Harvest Institute 2021

In the year 2020, the world was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I recall hearing our President H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni saying that schools would be closed for a while as a precautionary measure. Yes, and we all agreed that it was a good thing. We hustled through the six hour long jams with many questions from children about whether this was the end of world, whether they were ever going to see their friends again…and we laughed at the idea.

The next few days after picking our children were a nightmare….Churches were shut down! No Church. Then everything, and we couldn’t even leave home. It seemed like a bad joke…but we were living in it. Eventually, we were confined to little rectangles on zoom, to adjusting lighting and chair positions if we wanted to learn or connect with other human beings. Everything was broadcast to a device near us. No dressing for weddings. Funerals were invite only, even then heavily masked and seated so far apart.

The short version of the story is I survived.

I realized that my world had changed and everything I had been taught would not get me through a Post COVID world. Enter 2021, I joined Harvest Institute School of Leadership. Something in me just needed to shift. I was excited to be back in a room with real people talking to a face without any barrier. The assignment to write a letter to yourself in 30 yrs, caused me to reflect on life. That would be 2051. What would the world look like? How old would my children be? How old would I be? What would matter to me. I recalled that I had different versions of this in other leadership spaces and the only constant was I had adapted to the changes. Nothing in my earlier years had remained the same, and nothing in the next 30 would. That was January.

By February, we were online again! And so it continued, we didn’t know whether we would be in session or online until the week before. There was a possibility we could have been in Kenya for Fearless in person, but Nairobi was shutdown so tight. We were online for the entire summit. Changes were already happening. We were back to those little rectangles.

It was a very volatile year. The year we experienced Delta, many friends and acquaintances passed on. I got to the point where I didn’t want to check my WhatsApp because I knew it would have a death announcement. But everything was online right? I needed Jesus to help me cross over from the fear of death to the triumph on the cross. I spent a lot of time in prayer and the Word. By the time, COVID came into my home and my son got COVID and he thought he would die, I was ready. I told death it could not have him! Jesus is the Word sent to heal all diseases. We didn’t quarantine, we didn’t do all those good things WHO recommended. And he healed and none of us got COVID-19.

Somewhere in July we started the infamous TUSU module which stretched us. You need to understand that you would be chatting with Prof. TUSU on an old assignment and a new group assignment would come in, so you had to chat, read up on the assignment ( because that team can tell when you are fibbing, and you redo….for real…REDO a group assignment) and then come up with the group position. When you are chatting with a Professor, good people, you have to use your mind- know the subject matter, be coherent and reflect on other views.All this with children online, managing logistics of supplies, oba where are you positioned for the zoom call…and reading….and thinking about that new blog! Kati in the middle there, they introduce the term VUCA and we had to work with CEOs to help their companies survive….we were the ones learning! Ha ha . Stretched or stretched!

The final module was the ice cream cone for me. Everything made sense. I appreciated the journey, how we began. I had been given an opportunity to observe leaders navigate a very volatile year, to read the books they read, to ask questions and to gain clarity on what I was learning through synopses. In that session, I realized that God had given me gifts and resourced me for such a time as this. I was where I was because He had placed me there deliberately. But it wasn’t just for me- Everything made sense. Mr. Claude Nikondeha is the facilitator for this session. His story is just one of using his resources, his connections, his gifts and wisdom to make other people’s lives better. Your life is not about you alone- you have what you have so you make other people’s lives better.

I published my first book with the title Sculpted By Design because I realized that no one is here by accident. God is the Sculptor and He has been very precise and deliberate about each person and each resource.

Young adult, before you leave home,

Take care that you have learnt to work. But isn’t that the same thing as earning money. No, it isn’t. Work is work. Earning money is earning money.

Work according to Physicists has to do with force and motion. Yes, there must be energy in this thing and something has to change. You may imagine that just because the chair cushion deflates when you sit on it, you have worked. Not at all, my friend, the cushion has worked. You just sat there.

Work is repititive. It is usually a progression of many small tasks. Let’s take washing dishes as an example. You need to remove the dishes from the table to the sink or the general area where the washing shall be done. You clear any food remains. You get the soap and sponge, lather and begin to wash. Some pots and pans require extra energy to get the food remains out. Rinse and hang to dry. After drying, they have to be put away. You repeat this sometimes three to four times a day.

Work is responsibility. If it can be done by anyone, then it is not work. If someone has to take it up and be seen to do it, then it is work. For example, anyone can dive into a pool and swim (caution: if you have not learned to swim, this category might exclude you, cause you will not swim but rather flail), but only a lifeguard can save a swimmer in distress. So the lifeguard is working while you are swimming.

Photo courtesy: Pinterest

Work is not rosy. Yes, most of us have this grand ideas about getting a job. We shall simply be conveyed in very clean elevators to our pristine offices and type one word on a keyboard with neatly manicured nails…and it shall be 5pm. Welcome to the Bubbles bursting session! So it starts with waking up early, and this starts with getting to bed early. This means denying yourself a whole night of binging on series. It means setting alarms. It means having the clean and near clothes to wear. It means managing time. You must beat the traffic to be at work at 8am. Even if you work from home, you must beat so many pleasant thoughts of breakfast in bed to start when you said you would.

Work is a requirement. God worked. God is working. In Genesis 1, we see God at work creating our environment. He gave Adam the Garden of Eden to tend. Tending is fruitfulness and multiplication. The requirement was that Adam would multiply Eden all over the earth.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

Genesis 2:15 NKJV

Work is a resolution. Adam was not designed to keep the garden small and maintain his 50 by 100ft plot with his small family of two children. No, Adam was built for subduing and dominion. Imagine that we are now 8bn people in the entire world, from the one man Adam. That capacity is in you as well. You are not here to pass Mathematics with an A*, you are here to extend the Kingdom of God. Jesus said that His Father was working, the tense is present continuous. There is no day or night if the earth is not rotating round the sun. God is working. You should be too. The whole of creation is working, atoms with their protons and neutrons are in constant motion. Birds are forever flying. Trees are growing. Babies are growing. Everything is designed to grow. You must resolve to grow by working.

Work is rewarding. Going back to the Physics definition, you do something that causes something to be set in motion that brings a new result. I start out with raw matooke and end with hot, steaming yellow and tasty delicacy. I start out with a grimy floor and end with a sparkly, smooth feeling floor. I start with very few people interested in opening accounts and end with a greater percentage transacting their businesses through my bank.

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

John 15:8 NKJV

Young adult, before you leave home, take care that you have learned to work and to value work.

Young adult, before you leave home…

Take care that you have learned to earn money. It will shock you that money turns the world around. Yes, you have grown older and it is now time to grow your own wings. Time to see the world. You believe you can fly.

Hang on there. Who bought you these wings? Are they borrowed? Did your parents give them to you over time? Have you grown into them? Are you riding on someone’s wings?

Young person, you need to earn your own money. Everything you take for granted is now on you. Your parents may have been a call away when there was an emergency, you will need an emergency fund. You were called for meals, heyyy, you will need to go shopping, think of storage and meal preps. You will need to wash all the dishes after your meals. What is the going rate for the lady that washes clothes? Or the live in help? Let’s talk about moving from your home to work or hang out with friends.

Photo credit: Pinterest

There is a new phenomenon called bills. Bills are regular, they are delivered and even if you ignore them, they keep piling. How much is a unit of power? What about water? How many units were you using as you stood under that shower or filled the bath tub? How about the lights that never go off in your home? Did you say daddy knows these things?

First off, your salary is not enough to cover all your expenses. Yes, it looks exciting because it has so many zeros. It will not be enough. Because you must spend less than you earn.

Second, your schooling may have restricted you to do only 4 or 5 subjects. You can do so much more than the one job you now have. Even within the job, you can handle multiple things. It is the way you are designed. God made you in His image, think of all the diversity in the animals, birds and plants. You are just as diverse and even more because you have the capability of creating something out of what doesn’t exist.

If you have a head and two hands, then poverty is a choice.

Moses Mukisa, Straight Forward Financial Growth (2018)

Third, you do not exist for yourself but for others. Think about it, what is the excitement of moving out about? The prospect of meeting new people and spending more time with your friends. So you need to factor in others. What will your contribution to this world be? How will the people around you benefit from your existence? Money is a currency that can be used to access other capitals. It is the one currency that expresses how much you value a thing. So if you want people to know you value them, you must do it in a currency they understand.

Having financial resources is what enables you to turn your concern into compassion.

Moses Mukisa, Straight Forward Financial Growth (2018)

Fourth, you will not always be young. You have to plan for the future. Savings and investment. You must plan for a time when you will no longer be young and agile and when your friends will not be there to bail you out. This means you must be earning money now, right?

Fifth, your parents have invested and if I may so has the entire nation in your life this far. Your one job now is to attempt to repay them for their goodness towards you. You remember that beautiful graduation speech with tears streaming down expressing your gratitude. It’s now time to act on it.

Without work, you’d have nowhere to start, nothing to save and nothing to invest with, no matter how many opportunities show up.

Moses Mukisa, Straight Forward Financial Growth (2018)

Start by evaluating your strengths. A great hack I have found is to list down 100 things you are good at. Only 100. Get a pen or pencil and paper and write them down. You might not exhaust it in one hour because of all the negativity you may have lived through. Press on and determine to list 100. Ask your friends, your siblings and family. Reflect on all those comments and compliments you have received.

Determine which ones you would love to pursue before you die. Some people call this a bucket list. The things I must do. This is what you are passionate about. They should not exceed 25. Go over the list and cross out the ones which are not so close to your heart.

What can the market pay you for? Go over what are now your 25 ideas. Every idea has a conception, incubation, prototyping and roll out phase. Assess each of the 25 ideas. You should have at least three that you have been prototyping. If all of them are at conception, like light bulb moments, my dear young adult, stay home. Prototyping means you can sell a product or service in the market and earn some money. It may not be exactly what you like but it people are willing to pay for it. For example, you can bake 12 cupcakes and sell them all at the office. Your capacity later maybe 2000.

Before you leave home, you should be able to earn money from more than one source of income.

Focus

Vision is blurred if the light does not bend or refract correctly and focuses directly on the retina. Blurred vision is a refractive error, which is the most common disorder of the eye.

Sculpted By Design 2021

What you focus on, EXPANDS

Are your thoughts preoccupied with the concerns for today? What shall we eat? What shall we wear? Where shall we live? Have you noticed that these concerns keep growing?

Picture credit: Pinterest

Pause.
Refocus.

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 8:6 NKJV

Who is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth?
Who is the Savior of the World?
Who loved you enough to die for you?
Who loved you to redeem you from death?
Who gave you new life?
Whose name is above every other name?

Pause.
Refocus.

Jesus is the Light of the World. Our gift of 24hrs is because the earth rotates around the sun. The earth never waivers, never falters, never alters. The Son should remain your singular focus just like the earth and the sun.

Remembrance Day

Is observed on 11th November to honor those who died serving their countries in World War I. There are poppies everywhere you turn on any street in England. On lapels. On billboards. On hats. Everyone has a poppy to remember. The tradition was instituted by King George V, grandfather to Queen Elizabeth II. This tradition is over 100 years old but it is as real as Christmas and as Thanksgiving. There is even an order of service for the Service of Rememberance

In October, I teach a session on the History of Uganda at Harvest Institute School of Leadership. The sessions have varied over the years, because wow, we live in interesting times. So this year, we were looking for history around us. Prior to this class, I found out from a friend that her grandfather whose home is in my neighborhood was a WWI veteran and a published author! Go figure. Do you think we have Remembrance Day in Kiwanga? Not in the least. If we were living in England, there would be a whole ceremony at the St Thomas round the corner from his home. And we would leave wreaths and little notes at the gate of his home. It is such an ordinary day.

Some of the students were not in Kampala so they needed help finding historical sites in the districts where they were. And that’s how I found out that Semei Kakungulu built a synagogue in Mbale. A synagogue. How could someone not remember to teach this in school? It is such a contrast to who he was and what we were taught that it should have found its way to the books. It didn’t.

We must choose to remember. And to remember not in part but in whole. Our lives did not begin with us so taking a moment to remember is us being grateful. Grateful for choices we did not have to make. Grateful for decisions that led to us being on this planet. Grateful for all who made it possible for you to live where you live.

On this last day of November, who do you need to remember? How can you express your gratitude?

A note to my father

There was a time in our history, the history of Uganda when intellectuals were hunted down and murdered. Several went missing and I can only imagine the terror in the faculties at the University. Getting in to work to the news that your alma mater had been murdered or had disappeared without a trace. I experienced a glimpse of this with COVID-19, when every message alert caused a bit of a flutter. Even now, as I was searching for the image for this blog, there were more images of death announcements than there were of celebrations. Yet, he remained. Even with all the options, he had to leave and start afresh.

My aunt tells the story of how they had to cross the Uganda-Kenya border with eggs. (This story is for another day). But yes, he crossed the border to shop for everything we needed. From milk to soap, there was nothing in our home that did not come from Kenya. For the longest time, waay past 1986, we did not purchase anything other than fresh food stuff and bread from Uganda. I don’t know how many miles he packed into his various cars plying the border but they are in thousands. I know that when I first crossed the border alone, some Immigration officers still remembered him plying the route.

Classic Daddy

I recall meeting one of his secretaries, she was a wife to one of the ministers in the Obote II government. She was delightful and loved to have us over to play with her children. And we loved her in equal measure. One day we awoke to the news that she had killed herself and her children. We quickly run to their home, hoping it was not true. But no one would let us anywhere near. There was no funeral for us, we were too young. I think times were too perilous, but death is cloudy. The mind selects what to focus on. All I recall was not seeing her busy in her kitchen through the big windows. Later, it would be that no one played with us anymore. There was no one to accompany home after Sunday School. There were no more simsim balls and groundnut bars. My dad still went in to work, he paused to check that we were well. And back to his routine.

The next time we heard from this family, the dad was running into exile in 1986 and requested my dad to park the official cars in our compound. My dad obliged; there was a formal handover. And he stayed while the former minister fled into exile.

Didi’s World opened with loads of fanfare, our first almost theme park. The highlight of everyone was the Pirate ship but you had to wait till you were twelve years. It was the equivalent of our rollercoaster. There was the Octopus and caterpillar but nothing beat the Pirate ship! I do not recall who had turned twelve, but we were finally all able to get into the ship. Some of us has been on it before, for the rest it was a fresh experience. My dad joined us and sat, stoic as ever. Then it started to swing. A gentle sway at first, then the speed increased and so did the height. Total mayhem.. At a certain point in its swing, one could see the Sheraton, and then it was down again. We were screaming, some children were crying. My dad, he sat there very calmly.

38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Mark 4:38 NKJV

One fine day, Jesus got into a boat on one side of the Sea of Galilee so he could cross over to the other side. It should have been a normal crossing, or maybe it was a normal crossing because such storms were common on the Sea of Galilee. I imagine it is similar to what has become common place flash flooding whenever it rains here in Kampala. Some sections of the road are cut off and crossing becomes perilous to everyone around the road. While, we tend to worry at the sight of grey clouds if caught around this section, Jesus enters the boat, finds a comfortable spot and puts a pillow under his head. He promptly falls asleep and only wakes up when roused by troubled fishermen.

Whenever I imagine this picture, I recall my dad seated in that pirate ship. In the midst of screaming and crying children, he is seated calmly taking it all in. Maybe it is the Mathematics, he might have been calculating in his mind. He shall write his story and tell all. To me, it will always be a reminder of Jesus.

You Have Authority Over Any Storm You Can Sleep In

Bill Johnson

Swords Up!

An AK 47/is a heavy prop to carry around but there she was swinging it around as she spoke with her colleague. Is there no protocol around these matters? How should a guard on duty conduct themselves?

We had to learn how to handle a gun as part of the training. Theory and practical. Take it apart, assemble it, and fire in a range. For some of the class, the shock started with the sound of the bullets up close. Mine started with the weight of the gun, especially during the recoil. One of the sergeants had to sit on my back to ensure that I was not destabilized by the recoil. Well, that would not cut it during any armed operation. So we had to learn to handle the weight of a gun on a daily. We were told to purchase specially fashioned batons known as silas. These would be our guns for the duration of our study. We marched with them to class, carried them to the dorms, even to meals. It was never lost. Wherever you appeared, you appeared with your gun.

That gun became almost an extension of each one of us. How interesting the allegory Paul painted to the Ephesians about the Sword. The average Roman Sword (gladius) weighed about 1kg. This seems so light, after all what is a kg of sugar, until you have to constantly carry it over long distances in formation. The Roman Solider was never without his armor.

African troops in Burma during World War II.

Swords Up! Such a fun game. Our Sunday school teacher used it to teach us to find Books of the Bible and then verses. It was such a joy to be the first to find the verse first, which was always easier with a well read Bible. The pages of a new Bible stick together for the much shorter books which makes it longer to find them. The last books of the Old Testament and New Testament were always the most rewarding because they were hard to find.

The Bible is delightful because it is the very Word of God. The Word from whom all things exist. The Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Whereas the Bible looks like an ordinary book, Jesus reminds us that His words are Spirit and Life.

28 My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word.

Psalms 119:28 NKJV

Your strength is found in always carrying the Word of God everywhere you go. There is no day off. There is no one time you appears without the Word or carry it in a careless manner. Every Christian must spend time learning and memorizing the Word of God. Listening to the Word being taught by their teachers of the Word so you are equipped in and out of season. It is the only offensive weapon a Christian has.

Feed the World

Let them know it’s Christmas time 🎶 You have not heard this 1984 Band-Aid favorite song? Never fear, the link is here. Or maybe you would prefer, Celine Dion’s ‘And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?’ You guessed it, the Christmas season is finally here. Is it your Most Wonderful time of the Year? We could do this all day…such fun.

Bob Geldorf and his pals were moved to avert a crisis in Ethiopia. There was a famine, a terrible famine that was documented by the BBC and caused everyone to want to do something. So that Christmas and the one after that, Band-Aid raised about £8M for the relief effort.

4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Matthew 4:4 NKJV

And so this is Christmas, what have you done? You have fed the hungry, well done! But Jesus, whose birthday is the reason for the Christmas celebration says there is more to life than food. Food offers temporary satisfaction, I recall all the Christmas dinners my mum cooked but that’s it. No more to feed on it again. Jesus is the Word in the Beginning, the Word that was spoken and everything we know was formed. so He should know what He is talking about.

Christmas time is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. Because our Savior was born on Christmas Day. And we need a savior because on our own we cannot save ourselves from the fallen nature of this world. When He became the Word incarnate, He showed us what to do.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Jesus did feed the hungry, 5000 of them in one go. It is important but not the most important. The most important is to feed the World with the Word of God. Every problem in this world is a sin problem. Even within relief agencies who are humanitarian, they fall short and their corrupt environment should be a reminder that there is more.

So this Christmas, would you lead someone to Jesus? So they are not only filled with a sumptuous Christmas dinner but remain with the Bread of Life all the days of their lives. The satisfaction is guaranteed by Jesus Christ.

The President is Coming

“H.E. The President of Uganda shall be the Guest of Honor at the event.” And that’s how it all started. With groans, with sighs, with enthusiasm, with nonchalance, it did not matter. There was work to be done.

The team that I was a part of was tasked with finding the tent. It was not to be a collection of tents but rather one big gigantic tent. At the time, our only exposure to this notion was the one used at Speke Resort Munyonyo. We had received a brief on the cost and it was extremely high.

Our role was to source a good alternative. The hunt was on and so was the countdown. Oh, Uganda, may God uphold thee. The term is kuyiya. My dad says that Ugandans will never acknowledge that they don’t know, rather they will impose what they know on your specifications. Sometimes it works but most times it is a rather shoddy substitute. One service provider enthusiastically told us how they were able to provide what we wanted, only to be asked at the reception, “how many tents we would require?” I could not help but also ask him whether he did not hear that it was singular and not plural.

One service provider did have the specified singular tent but it only sat the number we required if there were no tables.

I got a small headache.

So it was back to Munyonyo. The operations team lead was very courteous, responding to my inquiries and asking his questions. Even though he was sure it would not be set up on the tarmac, he visited the site anyway. The number and depth of holes we would need to drill to set up the tent would ruin the parking lot. But you can think about it, we would have no problem setting it up, if that is what you want. No, it was not what we wanted, I thought.

Eventually, one service provider imported the tent with the required specs. We were all set for the day. There was a dress code, a specific parking area, a program and caution to be prepared to be unavailable in person and on phone all day.

1 And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. 2 So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble.

1 Chronicles 29:1‭-‬2 ESV

How much more ought we to prepare for the House of the Lord? The place where God resides. David would not leave it to chance, he had to ensure that Solomon could fulfill the task at his young age. Solomon was not going to botch this up. He set up storehouses of treasures for everything that would be needed for the temple. He invited other leaders to join in. He set Solomon up for success.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Yes, the Holy Spirit indeed resides in us and we are the Temple. We are part of the Body of Christ. We have chosen to congregate in specific locations. Would the visit of the President be more important than meeting Jesus every Sunday? How have you prepared for the House of the Lord? Will zeal for the House of the Lord consume your children and their children? Or would they wonder why it is so important? Will they succumb to any offer or will they look for the best for the House of the Lord?

Don’t be caught unawares, prepare

Jerusalema

It became the most popular song during the COVID-19 pandemic. Complete with a dance routine. There are so many tik-tok videos in various countries. It went viral.

We long for Jerusalem in times of distress and Master KG’s Jerusalema lyrics do not stray far from this very familiar cry.

Jerusalem is my home
Jerusalema ikhaya lami

Save me
Ngilondoloze

He went with me
Uhambe nami

Jerusalema Challenge. Photo Credit: Pinterest


In World War I, a poem by William Blake was set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. It became England’s version of The Battle Hymn of Republic. Recently, there have been calls for it to become the anthem of England.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land

1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” 2 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Psalm 122:1‭-‬2 ESV

Lord, like the Psalmist, prayed so long before our time, may our hearts never forget you, O Jerusalem. May our feet always stand in your gates. May our souls receive gladness when we come into the House of the Lord. May our home always be in Jerusalem. Amen.