Mentoring first year law students

The project is aimed at refocusing the vision, passion, and energies of young student lawyers from having an inward looking, selfish mindset, to one that is passionate about the nation of Uganda and interested in leaving the country a better place than one has found it.

The Project focuses on mentoring first year student lawyers at Makerere University of the 2014-2015 intake into becoming professional, ethical, outward looking, nation transformers before they are contaminated by te University. It is proposed that the mentoring system shall continue to run the length of their stay at Makerere University (four years). It is hoped that at the end of their stay at Makerere, these law students will not only be the read in law, but will also have additional skill sets and attitudes necessary to change the situations in which they will live and work. It is also hoped that this project will continually incorporate more first year students as they join the School of Law in order to have continuity.  This will also give the continuing students an opportunity to mentor and guide the new ones.

In so doing, the Project will be an effective vehicle to create a critical mass of well grounded lawyers, no excuse, diligent, hardworking, committed lawyers who will cause national transformation.

It is hoped that the project will have different activities which include – but are not limited to -mentoring sessions, lectures, volunteering activities, conferences and others. It is hoped that funds will be generated for these activities from within the students themselves, fundraising activities, well wishers like lecturers at the School of Law, Collaborations with other projects, the Main administration at the University as well as other NGOs and companies. The first activity which is detailed in this proposal is estimated to costs UGX 25,000,000/=


Creating a Ugandan identity

As a follow up to my previous article I felt it was imperative that I share some of my thoughts and ideas of how we can continue to effect positive change in Uganda and the continent as a whole.
I sit on the board of an International school in Kampala where I chair the education committee. We are in the process of drawing up two major aspects of the education policy of the school. These are; the school`s philosophy and the student outcomes. A basic definition of the school philosophy would be its core values, ideals and the reasons why the school exists. The student outcomes could be defined as the standards we want our students to achieve at school and the positive effect we hope they have later on in their lives. This is a painstaking process that has already taken several long meetings and is likely to take many more. One of the reasons why the board is doing this is we want to leave a legacy for Uganda that will see its transformation into a country that the world will look up to.

My experience with academic institutions and private companies that have gone through this process and have actually gone onto implement the policies is that they have become hugely successful. In the United Kingdom there is no shortage of opportunities for those who went to Eton College or did their degrees at Oxford or Cambridge. Locally, I have been able to identify a lady or gentleman who was educated at Gayaza or Budo schools simply by the way the way they speak English and their mannerisms. I am sure this is because they have carried their school`s philosophies and student outcomes into their lives even after school. In the business sector if you walk into any Javas coffee shop in Kampala and you will appreciate that they are a cut above the rest of the competition. Again this is because the company`s ethos has been instilled into their workforce.

Several other institutions boldly display their vision, mission and values statements. In my discussions with several people who are at different levels within these organisations, I have discovered that most of them have very little idea what these statements are or mean. Unashamedly they have very little care to find out what they are, let alone implement them. Obviously there is a very bad disconnect between leaders and those who they lead. It is disheartening to think our people in formal employment who spend several hours at work or school only look forward to a wage or an academic certificate. My cry is for true leaders to arise. True leaders who will inspire those they lead to make their vision, mission and values become a part and parcel of their institutions culture. True leaders who want to build organisations that are not only enriching people`s lives but are helping to transform our nation.

My dream for Uganda is that all learning institutions, private and public companies and NGOs actually implement the vision and mission statements they write. In this dream the people who work for these organisations will know what these statements are and will proudly say they are part of organisations that are making a difference in Uganda. I dream the same pride will be translated into national pride. Ugandans will be proud of their hospitals, roads, schools, etc. Ugandans will be proud of their high achieving sports teams as they conquer the world. Ugandan art will be known and appreciated for its beauty and uniqueness. When Ugandans travel they will be recognized not because of their accents but because of their warmth and the richness of their culture.

The case for teaching leadership

I was fortunate to have gone to one of the best high schools on the African continent. In my last two years at the school I was chosen to be a school prefect. Being a school prefect at this school was no ordinary achievement. It came with several privileges, like having more food than other students, having designated juniors organize my school uniform, polish my shoes, make my bed, carry my bag to school and several other privileges too numerous to mention. I was looked upon as a leader in the school… and that is where the problem was.

Many of my fellow prefects saw this position not as an opportunity to serve the school but instead to enjoy the power and privileges bestowed upon us. We had little knowledge of what true leadership is. True leadership can be defined as: the natural feeling that one wants to serve people by enriching their lives, building better organizations and ultimately creating a more just and caring world. So this lack of knowledge of what true leadership is often led to abuse of power and privileges.

Many from my school have gone onto hold prominent positions all over the world. As I have interacted with them and many other leaders I see that, more than ever before in the world, in particular Africa, we are in dire need of true leaders. Many of those holding key positions believe their positions are for them to enjoy their huge salaries and perks. But the question is; how can anyone be a true leader if they have never been shown or taught how to lead? For too long there has been this erroneous belief that leadership is a skill you acquire only through your experiences as you grow older. I put it to you the reason why there is poor leadership in many private companies, the public sector, NGOs e.t.c. is because the so called leaders have never been taught how to lead. How many people were taught at school how to manage your time, how to be a positive influence, how to be a real team player and several other topics of this kind? The result is we have well educated, sometimes well intentioned leaders who have no real idea of how to lead.

I therefore would like to propose we seriously consider introducing leadership classes from an early age, perhaps as young as six. I am convinced that if we were to adopt this line of thinking we will go onto transforming our continent. It would see us raise a generation that knows what true leadership is.

It doesn’t matter what you are doing in your current circumstances, you can still be a leader. I always tell a story about Agnes who swept one of the warehouses in a company I worked for. Even after the floors had been swept, the warehouses always remained dusty. Except in Agnes`s warehouse. I took it upon myself to discover why and how. Over a period of one hour, Agnes showed me how she swept her warehouse. In that moment she was the leader. Needless to say the company adopted Agnes`s methods. We went on to save over $40,000 in fumigation and cleaning expenses that year because of Agnes`s efforts.

So if we adopt teaching leadership at an early age imagine what sort of MPs and captains of industry we will have . And so as I lay aside my pen I strongly urge you to join me in a movement that will push for leadership to be taught in all institutions of learning.

Using integrity to transform Uganda

It is common knowledge that many who are part of the electorate in Uganda and those who they vote for have a warped sense of what leadership is. You will often hear of `very good` candidates simply because they attend all the local weddings and contribute towards the purchase of beer. I distinctly remember in 2011 asking a workmate why he was going to vote for a particularly local council candidate. His response, although humorous, was telling. The candidate of his choice was rich and therefore was easy to borrow money from. He added that this candidate had a reputation of forgetting who he lent money to and so making him a “very good man”.

If we are going to transform Uganda the electorate needs to know and understand what leadership is. Organisations that carry out voter education should make the teaching of what real leadership is one of their primary priorities. I would suggest that their focus is on one word which is INTEGRITY.

My dictionary defines integrity as,` the quality of always behaving according to the moral principles that you believe in, so that people respect and trust you`. The good thing with this word integrity is that embedded in it is words like fairness, honesty, strong moral and ethical principles, excellence, togetherness, sincerity etc. The list is endless. Integrity could be translated into the different languages of Uganda. It would then become the buzz word in Uganda against which all leaders are either elected or appointed.

Imagine the transformation we would have in 10-20 years if, from the level of primary school prefect right up to the level national leaders everyone understood what integrity is. Each time a leader is about to be chosen at any level we would all have a check list of the words that encompass integrity. Integrity would become the focus of any election. Whether candidates are giving away trinkets at their rallies or discussing the nation`s economic policy integrity would be the buzz word.

I am convinced that the focus on this one world will enhance transformation process. The NGOs, private and public sectors would be encouraged to adopt it.

Integrity would be used to challenge corruption, poverty , the education system, the road network, the health delivery system etc We would ask aspiring leaders questions like:

  • How have you shown integrity in the past year?
  • Which leader of integrity do you look up to?
  • How are you going to promote integrity?
  • Why is integrity important to you?

Along with the lists that show us the best schools in the country we would have one showing the top 100 institutions that have displayed integrity. Imagine the interest and discussion this list would bring. Companies not making the list in one year would go full out to make sure they in the following year.

Fellow Ugandans( I feel like one after living here for almost 10 years) let us not accept anything less.Integrity will undoubtedly make us feel and believe that we are the pearl of Africa. We can certainly become the pride of Africa. For God and my country.