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Kizza Derrick Mbuga on living a fulfilled life

By Agnes E. Nantaba

Kizza Derrick Mbuga is the Executive Director of Mental Health Uganda. He spoke to Agnes E Nantaba about working for positive change amongst people with the most complicated illnesses.

Any three things we don’t know about you?

I come from a pure African family of nine boys and one girl and as children we had our own share of struggles, living with many relatives.  I did a bachelors degree in Development Studies and a Masters in Community Development. My father was a hotelier and my mother was among the first ten trained psychiatric nurses after Independence. It accounts for one of the reasons why I ended up working with and for people with psycho-social issues. At the university, I took a keen interest in working with people who had psycho-social issues having met many along the streets and failing to contextualise what they go through. One of my lecturers who was already in that area was very supportive. In the early 2000, I started working with MHU as a volunteer until I was appointed Executive Director in 2013.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness can be determined by an individual and the community around.

What is your greatest fear?

Failing to achieve or deliver the targets especially when people have a lot of trust in me.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

It’s not in me to have a trait I deplore in myself.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Poor or failure to communicate to others.

Which living person do you most admire?

Barrack Obama communicates well and his oratory skills are way above ordinary. Kofi Annan is another one especially for his famous statement that ‘the level of a country is not determined by the houses or the cars they drive but the ability of the government to invest in the most vulnerable population’.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Books; I spend some good money on literature that is pro-developmental.

What is your current state of mind?

I am usually at peace .

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Attention to politics; front pages in the media have more political news than others like education or health. The reason they give is that others don’t sell.

On what occasion do you lie?

I never tell a lie to get over something.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

At a younger age, I was so slender and yet very tall which didn’t go well with me but I have since added some weight.

Which living person do you most despise?

Anyone who takes others as worthless.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Honesty, attention to responsibility, and being accountable.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Honesty even in the middle of a challenge and living an exemplary life.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

When people ask me ‘how have you been’ my response is always ‘not so bad’.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My mother Eva Elizabeth Nakanjako Kaggwa has been an inspiration all of my life; she has all the time to listen. My children and wife also give me a lot of satisfaction.

When and where were you happiest?

When I had my first daughter and child on February 8, 2012; it was an opportunity to assume responsibility as a father.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I don’t have enough time to play or watch basketball games anymore.

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

God made me with all that I need to live a successful life.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I pride in being able to help people with the most complicated disability.

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

An evangelist to preach the gospel would suit me.

Where would you most like to live?

Uganda is where I can find user friendly food to eat.

What is your most treasured possession?

My children; they never judge me.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Being a woman with a mental challenge in the middle of an armed conflict.

What is your favorite occupation?

I always wanted to be a person who creates positive change and I am doing it.

What do you most value in your friends?

It is very important to have honest, God fearing and trustworthy friends.

Who are your favorite writers?

Dambisa Moyo for her book ‘Dead aid’ and Barrack Obama for ‘Audacity of hope and ‘Dreams from my father’

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Nelson Mandela was a selfless leader who gave up his life to create change.

What is your greatest regret?

I haven’t thought about any.

How would you like to die?

Peacefully in my sleep at a very old age

What is your motto?

Hard work is everything.

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