Event Reports

Young & Emerging Leaders Project Fellowship – Seminar II

“There’s work; intentional, deliberate and consistent effort that goes into facing adversity and addressing challenges. There’s growth and maturity and the development of character that goes into shaping mind, body and soul. There’s the celebration of victories, small and big and the constant setting of the next goal, even if that goal is to simply maintain a status quo you finally achieved.” The words of Solomon King accompanied the 35 Fellows of the Youth & Emerging Leaders Project (YELP) 2018 during their second seminar with a focus on personal leadership

The fellows from Uganda followed the journey of their peers from Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania which had already arrived a day earlier on the beautiful Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake. In the evening they reached the port of Kalanga, the destination for the second YELP seminar. After moving into their rooms, the seminar began with an African Story Night, hosted by Gabriel Karsan, a previous fellow. Around a camp fire, the group listened to poetry by Boaz Opio, a writer and current fellow, developed a chain story and watched the stars while telling each other stories from the past months.

On Saturday, Awel Uwihanganye, founder of the Leo Africa Institute, officially opened the seminar and moderated the fellows‘ personal check. In his opening speech he highlighted how personal and career advancement are intertwined and build on each other. Then, fellows briefly presented how the last seminar had inspired them to step out of their comfort zone and presented what they expected from the seminar. Together with Awel and William Babigumira, the group continued by discussing two readings and relating them to their personal experiences. The quote from the opening paragraph was from the first reading, ‘On Pain, Failure, Stutters and Perspective’ by Solomon King. Participants discussed that there is no shortcut to success, it is inevitable to overcome individual fears and challenges through perseverance. Over time, personal perseverance and confidence in the own strength is built, necessary to overcome future, arising difficulties.

The second reading was an article from The New Yorker, Small Change by Malcom Gladwell which debated the proposition that social media will not spark a successful revolution. Many fellows though disagreed with this thesis and provided examples about how they have personally used twitter, whatsapp or facebook to achieve political activism. Especially the usage of weak ties formed through social media, can create a lasting impact.

The interactive session was followed by a authentic input from Barbara Kasekende, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Stanbic Bank Uganda, Uganda’s largest bank. Based on her personal experience she pointed out important factors to matching personal interest and goals with career ones. Furthermore, she stressed how important a ‘right’ personal attitude is when we approach and treat people. This attitude then leads to respect and recognition.

After enjoying the lunch break, participants gathered again for the afternoon session. Similar to the morning session, three poems related to the topic of managing success and confronting challenges in leadership were read and discussed together. Donnas Ojok, KAS program manager, began with ‘To be of use’ by Marge Piercy. Participants shared what stood out for them in the poem and concluded that people should bring to perfection whatever they do. Patricia Twasiima from Chapter Four Uganda continued with ‘The invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer which revolves around dealing with expectations and achieving personal aspirations and interests. A participant shared her dream of travelling the world and brining the street kids of her town out of poverty. The last poem, ‘The through’ by Judy Brown dealt with challenges faced when attempting to be a leader.

The seminar day was closed by a group walk through the island’s forest which put into practice what participants had discussed previously. Pursuing their own way even if barriers such as fallen trees or high, impenetrable bushes are obstructing the passage – following Barbara’s credo “The challenges we face in live always take us to the next step”, in this case a beautiful sunset on the lake.

On Sunday over a breakfast conversation Jaffar Tonda, CEO of Synergy Partners, a land development company, shared his personal story on how to achieve success. Integrity and trust in the people you work with are the cornerstones of his achievement. He advised the fellows to start small when attempting to realize their ideas, continuously challenge them through their peers and then continuously building little success stories. The seminar was closed with a check out session and the group embarked on their journey back to Kampala.

Overall, the second YELP seminar weld the fellows even closer together, gave them new inspirations for their career journey and fostered their personal advancement.