Conversation with Alinaitwe Cleofash

Inaugural recipient of the Magnus Mchunguzi Certificate for Outstanding Leadership by a Fellow talks about what the award has meant for him.

Inaugural recipient of the Magnus Mchunguzi Certificate for Outstanding Leadership by a Fellow talks about what the award has meant for him

By Watsemba Miriam

Communications Coordinator, LéO Africa Institute

Alinaitwe Cleofash is a co-founder of Art Planet Academy. He was a part of the 2017 YELP fellowship that run for a period of one year and was crowned by a graduation ceremony at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort and Spa in Kigo. 

Cleofash was voted as valedictorian by his colleagues and this saw him become the inaugural receiver of the Magnus Mchunguzi certificate for outstanding leadership by a fellow. 

We had an up and close chat with Cleofash and he opened up about his experience as a YELP fellow and what it has defined in his life.

Tell us about your experience in the YELP fellowship.

I had never been part of any fellowship project so early 2017 was my breakthrough with my selection into the young and emerging leaders program. I started experiencing the power of the YELP fellowship shortly after my selection and while at the program, my mindset on leadership completely changed. The quality of fellows who were majorly characterized with great passion, courage, seriousness and intelligence always kept me humbled. Spending most of my early leadership career in rural spaces, I knew no one will ever take us serious, because we are just “peasant farmers.”  I had never imagined being part of such an amazing platform managed by and for the young people, where everyone’s effort matters and I think everything from this fellowship will live to inspire me.

What was your biggest take home from the fellowship?

Whenever I think about the kind of self-belief and courage I gathered especially after being selected as a valedictorian, I find reason as to why I will always encourage every young person to apply for this program because it is transformative in my own view. Trust me, the Magnus Muchunguzi certificate stands firm in my parent’s house and will live to inspire even generations to follow.

Alinaitwe Cleofash receives the Magnus Mchunguzi certificate during the 2017 YELP graduation at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort and Spa, Kigo.

Now that you have successfully graduated from the fellowship, what next?

Now that I am out of the program, I have every reason to move forward because the impact of the YELP fellowship will be counted on the positive legacy I live behind. Even when I fail, I know why I have failed and I can’t fail to pick the courage and hope required to move on. “Find a wall in your life, break it before identifying another” is that one major lesson from the YELP fellowship that has become my guiding stick. YELP defined a new family network for me and I believe this is shaping my vision of a generation where youth freely engage and also consider agriculture as both decent and profitable employment.


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Charlene Kamali
Author: Charlene Kamali
Communications and Partnerships Coordinator, LeO Africa Institute.