Ireland-Africa Fellows Programme fulfills my dream for European education

On Monday, September 02, 2019 I arrived in Dublin, Ireland as a beneficiary of the Irish Aid Fellowships 2019/2020 (now called Ireland-Africa Fellows Programme) to pursue postgraduate studies in Ireland. I was part of the only 11 Ugandans selected for these fully sponsored study fellowships. In Rwanda, only 4 were selected.

Since childhood, I have always admired to study in Europe, especially the UK. I remember writing to some distance learning institutions in the UK back in 2002 (17 years ago), after reading about it in a newspaper. I was in S.3 and 16 years old. That’s the same year I started buying newspapers for myself. Of course, I didn’t have the money to fully pay and enrol. I again did the same 8 years later while at Gulu University in 2010. This time, I was even sent (by Post Office) course information, notes and some assignments. However, due to financial challenges, I could not fully enrol.

The turning point was in 2014. A friend of mine, Kisarach Phillips, who at the time was teaching in Kigumba Intensive S.S managed to obtain a scholarship to study at the University of Liverpool. We had been marking mock exams together at Lira Town College, and immediately after that exercise, the guy left for the UK. I admired him a lot. After a while, another classmate from Gulu University, Peter Okwoko also went to Denmark for master’s education. Later, I was a survey respondent for his research. I admired him a lot.

As a teacher, I always wanted to attain a postgraduate education at all costs. My serious search for this opportunity was ignited in 2014 by Kisarach. However, at the time, I did not have my undergraduate papers at hand (you know how long it takes to get papers after graduation).

Finally, in March 2017, I was able to get my papers and without wasting time, I immediately applied for Msc Information Systems at Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST). I was admitted, but due to the distance, I later changed my mind and applied and enrolled to UTAMU for Master of Information Technology (MIT). This programme was flexible (you attend lectures 6 weekends only). I am hopeful I will go back and finish (still have a few things to complete, including research).

The UTAMU experience was every good. I enjoyed the lecturers and their system of learning, they inspired me further. All of them had attained masters and PhDs from Europe. Dr. Drake Mirembe. Prof. Jude Lubega. Dr. Rehema Baguma. They are really good. I remember one lecturer told us that “when you do masters, you master your destiny.” I believe that very much.

While still at UTAMU, I again saw a World Bank Funded scholarship advert for master’s study at Uganda Martyrs University (UMU). Together with colleagues at Lira Town College (Peter & Dick), we applied. We were later invited to do GAT (which was expensive). We all passed the Graduate Admission Test (GAT) and we were all admitted. This was Msc. in Monitoring & Evaluation. In mid-August 2018, we started classes at UMU Kampala campus. Around that time, I was actually pursuing two masters’ programmes at the same time. I had to balance the Bugolobi & Rubaga timetables accurately, which was tiring & expensive. However, I was not given the scholarship (but Dick got it). So, in October I dropped out from UMU (due to financial challenges) but I had already learnt so much about M & E (I am still on their WhatsApp group).

While juggling all this busy study stuff (my wife had also just given birth to a baby boy in July), I applied for the Irish Aid Fellowships (Sept/October 2018) and the Mandela Washington Fellowship (Sept 2018). However, I had to leave my lecturing job at All Saints University Lango (ASUL) in order to concentrate on studies & the baby. It was a very busy year.

In January 2019, the Embassy shortlisted 20 Ugandans and 4 Rwandese to continue further to do the English test – IELTS which was paid for by the embassy (about UGX 912,000). On February 02, 2019, we did the test and thankfully, I passed on the first attempt. However, many others failed and were allowed to redo it (at their expense of course). After that, a list was then sent to Dublin for final selection. When the list came in March, I was successful. But other names were dropped again, despite passing IELTS.

The 11 successful Ugandans and the Rwandese were then invited to apply for their chosen 2 programmes of study in the application (the application fee was also paid for us). I think I managed to get this because I had come to Ireland last year because of the Teachers Making a Difference award, which was also sponsored by the Embassy of Ireland. But my application was always strong. In early June 2019, was admitted to University College Cork (UCC) to pursue MSc. Interactive Media. I choose this because I wanted to be within the tech domain but study something I had not done already at Gulu University or UTAMU or UMU. The second choice was MEd, however, it delayed so I had to accept the MSc. offer.

On June 19th, I travelled to the U.S for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, civic leadership institute at the University of Delaware. I was very scared, thinking the travel may coincide with travel to Ireland. The U.S experience was very good because I learnt a few things on how to live in the developed world. I was there for 6 weeks – actually 44 days.

I finally received the final offer of award while still in the U.S (it nearly collided). I sent my acceptance from there and requested the Embassy to consider adjusting the date for me to medical test & submission of other documents (date was August 02, my departure from the U.S). Thankfully, this was accepted and I was able to do my medical the week after, and also apply for the visa.

# Name Sex Programme
1 Isabella Janet Nakimuli F LLM in International Human Rights Law and Public Policy, UCC
2 Innocent Aleto F LLM in International Criminal Law, NUIG
3 David Mugarra M MA in Peace and Development Studies, UL
4 Asha Nakiwate F MSc in Human Rights, UCD
5 Angela Nyesiga F LLM in International Commercial Law,
6 Frank Ssemakula M MSc in Electronic and Communications Engineering, TUD
7 Rachel Juliet Mujawimana F MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences
8 Lindah Niwenyesiga F MA in Public Relations with New Media, CIT
9 Susan Labwot F LLM in International Human Rights Law and Public Policy, UCC
10 Benna Lolem F Master in Education – Foundation Studies, TCD
11 Emmanuel Angoda M MSc in Computer Science (Interactive Media), UCC

For now, my dream has been fulfilled. I know after here, I will continue for PhD here or cross over to the U.S. I also believe life will be much better after here. One day I will be Dr. Emmanuel Angoda (BIT, MIT, Msc.IM, PhD). After being a secondary school teacher for 7 years, my ambition now is to be a lecturer at nearby Lira University or Soroti University (I have never admired working in Kampala). That small position will enable me to continue working with young people, continue with STEM activities and become a famous scholar. It is possible to pursue your dream, no matter how long or hard it takes. If you remain persistent & focussed, you can achieve it. I rest my case.

IGNITE TALK: Using Development Education & STEM to empower young people in Uganda to succeed in school and life.

Today, I celebrate my parents. My dad is late now, but my mum is still alive & healthy. Today, I celebrate Nelson Mandela, who said education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. I also celebrate my son, Mandela, whose only words so far is “mum” & “papa”. He made 1 year on Tuesday. Parents, doctors & teachers are known to tell us things plainly, mostly times bitter facts. But you learn from them.

When I was 16, I remember my dad telling me that, I will never inherit anything from him. That the only thing I would get from him is education. Not even a bicycle. He is gone but those words still ring in my head every day.

He made me love education, and after many years and struggles I was able to finish high school. While in school, I loved books. But did not have access to computers. This lack of access to computers later became an inspiration to pursue it further.

After many struggles & hard work, I was able to finish university thanks to a scholarship, sponsored by Tulane University (New Orleans) – based here in the US.

After university in June 2012, I started my teaching career in July 2012. My admiration & passion for teaching had become a reality. My subject is computer studies, which I was denied at high school.

When I became a teacher, I had to decide many things. To be a progressive, liberal teacher or a conservative teacher. To use technology in class or maintain the old traditional class room model with black board & white chalk. I had to decide whether to a disciplinarian or easy go teacher.

Most importantly, I had to decide whether only class work & exams will enable students succeed after school.

After conversing with my heart and my mind, I decided I would be a teacher, a teacher who goes the extra mile. A teacher who would embrace initiatives that build & empower students. That is how got them into robotics, innovation competitions, mobile app programming, public speaking, writing competitions. I also got them into e-learning & technology camps. The impact has been amazing. It has been 7 years of amazing work. Increased participation in STEM, increased enrolment in science programmes, positive behaviour, practical skills & bigger dreams.

In Uganda today, just like other African countries, jobs are a big problem. Partly, because of what happens in schools – theoretical approach to learning. There is a mismatch between what is taught at school & what happens in real life.

All of us gathered here, all wish our children a better future. But remember, a better future begins with good education. My focus is on SDG goal number 4 – quality education. And as RODEL put it, “a great education changes everything”.

That has been my approach, my way of doing “development education” to empower young people in Uganda to succeed in school & life. But there is more work to be done. The future of work is going to look very different, with new technologies like AI, Machine Learning, and blockchain etc.

I welcome you all to join global efforts in creating education that breaks down barriers to success & embraces innovation and diversity.

Apwoyo matek. Asante sana. Thank you very much.

For God and My Country.

Uganda: 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship participants

This year, I was privileged to be among the only 24 Ugandans selected to take part in the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. After arriving here in the U.S, we realised that some countries were given more slots than others. South Africa, for example had about 43, while Djibouti had only 7. From Uganda, I also realised that only 2 people were selected from northern Uganda.  The rest were from central and western regions – resonating with views of some people that most opportunities today in Uganda today are “ring-fenced” leaving northern and eastern parts of the country with little. At least, in my experience, this fellowship was open. Only that, some of our people in the north also give up so early, which helps propagate this false notion. Yes, Kampala is far, but if there are opportunities there then you have to reach there. You have to be inside the “fence”. The best thing is that the whole fellowship thing is online. Purely online.

This week I managed to get some time and compiled a list of all the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellows from Uganda. When we were in Uganda, we never got the time & opportunity to socialise and get to know each other. I am sure this list will help the fellows themselves know one another, and also help those who want to apply for the fellowship next year. I must say the profiles of these young leaders is very impressive.


Public Management Civic Engagement Business Total
07 06 11 24

Download here: Uganda-2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship

Duncan Abigaba

Africa, Uganda, Public Management, 2019

Duncan Abigaba has over four years of experience in public administration at the managerial level. He is a manager at Government Citizen Interaction Centre. The center serves as the primary contact point for citizens in government. He was the acting head of the center between April 2017 and September 2018, where he relentlessly drove open government initiatives and pushed for increased citizen participation in government planning. He previously served in the Office of the President, as deputy presidential assistant in charge of research and information. He closely monitored the performance of government agencies and regularly prepared briefs for the president on the same. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Makerere University and a post graduate diploma in Project Planning and Management from Uganda Management Institute. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Management from the Uganda Management Institute. He also holds several post-graduate certificates in management from both Makerere University and Uganda Management Institute. He is very passionate about public administration, management, corporate affairs, communication, open government, and public accountability. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Duncan plans on lobbying the government of Uganda to adopt an open government policy among other public accountability initiatives.


Emmanuel Angoda

Africa, Uganda, Civic Engagement, 2019

Emmanuel Angoda is a teacher at Lira Town College, in northern Uganda. He is a technology innovator, STEM activist, and mentor with seven years of experience in the education and ICT sectors. He involves his students in ICT activities such as Robotics, the Technovation Challenge, Africa Code Week, and essay writing competitions, from which he has won several national awards. From 2013 to 2017 Emmanuel served as the Regional Ambassador for Technovation Challenge, a global technology entrepreneurship program for girls and young women. Emmanuel is the founder of Walktrack Edu Platform, an educational website that provides free online open educational resources for teachers and students. He also runs the Career Assistance Program (CAP), an initiative that helps young people obtain vital career information and support after high school. In 2017, Emmanuel was the recipient of the Teachers Making a Difference award and was rewarded with an educational trip to Dublin, Ireland. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to continue his work in development education with a focus on girls’ education and eLearning resources.


Catherine Asiimwe

Africa, Uganda, Public Management, 2019

Catherine Asiimwe has over seven years of experience in the public sector, specifically in finance, tax, and audit. Currently, Catherine is a manager of financial audits at the Uganda National Roads Authority where she focuses on providing value-adding assurance on the efficiency and effectiveness of an entity’s risk management, internal controls, and governance processes. She assesses compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and best practices, including accountability and value for money in doing business. Catherine volunteers as a member of the internal audit panel and conducts mentorships for trainee accountants and other young people. Catherine is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and received the “2017 Young Accountant of the Year Award” for her contribution to the accountancy profession in Uganda. She has completed her Master of Business Administration in Finance and is soon attaining a Certification in Project Management (PMP). She is inspired by good governance and accountability in public entities. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Catherine plans to continue her work at the Uganda National Roads Authority and expand her mentorship programs for young people.


Jimmy Awany

Africa, Uganda, Civic Engagement, 2019

Jimmy Awany has seven years of experience managing governance, peacebuilding, and developmental programs in South Sudan, Uganda, and Kenya. Currently, he is the program coordinator for Justice Africa, an organization based in South Sudan, where he manages a peacebuilding program aimed at stabilizing and transforming South Sudan. Jimmy holds a Master of Science in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Jimmy plans to continue to promote the participation of civil society in peace and governance processes across the continent.


Gerard Iga

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Gerard Iga for the last six years has promoted tourism in the West Nile region of Uganda. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Education but has shifted industries to work as a freelance tour guide before joining Oasis 24 Seven Ltd in 2014 as a tour manager. In this job, Gerard plans, markets, and executes both group and custom tours for the company’s clients. He has also managed events for the company and been a valuable local contact for researchers and volunteers from other countries. Gerard believes tourism is a critical driver for rural economic development and can facilitate the conservation of natural resources. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Gerard plans to grow his newly founded company, Lado Tours and Travel LTD, to help bolster communities beyond Uganda in South Sudan, the DRC, and across the continent.


Razaki Omia Iganachi

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Razaki Omia Iganachi has over two years of experience in agribusiness development, connecting small farmers to reliable and profitable opportunities to help improve their livelihoods. Omia currently works as the managing director for the Omia Agribusiness Development Group LTD where he plans, implements and evaluates all business operations for the firm. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences from Makerere University and a diploma in Agriculture from Agrostudies in Israel. Omia’s mission is to. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Omia will continue to promote the use of advanced technology so that farmers can access quality, genuine, and affordable agricultural inputs, services, and links to profitable markets.


Ambrose Kamya

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Ambrose Kamya has over four years of experience in agriculture innovation and social entrepreneurship programs that combat violence against women and girls. Currently, Ambrose is the team leader at SafeBangle, where he focuses on developing technologies that will help protect women and girls from violence. He is also the CEO of Wolfarm Technologies, a startup that focuses on developing technologies to connect small scale organic farmers to the marketplace. Ambrose holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences with a specialization in Animal Science from Makerere University in Kampala. He is passionate about creating resilient communities using innovative, evidence-based methods. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Ambrose plans to utilize the skills, knowledge, and network gained to end violence against women and girls and to empower women engaged in sustainable agriculture to promote inclusive development in Uganda.


Brenda Allen Kawala

Africa, Uganda, Public Management, 2019

Brenda Kawala is a medical doctor at Kakira Sugar Limited hospital in Jinja, Uganda where she serves a community of over 30,000 people. Brenda completed her medical training at Mbarara University, and currently works as the Deputy Secretary General of the Uganda Medical Association (U.M.A.). U.M.A brings together over 7,000 medical doctors from Uganda and the Diaspora communities to advocate for a better Ugandan healthcare system. Brenda is also the secretary of public affairs for the Association of Uganda Women Medical Doctors, which advances maternal, child, adolescent, and elderly healthcare initiatives. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Brenda hopes to continue to advance her career and hold positions of leadership within the Ugandan healthcare system.


Isma Kayiza

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Isma Kayiza is a conservationist and co-inventor of Sparky Dryer, a machine that uses biofuel to dry food. He won the Resolution Social Venture Challenge in 2017 in South Africa and is currently the CPO of Sparky Social Enterprise Limited, a company he co-founded that addresses hunger and malnutrition through the preservation of food. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Management at Makerere University and specialized in community-based conservation. During his time at Makerere, he served as president of the university’s wildlife student association and has since remained committed to utilizing natural resources sustainably, to ensure the preservation of the remaining wild flora and fauna in his country. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Isma hopes to leverage the skills and connections gained through the program to continue to create simple, accessible, and effective methods for growing and preserving food, and help tackle hunger among poor communities in Uganda.


Phyllis Nek Kyomuhendo

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Phyllis Kyomuhendo is a passionate social entrepreneur and innovator with two years of experience in the social-innovations sector. Phyllis is a master´s degree in Public Health candidate, a medical radiographer by profession, and the director and co-founder at the startup, M-SCAN Uganda. Through M-SCAN Uganda, she and her team develop low-cost mobile ultrasound devices to combat maternal and neonatal mortality in low resource settings. Phyllis hopes to return to Uganda after the Mandela Washington Fellowship to empower her peers in the entrepreneurship space to take their businesses to the next level through strong leadership; she also hopes to pass on the entrepreneurship and leadership skills she learns to the young girls she mentors under the STEM Queens program.


James Kiganda Lutaaya

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Lutaaya James Kiganda has over ten years of experience in clinical microbiology, immunology, and genetics. James is the founder of Medicalshed, a Digital Health company that incorporates the latest technology and best human practices to improve service delivery, and accessible healthcare for all. He is also the co-founder and CEO of MAYA Group Limited, a Ugandan firm that leverages technology to promote the participation of women and young people in the business, education, health care, and advocacy sectors. In his spare time, James serves as a volunteer, youth/peer counselor, and trainer with the Uganda Youth Development Link, an organization that promotes sexual reproductive health and rights. James holds a bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science from Clarke International University and is a fellow at the University of Leeds, where he studied global challenges in bacterial resistance and food security. He believes that women and young people deserve equal opportunities to harness their full potential to thrive, compete, and create relevant and innovative solutions to the most pressing problems facing Africa. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, James plans to continue working on digital healthcare solutions, empower youth, women, and help build more inclusive businesses that help his country reach the sustainable development goals.


Rachel Precious Lwantale

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Rachel Lwantale has nine years of experience as an entrepreneur and has a firm insight in working within the complex markets in emerging economies and identifying future gaps and investment opportunities. Rachel specializes in agribusiness as the CEO and co-founder of Imali Limited, a social enterprise that financially empowers people through sustainable partnerships and market access. She has a bachelor’s degree in guidance counseling from Kyambogo University and is certified in agribusiness from the Open Impact Institute. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Rachel plans to continue her work by using agriculture to empower women in rural communities while training women and youth on personal empowerment.


Joshua Musasizi

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Joshua Musasizi is a social entrepreneur with over six years’ experience in agribusiness, technology innovation, community rehabilitation and info-graphics development. He is a professional researcher and holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Makerere University. He has also extensively trained with world leaders in the areas of leadership, documentation, social entrepreneurship and team building. Joshua is the co-founder of TIFAT Uganda Ltd, a social enterprise that harnesses the use of technology to uplift and improve livelihoods of small and medium scale farmers, especially in rural Uganda. He is also the country director of Matendo International, an organization that works with rural communities in Uganda to help people solve the challenges they face daily with a focus on child education, poverty alleviation and community health campaigns. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Joshua plans to continue his work in agribusiness and post-harvest loss reduction with a focus on connecting farmers to buyers with real time market information.

Elizabeth Nabakooza

Africa, Uganda, Public Management, 2019

Elizabeth Nabakooza is a passionate communications professional with over eight years working for different public and private sector organizations ranging from energy to financial services. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communications and currently works with National Water and Sewerage Corporation as a public relations and engagement lead. The corporation is a government agency whose mandate is to provide safe water and sewerage services while ensuring environmental sustainability. Elizabeth is passionate about mental health and is a champion in the mental health space. Elizabeth aspires to create sustainable change on the African continent and believes in empowering people on the continent to develop their own transformative change by creating African solutions to African problems. For this reason, she chose to join public service. Elizabeth is highly skilled in brand communications, network creation, and creation of strategic partnerships across the continent. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Elizabeth intends to use her experience and knowledge to spark dialogue and change around the effective implementation of public policy within her different areas of interest such as climate change, mental health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene.


Rhoda Nakungu

Africa, Uganda, Civic Engagement, 2019

Rhoda Nakungu has two years of experience in public interest litigation, human rights advocacy, and alternative dispute resolution. Currently, she is an externship lawyer in the Public Interest Law Clinic of the School of Law at Makerere University. In this role, Rhoda works in the post-conflict district of Bundibugyo, where she offers legal aid to vulnerable and indigent people and promotes legal literacy among indigenous tribes and immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rhoda also uses her position to advocate for women´s and girl´s rights, mainly focusing on those from minority and marginalized groups. Rhoda holds a law degree from Makerere University and a post graduate diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Center Uganda. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue offering legal aid to vulnerable and indigent people in post-conflict areas and to sensitize local communities about harmful cultural practices, mainly against women and children.

Victo Nalule

Africa, Uganda, Civic Engagement, 2019

Victo Nalule is a differently-abled woman who embraces a positive “can do” attitude, and a human resource professional with strong leadership and managerial experience. Victo is the executive director and founder of the Tunaweza Foundation, a non-governmental organization that works towards creating an inclusive world where disadvantaged people achieve their maximum potential and contribute to society. Additionally, she works as a health and safety environmental administrator in an electricity distribution company. Victo is a member of Lions Clubs International and is the third vice president for Kampala Host Lions Club, which assists with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Victo plans to continue her work advocating for inclusivity for all, with a focus on women and girls with disabilities.


Zahaarah Namanda

Africa, Uganda, Civic Engagement, 2019

Zaharah Namanda has over four years of experience in community development, focusing on women and girls’ education. She is a Country co-director for the Africa Education and Leadership Initiative (Africa ELI), a non-governmental organization that provides educational opportunities for young female refugees from South Sudan. At Africa ELI, Zaharah provides leadership and strategic direction while working closely with her fellow co-director to implement programs, coordinate logistics, and monitor and evaluate student performance. Zaharah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Makerere University in Kampala, and previously she assisted the National Planning Authority on the review of the universal primary education policy. Zaharah is driven by her commitment to empowering young women and girls through education and aspires to belong to a community where young girls and boys have equal access to education. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Zaharah will integrate learned skills to strengthen her education advocacy work and empower young women and girls in Uganda.


Pauline Namutebi

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Pauline Namutebi is a social entrepreneur focused on clean energy generation and environmental protection. She has over three years of experience in business development, marketing, and sales. Currently, Pauline is the CEO and founder of Fireball Energy (U) Ltd; a company focused on producing eco-friendly bioenergy solutions in the form of briquettes and biogas from organic agricultural waste. Pauline holds a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Geoscience and Production from Makerere University and is driven by her passion for environmental conservation. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Pauline plans to continue her work in clean energy generation by focusing on scaling and product quality improvement to serve both the local and global markets.


Brendah Nantongo

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Brendah Nantongo has over six years of experience in agribusiness and developing impact focused initiatives. She is currently the founder of Water Access Farms Ltd. (WAFL), a company that embarks on empowering rural women in Uganda with skills, training, and farming support. Brendah is also an ambassador for Thought for Food, a global platform that embarks on ensuring food security. At WAFL, Brendah concentrates on developing organization strategies and designing farm skills training curriculums. She also runs an agricultural value addition business. Brendah holds a Bachelor of Science Technology in Physics from Kyambogo University and a postgraduate diploma in Project Planning and Management from the Uganda Management Institute. Brendah believes that when you empower women in farming with better skills and resources, yields are improved, and therefore, there are increased incomes and improved livelihoods. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to pass on the knowledge acquired to train the rural women in Uganda in financial management and better farming methods by encouraging them to create cooperative saving groups.


Adam Nyende

Africa, Uganda, Public Management, 2019

Adam Nyende has five years of experience in community development in Uganda. Currently, Adam works with the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development as a culture officer. At the Ministry, he is working to support several community-based programs aimed at eradicating gender-based violence through the reversal of harmful cultural practices. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Adam plans to continue his work on personal and community development, human rights, and policymaking in Uganda.


Christopher Okidi

Africa, Uganda, Public Management, 2019

Christopher Okidi is an environmental health specialist with eight years of experience in the public health and community development sector. Christopher works at the Ministry of Water and Environment as an environmental health officer tasked with ensuring communities maintain water and sanitation health standards. Christopher also supports local farmers in his village, through market linkage programming for their produce. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Christopher will continue working for the Ministry of Water and Environment and focus on preventing water-borne diseases safeguarding clean drinking water for rural areas in Uganda.


Drake Ssempijja

Africa, Uganda, Civic Engagement, 2019

Drake Ssempijja has ten years of experience in the aquaculture industry, spanning across academia, research, consultancy, and civil service sectors. Drake works directly with organizations that focus on aquaculture development for food security and economic development with an emphasis on vulnerable youth groups. His passion is driven by the rampant youth unemployment in Uganda, which he believes can be solved by active involvement in the aquaculture sector. Currently, he is a lecturer of fisheries and aquaculture at Makerere University, College of Natural Sciences, Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Drake also mentors youth groups interested in aquaculture value chain. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Aquaculture from Makerere University, a Master of Science in Aquaculture from Ghent University, and postgraduate certificates in Aquaculture from Iceland and South Africa. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to use the skills and knowledge gained to enhance the efficiency of his community outreach programs, and to bridge the gap between academia and society for sustainable aquaculture development.


Rosette Twizerimana

Africa, Uganda, Business, 2019

Rosette Twizerimana holds a diploma in Accounting from Mukono YMCA College of Commercial Studies and has three years of experience in open footwear design and production. Rosette is a founder of Tandika Uganda, focusing on training women and girls on how to make open-toe shoes as an income generating activity. Since 2016, Rosette has trained over 223 women in manufacturing leather sandals, slip-on, and lace-up shoes that are hand-crafted from recycled tires and an assortment of locally sourced materials. As a trainer, Rosette is equipping young people with the knowledge to start their shoemaking cottage industries and start making money to reduce dependence and unemployment. Her goal is to make shoemaking skills easy to learn and accessible without the use of complicated heavy machinery. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Rosette plans to continue her plans of empowering women and girls to be financially independent.


Annie Margaret Ihoreere Wagana

Africa, Uganda, Public Management, 2019

Annie Margaret Ihoreere Wagana has 12 years of legal experience in humanitarian and human rights, corporate governance, criminal, and civil law. She has served as a judicial officer for the last seven years and is currently a Ph.D. Fellow at Antwerp University IOB, Belgium where she studies Refugee Law and Policy. She is also a co-founder of Uganda Pixels Ltd, a graphics design and advertising company. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she intends to continue growing Uganda Pixels, and open a legal aid clinic catering to low-income clients.



2019 UD Mandela Washington Fellowship -Civic Leadership Institute

Peace Ahadji

Country: Togo    |      Focus: Mental Health; Advocacy; NGOs

Peace Ahadji has four years of experience in various fields in the development sector, particularly in public health. Peace is currently working as a project manager at AIMES-AFRIQUE, a medical-surgical non-governmental organization. She also runs a faith-based mental health organization to help people suffering from mental illness in Togo. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Development Economics and a master’s degree in International Health from the University of Alexandria in Egypt. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue her work to help people suffering from mental illness in Togo and Africa at large.

Emmanuel Angoda

Country: Uganda     |        Focus: E-Learning Technology; Education; NGOs

Emmanuel Angoda is a teacher at Lira Town College, in northern Uganda. He is a technology innovator, STEM activist, and mentor with seven years of experience in the education and ICT sectors. He involves his students in ICT activities such as Robotics, the Technovation Challenge, Africa Code Week, and essay writing competitions, from which he has won several national awards. From 2013 to 2017, he served as the Regional Ambassador for Technovation Challenge, a global technology entrepreneurship program for girls and young women. Emmanuel is the founder of Walktrack Edu Platform, an educational website that provides free online open educational resources for teachers and students. He also runs the Career Assistance Program (CAP), an initiative that helps young people obtain vital career information and support after high school. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Teachers Making a Difference Award and was rewarded with an educational trip to Dublin, Ireland. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to continue his work in development education with a focus on girls’ education and eLearning resources.


Naomi Assegied

Country: Ethiopia     |      Focus: Health Systems Administration; Mental Health; Youth and Adolescent Health

Naomi Teshome has over three years of experience in the health sector and holds a medical degree from the University of Gondar and a master’s degree in Public Health from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She worked as a general practitioner in both public and private hospitals before she joined the Resource Mobilization Department within the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia. Currently, she is working as a consultant for a private consulting firm on several projects. Naomi is also the founder and board member of a charity association called Ethio-Amba, an organization that works to address the various social determinants of health. Naomi is committed to working on bridging the gap between clinical medicine and public health in her country. She also actively engages in her local church on youth mentoring and children’s ministry. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Naomi plans to continue her work in public health through private and public sector engagement, focusing on areas of adolescent and mental health issues.


Agnes Chie

Country: Liberia      |      Focus: Science & Technology; Teaching/Mentorship; Education

Agnes Gbenyenoh Chie has five years of experience working with students and holds a degree in Biology from the University of Liberia. She has organized girl’s science club in private and public schools, and mentors over twenty-five young girls currently enrolled in STEM courses at the University of Liberia. In addition to her time spent tutoring young women in STEM courses. She also serves as a trainer for high school biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics teachers. Through her work as a program officer for technology education at the Ministry of Education, she has contributed significantly to advances in the educational policy initiatives of the Liberian government. This past January Agnes and her team launched a new educational campaign, “Prioritizing Girls Education” over six counties. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she intends to continue to build the capacity of young women through science clubs, workshops, community forums, and vocational trainings.


Pearl Chunga

Country: Zambia    |      Focus: Mental Health; Advocacy; NGOs

Pearl Phelendaba Chunga has over five years of experience in community engagement. She focuses on mental health awareness and is the founder of the Walk with Me Foundation, a mental health awareness non-profit organization. She also runs her own business as an event planner. Pearl grew up surrounded by addiction, and she suffers from anxiety and depression. Access to appropriate health services continues to be a problem in Zambia; Pearl is passionate about breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Pearl will continue to expand her work in the mental health field and envisions a Zambia where those that suffer from mental health problems are able to speak freely about their struggles.


Sènou Samson Francis Degbegni

Country: Benin    |     Focus: Sexual/Reproductive Health; Communications; Technology

Sènou Samson Francis Degbegni has over seven years of experience in community development and currently works as a Peer Educator on reproductive health. Sènou holds a bachelor’s degree in Agronomic Sciences from the Catholic University of West-Africa, and a master’s degree in Local Development and Decentralization from the African University of Cooperative Development. To address the high teenage pregnancy rates within Benin, Sènou is currently working to implement a digital education platform around sexual and reproductive health. Digital Health Services strives to provide youth with reliable, permanent, and accessible online sexual health resources. Currently, Sènou also volunteers with the National Students Association for Sexual Health and specifically focuses on sexual health for youth. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Sènou wants to continue to educate youth in Benin around their sexual and reproductive health, while encouraging conversations between parents and children around sexual health through his digital platform.


Ayi Dossavi Alipoeh

Country: Togo     |      Focus: Literature; Youth; Social Media

Ayi Renaud Dossavi Alipoeh is a Togolese writer, poet, and novelist. Having published several books, he now focuses on promoting reading, writing, and literature in Togo, especially among the younger generation. Ayi has won several writing awards including the African Development Bank’s “Africa of My Dreams” 2018 essay competition, and the World Bank’s 2019 Blog4Dev competition. In addition to being a published author, Ayi is also a journalist, specializing in economics, and the secretary general of the PEN-Togo Writers Association.


Edwige Dro

Country: Côte d’Ivoire     |      Focus: Literature; Entrepreneurship; Advocacy

Edwige Dro is a writer, literary translator and literary activist from Cote d’Ivoire. She is currently writing the fictionalized biography of Marie Kore, one of the female political activists of colonial Cote d’Ivoire through the support of a grant from the Miles Morland Foundation. She is the co-founder of Abidjan Lit, a collective of literary activists in Abidjan working on changing the “Africans don’t read” stereotype. Her short stories have been published in anthologies such as New Daughters of Africa or by publications such as Ankara Press or Bloomsbury. As an Africa39 writer in 2014, she was hailed as one of “the most promising writers under the age of 40 with the potential and talent to define trends in the development of literature from Sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora” by the Hay Festival. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue her literary activism with a focus on nurturing the young literary voices of her country.


Zibusiso Dube

Country: Zimbabwe     |       Focus: Communications; Advocacy; Technology

Zibusiso John Dube has eight years of experience in the civil society sector, working in communications, research, and project management. Zibusiso’s interests intersect at the point between media, activism, and development. Currently, he is a program officer at the Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE). At CITE, he is responsible for the design, implementation, and monitoring of innovative media and civic engagement programs that strive to improve governance and promote positive social change. He has experience leading projects that focus on the promotion of social accountability and effective public resources management at the local government level in Zimbabwe. He has also authored multiple research papers addressing water management, corruption at the local level, and participatory budgeting. He holds a master’s degree in Media Practice for Development and Social Change, and a Master of Science in Development Studies. He has a passion for democratization, development, and good governance, and believes that the media has a crucial role to play. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to continue his work in media for social change with a focus on the role of new media and e-governance in promoting positive change.


Hannah Essien

Country: Nigeria      |       Focus: The Arts; Advocacy; Autism; Mental Health

Hannah Bassey Essien is an artist and founder of Nana Arts, a social enterprise organization that uses art to engage orphaned children. Hannah uses art as a means of expression and to draw attention to the various challenges faced by her community. The goal of Nana Arts is to inspire interest, build self-esteem, and to create world-renowned artists, and entrepreneurs. Upon the completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Hannah will work to expand Nana Arts outside of Nigeria.


Christie Linonge Etombi

Country: Cameroon     |       Focus: Public Health; Communications; Technology

Christie Linonge Etombi is committed to improving cardiovascular health in Cameroon through health education and digital health technology. Currently, she is a medical doctor with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Cameroon, where she works to ensure proper referral and management of internally displaced persons in the south-west region. She is a web and media coordinator of the Health Education and Research Organization (HERO) Cameroon, a non-governmental organization that seeks to safeguard a more equitable, disease-free, and emerging Cameroon. Through HERO Cameroon, she has organized various campaigns on cardiovascular disease prevention. She is also the Project Manager of m-thypa, a digital health technology platform to aims to reduce high blood pressure in Cameroon. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she intends to use the m-thypa platform to provide low-cost prevention of high blood pressure and heart disease to more people.


Samwel Maphie

Country: United Republic of Tanzania    |       Focus: Gender Issues; Teaching & Mentorship; Advocacy

Samwel Maphie is an advocate and social entrepreneur who has five years of experience working with pastoralists, adolescent girls, and young women in campaigning for their health, basic needs, and rights. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Dar es Salaam. He believes that violence against women and girls impedes their full participation in society, limits their access to better health, education, economic participation, and hinders efforts to achieve gender equality. With this belief, he started an organization aimed at catering for disadvantaged girls in pastoral communities in Tanzania, called the End Child Abuse and Neglect Organization. His organization has partnered with four primary schools and six secondary schools to identify over 350 peer educator champions, including 104 college students and 70 volunteers, reaching over 57,000 pastoralists He is an author of two books and a youth mentor, being nominated as the Most Positively Inspiring Youth (2017) by Positive Youth Africa, and was also a finalist in the African Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) achiever awards (youth category) in Ghana in November 2018, and the winner of Best SDGs performer of the year award in 2018 in Tanzania. Following the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to continue his work of advocating for disadvantaged girls.


Lineo Matlakala

Country: Lesotho     |       Focus: Sexual/Reproductive Health; The Arts; Entrepreneurship

Makhosi Exinia “Lineo Matlakala” Ntsalong works full time as the director of an agricultural organization in Leribe, which provides agri-business management skills to youth. She is the founder of the Barali Foundation, an organization that advocates for the rights of women and girls in rural Lesotho.


Eta Matsinhe

Country: Mozambique    |       Focus: Public Health; Social Media; NGOs

Eta Matsinhe has four years of experience in digital marketing management and journalism multimedia. Currently, she works as a social media department coordinator. She has one year of experience as the leader of the Olá Vida, a social movement to promote cancer-fighting and disseminate information to improve the quality of life of cancer patients in Mozambique. To reach more people, she disseminates the information using social media and organizes workshops in partnership with the oncology department from the main public hospital. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences from Universidade Politécnica in Maputo. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she hopes to acquire tools that will allow her to increase the impact of Olá Vida’s activities in her community.


Abdallah Mohamed Bourhan

Country: Djibouti       |       Focus: Sexual/Reproductive Health; Advocacy; Gender Issues

Abdallah Mohamed Bourhan holds a master’s degree in International Trade from Ecole Nationale de Commerce et de Gestion d’Agadir and is fluent in four languages. Abdallah works for the Bank of Africa Mer Rouge, the Djiboutian branch of the multinational Pan-African bank conglomerate, as the head of the organization department. Driven by his commitment to social inclusion, He has served as the Executive Director of the Djiboutian Association for Family Planning (ADEPF) since 2018. The ADEPF is a member association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation RAB region and aims to promote sexual and reproductive health rights. His work at the ADEPF focuses on projects related to youth access to comprehensive sex education, the eradication of female genital mutilation, and advocacy. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Abdallah will work to strengthen access to quality sexual and reproductive health services in Djibouti for local and migrant populations while continuing work to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Portia Ncwane

Country: South Africa     |       Focus: The Arts; Youth; Gender Issues

Portia Nokwazi Ncwane is a philanthropist with over ten years of experience in the entertainment industry as an actress, dance choreographer, and events host. Her participation in dance and music cultural exchange festivals has allowed her to travel internationally as a representative of South Africa. She is the founder and executive director of the Portia Ncwane Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on female empowerment, youth development, sports recreation, art, and the promotion of cultural heritage to disadvantaged communities. She has also donated school uniforms to over 300 students at the Oxbridge Academy. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Portia plans to use her newly acquired skills to implement projects that encourage youth development capacity building through dance and music programs.


Guerson Neuyambe

Country: Chad      |     Focus: Education; Science; Youth

Guerson Neuyambe has over five years of experience serving as a senior statistician at the National Agency for the Employment in Chad and holds a bachelor’s degree in Statistics. He is the founder of PROMO-SCIENCE, a platform that encourages secondary students to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and also serves as a program manager at the Participatory Development and Technology Agency, a local NGO that works to advance the health and well-being of poor children and young mothers. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he hopes to grow the PROMO-SCIENCE platform and help his organization continue to encourage a generation of young people to pursue a career in STEM.


Adeboro Odunlami

Country: Nigeria    |      Focus: Technology; Law/Policy; Gender Issues

Adeboro Pelumi Odunlami is a lawyer with over two years of experience in policy drafting that respects the rights of citizens in the use, development, and deployment of technology in Africa. She is currently the program assistant and legal officer for the Pan-African Organization, Paradigm Initiative, where she works on digital rights advocacy strategies for anglophone West Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of Lagos, and a practicing certificate from the Nigerian Law School. She is fueled by her desire to see technology used for social good, and for African laws to foster technological development while protecting citizens from intrusion, biases, and other unchecked consequences of algorithms. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue working on influencing public and company policy in favor of human rights, in addition to launching a technology club for teenage girls in underserved regions of Nigeria.


Camara Oulematou

Country: Senegal       |        Focus: Education; Teaching & Mentorship; Youth

Oulematou Camara is currently working in the logistics and purchasing directorate of a company in the telecommunications sector. Specializing in supply chain management, she holds a master’s degree in Business Administration. She has extensive experience in administration, operations, process development, and project management in private companies, public organizations, and international institutions. She volunteers with a variety of organizations focused on children and education. She strongly believes that poverty should not be a barrier to education, and currently organizes different knowledge sharing activities while helping to build a school for disadvantaged children. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she is expecting to be even more committed to developing her community.


Précieux Guénolé Rajaofera

Country: Madagascar     |       Focus: Literacy; Politics; Humanitarian & Food Distribution; Education

Précieux Guénolé Rajaofera is a dynamic young scout of the Scout Association of the Lutheran Church of Toliara and has two years of experience in the volunteering and community service sector, mainly focused on the fight against adult illiteracy. To honor his scout obligation of service, Précieux offers free courses in reading and writing to the illiterate adult community of many rural villages in Toliara, Madagascar. Précieux holds a bachelor’s degree in Private Law from CNTEMAD (National Distance Education Center of Madagascar) and hopes to enroll in a master´s program in 2020. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Précieux plans to use his new skills and contacts to create a non-profit organization that will focus on fighting hunger, illiteracy, and clean water shortages in Madagascar.


Kobozo Renee-Gracella

Country: Central African Republic       |       Focus: Education; Sexual Health; Gender Issues; Female Social Entrepreneurship; Environment

Renee-Gracella Kobozo Yakongbo works for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in the Central African Republic. She teaches 6-12 years old girls critical life skills and works to help advance their personal development. As a member of the Peace Volunteer Network, she also promotes peace, dialogue, and social cohesion within her community. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Ecology and Health Biology, with a specialization in Parasitology. She is passionate about her work and believes that educating a girl is educating a whole nation.


Samantha Sibanda

Country: Zimbabwe      |       Focus: Disability Advocacy; Communications; Technology

Samantha Sibanda is a human rights defender who has been working in the area of disability rights for eight years. Samantha is the founder of Signs of Hope Trust, Zimbabwe, an organization that empowers and advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities. Her organization facilitates scholarships, helps schools establish libraries for children with disabilities, and lobbies and raises awareness on disability issues to ensure that people with disabilities are empowered for self-representation and can understand and contribute to policy. Additionally, she leads the Hope Magazine Zimbabwe Initiative, an inclusive online news magazine bringing together disabled people’s organizations, academics in disability, persons with disabilities, and mainstream media, to reframe disability issues and tell untold stories in communities. Samantha is currently studying towards a degree in Special Education with the support of the Wells Mountain Initiative. Following the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Samantha hopes to contribute to inclusive education for children with disabilities, to eradicate discrimination, and to advocate for awareness of disability issues in schools.


Patrick Stephenson

Country: Ghana      |      Focus: Communications; Advocacy; Technology; Community Engagement

Patrick Stephenson has seven years of experience in public policy analysis and advocacy. Currently, Patrick is the Head of Research at the Imani Centre for Policy and Education, where he leads a team of policy analysts in projects on gas and energy, government spending, commodity management, and national procurement policies. Patrick volunteers as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper with the Accra Hub and leads youth discussions around government accountability and active citizenship. He also currently works on nCLUDED, a participatory planning and development platform aimed at improving voter experiences and participation in public policy creation. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Patrick will continue to work with nCLUDED on advocacy strategies.


Silindile Xulu

Country: South Africa     |        Focus: Communications; Youth; Gender Issues; Human Rights

Silindile Penelope Buthelezi has over five years of experience in government, working on international and government relations programs. In addition to her local government work, she also has extensive experience in media relations and corporate communications. She has worked for programs at the University of South Africa, AmaZulu Football Club, the British Broadcasting Corporation and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. She holds a national diploma in Public Relations Management from the University of South Africa and is currently in her final academic year of her bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, also at the University of South Africa. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Silindile plans to continue sharing her experiences, passions, and knowledge with young graduates through her self-designed mentorship program and looks forward to its expansion in 2019.


Robert Zulu

Country: Zambia     |       Focus: Public Health; NGOs; Communications; Cervical Cancer Awareness

Robert Zulu is a results-driven and dedicated person that works to address global social challenges. After losing his wife to cervical cancer in 2015, he decided to launch a cervical cancer education program in Zambia. He is the founder and executive director of Rakellz Dream Initiative, a non-governmental organization with a team of 50 youth working to raise awareness around cervical cancer through outreach activities and informational films. The long-term vision of the Rakellz Dream Initiative is to help increase cervical cancer knowledge across Zambia to mitigate and prevent terminal diagnoses. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Robert will continue to raise awareness of cervical cancer in the rural communities of Zambia’s Northern Province by the year 2021.


Turning small things into big lessons in Life

How do you succeed in your career? How do you make in life? What are the most important things in life? These questions tend to linger in the minds of many young people – especially those at university or those that have just started on their journey of paid work – whether it is personal business or employment.

Let me go back a bit. I remember when I was young, my dad was an average government employee with a small office in the engineering department. Those days people didn’t have phones, so communication was manual and mostly face to face or letters. On Sundays, he would carry us on his “Roadmaster” bicycle to church and after church, we would pass by at their office to drink water from the borehole. We didn’t have bottled mineral water then. The 70’s and 80’s people know these. Life was good and basic. Good because most things were free.

When we had a visitor at home or an emergency, mum would send us to dad’s office to pass the message (of course during holidays). It was either me and my elder sister, but mostly me because girls usually have a lot of work back home. Like any other little boy, I would run to the office, using only shortcuts.

When I arrive at the office, my attention would be to observe clearly what people do in the office. My thinking at the time was that people just sit and wait to be paid at the end of the month. Most times I would find them (my dad & his colleague) just writing on paper. At that time, I thought paper work was not work! I would then pass on the message and if it was a money issue, I would be given money and I rush back home.

When I grew up (about 12 years), I asked papa (as we always called him) what people do in offices. When you asked him questions, his answer would always surprise you, that’s if he answers it. Most times he would just keep quiet. That day, he just said, “Angoda, study hard at school and get your office. You will then know what people do in offices.” When I was young, he used to call me by my surname (most people now hide their surnames).

That statement many years ago instilled in me a desire to hold an office. A desire to do decent work that comes with certain prestige & pride. Being one that never gives up with my ambitions & dreams, I surely worked hard at school – despite the challenges of teenage life and pressures of adulthood.

My first office was at university. In my hostel, I acquired a good reading table and two plastic chairs. Instead of going to the campus library every day to read, sometimes I would just stay in my room (it was a grass thatched house left behind by return internally displaced persons) and study. Later on, I had power connected to the house and would rarely go to read to campus – I would just go to check out newspapers and socialise with friends. But I did all my work in my “office.”

Later in 2nd year, I even started a business started from my “office”. To me then, I had to get my office, no matter the situation. After all, I had grown up admiring offices.

When I started working at Lira Town College, the first thing I did was to set up my office. It should be noted in most schools, teachers just work from the general staff room and very few have fixed sitting places. From home to staff room, then to class, back to staff and go home. It’s predictable.

Since I’m an ICT teacher, I work a lot with my computer, so I need a power source and a good table to do work.

Setting up my office eased my work. It is easy to access you. You can host visitors and visitors can also wait for you. You get some privacy to work on your projects and also accords you some respect.

So, back to the questions. How do you succeed in your career? How do you make in life? What are the most important things in life?

There is no one answer to how one can succeed. And there’s also no single answer on how to make it in life. What about the most important things in life? I will not give any answer to these questions. You can answer it in your head.

We have different situations, scenarios, experiences, dreams and desires. Every day we go through a lot. But it is only through consistent self-improvement that we can be better versions of ourselves. Education plays a large part on making you a better person, so do your parents and friends.

In sum therefore, it is good to turn small things in your life into lessons you can learn from. But remember, I am not successful yet! End.

Communication & Social Media for Civic Engagement

In today’s digital world, you cannot underestimate the power of timely & effective communication. Great things can only be accomplished with good communication. War, marriage, school and even church all need effective communication. Communication is the act of transferring information from one place, person or group to another[1]. In other words the message has to reach on time and be understood easily. Away from the fixed telephones, fax and mail boxes of the yesteryears, communication today is mostly mobile- using digital devices such as computers, smart phones and internet.

The rise of the power of the internet dramatically changed the way people communicate today. Messages, emails can be sent with bulky documents and will be received instantly. Video calls are now popular with young generation and text messaging apps (as they are usually called) like WhatsApp Messenger, Viber are very popular across the world.

However, it is the social media phenomenon that has spread like a wild bush fire. From the U.S, its birth place to Japan, from South Africa to Morocco and everywhere else it is hugely popular.

According to Wikipedia, social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. The most common social media platforms include,, Snapchat and Instagram. In Africa, Facebook has been outstanding because unlike twitter, it does not restrict the number of words you can use in a post.

My experience with social media has been awesome. My first access to Facebook was in 2010 while at Gulu University. At that time, I had just received my first laptop and like other young undergraduate students, social media was the place to be.

I used Facebook to connect with friends and also read other news posts from other users – especially news updates. At that time, I would spend the whole afternoon on social media, so much so that it even affected my performance in second year.

After university, I still found social media awesome and was the first place to go to when I was bored.

After a while, I realised that I was losing a lot of time to social media, instead of doing something useful. So I started to kind of restrict my usage in 2013.

When I ventured into STEM and tech activities, social media became my first media where I would communicate programmes and any good news from our activities. My followers increased and so did my influence.

So, whenever we had any programmes at school, I would just post it on social media and we would get a lot of feedback from the “virtual friends”. The popularity of social media however resulted in less newspaper sales and less people listening to radio programmes. It has also let to phone  and internet addiction amongst youths, which ends up in depression.

In my community outreach programmes, I use social media a lot. In 2014, I started the Career Assistance Programme (CAP), an initiative that aims at providing vital career assistance to high school students across Lango sub region. Without social media, the programme would have failed, because it is difficult to call or mobilize students scattered all over Uganda. So I just post something, and because they are all on social media, they will eventually access it. I get feedback, they contact me, I contact them and everything just works fine. It is truly cost effective & efficient for young people – between 16 to 30 years.

At first, many people thought social media was for just young lazy people. But that has changed, because everyone now is social media. Presidents, ministers, fathers, mums, reverends, pastors, teachers, students, professors and even rebels.

Today, many organizations & governments are using social media to reach out to the public, in addition to traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television. It is not unusual to find someone today with 100,000 Facebook virtual friends, or to have a page that has 1,000,000 likes. Cristiano Ronald has got 122.1 million friends, Shakira has 104.6 million, Vin Diesel 101.6 million likes and Leo Messi – 89 million likes.

Despite this positive trend in communication using social media, some countries in sub Saharan Africa still go ahead to put restrictions such as taxing social media users or outright blocking of users. Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan are notorious for this.

According to CIPESA[2], in June 2018, a month before the introduction of the OTT (Over-The-Top) service tax, the internet penetration rate in Uganda stood at 47.4% (18.5 million internet users) but three months later, it had fallen to 35% (13.5million users).

Many governments appreciate the important use of social media for civic engagement of citizens to participate in government programmes. However, those in power also fear the use of social media for political mobilization because its impacts go beyond physical boarders. Remember the Arab spring? Arab spring are a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across North Africa and the Middle East in late 2010. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living, beginning with protests in Tunisia[3]. In this regard, social media was a tool used for cause regime change Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

It is important to note here that social media has been the driving force behind the swift spread of revolutions throughout the world, as new protests appear in response to success stories shared from those taking place in other countries. We can therefore say that social media enabled revolutions in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and recently Sudan.

Depending on how you use it, using social media for communication can either be life changing or life destroying. But what is undeniable though is that social media is an effective tool for civic engagement and mobilization.






Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders-Leadership in Civic Engagement Institute-University of Delaware

Institute Overview

Our Leadership in Civic Engagement Institute at UD provides a broad survey of civic engagement as it relates to the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. More specifically, the Institute explores how citizens, as individuals and members of organizations, and their interactions with government, business, the media, technology and the like have shaped and continue to shape U.S. politics and society – and how these experiences compare and contrast with those of the Mandela Washington Fellows. Each week, Fellows will participate in academic sessions, practical sessions, leadership skills training, site visits, community service, peer collaboration and cultural activities.


PROGRAM SPONSOR: The US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)

PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR: Institutional Research and Exchanges Board (IREX)

HOST INSTITUTION: University of Delaware Institute of Global Studies


Nike Olabisi, Academic Director Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Colin Miller, Administrative Director Director of Global Arts, College of Arts and Sciences and IGS,

Download: CE_UD_19_Agenda_Final_IREX Reviewed (1)

My journey to the U.S started 10 years ago

On June 19, 2019, I arrived to the United States to participate in the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship. From Uganda, 24 fellows were selected by the U.S Embassy to this prestigious program. Like many Ugandans, it has always been in my dreams to reach the U.S, the biggest economy & superpower (although there are other powers).

The University Scholarship – 2009

So, how did I reach here? The story is long, but from my personal standpoint, my desire to reach the U.S started at university – about 10 years ago. After my senior six, I wanted to get into university, however the money situation at home wasn’t good. My dad was now retired and my elder sister had just completed & also depleted financial resources available. The future was bleak. That was in 2009. When the results came back, I was among the best in my school and district. I was excited, but the excitement faded into despair as I remembered the issues back home. From everybody’s viewpoint, there was no way I could manage to raise tuition, moreover for 3 years.

After a lot of thought and determination, I told mum that I was going to apply to Gulu University, and I would report to start my undergraduate degree even though the tuition issues were going well.

In May 2009, I applied and I was admitted to study Bachelor of Information & Communication Technology. I was admitted and travelled for the first time to Gulu to pick up my admission, unfortunately, the admission letters weren’t ready and after 3 days decided to return back to Dokolo. But at least I had seen my name on the admission lists on the notice board.

Upon return, I continued preparing to go to university as if everything was fine. I told mum that I would rather go to university, start studying and be chased because of tuition and come back home rather than sit home and give up totally. After a few weeks, I went back to university with a few thousand shillings ready to start studies.

Usually, the first week for first year students at university is the orientation week. It was during one of the orientation days that I saw a scholarship advert on one of the student’s notice boards. The advert was calling for fresh students to apply for Gulu University-Tulane University ICT Project scholarships. I normally carry a pen and paper in my pockets so I wrote down the details quickly and went back to my hostel – which was a grass thatched house left behind by returning internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by 20 years of war in northern Uganda. I started preparing my application. The requirements were simple. One had to be coming from one the districts from northern Uganda and must have gained admission to either BSc Computer Science or Bachelor of Information & Communication Technology. The next day I went back to double check details on the advert, I found it was nowhere. It had been plucked out.

I applied for the scholarship, got shortlisted and I was finally awarded the scholarship. The scholarship was a result of partnership between Gulu University and Tulane University from the U.S.

That is how I started getting attached to U.S. I also note here that our secondary school education teaches us a lot about the U.S in many subjects – geography, history, literature and even religious students. So, you start fantasizing about the U.S very early in life.

When I got the scholarship, I became very interested in the U.S. So much so that I started following everything about the country – technology, education, politics and even Hollywood. Because it was the American money paying for my education, my attitudes changed about the country and started dreaming about visiting the U.S. After all, it was not only me. Everybody in the world believes the U.S is the greatest country and land of opportunity – and of course the American dream. The movies portray it as land of plenty, power, happiness and success!

My desire became stronger with each passing day. After all, the U.S citizens had contributed substantially to my education. At least I needed to show I am grateful, somehow anyhow.

Technovation Challenge

In 2012 when I started work at Lira Town College, I got involved in STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) and projects including robotics, science fairs and many schools would compete in the competitions, which were held mostly in Kampala. I engaged myself in these projects fully, because they allowed to go out to meet my peers, tech experts and enabled students love my subject. So, together with students the first competition we took part in was the Science & Technology Innovations Challenge (STIC) in 2012. We didn’t do well that first year. However, in 2013, we did very well and we won our first major award in tech in Uganda – we were 2nd runners up. Because of the good work we did to win that award, one of the judges at the event, Dr. Dorothy Okello got my contacts and later emailed me about this all-girls-only competition called the Technovation Challenge. That’s how I got to learn about Technovation Challenge. Immediately, we embarked on it and were one of the only 2 schools that participated in the 2013 and 2014 years. After, many schools really came of board and became very competitive. However, due to my pioneering efforts with the programme, I was able to be appointed us the regional ambassador for northern Uganda. The position came to the opportunity to travel to the U.S to attend the grand finals. So, in 2013 I was invited to travel, and all funding was available but I couldn’t because my students were doing national exams around the same and I also didn’t have a passport at the time.

In 2015 again, I got the same opportunity but still I could not travel because of no passport. Opportunity missed twice. But that was not it.

Also, my work and passion for e-learning resulted into an invitation to Rwanda in 2014 for an e-learning conference. I still didn’t make it. The following year, the same guys invited me again to Ethiopia for the e-learning conference again, still like the previous years, I remained in my country. Same problem, no passport.

My break came when I was nominated for the 2017 Teachers Making a Difference competition (organised by New Vision & partners) and I emerged among the best 5 teachers that year. At the awards ceremony on October 05, 2017 (World Teachers Day), we were rewarded with Uganda shillings 1.5 million, a plaque and a certificate and a trip to Dublin, Ireland. So, I used part of the money to process a passport, so I can go for the trip. And the Embassy of Ireland & New Vision supported us a lot all through the process.

With the passport, I was able to travel abroad for the first time in January 2018. Now, that opportunity has opened doors for other opportunities. In life, just like Steve Jobs said, sometimes the dots all connect together.

It has been a very long journey. I am grateful to Makerere University, my lecturers at university, my colleague at work, my students, my friends, my parents and my difficult my life for pushing me my life’s direction. Life is full of experiences.

Development Education & SDGs in the Classroom

Currently there are many new education issues and approaches aimed at making learning more fun and enjoyable for students and teachers. In the early 2000’s, the term Computer Based Training (CBT) was popular but was soon replaced with, Computer-Aided Learning (CAL). Then in the mid 2000’s, it thus became very fashionable to use projectors in class, displaying things on a computer via a VGA cable. That came with excitement of using computers to change the status quo.

There are also other soft issues such as Participatory Education, Learner-Centred Learning and Target Learning. These were mainly methods of delivery, and was done by the teacher / instructor.

Later, when laptops and internet became widespread, we saw how distance learning and e-learning became very popular, especially amongst the urban elites.

There is a new renewed belief in the acronym “STEM” – Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. Many now believe that these education paradigm will parachute Uganda to the much talked about “middle income” status. Oysters & Pearls Uganda, a non-profit organization based in Gulu, has even taken it far. The have outreach programmes based of STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering and Mathematics. All these buzz words have brought a lot of changes into our education system, depending on the angle with which you look at it.

However, today, I want to bring to light the concept of Development Education. I first heard of “development education” or Dev Ed during my January trip to Dublin, Ireland.

Development Education has been referred to by many names, most notably, Global Learning, Global Education, and Global Citizenship. No matter what name you choose to use, if you are educating for a just and sustainable world, you are delivering Development Education.

Development Education is a very important tool in making sense of the complex issues that prevail in our ever changing world. It is an active and creative educational process to increase awareness and understanding of the world in which we live. It is meant challenge perceptions and stereotypes by encouraging empathy, optimism, participation and action for a just world.

Organization such as Trócaire (headquartered in Maynooth, Ireland) uses Development Education to inform learners about global issues such as poverty, injustice, gender equality, humanitarian crises and climate change using a human rights lens. Their work engages children, young people and educators through a process of interaction, reflection and action.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to pilot the rollout of Development Education at Lira Town College, starting with my class. My experience in education tells me that improving education standards does not necessarily require financial resources. Sometimes, just the right attitude is enough. So, my plan was to start with what I have – knowledge, laptop, projector, scheme of work (incorporated with global issues).

In my weekly classes, I decided to add the “Development Education” segment of 15 minutes in the middle of the lesion. In this segment, I introduce the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that we can work on as a school. These include SDGs like SDG Goal number 3 – Good Health & Wellbeing; SDG Goal number 4 – Quality Education; SDG Goal number 10 – Reduced Inequalities; SDG Goal number 12 – Responsible Consumption & Production.

Every week, we look at only one SDG goal. I list the current topical issues concerning that goal and we discuss as a class. I must say that the segment is the most interactive period of our lesson.

The core objective of the Development Education in Lira Town College is to empower students to be change agents in their communities & take action in favour of SDGs.

Specific objectives under this action include:

  • To spread awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to influence responsive behaviour & decision making amongst students.
  • To enhance the career prospects of students with the belief that every career is rooted in solving a problem facing humankind.

Figure 1: The first slide of the lesson. Each lesson is grounded on ICT4D agenda.   

Assessing effectiveness: While it is good to know the effectiveness of any intervention, I believe it is too early to assess the effectiveness of an educational intervention within one year. However, in terms meeting defined objectives, all outlined objectives are being met.

Assessing the Efficiency: We talk about the efficiency, we cannot omit the issues of cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis. We also look at the methodologies most appropriate for delivering the intervention. The Dev Ed pilot in only one class has been efficient, largely because I am the only teacher teaching it. The use of local available materials & gadgets makes it cost efficient.

Figure 2: The slide introducing the Development Education segment

Figure 3: The slide show the SDG for the day’s discussion.

Figure 4: The action points for the day.

Sustainability: This means the extent to which the programme / intervention is building mechanism and possibilities of sustainability beyond its lifespan, and the available opportunities that will guarantee this sustainability. The good thing is that students, the beneficiaries of the programme, are now fully submerged into the programme and actually demand the segment, in case it was omitted due to time constraints. This shows that even without the initiative of the teacher, they know that global issues need action. The opportunity for success is that A-level students are a bit enlightened about major global issues because they do a few subjects and the subject contents are deep and wide in nature. This enables them to quickly conceptualise, understand & debate issues.

Future Plan

Next year 2019, I intend to roll out the idea to all the A-level classes. This will start with Development Education Workshop in February, to orient the teachers to the concept and set out the issues concern. I intend to use the computer lab as the breeding ground of Development Education, and enrolled teachers will be free to use the lab & its resources for teaching.


I see Dev Ed as a pathway to social change. Wale Akinyemi, in an article in The East African (October 13, 2018), outlined the difference between today’s thinking and old thinking.

Old thinking says this is the way it has always been. New thinking says that while we appreciate the way it has been, this is the way it should be.

Old thinking says this is how we have always done it. New thinking says that it the very reason we should change the way we do it.

Old thinking says we have to uphold the traditions of the past. New thinking says we need to create new traditions for the future.

As for me, I choose to embrace the past but focus on the future.