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I could be Lord Mayor of Kampala

By Joan Akello

Dr. Ian Clarke, the chairman and chief executive officer of International Medical Group (IMG) and Makindye Mayor speaks to Joan Akello about surviving cancer and his life

Any three things we don’t know about you?

I do not like jogging but do it for my health. I am thinking of farming. I got interested in politics because I was ashamed of the state of Makindye Division. Surviving cancer 22 years ago made me more aware of my mortality and more focused.

Why are you always in the company of young ladies?

I employ a lot of young people, and find it hard to work with old people who are set in their ways. Because I’m an Irish-born Ugandan, I often take a Ugandan along to learn more unlike if I move with my Madam where we are two whites who cannot communicate with the people. Being white or black is not about colour but your attitudes.


Why are you among the Hashers?

Some say it’s a drinking club with a running problem which I’m not but it has kept me jogging for the last 15 years. It keeps you fit.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Living each day for the value of that day, doing stuff that you want to, not at the expense of other people.

When and where were you happiest?

In 1992, the day an investigation showed there was hope of surviving cancer; it came at the point I was sure I was going to die.

What is your greatest fear?

I don’t usually think about fear but anxiety. I can’t say I don’t fear death, I have accepted that it is inevitable.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I’m volatile and impatient.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Sense of entitlement, love for having titles, and arrogance.

Which living person do you most admire?

Barack Obama, he is exceptionally disciplined.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I don’t like wasting money but also don’t want to be stingy to buy a glass of wine. I would mix business with pleasure.

What is your current state of mind?

I’m driven to produce something but at peace with whatever I do.

On what occasion do you lie?

I follow the principle- will telling the truth harm you? Some lies are necessary.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My crooked teeth which affect the way I talk.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Honesty, people are successful because they are good at what they do and honesty.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

If a woman has got brains and is pretty that is even better.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My wife, children and grandchildren, I’m fortunate that my sons and I hang out with our friends.

What is your most treasured possession?

Good quality life.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

The point someone says they have nothing to live for.

What is your favorite occupation?

Interested in farming, love writing.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I’m driven, social, and like people.

Who are your favorite writers?

Malcolm Gladwell especially his books The Tipping Point, What the dog saw and also Chimamanda Adichie’s  Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah. My wife, Robbie, reads all the time.

Who is your hero of fiction?

None but Americannah had a deep depiction of how Nigerians or Ugandans are like abroad.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Big business people like Richard Branson, Warren Buffett. I admire Barack Obama, a Black guy in white culture, he tends to wait before he takes a decision, his considered approach is better than just jumping in. If he had married a white woman he would have become irrelevant, that is why you see me with Black girls.

Are you coming back in 2016?

I’d be interested in the position of the mayor of Kampala city.  My options will be to retire, farming, stay in what I’m doing, go to parliament or stand for lord Mayor which is the most likely option but it’s expensive and it’s hard for me because I do not speak Luganda.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Jesus Christ.

What is it that you most dislike?

People who keeping saying yes and those who do not read and also politicians who send people they cannot get jobs to me.

What have you discovered about our local politics?

Politicians do not know what they are supposed to do. Local politics is clear, delivering services to the people but how will you if you are busy making noise. Fort portal is a nice clean place yet Mityana is a dump?  What’s the difference between the people in those two places? If you deliver services, the more chances you have to be reelected.

How would you like to die?

Not slowly and painfully.

What is your motto?

I don’t give up.

What is your philosophy about life?

We are primarily selfish and must understand that we can live our lives in full for ourselves but we can validate our lives by doing stuff that’s going to help humanity.

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