This year on 12th October 2019 at the Kampala Serena Hotel Victoria Hall, we held the 7th annual enjuba National Spelling Bee. At seven years of running, we have achieved tremendous growth. We hosted schools from the usual districts; Masindi, Arua, Maracha, Gulu, Kaabong, Bukedea, Tororo, Busia, Iganga, Jinja, Bugiri, Kampala, Masaka Mbarara, Kabale, Bushenyi, Kabarole Nakasongola, Bukedea and the Lango Sub-region which comprises of seven other districts; Dokolo, Kole, Lira, Oyam, Otuke, Alebtong, and Amolatar.
In addition to them, we had new districts participate for the first time this year; Soroti, Butaleja, Mityana, Buikwe and Rubanda. On Friday the 11th of October they set off from their home towns hopeful. Some of them travelled throughout the night to make it to Kampala for the competitions. All of them were champions; winners and first runners-up in their districts, it’s likely that the later had something extra to prove.
As we picked them up from the bus station and their respective drop off points, the excitement continued to build when some of the spellers stopped over at our offices in Bukoto before heading to their hotel. We particularly got a chance to chat with spellers Kabalokole Deborah and Opiko Ben Francis from Kamutur Primary School in Bukedea whom we asked what their expectations were. They both confidently stated, “I expect to win”.
On the D-day, the children were treated to a delicious lunch buffet before the competitions started. The event was graced with Teachers, Headteachers, District Education Officers, Parents and the Chief Guest; James T. Ham - the Country Director of Peace Corps Uganda.
As we have seen in years before, the competition is unpredictable and could pretty much go to any school. The two-time champions Tororo Parents from the far east won in 2015 and 2017, whereas Hillside Primary School, Naalya took the cup in 2016.
This year wasn’t any easier but defending champions Mugwanya Preparatory School Kabojja from Kampala successfully defended their 2018 victory. Two of their spellers Turibamwe Joseph and Kalyesubula Alvin Victor spelt all their words correctly. The third speller Mwesigye Jayden only failed one word. At the final stage of the competition, Joseph spelt the word Pistachio, Alvin Spelled the word Antiretroviral, and Jayden, Kaleidoscope. Their teamwork paid off and they were able to retain their position followed closely by the rising star team from Bushenyi - Parental Care Primary School. Ahabyoona Andrew from Parental Care also got all his words correct to earn himself a spot on the national team, along with the two spellers from Mugwanya Preparatory. They will represent Uganda at the 5th African Spelling Bee expected to take place in Nigeria in 2020.
Their teachers Mpyangu Besweri Victor and Tayebwa Desmond who put in consistent effort to train and encourage them were awarded the Teacher of the Year Accolade and will travel along with the team for the Africa competition next year.
All in all, it was a fun colourful event and we look forward to doing it all over again next year. A big toast to seven years and counting.