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I should have been a Supreme Court judge

By Agnes E. Nantaba

Dr. Livingstone Ssewanyana is the Executive Director of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative. He spoke to Agnes E. Nantaba about his similarity with Obama and why he likes barbers

Any three things we don’t know about you?

I love reading a lot – mainly law books because I am a lawyer. I also read a lot of novels especially those written by Jackie Collins. I am a church loving person but that does not qualify me as a born again because I consider it discriminative as Jesus came to save every one. I love going to the theatre. I am happily married to Sarah Ssewanyana with whom we have three children.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

There is no such a thing as perfect happiness. It can only be a state of wellbeing, a sense of actualization, when you feel you have achieved to a large degree be it family, professional, or academic life.

What is your greatest fear?

Death and losing what I have worked hard to achieve or take care of your physical person.


What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I am a very strict person. My challenge is to lower the scale constantly so that I am able to co-exist with other people.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Lack of innovation, people who only think of depending on other people or regurgitate other people’s ideas.

Which living person do you most admire?

Barack Obama and we share a lot of things in common; for oratory and innovation. He also likes to credit others. I also admire my mother Catherine Kironde and Sarah Ssewanyana for their sacrifice towards me.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I love to look good; I can go to the barber or afford to buy a good suit anytime.

What is your current state of mind?

Stable, hopeful, peaceful with myself and others, and hoping always for the best. It is a result of what I have achieved especially my PHD in law from University of Cape Town but also pulling it off in a record period of three years on a part-time basis.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Power and its influence are overrated in this hierarchical society.

On what occasion do you lie?

If the intention is to save someone or if loss of life may occur.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I feel I am a short person

Which living person do you most despise?

Thieves  or people who steal our hard-earned money.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

He must be hardworking, forward looking, frugal, love his family and should be supportive of the less priviledged

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Hardworking and should not be seen exchanging blows.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Phrases like ‘I subscribe to the view and ‘I rest my case’  due to the nature of my work.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Below God, it is my mother and wife; it is hard to resolve who comes first between them.

When and where were you happiest?

On two occasions; when we inaugurated the Human Rights House in 2001 and on June 13th 2014 when I graduated with my PHD.

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

If I could be the Pope because he has a lot of influence on the world but also to share good news with the world.

Where would you most like to live?

The Bahamas islands because they are very beautiful.

What is your most treasured possession?

Life ; without it, all is gone.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Terminal illnesses like cancer and mental illness.

What is your favorite occupation?

I had always wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was in primary school to play that premier role, reason and advise.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I am a workaholic but I am also helpful to all people

What do you most value in your friends?

They should stand above the crowd and be able to generate a following based on substance like knowledge

Who are your favorite writers?

Danielle Steel, Jackie Collins and Robert Kiyosaki – the writer of `Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, they imagine and make the world look real.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi because they made a difference in the world; but I also like Martin Luther King Junior for how he fashioned the struggle for democracy and human rights and what it has yielded in America.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My mother, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela

What are your favorite names?

Livingstone, Steven and Sarah

What is your greatest regret?

I regret failing to practice law because when I was at the law school, I made a case to be the best lawyer in town. May be I would be Supreme Court judge.

How would you like to die?

Quietly and peacefully in my sleep.

What is your motto?

Believe in the search for Justice for all.

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