Friday, 3 October 2014


I was asked to speak on the subject of “inspiring lives”.
By all accounts, this is no easy subject to speak about, particularly to an audience comprising some of the most accomplished professionals in this country. Here, in this gathering, are some of the most inspiring individuals and, I dare say, my own story is nothing compared to those of so many here today.
To begin with, I want to state that anybody can be an inspiration. But to succeed in inspiring others, I want to argue, the first victory has to be over yourself. To truly inspire others, you must be able to subordinate your strongest human desires to something bigger. You must want to live for something greater than yourself, and you must start with the end in mind.

The best way to do this is to ask yourself a question: what would I like my obituary to read like? For instance, would it matter if it read like: “He was a rich man who owned many properties and outmanoeuvred all his adversaries”?

Or it could be something like: “He was a great man who loved his family and transformed his community”? These two different obituaries communicate what one would have lived for in their lifetime. One could have been an inspiration and the other just another human being who lived through life to their satisfaction.

So, to bring the point home, I have looked at the lives of some individuals that have inspired so many people all over the world. They include Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Nelson Mandela of South Africa; the late James Mulwana, an accomplished industrialist in our own country; the late JC Kiwanuka, one of the finest teachers; and many sitting here today,  such as Professor Frederick Sempebwa, Doctor Edward Kasirye, etc.

Having looked at their lives, I asked myself a question: What is it that one has to do to make a difference and an impact on those around them, just like each of these people has done? I find that you have to focus on four critical components of life – lifestyle, perspective, values and relationships.
In your lifestyle, you must focus on what matters most, whether it is in relation to your health, economic well-being, career, intellectual freedom, family or your community. What you do today will define your tomorrow. Essentially, your hours define your days, your days define your months, your months define your years and – whether you like it or not, ladies and gentlemen –  your years define your life.

So, if you want to be an inspiration, you must focus on how you spend each day. Perhaps, let me digress a bit and talk a little more about intellectual freedom and the need to write. To truly be inspirational, we must take time to document our stories. The biggest challenge in this area is that most of our stories, as Africans, remain untold.

Indeed, most of the African narrative is written by other people, from their own perspective. I encourage us all here to make the time to write. It is a powerful tool to inspire other generations.

More than anything, our perspective to life feeds into everything we do. It is our view of the world that determines how we respond to every situation. To be an inspiration, you need to clear your lenses so you can see the world, not for what it is, but what it ought to be. Your perspective to family, work, relationships, service and contribution will determine your impact in your community and those around you.

So, to inspire others, your perspective must be right. Take time to meditate. All the people I have mentioned, that have inspired many, lived by a unique set of values. They all worked hard, had empathy, a sense of fairness and selflessness in the execution of their roles in society.

Many selfless, hard-working people that I know don’t do it to please anyone, but out of conviction for what they believe is the right thing to do. Take the example of people like the late Doctor Lukwiya, who gave his all for his patients, or the late JC Kiwanuka, who showed up every day to teach mathematics to students of our St Mary’s College Kisubi.
They did their work like God was watching. These are values that we can all aspire to. How you relate to everybody that you come into contact with, be it at work, in your community or much closer to home, like your family, determines the level of impact that you will have on people, and this can either be negative or positive. If, in your relationships, you live by the right values, then you will be an inspiration to everybody around you.

As I end, each one of us who has had the opportunity and privilege to have been groomed at SMACK – one of the finest institutions in raising gentry – should be an inspiration to the world. We, here today, have been blessed with an opportunity that not everybody has had. We must be different.
We must work harder every day and work to bring all our talents to bear and account for every privilege like God is watching. I challenge us all to be an inspiration everywhere we go.

The author is the managing director of Housing Finance bank. This is a summary of his keynote address at a reunion of former students of St Mary’s College Kisubi at City Royale hotel

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