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Mentors and sponsors - By Dr. Jane Kavuma Kayonga

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Mentors and sponsors -  By Dr. Jane Kavuma Kayonga

 Iron sharpens iron, so says an old proverb. We learn from each other as we interact with one another. This explains why parents are our first teachers, mentors and sponsors. Each time I reflect on my life to assess whether I am living my own life, the life I want to live and whether I need to do more in life for others and myself, I always go back to the beginning: what role have mentors and sponsors played in shaping my life?

 

By mentors I simply mean anyone who believed in my potential and has been kind enough to encourage me, help me to trust life, myself and others as I discover how to live my full identity. Many times I have been immensely surprised to learn that some of my mentors believed in me more than I believed in myself. With their encouragement, I have learned to trust others enough to learn from them. I can be as good as the company I keep. I have had to add anyone on my list who inspired me to take on bigger challenges in life by her /his exemplary life.

 

The psychologists tell us that the first love affair is with our parents and can be happy or tragic but will influence all our future relationships. It is not surprising that my first mentors were my mother and father.

 

My father- I do not have to write much about him for he was one of a kind. I am grateful that he set me free when I was seven years old by telling me that I could be anything in the world as long as I was determined to work hard and honestly. Later, in my twenties he inspired me to know that real, lasting joy came from serving others from the heart. He was speaking from his wealth of experience.

Bob Proctor, the renowned motivational speaker, said: “The only limits we have are those we impose on ourselves.’’ Thankfully my father removed my limits at the age of seven by helping me to develop a positive mental attitude about life.

 

My mother- she is still limping along at 84, still mothering and educating many- hers and anyone who needs to be mothered or needs a granny. The twinkle in her eyes as she talks to these many children and grandchildren of hers inspires me to want to follow in her footsteps.

 

My grandmother- she was brutally murdered by her adopted son over money from the sale of the cotton harvest. I was 17 years when it happened.  She had been widowed at 32 but chose to concentrate all her love and energy on her three young children. She was illiterate but had great insight. She understood the value of education enough to enroll her youngest daughter in a nearby, rural Protestant school though she was a Catholic.

 

As luck would have it, a white Catholic Father found my mother in this school. After ascertaining that my grandmother could pay the school fees, he had my mother transferred to a girls’ boarding school founded by an Irish nun – Mother Mary Kevin. The school has since grown into Mount Saint Mary’s College, Namagunga, the dream school for every Ugandan Catholic girl. My mother went on to train and qualify as a midwife at Nsambya Catholic Hospital in Kampala.

 

My list of mentors keeps growing. Among my other silent heroines is a mother of 12. She has been dead now for 20 years but her legacy lives on to inspire many to change the world in their small ways, whether at home or at the workplace.

 

This mother of twelve lost her husband during the storming of the King’s Palace at Mengo by the Uganda army on May 24, 1966. Her husband had been the chief administrator of the palace. His body was never recovered. The widow was left to care for the 12 children among them sicklers who needed regular hospital treatment. She just rolled up her sleeves and did what she had to do despite the odds stacked against her.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Courage is an inner resolution to go forward in spite of obstacles and frightening situations; cowardice is a submissive surrender to circumstances.’’

 

 She was a real woman of courage. She died thirty years later leaving behind a ‘tribe’ of well educated, responsible, gifted and talented people. Among them : Professor Bwogi Kanyerezi,  my great teacher and currently the Director of Kampala Hospital in Kololo, Hon. Joyce Mpanga, Prof Harriet Masembe, Dr Rachel Masembe- Musoke, all being followed by strong, empowered and inspired members of the third generation.They are all daring, for their great grandmother, Manjeri Masembe, dared during her time.

 
 This has reminded me of the most important aspect of a parent’s legacy. It is not what you leave ‘for’ the children that is important but what you leave ‘in’ them –values, principles, ideals and attitude about life.
 

Armed with a positive attitude and standing on a solid foundation of values and principles, they can create their own identity and live happily as they pass on the legacy left to them as they seek to make a better world.

 

I have decided to live my life by daily helping someone do what he was afraid he could not do. The American author and theologian Edward Everet Hale put it well: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.’’

 

Complete the little you can do today and it will open up more opportunities for you to do more and change the world for the better.

 
 
Masembe Family - (early 1960s)

 

 

3 comments
Level 2 (XP: 450)
We receive what we call hereditary from those that see a great future on Us so they bestow on us the ultimate good we should do unto our children and our posterity what we would have loved to do but never did. So we should send out as often as we can white Doves and palm leaves to the eagles and vultures let that become our culture!
Level 1 (XP: 0)
In the picture above, seated in the front row from left to right;
Jajja Manjeri Masembe, and our late mother Mrs. Elizabeth Gibwa Kanyerezi
In the back from Left to right
Dr. Rachel Musoke, Jajja Asanasio Masembe, our late uncle Dr. John Masembe, Mr. David Sewanyana, our father Prof Bwogi Kanyerezi and Mrs. Margaret Barlow. In her arms Auntie Margaret has the eldest grandchild who was being presented that day, Dr. Nakimera Kanyerezi Lubega.
Level 1 (XP: 0)
Thank you so much Dr. Kavuma Kayonga for the wonderful tribute to our grandmother Muky. Masembe. We are indeed proud to be part of the "tribe" of well educated, responsible, gifted and talented people, mentored by a lady who stood tall. She and our Parents, Uncles and Aunts believed in our potential, encouraged and selflessly provided for all of us. Because she was, and they are, we are!

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