If the saying, “A bad beginning makes a good ending” is anything to go by, then 26 year old Vincent Ssekundi Kawunde is a perfect fit. Vincent was born in kalangala and by 3 he was fishing with his father in lake Victoria. And following his father’s dead, the 7 year old took up his father’s boat and business. Today, Vincent is a lecturer in 2 Ugandan Universities; he spoke to LinkmeUg’s Cathbert Kigozi about his inspirational journey.
Linkmeug: Why did your mother permit her 3 year old son to go fishing on a daily basis?
Vincent: We were not staying with my mom at that time and in fact I don’t have a relationship with her. Actually I was about 13 when I first saw her. I haven’t seen her since.
LinkmeUg: Was fishing the family business that everyone engaged in?
Vincent: No, although I had 2 older brothers, my father chose to go with me to the lake. When I grew older, I realized that they were not interested in the business. My dad and I would fish and sell the fish at the shores.
LinkmeUg: How did your life change after your father died?
Vincent: He died when I was only 7 and because fishing was our source of food and income, I had to continue with the trade. I fished with my father’s friends and other fisher men and kept the trend going.
LinkmeUg: A 7 year old fishing is hard to imagine.
Vincent: Incidentally, there are several boys fishing on the lake.
LinkmeUg: Were you in school by the time your father died?
Vincent: Before he died, my father had succeeded in enrolling me under a sponsorship by Child care Uganda. This organization paid for primary school and half of my secondary school. In secondary school the other half was paid by another development fund within the district.
LinkmeUg: Without a mother and father, who took care of you at home?
Vincent: When my father died, I was named his heir and by then, I had 2 followers. We lived on our own but my village is in such a way that neighbours are relatives; so our aunties and uncles checked on us very now and then.
Each of us was a bread winner and my elder brothers took care of or 2 younger siblings while I was away fishing. But life was hard, like you can imagine children without a father or a mother having to fend for themselves.
LinkmeUg: How much did you make from the business and how did you spend it?
Vincent: I don’t have the figures for the earlier days but I made enough for meals and school fees for my younger siblings [a boy and a girl] When I grew older, I realized I was making enough to save 500,000 per month which we spent on tuition for my own University tuition and my younger siblings.
LinkmeUg: Where did you study and what did pursue?
Vincent: I have a degree in Public Administration attained from Kampala University and a Masters in Public Administration from Nkumba University.
LinkmeUg: how did you get a job as lecturer at Kampala University?
Vincent: In 2013 I was the best student in the university (Kampala University) with a CGPA of above 4.86 from my Public Administration degree. That is how I was retained by the university to be a lecturer.
This year makes it 3 years of lecturing. Today I lecture at Kampala University and St. Lawrence University. I teach public administration, political science and other related courses.
LinkmeUg: As a boy, did you dream of being a lecturer?
Vincent: Not at first. I used to dream and planned to serve in government positions like CAO – Chief Administrative Officer and other public service positions. But while at the university and I was convinced by my first class performance to impart knowledge to other people through teaching.
LinkmeUg: What challenges have you meet as a lecturer?
Vincent: I don’t have time for a personal life. I am buried in my books and work having 2 universities and supervising students on internship and at school.
LinkmeUg: Did you drop the fishing business?
Vincent: Not at all, the business is very active and I supervise very closely. Whenever I can, especially during the holidays, I go back to my area Kalanga in Buweke and fish like I used to.
Linkmeug: What keeps you on course?
Vincent: My experience with my father stills speaks to me. There is a song by James blunt called No tears, he sings about the death of a father giving one inspiration… I live with that song and it has taught me to work hard now that my father is no more. .
Linkmeug: A word for the youth
Vincent: Change begins with you.
Vincent’s story is a moving one and we learn a lot from it.
- How do you handle desperate situations?
- Do you dream despite your situation and move towards your goal?
- Are you letting your past hold you back?
- Do you take opportunities when they present themselves?
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