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I don’t have to love or hate the President

By Joan Akello

Godber Tumushabe, the Associate Director of Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, talked to Joan Akello about his impatience and ambitions

Any three things we don’t know about you?

Many people think I’m very serious and probably my life is scripted but I’m one of the approachable personable persons to meet. I was the only student from Mbarara High school that was admitted for Law at Makerere in 1990.  My first job was in Public Service as a licensing law enforcement officer for 4 years but learnt that I’m impatient and can’t work for the government. I wear my wedding ring on my right hand.


What are your most interesting memories?

At Centre for Higher Education, with my friends, we started a newsletter-The Centre Today – in which we would write about student and student teacher couples, and many other secrets but administration never caught us. Arthur and I were suspected to be ring leader of a strike in which students attacked teachers at a party and destroyed their houses but we were only saved by teachers who said we had escaped from school with them that day.

So it’s not surprising that the President mentioned you while addressing a special session of Parliament in 2012?

I talk with facts and it’s disappointing that he could lie to the nation and have it recorded in the Hansard. It reflects on the quality of the people around him to allow him make such speeches.  He is a citizen like me. I’d like to engage with the president because he only complains.

Do you aspire to join politics?

I despise politics; it’s been so monetised and the only elective job I can have is that of the president; to have the power to change this country.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Having a loving, stable family and achieving professionally.

When and where were you happiest?

In 2001, when my wife accepted to marry me.  We had dated for 8 years

What is your greatest fear?

Before 1996, I was an avid supporter of Museveni but he is now part of our problem or an obstacle to solving our problems and I fear Uganda under President Museveni after 2016 because we know where regime longevity leaves countries.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Impatient, overbearing, and also self-opinionated.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Dishonesty.

Assess Uganda’s think tanks?

We have few and some like mine which are emerging.  There is opportunity but the environment is tough to compete for funding.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Neckties.

What is your current state of mind?

Sober, excited about establishing a regional think tank and build Technologies Frontiers Education Centre-a skills training school in Ntungamo.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

My wife says she fell for me because I’m always smart.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Is Intellectual, ambitious, beautiful, and smart.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My wife, I can do anything to make her happy.

Which talent do you admire?

Writing, invention, innovation.

What would you change?

Create more time for my family, I’m always working.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My career and scholarships, I have seen my siblings study and now they have also sent other relatives to school.

What needs urgent attention?

Education, we are being irresponsible to ignore quality. I hate this UPE, USE business which promotes mediocrity.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

When you can’t give your child the education they deserve or can’t afford quality health care

What would you tell the President?

Your capacity to transform this country is long gone.  He has to choose to change the governance and development trajectory, redirect our money from regime patronage to investments in education, health, but he now carries sacks of money across the country. I don’t have to love or hate the president but he has to do his job as I do mine.

Who are your favorite writers?

Intelligence fiction especially Annie Jacobsen’s  Area 51, it talks about  America’s secret military base where technologies are developed but developers have to use the need to know concept ; Built to last by Jim  Collins, Nelson Mandela ‘s Rivonia Trials especially Black man in the White man’s coat and Martin Luther King Jr’s letter from Birmingham jail.

Who are your heroes in life?

Nelson Mandela; you contribute to humanity but live in humility after coming out of prison, Steve Biko, Obama.

What is your greatest regret?

Some of my siblings and cousins died of malaria or HIV/AIDS; I wasn’t able to help.

How would you like to die?

Suddenly; I don’t want to waste people’s time and money. Once I’m dead, it’s some else’s business. My two near death experiences in 2001 and 2005 taught me that you can actually die without pain.

Your philosophy about life?

Life is a continuous struggle, make use of the time you have to do good things and it’s much more than you.

How do you want to be remembered?

Somebody who made a contribution that helped others.

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