The Homerun: If you’re willing, then it’s possible.

The homerun obstacle race was scheduled for late last month and I was so looking forward to it. Unfortunately, a few days prior to the race I got sick and started second guessing my participation. This run was meant to demonstrate the challenges that refugees face while fleeing their home countries, usually in small families. Some of the challenges included delays in documentation, language barrier, tiresome routes, hostile and unfamiliar cultures. Manoeuvring through barbed wire fences, climbing over walls, crawling through muddy fields were also simulated.

The day before the race, just after deciding not to participate, I got a pep-talk from a close friend who successfully convinced me to change my mind. However, there was one problem, I didn’t have a family to run with. “Hey James, am looking for a team, can I join yours?” a colleague asked me. “Hey, I don’t have one, but we could create our own.” I responded. “Cool, let’s do that.” he added. A minute or two later, four ladies walk up to us and say; “Hey guys, is it alright if you adopt us into your family?” “Yes, of course!” we were quick to respond. We then formed an adopted family named it Samuka and hit the road.

During the race, there were times when I felt like sprinting but some family members were exhausted. So, we all had to reduce our pace and run as a family. At some point, it became more of a home walk given that we resorted to walk a good portion of the distance. Then came the obstacles! Hardly could we hold our breaths, when we encountered the next obstacle. Our mental strength was challenged, our bodies were pushed to the limit, we got agitated, but we’re willing to go all the way. When we couldn’t sprint, we jogged, when we couldn’t jog, we walked, when we couldn’t walk, well, we rested a bit, the ladies took a couple of selfies then we marched on.

Just when we thought the obstacles were done, there was the mud-crawl looking right in our faces. The whole family was quite skeptical about doing the mud-crawl given that some of us didn’t have a change of clothes, and the thought of walking through town all muddy was simply unbearable. Luckily, one of us had a change of heart and decided to take one for the family. Inspite of the occasional hiccups along the way, we managed to reach the finish line because we were willing.

Obstacles and hurdles that are often times impossible to anticipate disorganize our plans and divert us from our goals. Nevertheless, we should be flexible enough to adjust our plans whenever necessary, be willing to extend a helping hand and take one for the team. Above all, we need to develop a character of resilience, an attitude of never giving up.

It’s not how many obstacles we may hit and fall that matter, but how many times we are willing to get back up when we do.

If you’re willing, then it’s possible!

Until next time…

Development starts from within us.

I usually take walks along the streets of Kampala everyday after work. Last Friday proved to be one of a kind, mostly because I was accompanied by an enchanting and brilliant young lady. Momentarily, a conversation ensued between us in which I got fully immersed. Just across the street, there sat an able bodied man who was clad in rugged clothes with arms stretched out begging the passers-by. “Mpaako kikumi!!” (Give me one hundred shillings!!)” He repeatedly begged. “Ariz, do you think that guy over there has aspirations for the future?” I asked Ariz signalling towards his direction. “Uhmm, I highly doubt that, at least based on what I see.” Ariz responded. “Honestly speaking, I think having aspirations for his future, let alone pursuing them is the last thing on his mind. All he cares about right now is his next meal and possibly where he’s going to spend the night.” She added.

When I saw this guy begging, it got me thinking of the many young men and women in Uganda and across Africa who relate with him in one way or another. Some even have the privilege of University education but are still indifferent from the street man. They are sitted on their potential gifts and talents at home doing nothing productive. Apparently, most youths believe that personal development is a waste of time and energy. This is largely because of the mindset they have adopted from their societies. They don’t value their self worth and also don’t have mentors to emulate in that regard. Therefore, the whole idea of building human capital is an aspect so alien to pursue.

Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop skills and talents, facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations. These activities are more often than not disguised in service, that is, opting to be selfless inspite of the qualifications and certificates that we hold. I believe that we ought to look beyond ourselves, because the abilities that we possess aren’t for us to just keep in our minute and pocket-sized worlds, but rather to give of ourselves and create a positive difference in our localities and in the lives of those we are privileged enough to encounter.

When we begin to serve with a passion regardless of the field we are in, the need for personal development becomes inevitable. That way, we become vessels of change and a means to development rather than an end in itself. Better yet, pursuing something bigger than self opens doors for a great yearning coupled by an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and wisdom. Eventually, development becomes an adventure worth taking on.

An orator once said; “To every individual, there comes that one opportune moment when you are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and given a task specifically tailored to your gifts and talents. What a shame when that moment finds you unprepared or unqualified!”

In which category do you belong?

Until next time…

Dare to live today!

Putting things off is the biggest waste of life. It snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live in the present!~Seneca.

Until next time folks…

Relevant research is important for prosperity of the agricultural sector.

We need to strengthen research for efficiently produced healthy food, while ensuring the availability of food at affordable prices. Finding out things like how much and how long it costs to produce a given crop, the available market say in a given region go a long way in ensuring that there’s efficiency in production.

With this information, the farmers are also able to concentrate on cultivating crops in which they have a comparative advantage as compared to those in the neighbouring countries.

“It’s no coincidence that in countries where agriculture has taken off there have been large investments in research and infrastructure.” Kanayo Nwawce, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. (IFAD)

Hindrances to the prosperity of the agricultural sector in Uganda.

Agriculture has been the back bone of Uganda’s economy for ages. Recent statistics show that over 80% of Uganda’s population is employed at some stage in the agricultural sector. However, the benefits and direct contribution to the economy are yet to be fully derived and enjoyed by the populous involved in this trade.

While doing research on agriculture in Uganda, I found that the following are some of the major hindrances to the prosperity of this sector. Low commercial agricultural levels, lack of linkage between research and farmers, lack of agricultural machinery, pests and diseases, low level of value addition, land fragmentation, high cost of finance, and the poorly structured transport network.

In my next articles, I will explore in detail some of the elements that have continuously held Uganda back in terms of agricultural growth and development.

Until next time…

Poor spending habits: A major cause of the vicious cycle of borrowing.

Yesterday, I came across a very interesting article in the Daily Monitor Newspaper regarding peoples’ spending habits. I found it related to my previous article titled “Living within our means for a better tomorrow” and was therefore prompted to share it with you this day.

The phrase, “Failing to make ends meet ” is common in Uganda and it means that a person has got into a pattern where their income does not cover the money they spend month after month. In our book, “Make Sense of Your Money” we describe this situation as having more months at the end of the money- meaning the salary gets finished several days before the next pay cheque. 

Recently, a group of people attending a personal money management course that I was facilitating shared with me their major spending mistakes;

Living above means was a major spending mistake mentioned, for instance having expenses to an amount that is twice your income. Another was relying on anticipated income i.e one of the participants said his biggest spending mistake arose out of spending money in anticipation of future income. However, the most common mistake was  the “What will people say syndrome” where several participants said their spending mistake was that they spent money out of fear of the opinion of other people and they cited several examples to illustrate this issue. By James Abola.

Astala vista…

Integrity: A virtue essential for personal and national economic development.

Yesterday, I was part of a market place convention held in Kampala, Uganda. This convention is held once every year and brings together Christians from different walks of life in the job market. For instance, some of the companies that were represented included Renault car company,Insurance Company of East Africa (ICEA), to mention but a few.

The theme for the night was Facing the Giants with the guest speaker being Mrs. Angela Kirabwire from Capital Markets Authority, Uganda. This convention is aimed at empowering christians with knowledge and skills required to prosper and leave a mark in whichever field they encounter. It also offers an opportunity for people to interact, network, and make connections in the job market.

Individuals who have been in the field of work for a long time (20 years or so) are given a platform to share their stories and experience in the job market. They also talk about the challenges encountered, how they handled them, as well as the crucial lessons learnt in the due process. This is meant to provide mentorship to the young graduates and those just starting out in their careers.

Mrs. Angela Kirabwire took the stage and put the theme of the night “Facing the Giants” into context using her story of about 20 years in the job market. She ably illustrated various scenarios in which she had been put in very compromising situations involving graft, bribery and corruption in its ultimate description. Angella then added that she stood firm by her values of Integrity inspite of the insurmountable consequences.

She later on emphasised the importance of giving our best and working diligently however small the tasks at hand seem to be. This lays a firm foundation on which we can slowly and progressively build our careers.

True economic development starts with people in the economy, and Integrity is a core value eessential for personal development.

If only every individual were to steward their resources faithfully, our economy would grow and develop exponentially!

Living within our means for a better tomorrow.

Today, I was priviledged to attend a conference with the theme Power, Sex, and Money, the emphasis being on Money. Majority, if not all of the people in attendance were quite youthful, with some of them being students at university and others recently starting out in the job market.

The discussion at hand was very interesting and it involved the use of money in economic growth and development on a micro level. Very importantly though, it also encompassed how to make clean money that will last for years to come, in the process leading to progressive and sustainable macro economic development.

One of the guest speakers was Mr. Amos Wekesa, founder, Great Lakes Safaris ltd who also happens to be my mentor. He emphasised the importance of saving and living not only within, but also below our means.

He argued that this would potentially reduce the amount of debt that many people usually accumulate from unecessary liabilities like luxurious cars. These spending habits in many cases also result in the vicious cycle of borrowing. However; “When you save money, one day that money will save you.” Amos Wekesa added.

We should always endeavor to live within our means, and use the money that we have to make a positive and significant difference in our economy.

Until next time…