William Kayamba is a father, a poultry farmer, a graduated researcher, a ceramist and the head of the faculty of Education and Fine Art at Uganda Christian University in Mukono. Before he became all that, he got his secondary education at Ntare School in Mbarara. This institute also educated the current Ugandan and Rwandan presidents. When William heard that photographs keep me busy, he told me that he also had a love for the medium, and that he had been a member of the Panchromatic photography club at his high school. I heard about the Panchromatic club before from Elly Rwakoma, who started it at Nyakasura School in the 1950s and later brought it to Bishop Stuart College in Mbarara.
William told me that there was a dark room next to Ntare’s chemistry lab that was used by club members. Cameras were available and owned by the school. Since the cameras could not be taken out of the school premises the photographic activities were limited to photographing the local social circles.
William brought out an album that he made himself. Not just the photographs, not only the way the pages are filled, but The Album. Sheets of cardboard glued together as cover with a decorative lady on both front and back. Alternating yellow and green pages on the inside, bound together with spiralling telephone wire. Each page has several photos and additions in the form of text clippings or printed animals that partly overlay the photographs.
A HIPUganda Facebook follower commented after posting it that the photo on the front features Bollywood actress Bindu.
William pointed out which of the portraits (that is what all the photographs are, portraits) were printed by him as part of his club activities. They are the ones with slightly more dust, scratches and sometimes messy surfaces. Caused by old chemicals? Dusty environment? He also told me what has become of the young boys and girls. Some got important positions in businesses or in government. One man became a prof at a university in the US. Many died. Aids. It is his generation that got most severely affected by the disease. ‘The old ones were o.k. it was just the middle generation that got cut out.’
There were many clubs at the schools that were all based on the British system. Ntare, just like Nyakasura school founded by a Scottish man, had for instance a Scottish music and dance club. This club had more members than the Pan club, as it was called in short. The clubs were mainly used to be able to visit other schools that had similar clubs. The Pan club was one of a kind. An exchange and competition with Kigezi High school, Namilyango or Nyakasura like in Scottish dancing, was not possible. But, William said, ‘it still gave me some skills,’ that he is still using, as he likes to document what happens in his life.