devastated at the ghostly sight.

It will affect those who crossed Ibolelo stream and were welcomed with open arms by the school.

The planning meeting will be held at Munali Boys Secondary School on April 22 at 14 hours and depending on the outcome will proceed for the delayed jubilee celebrations at Serenje on the 25th. Based on previous experiences of failure of such meetings, Mr Phiri appealed to ex-Serenje Boys to turn up in great numbers.

The first attempt to form Ex-Serenje Boys Association in early ’90s through Mr Shadreck Chimbukuma flopped because of poor response. Another meeting was held in Lusaka at the Charisma Hotel organiSed by Ms. Gloria Ngoma of Zambia Public Procurement Authority but its outcome is not known.

Among those who attended the Lusaka meeting is prominent lawyer Mr Robert Simeza.

It is desirable to people who passed through Serenje to turn up in great numbers at the meeting and the Golden Jubilee celebrations in Serenje. Time is of essence and therefore those requiring more information can contact Mr Phiri at +260975615119.

At 51 years today, Serenje has a rich history, borne out among early education institutions along with Chiwala, Chizongwe, et cetera, which were spurred by the impending independence of Zambia from the yokes of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and Whitehall.

At its opening Mr Pritchards was its first headmaster. Serenje was planned to tackle solid subjects hitherto considered hard – Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, English, History and Geography. Later, French replaced Latin after the Government decided to dispense with Latin.

Eager to see Zambians at the helm, Mr. Pritchards was replaced by Mr. John Mashambe, one of Zambia’s leading mathematicians. He left in 1967 just as I was entering Form One as banyowe or zwenke. He was transferred on promotion as inspector of mathematics and Mr. John Sitali replaced him.

Granted that protests had been part of fun in schools for many years, it is the destruction of property that is alien. Serenje was no exception. The first of such protests happened in the middle of the first term caused by what was then considered poor diet of porridge for breakfast, kapenta and beans alternatively for lunch.

When it became clear the class boycott would continue and district officials had failed to break the impasse, Kabwe were called in. After a brief meeting, they decided to close the school. Police were brought in merely to ensure students left the campus and not to quell any possible riots as is the case now.

Not even a single property of the school was destroyed.

But the strike action however resulted in dispersal of perceived ringleaders and the replacement of the boarding master Mr. Pascal Mubanga, with Mr. Ngoma, who to the joy of students introduced a menu of meat and fish and provided fruits after meals.

Like all boarding schools at the time, the only other notable pastime Serenje was famous for was mockery, initiation that is meted to every newcomer. At Serenje it was in three phases likened to the three Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage when Hannibal invaded the North African city. The third was brutal in which Carthage was completely obliterated.

Thereafter, peace returned to all and newcomers can now settle to enjoy their education. Friendships were made and mockery was a thing of the past until the next January. Mainly involved were students in Form Two and perhaps some sadists in senior classes, but many provided protection to the juniors.

Mockery aside, Serenje Boys was famous for many good and excellent programmes. I recall when the Class of ’71 was ferried to Mapepela, the current part site of Nansanga Farming Block, to uproot trees at a government planned resettlement farm. It was a joyful weekend.

Equally, Serenje was a citadel of sports activities among them athletics, boxing, rugby, soccer, and volleyball. Under Russian teachers Alex and Mrs. Meedev, who taught physics and chemistry, respectively, volleyball developed to the national championship level. The Russian also coached boxing and in both sports, Serenje was invincible.

In soccer Serenje featured prominently in the Zambia Secondary Schools Football Association (ZSSFA) competitions as well as in rugby and athletics. Kalonga Secondary School which boasted legendary players such as diminutive Gibby Zulu were at par just as University of Zambia (Unza) met their waterloo at school.

Among its leading players were Davies Mupeta, Davison Mambwe, goalkeeper Henry Mwape, strikers Amon Luyando, dribbler January Luwisha and Francis Mwandila who broke an ankle after a crude tackle by Unza player and was rushed to Chitambo Mission hospital, to name a few.

The absence of girls at school did not deter interactive social activities. The Masters’ spouses provided needed partners in dancing, especially for the Form Four Ballroom Club, which extended its dancing skills to Chitambo Nursing School.

Apart from sports, Serenje also could boast of fantastic acapella team of Diffa Mulimba, for many years a special assistant to presidents Chiluba and Mwanawasa at State House and his young brother, with Laughlet Nkululuchila, Abijah Chikonde from Musofu, a Seventh Day Aentist School.

It came as a shock therefore when I visited the school in August last year to see the dastard action. My initial reaction after seeing the destruction was of anger, intense anger that a group of human beings sent by their parents to acquire knowledge could do such a despicable act.

In the end, pity replaced anger, seeing it was an act of cowardice committed by miscreants who have no idea and no purpose as to how and why they have found themselves in school let alone in class.

Straightly it is an act that reflects the malaise in Zambia’s education, currently devoid of discipline, trickled down from higher institutions of learning namely the Copperbelt University, UNZA, and worse still, the Evelyn Hone College of Applied Sciences. The orgy of property destruction is what they plan daily.

Lack of discipline in these institutions has decidedly affected the primary and secondary schools. The aent of human rights has bared administration, now driven by moribund Parents-Teachers Associations (PTAs) most of which are impotent to make decisions except levying pupils.

Pupils in lower strata of education are supposed to look towards their seniors in tertiary institutions as role models. But their uncouth behaviour has become infectious that they daily fill their pages reports of misconduct at Unza et cetera.

Whatever led the pupils venting their anger on the hapless Administration Block which every sane individual knows its importance must be condemned in the most extreme, perpetrators caged.

The school authorities must equally face sanctions for failure to communicate with their students.

Hitherto, girls were the sticking point between the school and the nearby Malcolm Moffat Teachers College. The two institutions are separated by Ng’answa Road. Initially the college enrolled Form Twos. Naturally boys hankered for girls and the girls preferred boys in higher forms thus causing frequent fights between the institutions.

From its inception the school had a national character. But becoming a Technical High School seemingly brought in challenges of violence beyond imagination. The basis of this article is not to begin recriminations. The damage has been done and the way forward is that all those who have passed through that Administration Block must hold themselves accountable. Many have been blessed by the Lord and it is just natural that they extend their hand towards this noble course and rewrite the history by contributing according to their ability.

At a critical period when Joseph and his brothers came face to face in Egypt, they remembered the boy they had thrown in a dry well, but his words had no recrimination: “When you meant evil, God made it for good, for God did send me before you to preserve life.”

Together with Mr Phiri and Fabius Musona, we have tried to remember as many as possible those we can. If therefore in this article I omit you, it is not deliberate since having left the school in November 1971, eight years after it opened, my memory can only recall those who were in my stream and my seniors.

Certainly some might have passed on, but mentioning them I believe, is because of the indelible marks they left at the institution. Serenje has certainly in its 51 years of existence produced men of incredible achievements both Zambians and foreigners, dead and alive.

Among pioneers we could recall are towering Geoffrey Sefu, the school’s first captain Davis Mupeta, Shemu Mwila, Mwape Nakatambo, Robinson Mwila, Nicky Nyendwa, White Kumwenda, Benias Tembo, Mr. Kapompe, Mr. Mbewe, Mr Chintu, Davis Chisala, Davison Mambwe, Davies Mupeta, Mr, Sepete, Daniel Mwale, late former Times of Zambia journalist, the Kapika brothers and Mr. Munsele.

Others are Mr Francis Temba, a former Manager at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Robert Chimambo who now heads the green agriculture association, Mr Chimbukuma, who before he passed away opened the NIEC School of Business Studies in Ndola, Walker Mkandawire who returned to Malawi.

On record still are messes George Chibuye, Bonaventure Chibuye, Shepwe Shacilemba, Mr. Sichilongo, his friend Josephat Kambwili, Mr. Siame, the Sodeli brothers, comedian Henry Miselo, Solomon Mwanza, Peter Chikubula, Felix Mwila Mota, Gabbie Mwenda, Chobela Tama, Dan Kalale, formerly of Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), Leta Athaz, Issa Mushauko.

Indeed Serenje has produced many personalities dead and living. I recall the many times we discussed the school with educationist Dr. Henry Kaluba who spent many years at the Commonwealth Secretariat Department of Education and Zambian Open University.

The list will be incomplete without mentioning the current Attorney General Mumba Malila and Honorable Michael Musonda, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kapiri Mposhi. The list is endless but the call of duty extends even to those whose names have not been mentioned.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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