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.