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Dr Saamanya on success and surprises

By Agnes E. Nantaba

Dr Saamanya Pat Jimmy is 9-year serving Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT. He spoke to Agnes E Nantaba about rising from a remote rural background to one of the highest positions in Civil Service.

Any three things we don’t know about you?

I come from a humble background in Mayuge District having gone through relatively humble schools in very remote areas. This, however, didn’t stop me from graduating to the highest levels of education thanks to a committed father. I am a qualified veterinary medical doctor. I am married with nine children. My name Saamanya was given by my mother who had a lot of attachments to it. I am her first son who survived infant mortality. She had lost two others previously. Fortunately, the name has followed me because it never crossed my mind that one day I would ever be the permanent secretary.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness comes with good health, ability to provide the basics to my family and contributing to the community welfare.

What is your greatest fear?

Wars; they are destructive predominantly to innocent people as the people who are fighting have a way of dodging harm.


What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I am intolerant to people who intentionally do wrong things.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I don’t want to associate with people who have no respect for others.

Which living person do you most admire?

My father Abiyam Nsadha: at 102 years, much as he never went to school, he is still wise enough to guide me.

What is your greatest extravagance?

My family’s wellbeing is more than an extravagance.

What is your current state of mind?

At peace and relaxed with everything up and about me.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

The zeal to become excessively rich at any cost irrespective of whether it is done at the expense of others.

On what occasion do you lie?

I detest telling lies but a circumstance that involves saving life may tempt me to lie.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

Although I have come to terms with my height, I wish I could be three to four inches taller.

Which living person do you most despise?

I can’t go to the specifics of a person but I despise liars.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

His character in terms of values and principles; integrity is key.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Not extremely different from those of a man; she should be respectful and a good role model.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

It is common in my writings to have ‘therefore’ and ‘against this background’.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My entire family; it is difficult to point out who comes first.

When and where were you happiest?

When I attained my first degree in Veterinary Medicine in 1979 and when we had our first born in 1985.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Singing and being a good traditional dancer is one thing I always loved to be talented in.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I am unnecessarily a perfectionist and I wish I could loosen a bit.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Surviving all odds in the world to celebrate 59 years on December 23, 2015 and attaining one of the highest positions in civil service as PS.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A social worker who is able to coordinate all professions for the benefit of society.

Where would you most like to live?

Not anywhere else apart from Uganda; it’s only in Uganda where we can consume fresh air and find hospitable people.

What is your most treasured possession?

My brain; I want to remain sane and be able to make a choice.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Being a destitute; it deprives someone of the ability to make a choice in life

What is your favorite occupation?

I am fulfilled being a veterinary doctor.

What do you most value in your friends?

Shared attributes and loyalty.

Who are your favorite writers?

African writers like Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka; having come from a rural background, I relate closely with their writings.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Nelson Mandela for obvious reasons; he was a product of both an enlightened and rural society whose interests he worked to balance.

Who are your heroes in real life?

President Yoweri Museveni for being eloquent and containing provocation, my father for his wisdom and sacrifice, and my wife who has stood by me for all the years.

What is your greatest regret?

My mother fell sick for long time and I was seen as her favorite who could influence her to take meals. Unfortunately I took this for granted until she passed on.

How would you like to die?

Peacefully after a short time of illness.

What is your motto?

The urge to succeed in my endeavors if only for the good of myself, family and community

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