By Patrick Bitature
KAMPALA, Uganda: Thousands of students will be graduating from their respective universities in the coming days and months.
Makerere, our country’s oldest university, will kick off its ceremonies on January 15th and the other universities will follow. The graduates have already had a taste of the real life, having finished their studies mid last year and tried to get employed. Many know by now that the world can be harsh and unforgiving. I hope many are tightening their belts in readiness for the struggle ahead. Some may have decided to kick the tin down the road by continuing with school. And others may have given up altogether. My prayer is that there are more of the first and less of the last kind. In talking to young people, I find that what is needed is a reorientation of their minds – a mindset change. Let me share with them certain facts to help them manage their expectations of the world and how they can fulfill their potential in our context. First of all, the world owes you nothing. It was here before you. It has seen more brilliant or hopeless people than you are right now. It can very well do without you. Harsh? Yes! But it’s a truth we need to internalise. You might be the hottest kid in your class, in the country. Regardless, you are entering a stage in life where practical results are everything regardless of what you did at school. All you have learnt at school will be turned this way and that, revised or even rejected by the real world.
Think Of It As A Reset: Regardless of what course you have done, the biggest skill you must make sure you leave the university with is the ability to learn and to learn continuously. This is important, even critical and will be the difference between whether you survive or not, or better still, whether you thrive in the years ahead of you. The world is changing at a faster and faster pace and to keep up or stay one step ahead of these changes your ability to learn continuously will hold you in good stead. As a businessman who has started from the ground, I have had to learn to grow from selling sugar as a teenager to currently overseeing businesses that range from retail outlets to power generation plants to hotels and real estate developments. They say that the knowledge that has gotten you to where you are is not the same knowledge that will take you to the next level. And I am not talking about upgrading your academic credentials only. You need to set up an independent program of learning about the world around you- how it came to be the way it is and where it is going. This self-initiated quest for knowledge will come by reading books, exploring the internet and through regular interaction with mentors. The world demands that you become an insatiable knowledge sponge. If this is the only thing you take away from this, my work will have been done. As a final thought, you are young the world is literally at your feet. You have the advantage of time. Use it well; make every day count. One important thing you will need to learn is financial literacy. This will not only help you spend your money wisely but will eventually lead to having your money work for you, which is the ultimate goal of financial literacy. In this regard I urge you to Google -compounding, which Albert Einstein called the eighth wonder of the world. Put very basically it is building on what you have, be it knowledge or relationships or money. Whether you will be financially secure in your older years will depend on whether compounding works for you or not.
One of the smartest things you can do for your future well-being is to understand and employ compounding to your benefit. The sooner you start the better. And my very last word is that you are lucky to be alive and well in this country at this time. The potential of this country is largely unexploited, which means that you will be getting in at the ground floor of whatever you do. Don’t be distracted by tales of how moving to this country or the other will be better for you. The action is all here. There is a price to pay to unlock this potential. Bucketfuls of sweat and copious amounts of faith will be needed. From my experience I can promise you that if you stick to the course there will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Congratulations to our gradients. Celebrate your success, but not for too long, because there is work to be done.
The Author is the CEO Simba Telecom and leading entrepreneur in Uganda