Arthur Baguma, “He’s Faster than a Computer,” New Vision, 14 June 2004 (Kampala, Uganda).

YOU don't need a calculator to divide 11,633,011 by 47 or to multiply 5747869312 by the same figure. You can do it in seconds without a pen or a piece of paper. All you need is your head and the figures. Well, any person will say that it takes more than an ordinary brain to do it- a genius. But that is what 20-year-old Paul Serunjogi, a P.7 dropout is.

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 intelligent boy.

"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 replies.

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 some abnormalities.

"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 house.

"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 answer: 5602.333.

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.

*Archimedes (mathematician)
*Johann Sebastian Bach (composer)
*Ludwig van Beethoven (composer)
*José Raúl Capablanca (chess master)
*Noam Chomsky (Linguist, philosopher, psychologist and U.S foreign policy critic.)
*Charles Darwin (biologist)
*René Descartes (mathematician)
*Thomas Alva Edison (inventor)
*Albert Einstein (theoretical physicist)
*Paul Erdös (mathematician)
*Bobby Fischer (chess master)
*Benjamin Franklin (inventor, diplomat)