He calculates off head without any difficulty. Before he
dropped out of school due to lack of fees, he used to get 99 or 98% in
mathematics tests and exams. When he appeared on WBS television on Omubala
talkshow last Sunday, his ability to work out mathematical problems stunned
viewers. The nature in which he articulated hard calculations was breath-taking.
He has since generated a debate as to whether he is a genius or just an
"23456 x 30, what do you get?" In 13 seconds he shoots
back " the answer is 703680," I fidget with my phone calculator, which confirms
his answer. Okay! I thought to myself and pulled another one: 2945 divide by
seven. In eight seconds he gives me the answer - 420.7143 after rounding off.
"How do you get the answer?"
"Katonda yampa buwi kitone (God gave me a gift)," he
Kajumba Mayanja, a clinical psychologist
and lecturer at the Department of Mental Health, Makerere University, says that
Serunjongi is a certainly a genius, but adds that most geniuses tend to have
"He is a genius because he is abnormally good and does
extraordinary and strange things.
Research in Neuropsychology (study of the functioning of
human brain) has shown that most geniuses have some abnormalities. This is
usually due to hormonal imbalances, which affect some brain parts while at the
same time enhancing others positively. He is having a side effect advantage of a
hormonal imbalance, that could make him have a high mathematical ability, but
this imbalance causes some defects such as poor language ability and any other
kind of abnormality. The public is putting attention to the side effect
advantages of an abnormal condition.
However, when asked to comment, Prof. Livingstone
Luboobi, a renowned mathematician and the vice chancellor of Makerere
University said: "I am not God. Different people get different gifts from God.
Do you read the Bible?"
At 20, Serunjogi weighs 91 Kgs but he has no health
problem. The last time he fell sick was 13 years ago. Serunjogi lives in
Nansana, 13 kilometres on Hoima road. "We call him Mr Computer. He stays just
across, go straight and knock at the grey gate," a middle aged man directs me to
the home of the mathematics wizard.
Past a car garage, we stroll to the home in a big
perimeter wall. A few knocks and a short fat man with a baby face in company of
six children opens the door. He is bare foot and donning a maroon T-shirt and
folded green jean trousers Everything on him is big- the hands, the head, the
belly and even the feet. I inquire from him if I can meet Mr. Serunjogi.
"I am the one," he replies in Luganda.
Hesitating to believe, I explain to him why I am at his
place. He invites me to the back yard. Walking alongside him, I have to bend to
hear what he is saying, before we settle for a chat on a veranda behind the
"I dropped out of school in P7 in 1997 at Baka Primary
School, Hoima Road. I actually didn't complete Primary Seven. My parents failed
to raise my fees," he says. Speaking slowly and breathing with difficulty, he
looks at me straight in the face. He only looks up when calculating arithmetic
figures. "I can deal with any mathematical calculation. My dream is to become an
accountant," he says. With such a rare gift you would wonder why his life
rotates around fetching water, washing dishes and doing household work for his
aunt. Why doesn't he put his gift to use?
On a typical day, Serunjogi wakes up at 6.30am and does
household chores before going to the market. He then comes back and goes to
fetch water. "I worked for a certain bus company. I handled the books of
accounts and receipts but they paid me only two months wages after working for
more than 10 months. I have since decided to keep around here," he says. Asked
if he could go back to school, he says, "I am intelligent enough to join S.1 but
not to do mathematics. If I am to enroll for mathematics the only suitable place
where I can fit is the university."
After a brief talk, we walk with Mr computer to see what
the locals know about him. As we walk around town, he is treated like a
celebrity. Everyone wants to shake his hand while others simply stare. Walking
with a swagger, he smiles and pockets before waving back. "We call him Mr
computer around here. He is like a real computer if not better than it," said
Ronie Ruze a resident of Nansana. "Mr. Sebbuto (Luganda
translation for big belly) we love you," a young lady shouts out.
"Serunjogi was good at mathematics but was not doing well
at science and SST," Roger Kabugo, a former classmate, also
school dropout says. "I am not only good at maths but also science and history.
For instance, I know that transpiration is the process by which green plants
make their own food [sic] and air is a mixture of gases, while about history,
Mutesa I was the first president of Uganda," Serunjogi replies
as if to disprove Kabugo.
After about an hour in the company of Mr. Computer, it
was time to leave but not before he answered this one: 16798 plus nine divide by
three? Dead silence as the crowd listens. In just five seconds, he gives the
Serunjogi was born at Serinya 14 miles on Hoima Road to
Edmond Semakula and Pauline Nasimba (RIP). He
is the second born in a family of eight and all his siblings have since dropped
out of school. The term genius is derived from 'genii'; a term from Roman
mythology referring to spirit, either the internal driving force within all
living things, or a specific spirit, or demon with supernatural powers. A
similar term from Arabic legend is jinnee. In modern usage, a 'genius' is a
person with distinguished mental prowess. A genius is someone whose mental
faculties are recognised to so extraordinary. that they go far beyond what a
non-genius is capable of.
Sebastian Bach (composer)
*Ludwig van Beethoven (composer)
Raúl Capablanca (chess master)
*Noam Chomsky (Linguist,
philosopher, psychologist and U.S foreign policy critic.)
*René Descartes (mathematician)
*Thomas Alva Edison
*Albert Einstein (theoretical physicist)
*Bobby Fischer (chess master)
Franklin (inventor, diplomat)