Saturday, January 23, 2016

Let's Nurture Uganda's Talent

How do we define success? Is it the job and title? Is it our standing in society or, the amount of money that’s deposited into our bank account at the end of the month?

I am sure you have all had Mum and Dad nag you with this line: “If you study hard and go to Makerere, you will get a job and be successful.”

When it came to jobs, it was not just any job. It had to be from that select pool of jobs, which would give Parent a reason to brag to their friends. You had to be a banker, dentist, lawyer, doctor – if not, an engineer or architect for example. It also had to be a Makerere degree and not one from Nkumba, Kyambogo, Ndejje which, Parent looks down on.

I think we are all born with a talent and if that talent is nurtured from an early age, there is a chance that, that talent can bloom into a successful career.

Mr. Ras, like Danny Barongo, who used to draw my TB cartoons in Sunday Vision are two of the most talented men in the media industry. They both have wit, humour and the ability to conjure up a cartoon or illustration that depicts a news story or article.

Yet, I know of Parent who looks at them as time wasters. They say to me: “TB that Ras man, how do his parents feel having spent money on his education and all he does is draw pictures like Granddaughter does at day care?” Hmm! Though I tell them that Mr. Ras and other cartoonists earn big dime, they still frown on the idea of ‘grown men playing with crayons for a living’.

Joseph Opio, was a quiet sports journalist at New Vision. He knew his sports especially his football that I am sure the greater Opio clan blew the family trumpet about their son working at New Vision.

But there was more to Opio than writing about football. He had a knack for Ebisesa (comedy). When he was doing his comedy act at National Theatre and other places, I didn’t think anything would amount to it. And when he went AWOL from the sports desk, apart from his colleagues, I don’t think HR noticed he’d gone.

So what happened to him? He hit the big time – not as a sports writer, but as a writer for The Daily Show. He now lives in New York and what the sports desk was paying him in a year, he probably now earns in a month.

Trevor Noah, who took over from Jon Stewart is funny – but not in his own right. It’s our talented Joseph Opio, David Kibuuka, who behind the scenes, along with others who do the writing for the show. Where Noah comes in, is in the art of delivery.

Let’s call her Esther Mirembe or That Writer Chic. I don’t think writing is her first choice as a career direction. I have though seen her writing and got to say she has talent about her. With enough encouragement, she could go on to build a successful career as a writer, author or journalist.

I don’t subscribe to old school Parent thinking. I reckon if Kid is not good at academics so be it, but don’t put them down. Kid may show talent in other things – football, athletics, drama and even comedy, so nurture the talent in them for who knows - when they grow up, Kid could be the next Thierry Henry in football or Serena Williams in tennis or Lewis Hamilton in Formula One. Success is not all about Makerere or having CEO as a job title. But then again, that’s my opinion.