Response or Reaction?


“When you REACT, you are giving away your power. When you RESPOND, you are staying in control of yourself” _Bob Protor.


What is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone rubs you off the wrong way? or when a situation gets out of hand?

Well, i am always filled with a burning desire to stand and reclaim my position. Most of us react to situations immediately even without thinking of the repercussions of our reactions. The problem is that our reactions end up hurting us, our friends or ruining the whole situation.

How many times do we sit back and think of our next course of action?  Aaaaah…….close to none, right? We react immediately mostly because of our fears and insecurities which is not the best or rational way to act but its the easiest per-say.

You are now thinking “Ohh yeah Bwana, it has happened to me….. so what?”

I have learnt that if we sit back, think and respond to actions that set a  fire in our heads other than react we can save very many would-be broken relationships, reverse our hatred against people and situations.

Responding, as opposed to reaction is taking the situation in, and deciding the best course of action putting in to consideration values like reason, compassion, cooperation etc

Four years ago i had a bitter exchange with a colleague based on our differences. He was a bully (my opinion then) and i was not the type to give in to his aloofness. My ego was that of a Masaka SS champ who thinks being a Kings college kid is no ground for boasting.

I kept piling my armory with weapons to destroy the bully once he attacked. One fateful day he bullied a colleague into submission, this was an open ground for me to launch my missiles and i did not hesitate. To save you the semantics, it was an ugly none physical fight (i would actually run if it got physical) so no one came to help calm the fight.

Shortly after the exchange i felt a clout of guilt and felt that  i had reduced myself to his level, if anything, i had become a bigger bully myself. I apologized to our colleagues for the commotion, admitting that it was uncalled for. They acknowledged and demanded that my bully nemesis follow suit but you guessed it…..he did not.

We all go through these kinds of situations and think our only available option is stand up and defend our pride. The good news is;  we have a choice. We can  react or respond. The latter can save us a whole lot of embarrassment, save our relationships, build better teams and partnerships or even make ugly situations beautiful. Never sacrifice your class to get even with someone who has none

I know how it feels when your blood feels hot under your skin, your hands itch, your brains boil, all asking you to react, to do or say something to prove our righteousness. I still fidget with calming myself when i feel offended but i am learning because it takes an effort, a decision to be a better person than you were.

The Baganda say “atayogede teyejjusa” loosely translated as “one who maintains silences doesn’t get to regret”. It is relative, but for purposes of the theme in this blog, silence is King, and response is Queen.

Each time you encounter that rush to fight back, pause, allow the adrenaline to calm, and think of the most rational response.


Stand Up, Stand Out

Growing up i learnt a lot of lessons from my father. Some of them have turned out to be my guide for living. Surprisingly, some of the lesson were not learnt from the long talks about the world with him, nor the things he told me to do but those he did not mind if you did not engage. Meeting people and taking up responsibilities has reminded me some of these many lessons from my father but i will share one in this blog post.stand

Most people have settled for less because they think someone is supposed to treat them in a certain way for them to do some things. Well, the bitter fact is that life has the right to treat you as it so wishes. What matters is never how someone treats you, but how you treat yourself.

This era is gorged with competition for space. You identify what you have been created to do and start doing it so there is no time for complains or waiting for opportunities to come your way. We are what we think of ourselves, good or bad, beautiful or ugly, little or big, smart or dumb and have the right to think that of ourselves.

People are doing things and achieving enormous successes while others are finding excuses for failing to do or say things that would have changed them and world they live in. We have all most certainly encountered someone who says ” no one respects me enough to listen to me or am young or poor”, this kind of friends suffer from low self-esteem and are responsible for creating social classes where they do not exist. They are waiting for someone to tell them to do something but the world is traveling at a speed too fast to wait for anyone. The grave yards are filled with all the untold thoughts, stories and unexposed talents.

My father only asked us to do things after we expressed interest doing it, my brothers who loved working with him doing renovations at home got skills that they use at their homes now while i have to pay for such services or risk doing filthy work. This hard earned lesson has taught me to always avail myself for service.

You have to stand out and make your presence felt, you have to be different or do things differently lest you will fade in the shadows of those available to take up the challenge. Everyone one notices a dry fruit tree in an orchard but no one goes to it for fruits, we all want the tree with the ripe fruit.

“He was a quiet, reserved guy” is polite for a eulogy, but why not “he stood out, he was a team player”

When you stand out, people notice, they talk about you and they tell others.

Standing out doesn’t take a lot of time and money. It doesn’t require a complicated process.

Do not be average when there is still space up for being excellent.






lorna small

I was surprised by a text from an unknown number on my WhatsApp on Saturday 9th when I woke up from a late afternoon nap, having had a long day and night in a Rotaract Club Officers Seminar in Entebbe.

“Hi Heri,
Its Lorna here….” The text said!

I know only one Lorna and I was not expecting a text from her soon because of her situation.

Lorna is battling Cancer at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi Kenya, the only nearest place for her to get chemo and radiotherapy from her motherland, “The Pearl of Africa” where the only machine capable of helping with her condition broke down a week after she was taken to Nairobi. How lucky we are that our friend was taken…. Sighs!

Anyway, this one is not to lament of the condition at home sweet home, but a thank you message from my friend Ayebale Lorna Kiyonga.

Lorna asked me to convey her heartfelt gratitude to all of you for supporting her up to this time with your selfless donations towards her medical treatment. She is short of words to say to describe her appreciation that even I cannot convey in the best way possible.

Let me simply put it here in her own words.

“I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your donations towards my medical expenses and support to my family.  I have been updated about all the fundraising efforts like meetings, the gofundme and the car wash organized by CDA scheduled for Saturday 16th April. Thanks a lot!

As you know the cancer treatment in Kenya will cost thousands of dollars and for most people like myself, this opportunity is but a dream. With organized fundraising events and support from friends like you I hope for my dream to become a reality.

In a special way, allow me thank my mother, fiancée Alaistair, family, CDA and all of you friends once again for your kindness, generosity and time and effort that you all put into making the fundraising.

My operation was successful and will be starting radiotherapy next week (Monday) and I am positive that we are fighting a hard but winning battle. With all your prayers, I will be home soon…… Thanks again!” Ayebale Lorna Kiyonga.

I simply won’t add a word of my own after such an elaborate message from Lorna, but I too thank all of you for standing by her side at a time when she needs us most and my the Almighty reward you all as we continue to pray for our dear friend.

Supporting Lorna- Medical Expenses Fundraising

Sitting at my desk this morning with a feeling of sadness, moods so low, thinking of the situation of my friend, Lorna. I am supposed to start with my daily routine but it is hard… how can I even concentrate?

Lorna is in pain, I don’t know how to convey. I visited her last week 20th march, 2015 at International Health Kampala (IHK) hospital. Her condition is heart breaking, looking at her in the ICU with those very many life supporting machines, her elderly mother by her side.

Please Let us support Lorna’s medical treatment.

The following paragraph is an excerpt from her fiancée Alastair’s story in pursuit to raise funds to save Lorna’s life.

“…….Lorna has been having difficulties breathing and last week was rushed to Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in Kampala. She was suffocating and an emergency breathing tube had to be put down her throat. It turns out she has a tumor growth in her thyroid gland and this is blocking the trachea.

The radio therapy and follow operations cannot be done in Uganda and so Lorna needs to go to Nairobi, but this will cost about £50,000 including medivac, intensive care, operations, etc. This is beyond my resources and the resources of Lorna’s widowed mother and extended family and hence this appeal.

The breathing tube can only remain for 2 to 3 weeks, one week has passed and so time is against us. I never thought I would have to ask for money to save a life, but I do this with humility and gratefulness to all who might be able to contribute. Lorna is a charity field worker in Karamoja working to empower women and youth.
Any excess money will be directed back to these causes in Karamoja. Alastair.”

Follow the link to donate. For those in Uganda can send Mobile Money to 0772485206.

Please keep Lorna in your thoughts and thanks a lot for your support. Your thoughts, prayers and generous donations are sincerely appreciated.

Your Candidate, Your Choice

Tick-tock Tick-tock….

Looking at my old mechanical watch, the time is ticking so fast. It seems to tick once for two seconds.

After months of robust campaigns and lots of political talk, the time is right here. I haven’t written about politics in awhile, but it seems more inevitable at a time when all the talk is elections.

With the old adage “let the sleeping dogs lie”, I refuse to be amongst those.

Tomorrow 18th February, Ugandans will be lining up to make a decision on who is going to be their president for the next five years.
Over 90% of the information making rounds in newspapers, radio, television and social media is about elections, peace, violence and war.

A number of people have already gone to their villages, some to vote while others scared of the results. Who is to blame? It has been made public that the police will shoot whoever shows discontent by rioting.

The city is silent, traffic is so calm that you wish it remains so always.

Every single call, text message from father, mother, girlfriend, and even granny is asking me to be careful during this time and telling me to vote wisely. I am of course careful but I beg to differ on “voting wisely”.

At this point I am confused on what exactly that phrase means. To me it’s some sort of bullying statement used to influence your decision making in their favor.

There is an unquestioned disconnect between the vast majority of Ugandans. Full combat foot patrol soldiers around town, for as whether it serves as motivation or intimidation is not my call to make.

These elections have booked themselves a place in shelves of history, now it is time to go out and be part of the history.
More often than not some of us brag about how we did not vote in the last elections and how it does not matter. Much as I can’t guarantee the fairness of the grounds on which we stand to vote, it is not up to us to be the judge, jury and executioner.

I ignore the infamous “vote wisely” message and choose to vote a candidate of my choice so that I can be able to live with the consequences of my decision.

Do not vote wisely, vote for the candidate of your choice.

Uganda will live more than all of us, let’s go and vote.

For God and My Country.

Memories We Will Keep

It always happens.

The morning after.

You wake after a night of crying, a day of loss, and you have one moment…one beautiful, solitary moment when everything is right in the world. Because THAT is the moment before the moment when reality crashes into you like a semi-truck in the wrong lane speeding at you in a nightmare.

And you are suddenly awake and without air.

It is close to impossible to breathe because you remember. And of all things you know in the world at that moment – you don’t want to remember.

My friend George died on Tuesday 26th January.

I started to write about him the next morning, but found myself at such a loss.

It only reminds me of the loss of my loved ones, most vividly my brother Khalid Bwanaheri who at only 23years died on 15th April, 2014 the morning that I had planned to visit him in the hospital. At 25 years of age, I don’t know whether it only happens to me that a death of an age-mate strikes my heart like the first sun ray direct to your eyes when you have been in the dark. My heart physically hurts.

When I found out, I was shocked, in fact, unable to process the news about his passing. My friends on the other side of the WhatsApp platform (Immediate Past Presidents of the different Rotaract clubs) I could tell were frozen, asking when? What happened? Was he sick?

George suffered from a disease I can hardly recall, given that I was already so shocked to ask for the details. But one thing I know for sure, it took less than a month to steal him away from everyone who loved him.

For 2 weeks, I’ve been struggling to find the right words to describe my friend, to tell you about him, to explain why this loss is so tragic. And, I can’t seem to find them. Any death of someone so young is a tremendous loss, I know.

George was special. Dare I say extraordinary….

How do I describe the most selfless person I know? How do I explain the multitude of ways he made people feel better, or how he never missed an opportunity to engage someone in a meaningful conversation? How do I begin to recount the dozens of people he helped, those he inspired, and the lives he touched? He was a young man who donated his time and talents to the service of the community through Rotaract, for free, because he felt called to do so.

“Ohh….. It’s been quiet long since we last met, how have you been?” I can’t be the only person who heard George say those words over and over again.

To call him a ‘giver’ doesn’t do him justice. Giving was simply part of his nature, a portion of his soul.

George was a son, a brother, a friend, a Rotaractor, a man of faith, a defender of those in need, a brilliant, talented leader and someone I can honestly say inspired his circles.

We will miss you dearly.

Rest in peace George Wagaba.


There seems to be a lot of talk everywhere about what is fair and what is not. Some of the greatest freedom fighters, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Madiba…… dedicated their lives to fighting for the freedom, you can call it fairness. As to whether fairness has been achieved is a subject for discussion some other time.

Our idea of fairness isn’t actually obtainable. It’s really just a cloak for wishful thinking.

For they stood up against inhuman treatment, notice I said stood up. Madiba was imprisoned for 27 years but he never gave up on the struggle. But looking at the current state of affairs, majority of us seem to believe life has treated us unfairly, others feel life hasn’t treated them fairly enough. The million dollar questions is; what is fair? Is life fair? Should life be fair? The answers depend of your position in the book of your life.

We don’t get to make decisions on whether to come to this world or not, we have little choices early in life, but as we grow older choices abound. I have long believed that while we have no control over the beginning of our life, the overwhelming majority of us have the ability to influence the outcomes we attain. Fair is a state of mind, and most often, an unhealthy state of mind.

Most of us are beneficiaries of the outcomes we have contributed to, politically, socially, in business, or otherwise. Our state in life cannot, or at least should not, be blamed on our parents, our teachers, our religious leaders, our government, or our society. It’s largely based on the choices we make, and the attitudes we adopt.

There is nothing new that we go through that has not been faced by someone else. People have overcome poverty, drug addiction, incarceration, abuse, divorce, mental illness, dictatorships, and virtually every challenge known to man. Life is full of examples of the illiterates, physically challenged, people born into war-torn impoverished backgrounds, who could have complained about life being unfair, but who instead chose a different path. They chose to overcome the odds and to leave the world better than they found it. Regardless of the challenges they faced, they had the character to choose contribution over complaint.

I don’t dispute that challenges exist. I don’t even dispute that many have an uphill battle due to the severity of the challenges they face. What I vehemently dispute is attempting to regulate, adjudicate, or legislate fairness somehow solves the world’s problems. Mandates don’t create fairness, but people’s desire and determination can work around or overcome most life challenges.

It doesn’t really matter where you come from, life can never be fair to those who complain about things and compare themselves to others all the time, you have got to do something. We are all surrounded by stories of people who rose from grass to grace, they are not miracles, nor are they the rare exception. They do however demonstrate blindness to the mindset of the fairness doctrine.

Fair isn’t a standard to be imposed unless someone is attempting to impose mediocrity. Fair blends to a norm, and in doing so, it limits, inhibits, stifles, and restricts, all under the guise of balance and equality. I believe fair only exists as a rationalization or justification.

To me the harder we work, the fairer everything tends to be, everything says YES. Just because someone has more than what you have doesn’t make life unfair, there is much to work than to crave for fairness.

There are always better ways!