Unconventional Thought is a column by Raymond Mujuni
Before you read further, save the name Benjamin Rukwengye. You’ll need it later.
That said, let’s get into it.
On Wednesday last week I was invited to attend a graduation of the fellows of Boundless Minds’ Professional program.
The invite was over mail and it was quite formal. There aren’t many of such invites floating around town for graduations anyway. It was, at least on sight, a good relief that the organization was doing the right thing in the first place.
I know Boundless, in fact, I know it all too well that I nearly look like a fixture in it. When it was starting out, it’s founder would go on and on about the idea, each morning tweaking it to sound a little different from the last night. It became monotonous.
In between coffee conversations, he’d tell a long and winding story and just at the pinnacle of it’s suspense, it would, somehow, wind up with the word boundless.
So after many months of going on and on about the idea, one day, he woke up and quit his well-paying six figure salary job, packed his items into a small car he drives and roped up his boots and hit the murky waters.
The first poster flipped up calling for applications of ‘Senior Six leavers’ to join the fellowship and as day followed night, a place to train for the fellowship showed up too, then the fellows started and before long a first class was graduating – for context, we were now at the second class graduation but this time for professionals.
Benjamin Rukwengye, yes, the name I told you to save first, had seen a problem. It was that many graduates were unemployable – even with their fancy degrees. It was also that after nearly thirteen years of education to Senior Six, the system created no life skills to float by.
‘S6 leavers’ were incapable of good grammar, unable to formally address a manager in search for a job, unable to offer any skills at solving basic work problems but also unable to understand, discuss and solve the problems of their communities.
If, for example, the problem was that the hospital was crowded, many hoped that a government would whip up a wand and solve it, so they focused their energies on hope that the government would come. However, during the fellowship they would find out that poor sanitation and waste disposal greatly affected the health of their communities creating long patient lines, so cleaning the garbage would be a shorter route as big government found its way.
Many of the fellows discovered, neck-deep into the program that they had gotten the education they wanted and not that which they actually deserved.
What you will however find around them is the can-do attitude to solving problems. At their graduation, the fellows showcased solutions to journalism problems of fundraising, justice problems of case backlog, entrepreneurial problems of early mortality and so forth.
In less than 6 months, they had seized their citizen agency and made good of it.
Of course, they will learn very soon that there are many variables that affect the solutions they propose like; money, commitment of leadership, culture and perception but what they are on is a wise streak to changing the course of the country.
The unconventional thought is that this country needs to take its bets out on more Benjamins and more Boundless fellows. If they don’t help fix the problems of our time, at least they will write good formal emails about them and that itself is a step forward.