Man is a social animal ; goes about life making relationships. In doing so, he looks for acceptance, appreciation and acknowledgement. Being acknowledged makes people feel good about themselves and makes them want to do more for themselves and others. The super simple way of acknowledgement is usually expressed as ‘ Thank you’, and the highest monetary- tagged acknowledgment known to me is the prestigious, Nobel Prizes established by the Alfred Nobel ,the Swedish chemist who invented dynamite. Nobel Prizes have been awarded annually to men and women who have reached the most outstanding achievement in their respective fields since 1901!
The psychologist tell us children who grow up in homes where they are acknowledged for the good they do,grow up secure , confident and with a strong attitude of gratitude.
Cicero once said: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all other.’’ And the Dalai Lama said: “The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”

On the 19th September, I attended the Funeral Service at St. Francis Chapel Makerere University , Kampala, for one of our finest,accomplished engineer and most practical scientist of our time: Dr. Moses Kizza Musaazi. In a church filled to overflowing capacity, speaker after speaker outlined and acknowledged the achievements of this humble genius. It got me thinking about the local proverb which loosely translated says:  ‘Acknowledge me while I am still alive for once I’m dead , I ‘ll never hear your praises and thank you for them.’ I wondered whether all of us gathered there had taken a moment to thank Dr. Musaazi in person for his outstanding achievements! At least his old school which he loved and served selflessly had awarded him its Merit Award for his creativity and innovation.

Like Okwonko, Dr. Musaaazi was a man of few words and could never have asked to be acknowledged. All that he was able to do especially reaching out to the needy in our midst by designing locally appropriate and affordable items like the Makapads, came from the heart. It was born out his appreciation for all those who supported him and enabled him to attend Kings College Buddo, by then considered as a school for royals and the chiefs’ sons and daughters. He never forgot his impoverished roots and that attending that school was the ‘game changer ‘ in his life. It opened up numerous opportunities, choices and new challenges including joining the Makerere University Faculty of Engineering as a student in 1971. He graduated as an Electrical engineer in 1975.
Since that time, in his simplicity, Dr. Musaazi has given to the needy without humiliating them or maiming them ; he empowered them to help themselves while he ensured that he himself never suffered burn out. He remained creative, entrepreneurial and worked very hard.

I for one was lucky to have parents who made me understand that acknowledgement was as essential as food and always brought out the best in each person. I have seen smiles that melted my heart when I said ‘Thank you ‘ to the women who clean toilets at the airports. They felt that they were being recognized that they existed and contributed to the smooth running of those big International airports!
In 1993 as my school celebrated 90 years of existence I wrote a simple poem about the headmistress during my time at the school. I was acknowledging her contribution in molding and shaping us into what we had become. Retired by then in England, she wrote to me thanking me for the appreciation.
I remember her telling me: “Incredibly touched by your poem for no one has ever written a poem about me.” I was touched by her words too!
One Hansa proverb says : “ Give thanks for a little and you’ll find a lot.’’

My late father had received an OBE – Order of the British Empire, from Queen Elizabeth 11 during the Coronation awards of June 1953 for his outstanding work in the Uganda Protectorate. He had gone on to win many other awards in his lifetime.
Amazingly, what he treasured most was his old school’s Award to him in March 1988- The Kings College Buddo Merit Award. During the launching of this award, four outstanding old students were acknowledged for their contribution to the development of Uganda. They were: Dr. Samson Kisekka who was then the Vice President of Uganda, Engineer A.P.N Waliggo who had once been a Prime Minister, Mr. Eridadi Mulira, a veteran politician and my father: Paulo Neil Kavuma. My husband and I accompanied him to this function. We had never seen him as happy as he was that day! Later when he went back to the school to give a lecture about his life and to inform the students of how the school had prepared him for his later role in life, he revealed that he treasured that Award so much because it was a symbol of recognition from his own! He died an incredibly happy man a year later.
William Arthur Ward said: “Feeling gratitude, and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

When it comes to giving acknowledgement, there is no better time than the present.
Last year, my Graduate class: The Class of 1977, organised a reunion in Uganda and among the events was a luncheon with our former lecturers at the University. They attended in big numbers and were all touched when we gave each one of them a Commemorative Plaque acknowledging them and telling them  that we were standing on their shoulders! Their laughter and words of acknowledgement are etched in my memory! It was a simple gesture that left the giver and receiver richer for life.
I am writing this post to encourage each one of us to stop taking people and things for granted but instead develop a habit of noting the good others do and thanking them for it. It builds people up and encourages them to give of their best wherever they are. While doing so, you also strive to give of your best without expecting rewards. We shall then create a better world than we found.

Thank you for reading this post. Kindly share with me your ideas  and experiences about acknowledgement and feel free to share this post with family and friends.


The Gift Of Knowing That You Do Not Know Everything

Arguably no one is perfect and no one can know everything.
Knowledge changes fast and this demands that we keep abreast by being willing to learn every day.
We first learn things from those around us  and then join the formal education in schools, colleges and universities. We also learn about the world around us through what we go through.
Knowledge is not meant to be contained but it should be used to act better: make better informed decisions in life, applied to improve our own lives and other people’s lives. In such situations, then knowledge is truly power. Since new knowledge keeps coming up or old knowledge becomes outmoded, to enhance our understanding of the world around us and improve the quality of our lives; learning should be a lifelong job. When you know you act better and your confidence and self-esteem is boosted. I seek knowledge every day for both personal and professional development.

I find it extremely exciting to be alive and active during this technology –driven 21st century where things change often and very fast too. It demands that I remain an apprentice in how to live a full life, for life if I am to remain relevant and useful. I would be my worst enemy if I took myself to know so much that I do not need to learn anything new.
Socrates , the classical Greek philosopher and one of the founders of western philosophy said: “ True Knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.’’
He also said: “ I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.”
Jim Rohn an Entrepreneur also says that : “ You cannot learn until you know that you do not know and seek for the knowledge.’’
When you know that you do not know, you seek to know. You humble yourself and open up your mind and heart to learn new things. When you learn things and understand then you grow.
There are learning tasks for each stage of our lives.

I have come a long way from the naïve and inexperienced young woman to the sage – searching for the reality behind appearances, decoding clues and solving the underlying riddle of existence. It would not surprise me if soon I started speaking in riddles and parables!
Ken Keyes says: “Everyone and everything around you is your teacher.’’
In my quest for knowledge I have learned from the simple child, the youth, my peers and the elderly around me. I have also been able to learn from the plants, birds and animals around me. I am able to do this only when I open myself up and I am willing to learn. It is the only way to keep abreast of change.
It all starts by accepting that as a human being, I can never know everything. This is the actual gift which frees my mind to learn more. Depending on the situation, I can learn new things, relearn old but relevant things or unlearn outmoded and irrelevant things. The only thing that can limit me is myself.

I can never thank my parents enough for helping me to develop a passion for learning and encouraging me to do things by myself. They opened up a world of wonder for me and I am doing the same for my children and those around me.
Someone somewhere said that anyone who stops learning whatever the age, is as good as dead. I won’t allow this to happen to me; I have declared myself a student for life and would love to recruit you too.

Thank you for reading this post. I would be extremely grateful if you left a comment about it and shared it with family and friends.

The Daredevils Of Our Time

Each time I take to the sky, I find myself thinking and remembering all the pilots, flight engineers and flight attendants known to me; alive or dead. In June I had to travel to London at short notice. It gave me the opportunity to fly by Emirates for the first time. For the two decades I have lived and worked in Botswana, I flew to Europe from Johannesburg by Virgin Atlantic, South Africa Airways and once by Kenya Airways.In the 80s I flew to London most of the time by the then Uganda Airlines. I enjoyed the flights and was well looked after so I only need to step on the plane to jog my memory for the faces and names of all those pilots and the hostesses whom I had come to know well. They include: late Steven Walusimbi, late Sam Kadama, late Adrew Kaggwa, late Sam Mwanje, captain Roy, captain Tamale, captain Kikwabanga, Engineer Jack Alecho and Chief stewardess Serunjogi , and Bakabulinde, Betty Kigguba, Harriet Sentongo, late Grace Achan and many others. They were all true professionals and made us proud to be Ugandans as they flew our National Carrier.

Up to today, I rate the pilot’s capability to take off and land smoothly based on what is locked in my memory. I find myself saying: “You were so good and you enjoyed immensely what you were doing. For you it had ceased to be work and was just fun.” I also remind myself that it was the East African Airways Dakota that carried Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh from Nanyuki, Kenya, to Entebbe to board a BOAC flight to London in February 1952 after the sudden death of King George V1. The Princess was later enthroned as Queen Elizabeth 11 of the United Kingdom on 2nd June 1953.
Many of these dedicated flight crew and cabin crew had initially worked with the East African Airways which was dissolved when the East African Economic Community collapsed in 1977.Thereafter, each of the three states formed its own National Carrier: Uganda Airlines Corporation, Kenya Airways and Air Tanzania.
Uganda Airline Corporation was founded in 1976, became operational in 1977. It was fully owned by the Uganda government. It flourished for some years but by 1995 it had started limping. It finally collapsed and was liquidated in 2001. From the little I know, it failed due to poor management resulting from political interference, chronic lack of capital, increased competition and the loss of experienced staff.

Like the soldiers on the frontline, all those workers in the air transport industry live with the constant risks and hazards of the occupation. Sadly, on October 17th 1988, a Ugandan passenger jet, a Boeing 707, crashed near the Leonardo de Vinci Airport just outside Rome! It had originated from London and was travelling to Entebbe Interanational Airport,Uganda, via Rome. There was fog around the airport. Thirty one of the people aboard died in the crash. Captain Steven Walusimbi was its pilot while Captain Andrew Kaggwa  was the co-pilot. Among the passengers that lived to tell the story was Prince John Patrick Barigye of Ankole. Later as he narrated how he survived the crash, I learned from him to always pay attention to the Safety instructions or video especially about identifying all the Exists on the plane.

I was very privileged to attend Captain Steven Walusimbi’s funeral in Entebbe but sadly missed that of captain Andrew Kaggwa, a great friend of my late brother. Late Kaggwa’s body was whisked off straight for burial in Mubende,western Uganda. I failed to connect with his relatives.
As if that was not enough, I also lost a neighbor at work in the same crash: the late Henry Obonyo from Tororo,eastern Uganda. He was a humble and a decent human being working as the Manager of the Uganda Army shop in Mengo. May God continue to rest all those people in eternal peace.

Fast – Forward to June 2018, the whispers of relaunching a National Carrier for Uganda were confirmed by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, as he read the 2018/2019 Budget. Two Air buses A330-200s have already been ordered and if all goes well, the National Carrier could be operational by the end of the year!
All those who care enough know why the Uganda Airlines Corporation collapsed and that the environment has changed very little.
Edmund Burke said: “In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.”
We all need to learn hard lessons from the past not to repeat it.

In my naivety, I am aware that running an airline is a highly complex and demanding job and at the same time I know that the wisest among us always learn from others’ mistakes and experiences. I hope that by now we have already sent a team to Ethiopia to learn from them. Ethiopian Airlines has now been running for 72 years and is often called The Pride of Africa. It is the prime airline in Africa: flying to 90 destinations, providing excellent air transport services all the time. It surprises many people by its efficiency, continued growth from strength to strength and has been consistently profitable and consistently improving in service standards. It is Africa’s largest carrier. The same team should also bench mark with Kenya Airways which in 2015 and 2016 made substantial losses but since then has struggled to improve as by the end of 2017. South African Airways is still struggling to raise its head.

Those of us who believe in the principle of Utilitarianism: The Greatest Good for Greatest Number would have preferred to see the limited resources used to improve the ailing health care system, education system and agriculture sector which supports over 70 percent of the population.
Colin Powell, an American statesman, retired four-star general in the US army and 65th US Secretary of State said: “A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.’’
Coach Bridget Burns said: “If you think you know everything, there’s nothing else to learn until you learn….. you do n’t know everything.”
As for the original flight crews and cabin crews of the defunct Uganda Airlines Corporation, I take off my hat to you. Your service record remains a source of pride and joy to us. I still call you the daredevils of our time: avid air enthusiasts, organized, dedicated and with great concern for the safety of your passengers and machines. You were among the best of your time so I had to share you with the world. I have no doubt that during this technology –driven era, you would be even better.

Thank you for visiting my blog and reading this post. I am interested in learning about your experiences with air transport. I would be grateful if you commented on this post and shared it with family and friends.