In the far Northwest of Scotland, in the midst of the mountainous regions of the Highlands, men there play it differently. Back in the 16th century, they had developed a style of fashion which was quite unique from the rest of the World and which later symbolised the culture of the whole Scotland as we know it today.
Instead of trousers and jeans, men there wore skirt-like garments that would cover their legs, reaching just below knees for men, and right down the ankle for women. That type of garment was known as ‘belted plaid’ and somewhat resembling a tunic uniform worn by Roman military or police officers.
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But then Thomas Rawlinson found a problem. At the beginning of 17th, around the 1720s, the businessman had secured a permission to exploit Highlands regions, and he was particularly keen to smelt iron ore there. Together with his business partner, Ian MacDonnell, they needed to manufacture charcoal from forests near the City of Inverness which would be used to smelt iron ore.
Strong-fitted men were recruited for this intensive labour, but their productivity was tiny. Then Rawlinson came back to the drawing table, and he was able to notice that even if the men maximised their efforts, their garments were restraining their efficiency, since ‘belted plaid’ was cumbersome and unwieldy for that labour.
He then went back to the City of Inverness to look for a solution, and he met a tailor who promised to ameliorate the quality of these garments. Together, they then invented another kind of garment known as ‘kilt’ which is a renovated ‘belted plaid’ that cuts off above knees, instead of going down the legs.
As the garment became popular throughout Scotland and other neighbouring countries, it spread further South and East parts of the World when colonisation began.
In Uganda, Lieutenant Commander Ernest William Eborhard Calwell who was a retired British Navy Officer, reached the Buganda Kingdom and proposed to build a school whose boys would wear ‘kilts’ to associate with this home culture. But his kilts looked similar to skirts in the eyes of the King of Buganda who expelled the man.
As he retreated, he reached into the Nyakasura Region and he was welcomed, then he established Nyakasura School back in 1926 and became the first Headmaster of the School. The School’s uniforms are quite different, however, as both boys and girls wear skirts, in the eyes of the locals, even if boys’ uniforms are known as ‘kilts.’
A Unique Experience
The unique experience of studying at Nyakasura School is an attraction to different students, and kilts play a significant role in that.
Students have also been used to it. We talked to a boy who has spent four years at the School and he told us how he embraced the culture, despite the pressure from the locals.
“When people see us wearing these kilts they can say that we are dressed like girls but for me there is no problem with that because I have been wearing this for four years,” he said.
His female colleague also echoed his sentiments, saying that “Boys seem to like kilts because they don’t complain.”
She told us how she found it weird when she noticed the uniform of the boys there for the very first time, but later came to embrace it as well.
“It was weird when I saw it. It seemed fun but I came to get used to it,”
Under the kilts, boys also wear socks-like garments known as ‘Leg Warmers’ to accommodate the cold weather of Nyakasura Region.
“Nyakasura is cold so you have to cover the upper part of the legs,” said the Principal of the School.
He insisted that the uniqueness of the School allows it to be easily recognizable, thus it can attract as many international students.
“In Uganda, this is the only school that dresses like us. We have international students coming from Kenya, Rwanda, some from DR Congo, Southern Sudan and Tanzania,” he said.
The School is also among the best performing schools in its region when it comes to the National Examination. It has also won awards and other recognition in sports and other various competitions.