Certification of Honour
Having worked for several years now, I am more aware about the realities of life.
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First published: February 6, 2009
That is an ululation as one mother, aunt and sister after another celebrates after hearing their child's name amidst thousands upon thousands.
The week of 19 to 23 January 2009 was Makerere University's 59th graduation. It was another long week of jams. People jams, traffic jams and jams at the venues where graduation parties were held. As each year progresses, the courses at Makerere University become more interesting. Where as before it was Education, Law, Medicine and other conventional paths to success, now there is Community Psychology, Sports Science, Runyakitara, and other more appealing courses for the more daring students.
The 59th graduation of 2009 took a whole week unlike before where at 1 pm, the ceremony was more or less over. Parents brave the wet mornings allowing their cars to slide over the muddy ridges as they look for parking before walking the long winding pathways to the graduation venue. The names of each graduand are written on benches. If it rains, the names are smudged. Two, three or more years of hard work and a smudged name on a cold wet bench.
It is not as dreary as all that. Graduation day is a good day to see all kinds of fashion fiascos. In an attempt to show off their academic prowess, graduands adorn themselves in lace gloves, feathered hats, spiked boots, silk ties and stilettos. It is all grandeur at the Freedom Square, where Makerere University holds its graduations. Each faculty and school bears its own unique colour. Parents, guardians and older siblings wait out until they hear their loved ones' names.
Having worked for several years now, I am more aware about the realities of life. Some call is streetology, others call it padding the streets looking for a job. For many, a dream of a white collar job, with a plush mahogany desk and free coffee, an intercom and personal laptop come to mind as they sit it out at the graduation ceremony. Personally, I know that it is not the white collar jobs that define you, neither is it the degree you earn but rather what you do with what you have. Networking, volunteerism, creativity and faith take you miles further than piling certificates and titles upon your ego.
I have told many friends of mine, fresh from school, that a spirit of volunteerism can take them far. Yes, many need the money that comes with a paying job, financial obligations and so on. However, volunteerism shows fortitude of character. It involves learning by doing and by listening to instruction. After years of work and learning, I know that there is also a lot of satisfaction in earning an income from doing work that you enjoy and are willing to take risks for. It also helps if the income earned is not for money's sake but for a cause. Volunteerism takes faith and risk and it has been proven that risk takers are the change makers.
It is not uncommon to find people changing from one job to another because of the need for more money, a better looking boss or a more suitable environment. What they really want is an answer to their inner restlessness which actually does not come from an 8 figure salary.
After attending one graduation party after another, I discovered another creative way of making money in Uganda. I discovered a money churning venture. It is the business of hiring venues. Throughout the week of 19 to 23 January, major hotel lobbies, expensive restaurants, recreation centers and large dining areas were booked out for graduation parties. One does not need a degree to figure out the demand for venues during graduation. Along with hiring out venues is baking cakes. Every graduand wants a cake in the shape of a giant size Oxford dictionary or a graduation gown or even a mini sized wedding cake. Caution goes to the wind as vanity takes over. And to put the icing on the cake, another great money generating exercise is in the hair and beauty parlour business. It's all frill and thrill during graduation. Everyone must be dolled up to suit the occasion. Some graduands even have changing dresses. One which they wear during their speech and the other when they are cutting the cake. Why not?
A friend of mine who I still admire for making this decision, told me that instead of holding a huge expensive graduation party, he asked his parents for that money for an air ticket. With his ticket to the UK, he went on to learn new skills, earn an income and study further. This not only gave him competence in an international market but as an individual he also gained confidence which many Ugandans binging on food at parties will never have.
It is always good to have an education, go to school and earn a good degree. However, it is good if it is a means to a greater destiny and not just a degree for a degree's sake. My mother, one of the greatest florists and women in the landscaping business in the region stuck to what she has always loved. Through challenges and upheavals, she can now smile as she looks at her picturesque garden, and admire the work of her hands. While many shun the use of hands and manual work, for others, it has earned them places of honour with Kings and Queens and my mother is an example to that.
Another gentleman, who owns a large real estate business in Uganda started out by supplying toothpaste at major supermarkets. The lesson from this is not to underestimate the power of creativity and risk which is what most courses at university do not teach us. They teach us to study hard and be the first when the reality outside the four classroom walls is different.
I do not undermine the value of school. I do however value the power that lies outside the four walls of the classroom.
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First published: February 6, 2009
Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva has a baby girl called Zion Agasaro and together with her husband, tries to make each day another reason to excel. Writing has been her passion from childhood. For her first degree, her desire was to study Creative Writing which was not available at Makerere University in Kampala and so opted for Bachelor of Arts in Education majoring in Literature in English. After that, she did two certificates in French from Alliance Francaise in Kampala.
Beverley currently serves on the executive board of Uganda Women Writers' Association (FEMRITE) and also works at EASSI, an Eastern African regional organization that focuses on women's rights.
She has a collection of Travel poetry and erotic poetry and is interested in the short story genre as well. Her fist novel is expected to be out in 2010.
As we collect more articles from Beverly, for now if you wish to read more from Beverley go to her blog: The Exodus of Whatever.