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Comment: Why All Leaders Should Go to Kyankwanzi

posted onJune 4, 2021

By Dennis Katungi

On Sunday 16th May 2021, government communications officers assembled at Kololo airstrip for the journey to the National School of Leadership, Kyankwanzi.  97 senior officers up to Commissioner-level – male & female, belonging to GCOF (Government Communications Officers Forum) were set for NALI.

All Spokespersons of Ministries, Departments & Agencies of government have membership of GCOF Forum.  The group was headed for a 2 week ‘Transformational Leadership Development Course’.

None of us had a clue about the modules or the mode of instruction awaiting us at Kyankwanzi.Whispers, that it was the well known Chaka-Muchaka were flying around.

NALI is located about 200 kilometers from Kampala and has a history of providing ideological orientation to citizens willing to regain their confidence, re-set their minds and develop a forward looking attitude. It offers an opportunity to unlearn and re-learn.

Started in 1985, the Institute mobilised leaders to understand the mission and objectives of the then Liberation struggle to form harmonized perceptions about the direction Ugandans wanted to take their country.The core values of the Institute are in promoting patriotism, integrity, professionalism & consistency. 

After a 4 hour journey, we arrived at the facility, enroled and got kitted in the Nytil Army green fatigues of the UPDF. I quickly located the Head of Faculty, Lt Col Rwabujumbure to establish what we were about to embark on.  He advised that there was a general briefing for the entire in-take.  “Don’t be apprehensive, at NALI, we train and develop qualitative leadership to enable leaders to stimulate and drive Uganda’s social economic transformation. Nothing less, nothing more” He quickly added that alongside the lectures, we would have some Military drills, morning parade as well as weapons training (demystifying the gun).

It turned out later, that these were among the most popular lessons culminating into target practice at the firing range.  We retreated to our self contained brand new dormitories for a quick freshen-up before heading to the John Garang Officers Mess for Dinner. Having been to Kyankwanzi a few years ago - as a facilitator of RDC’s retreat, I was impressed by the transformation of NALI infrastructure.  Several new imposing buildings including a state of the art Lecture theatre were visible.  We had the privilege of first usage of these new facilities.

President Museveni recently commissioned the buildings - when the newly elected MPs were at NALI.  However, we became the first group to occupy the Dormitories as well as have lectures in the new pavilion-like theatre. 

Major General Kasura-Kyomukama, the highly cerebral Director of the Institute has done a remarkable job as Head of NALI to improve the facility as well as re-train leaders. Together with his team of instructors/lecturers, they are the life-blood of NALI.

Then, the 10 question - one hour aptitude test! Sample: Briefly explain what you understand by: nationality, a country, a state, a nation, a tribe.   Draw a map of Uganda and on it, indicate: your home district, all the lakes, mountains & rivers. Also, place all the neighbouring countries in their locations.  Write the 3 stanzas of Uganda’s national anthem as well the East African anthem. What do you understand by an enclave economy? Just to mention but a few.

For a class dominated by Masters Degree holders and a few PHDs, I admit we performed averagely in these simple tests. 

The Director consoled us – that he had seen worse students! These tests quickly brought home to the class that we knew little about mother Uganda. The last time I drew a Map of Uganda was in Primary school! Over the weeks, we had lectures and presentations by selected Professors, Heads of Business schools, successful CEO’s, ideologues, army Generals and champions of transformational leadership. 

Questions like: How often do you renew the content of your mind? How do you train your mind to adjust? Do you know yourself? Do you know Uganda, Africa? What are Uganda’s strategic interests? We were taken through qualitative leadership – primers and drivers of social economic transformation. Analyse yourself first, your environment, society, Uganda and Africa. 

We were equipped with tools of analysis that offer an objective appraisal - to understand Uganda’s history and the geo-strategic environment that drives the national and pan-African interests. We revisited dialectics and complex processes of mind, motion, space and time - ‘analytical ways’ of thinking that lead to mindset-change. 

We delved into universal laws of development & transformation - negation of the negation, We dived into the principles of scientific thought – objectivity, concrete historical analysis of Uganda, Africa and the global/world powers dynamics with all the contradictions.We re-visited pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial Uganda – probing – where we came from and the status quo.  We were re-tooled as agents of qualitative change.  We had interactive sessions with lecturers, group activity and presentations on case studies picked from a raffle. 

The most engaging of the presentations for me was Maj. Gen Sam Kavuma’s analysis of the enemy.  He took us thru the motions of intelligence led operations in the Army - identify the enemy first, using intelligence, dissect the enemy’s entire strength! Juxtapose your strength against that of your enemy. In the exercise, we were shocked, after analysis, to discover that Uganda’s enemy is not a foreign entity but Ugandans themselves, and so, we aborted the attack, lest we turn the guns against our own citizens.

Realising that Ugandans are their own enemies was mind boggling.The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT & National Guidance, whose Ministry sponsored the retreat - Hon Vincent Bagiire took us thru convergence, mutuality and collective responsibility pointing us to leverage 4th generation (4G) technology now available. He laid forth new ways of cross-cutting re-engagement & working together. 

The icing on the cake was Gen Salim Saleh’s lecture of opportunity.  He tasked the Director – NALI to ship us by Coach to Gulu University where we had an engaging afternoon session with him.  He delved into Operation Wealth Creation as a case study and analysed the non-efficient silos in Government Ministries, Departments & Agencies.

It was revealing that his team authored the initial Paper that led to the current on-going rationalization of government agencies. He later on commissioned us as change agents to move forward & remove bottlenecks for transformation. 

We returned to Kampala with a NALI certificate, renewed synergies, a shift in mindset & fired-up for action.  Kyankwanzi should be for all leaders because it is transformational.

Dennis Katungi – Head of Communications & Media Relations – Uganda Media Centre@Dennis_Katungi

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