- November 9, 2018
- Posted by: Rayner Mugyezi
- Category: Blog
I am proud to be a YELP scholar. Kindly take notes and sip a cup of tea while I share why.
I first got to learn of the Young Emerging Leaders’ Project through a dear friend and colleague in the legal profession. I was blessed to be chosen among the inaugural cohort of YELP scholars in 2016. At the time, I was unaware of how important this small step in my life, would change my entire outlook on leadership. After the first few minutes of dialogue with the other fellows in the room, I was humbled at how much potential sat and debated in the room that morning. The inaugural seminar lasted about 8 hours or less but left me with many questions, lessons learned and changed perspectives. I can confidently say that in hindsight, that day was perhaps one of the most memorable days in my short life. For one reason or the other, I missed the opportunity of applying to be among the initial cohort of fellows in 2017. I set out to remedy that and as luck would have it, I was accepted into the 2018 YELP Fellowship.
Before I joined the fellowship, every mention of leadership in Uganda today sparked thoughts of the current political paradigm. Having lived my entire life in Uganda, my thoughts on world views remained mostly academic and limited. The fellowship this year comprised fellows from several countries in Africa. Our class averaged 6 nationalities and many more languages but we all shared a common pride amongst us. Common amongst us, was an appetite for intellectual discourse and the need for critical analysis on many questions concerning leadership today.
The first seminar was centered on personal leadership, with emphasis on managing success and failure. Being amongst innovators, inventors, creatives, strategists and leaders in their own right, challenged my outlook on many issues. The YELP faculty provides an avenue to share thought without stifling opinion, presenting the opportunity to learn from our contemporaries and other leaders in Africa today through constant erudition. It was to say the least, very enlightening to share the readings and experiences with the other fellows. What was perhaps unexpected was how much we all clicked as a class. What begun as individuals chosen on each’s merit and promise, became a fraternity of strong youth with a strong desire to “Contribute to the Africa We Want”.
Over the course of the fellowship, we were lucky to be exposed to many leaders in Africa today such as the esteemed former President of Mauritius, H.E Ameenah Gurib Fakim who shared some her insights on the prevalent question of the crucial role of youth in the growth of Africa today. We also met the Legal Advisor to the Executive Office of the Deputy President of Kenya, Dr. Korir Sing’Oei, who shared his life journey with us, and challenged the way I look at leadership in crisis. Conversations such as these and many others made possible by the LéO Africa Institute, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Uganda) and Stanbic Bank Uganda have left me with many lessons that I hope to put into practice as I live the rest of my life fulfilling my legacy and impacting my community as a transformational leader.
I intentionally shared my naïveté about the Fellowship at the start of this article because it was true. But now I know better. Every youth in Africa deserves an opportunity to be a leader. What is prevalent among most youths I know, is a lack of direction and purpose in their respective lives. The Fellowship recognizes this and offers both individual and group tasks, aimed at enhancing the potential of each fellow in the development of their communities. The fellowship therefore recognizes you (the youth) as the panacea for the failures we continue to suffer as a continent. Each task organized by the faculty at the LéO Africa Institute left a yearning for more knowledge, more critical analysis, more intellectual discourse, more conversations around the Africa we have and the Africa we want, and what each of us can offer in that respect.
As a lawyer, I am faced with many challenges common to my profession. Each one of us today shares a common struggle with our identity. Many young Africans like me are therefore unable to make decisions concerning our future with certainty. With the help of this fellowship, I have been able to build my confidence in my ability and in my role as a leader today. While I may have been unsure before, I am now certain that each one of us has an important role in the growth of our country, the East African region and on the continent as a whole. Through value-based leadership, I believe Africa will soar.
It is my dream that others may learn and grow from me as I have learnt and continue to learn from the YELP Fellowship and that one day, we shall all look back on our individual and collective journeys, and remember where it all started; with the efforts of a few who envisioned the importance of the salvation of just leadership.