Prof. Dr. Katende. M. Suleyman Hadji- Professor of Tourism studies
Congratulations dear YMCA Comprehensive Institute graduands especially those from the Tourism Department where I am the Professor of Tourism studies. Today the Institute sets you free and unleashes you all to an unsuspecting public armed with respectable certificates, diplomas and degrees. My prayer is that you go out there and make a difference to society. Do not join the many graduates like you who passed in universities before that did not have that fire in them, determination and could not bother to draw water from their inner well. Some of you think freedom starts today as you unshackle the bonds of education and expect your parents to now respect your decisions.
Remember, you alone hold the key to your destiny and you alone can determine your level of success. Shine for whatever you do and it will be noticed. You all have so much potential within you. You just have to stretch yourselves and understand that an abundant life won’t just happen because you are a good person and go to mosque or church every Friday and Sunday. You need to make exert effort and think in new ways to succeed. Be creative and innovative. Learn to value your time as you go forward. Many of you are in your twenties, but before you realise it you will be in your thirties. Especially the ladies, because you have the extra burden of manufacturing children along the way as you multitask between a career and doing many of the associated home and family chores that cannot easily be delegated to the maids.
There are seeds of greatness hidden within all of you that need to germinate and grow. Ordinarily seeds require the right conditions like soil, water and light. Similarly, you as individuals, require the right mindset of abundance and not scarcity and poverty to germinate and flourish. That is your biggest challenge today as you graduate because you now have the education and knowledge. And while many of you have the skills, very few have the right attitude and mindset.
Start looking for jobs as early as tomorrow. I say to you, get jobs if that is the best option open to you, for not everyone can start a business. And when you take the jobs, work as hard as you can. Learn everything these jobs can teach youand build a network of contacts and friends. You do not learn how to network crouched over a desk studying for multiple-choice examinations. You learn it outside the classroom while talking to fellow human beings face-to-face. One day at a time, one brick at a time. You have time on your side and use it well. Do not be afraid to make a few mistakes along the way. The next 5 years are going to pass by so fast most of you will hardly notice as you juggle with jobs, finding a partner to settle down, having kids but more importantly having fun.
Looking back, I have personally succeeded where many have failed mainly because of hard work, persistence, focus on my set goals, discipline, honesty, taking responsibility for my life and believing that I could change my future.
I also encourage many of you to go out there and startup businesses that create jobs. We need young people like you who will find creative ideas and solutions to job problems. Grab the opportunity, take the risk, and postpone the comforts of today by setting up businesses that will provide jobs and profit for tomorrow. As you may be aware, the Uganda Colonial education system was designed to produce white collar job seekers for the government and neighbouring administrations. It has not evolved fast enough with the fast changing times, especially since the ICT boom got a grip on Africa. So you as individuals, must adapt quickly to your environment or fall to the way side.
The Asian culture is different from that of Uganda and Asian children are trained by family to be frugal, calculating and hard working from an early age. They are taught to analyze problems and challenges. They are taught critical thinking as a reflex and implementation of solutions. The Asian children understand the language of money-financial literacy by the age of 12 and do not take it for granted. In Uganda we have developed a survival mentality that minimizes the pain in life, but does not strive for mastering life in all its different aspects. So adapt the Asian culture.
True success cannot be faked. We have seen very many like “Bad Bblack” and the likes of “Mikke Ezra” and “Bryan Whitte” of this world come and go. Success begins by accepting to take full responsibility for your life. Success calls for a lot of effort, hard work and persistence. Many people simply do not try hard enough. Make a reality by getting out of your comfort zone, conditioned by your upbringing, culture, education and history. Stop blaming your parents, your teachers, and your government. Today is a good day to start taking full responsibility for your life. Your future is not necessarily determined by your past, or your parents or even your schooling. You can set your own water level in life. This understanding alone causes you to raise your expectations and so rise and live an abundant life. And that inactivity and laziness must be removed from your minds if you are to rise.
I wish all of you good luck and may you be the future that transforms our beloved motherland Uganda.