MY CHANGAMKA STORY: JOURNEY OF TRANSFORMATION. By Nguka Ojwang’

 

Let’s start this journey with a question. Have you ever walked in a room and come out feeling a different person? Or feeling like you can do more? That feeling of a conqueror? Yes that’s the feeling I’m talking about. It’s the feeling you get at the end of each session of the CHANGAMKA leadership training. This is subject to rather as a result of comprehensive leadership training by a team of competent coaches from different sectors that I would describe using the Chinese words: “ShangShangCe” meaning the best of the best options.

The sessions a started by a great training on self-awareness and personality types by Dr. Leslie Brickman who is a certified life coach and trainer. He says that in leadership it is a must for a leader to first know themselves and then those that they lead. Dr. Leslie clearly brought out three types of leaders and their traits i.e. Dependent leaders who are abusive and manipulative, independent leaders and competitive leaders. Finally we were introduced into a comprehensive self-discovery of our different temperaments and their traits as well as emotional intelligence (E.Q) which has a great impact on our ability to lead. I realized that I am an extrovert and intuitive (E.N) and learned on appreciating and dealing with the other personality types.

Dr. Job Mogire the founder of the House of Mastery in his session on self-discovery and leadership journey he did justice to the topic by bringing out different views from birth that we have towards the world, life, people and self. I.e. do we view the world as safe or unsafe? People as good or bad? Life as meaningful or meaningless? Ourselves as worthy or unworthy? He further introduced us to the topic on purpose and the presentation of the six circles theory (spiritual, identity, beliefs, capability, behavior and environment). I resolved to apply the 3P’s principle in my life: To give myself permission to act independent of other people’s negative opinion/vibes, to own the power to make my own decisions and to protect my time, energy, attention and intentions.

In his session on Habits of Highly Effective People Mr. Nelson Mburu the CEO, African Investment Trade and Agricultural Network, made a splendid presentations on the seven habits from Stephen R Covey’s book where he makes this profound statement that ”we are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit.” Mr. Mburu expounded on all the habits from being pro active to sharpening the saw in a way that provoked the leader in me to do my damndest best to cultivate all this seven habits (be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek to understand then be understood, synergize and sharpen the saw)of which the first three habits constitute private victory, next three constitute public victory and the last is all about self investments. Aftermath: I have resolved not to respond to the weather but create my own weather and to work and live my mission statement.

I started by posing a question to you and admitting that after each CHANGAMKA session I feel a different person and at this point I feel I respond to quite a number of titles the latest one being “a feminist” yes you read that correctly. You must be wondering “but why a feminist?” According to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a renowned Nigerian novelist points out in one of her TED talk presentation that; “We Should all be feminists.” Well being a man in a patriarchal society I couldn’t help but disagree not until Nafula Wafula the Founder, Tetezi and a Feminist in one of the sessions: Gender and Leadership did justice to the topic and convinced me otherwise by practically letting us draw my ideal woman , the major gender stereotypes that we have and what we think either of the genders can’t do in leadership. Think about that. What is it that a female leader can’t do that his male counterpart can? End point I believe that a great mind or a leader’s mind is that which is androgynous.

If a woman or man is leading and doesn’t have followers then probably they are just having a walk. Yes, even Jesus Christ as a leader had followers. If you love reading the good old book you probably must have come across the text where some of the followers (disciples) of Jesus had a sort of debate on who is the greatest rather a leader and in his rejoinder Jesus said that “whoever wants to be the greatest must be a servant” (Mark 10:43-45.) In the Session: Servant hood and Leadership Dr. Funso Somorin who is the Regional Principal Officer, African Development Bank and ELF trainer insisted that the quality of the followers determines the quality of the leadership and we should desire to serve because leadership is about service not title. It is a general knowledge that when you drop a pebble in an ocean it produces a ripple effect that is unstoppable the same way I have resolved to drop myself in an ‘ocean’ of servant leadership and create a service ripple that will affect others in turn and make the world a better place.

Now allow me to tag you along a journey backward, a decade to be exact. I remember some years back in high school history class we had these cool stories of African elites from different countries who started Pan-Africansm movement during the colonial period in Africa but unceremoniously the story ends after independence leaving me with questions like what next? Why are the whites still considered by many as superior? What’s in for Pan-Africanists if there are any left since most of the early ones rose to power and became the oppressors? Back to present time, in one of the CHANGAMKA session on Pan-Africanism, Mr. Michael Orwa a Governance and Democracy Expert and also a Pan-Africanist posed a question to us that I will also pose to you; who will liberate Africans from their liberators? Well based on the foundational principles of Pan-Africanism i.e. humanity, freedom, dignity, equity and non-discrimination and social justice, I have resolved walk the talk and take up yet another title: Pan-Africanist since being black is not a matter of pigmentation but a reflection of mental attitude so is Pan-Africanism.

Matters governance is a session that I walked out wiser as well as being on the know that I hadn’t done much as pertaining on playing any important role in governance as a youth. Mr. Collins Odhiambo the Deputy Manager Actionaid Global platforms and his counterpart Miss. Stella Agara a renowned Tax Justice Advocate on the sessions on Youth Engagement in Governance, they pointed out that as much as young people are the cornerstone of Africa’s development their role in governance has been reduced to unconstructive criticism and irrational demonstration to protect those in power, blame it on the ignorance of the youth on even the functions of their immediate leaders e.g. the MCA’s and MP’s. Mr. Collins further provoked the youths to be involved in the policy making by engaging in the processes both online and in physical platforms.

Mr. Arnold Maliba an expert in policy making as well as a former UN Youth Representative and Currently the Manager, Strategic Partnerships and dialogue under Emerging leaders foundation and coordinator of the CHANGAMKA Mentorship program has been playing a great role in helping us engage in different platforms during and even out of the training sessions. With all the knowledge acquired on matters governance engagement I can confidently identify a problem, its root cause, plan on how the message get to the right ears, identify stakeholders for in engagement one can’t afford to be selfish, do community mobilization, alliance building and implementations.

You see I just love on how the sessions in the CHANGAMKA are organized, just when I was getting so political, well I mean engaging in handshakes with my co-trainees which is basically networking and engaging of course, the sessions transpose to matters entrepreneurship another interesting topic. In her personal Journey and lessons Akinyi Odongo the Founder Akinyi Odongo Kenya and a Mentor insisted that the youth have the solutions to the problem in Africa and further states that it cost us nothing to dream and all businesses begin from an idea as she alludes to the “Black Panther” movie that Wakanda is here, wakanda is no longer fictional and it is up to me to make my wakanda real. Well when I thought this was about to become a business studies class, then comes Major Boke, the executive Director Jeff Hamilton Security and former Kenya air force officer, he introduces to us business patterns, models and technique and further takes us through his entrepreneurship and personal branding journey. Major Boke insists that being an entrepreneur is a mindset and our mindsets determine how far we go.
In his presentation Major Boke captured how he began his security firm and made it one of the best in Kenya with a turnover of over 2 million within a few years. He uses his Jeff Hamilton model to explain key points on entrepreneurship. He argues that as much as education is not that important in entrepreneurship, it however increases our propensity to be better entrepreneurs. A lot of jobs keep asking youths for up to 3 years working experience, Major Boke urges youths to start getting the experience while in school by volunteering / interning in our line of business or profession and of course with the right attitude since attitude is like a flat tire you can’t move unless you correct it. He continued by urging us to get a mentor in our line of business to mould and inspire us. Key point and an eye opener to me was the point that we should know when to stop, it is actually okay to quit and get back to it when you are wiser and ready to do it differently rather than struggling and holding on with limited options. On matters branding Mr. Boke says that it’s all about how you package yourself. Well I choose to shut up, work on myself and let my success speak for me. I choose to be great by not accepting that I’m or my business is small or young for no one cares nor celebrates small, and as an entrepreneur I have resolved to create the future in my line of business.

The journey is not over yet but I am wiser and optimistic for much greater things ahead. This is my CHANGAMKA story and as the CHANGAMKA slogan goes; I am fired up , and I’m ready to go.

Nguka Ojwang’ is an alumnus of Mount Kenya University with a passion for youth mentorship. He is also the founder, Brook of Hope Foundation, a CBO that deals with youth mentorship, charitable services and community reach out programs.