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How YouLead Summit re-ignited my spark of genius.

I am proudly associated with YouLead; arguably East Africa’s largest youth gathering. I started with this program (summit) since its inception, in 2017. I had been running a campaign for a coalition I founded, for the Clinton campaign, in 2016, lost an election, had my dreams shattered, and got terribly depressed. I was not sure I would get right back up into anything to do with writing in the shortest time possible: the pain was very unbearable for me and gut wrenching.

For almost a full year, I was very depressed, deactivated my old Facebook page and went in the dark. Then one day, someone shared with me a link calling upon bloggers across East Africa. I had built my name as one of Uganda’s finest, with a very big readership but my energies were so low. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do blogging anymore. But, I also needed a new inspiration, something to give me life, to breathe anew. It was a purely volunteer call, no compensation was mentioned but were to be fed and housed the whole week we were at MS TCDC, I told myself, “Grace, this isn’t so bad. Go and network; meet new people.” I looked for money to take me to Arusha, have since never regretted. 

My first experience with so many energetic young people from all the countries, both excited to meet and share stories about each other’s countries. YouLead Summit of 2017 is an experience to remember; even at the very start, you would believe in the future ahead. Truly so, the experience has since changed, it gets better each year. All the people I have met through the years, the YouLead Alumni, all have one thing in common: they say the YouLead Summit has and continues to get better. 

I met people who have since been above the price of rupees; I grew my network and has since grown it overtime, I have also grown personally, today, I am the Communications, Media and Marketing Lead for YouLead, something I don’t take lightly: it is an opportunity to embrace, a learning curve for me and an emancipation of mimi – yes to meaning –to never be too jaded for hope. It is not my finish line. 

Many people ask; “Grace, what is your life after You Lead?” There is so much that I do outside YouLead; I write, I am a farmer back home and I have two projects to launch in due course: a media marketing company and a global campaign, on activism for blacks; saying yes to decency, to respecting our fellow human siblings. 

YouLead is a torch for my skills, it is a learning curve, it is not permanent but I am forever indebted for bringing back my creative spark of genius, both as an immediate employee and, if the future permits so, a consultant.

I mentor so many young folks and people older than me in things that I am good at, and are passionate about, the truth; if you don’t have a platform, even if you have very great ideas, they [ideas] will never reach anywhere, and you will get stuck in the ruts. Seeing what YouLead does, amplifying youth voices across the region really makes me happy as an individual;

I know there is so many folks out there who need someone/ an organisation to say, “I see you, you matter”: YouLead Summit does this – harnessing the full potential of youth across the region – inspiring hope and self-esteem to young people.

I have been doing intense reading on Sashisko, In sashiko, the goal is not to hide the repair but to celebrate it, hence a patch is attached to the inside of the fabric using neat rows of tiny stitches, leaving the tear still visible. Sashiko exemplifies the Japanese principle of wabi-sabi, which has no direct English translation but expresses a sense of beauty in the incomplete and imperfect. It honours the strength to be found in the fineness and delicacy of the work: a patched and repaired garment is a source of reflection, even reverence. On Instagram, you’ll find examples of the skilful use of patches in contrasting colours and patterns that render a mass-produced garment unique and expressive, a product of individual experience and taste and with a delicate and coherent beauty all its own. 

As I wrote on my Facebook page, I am launching a global campaign on being unapologetically black but first, this. 

•I haven't "arrived" - I don't subscribe to “arrivism”, all of us need each other to sell ideas, win battles, and build movements. So, I will need your support, black or otherwise: we are always stronger together 

•I love words - I do both spoken word and I write but; I have a high preference for the latter, writing. That is how I have got here. 

• I am an advocate for personhood and human decency - through the years; I have written so much here and across the aisle, both as a ghost writer /essayist and an individual, on the importance of respect for our fellow human siblings, my campaign will promote these two core elements. 

•I have zero tolerance for bullies - No one bullies me, no one. Whether you are the most feared man in your local village or not, or have an echo chamber that makes you feel you are more important than others, or my boss at office: no one bullies me. And: because I respect all else, I expect respect in equal measure, if you play opposite, I pick pitchforks. 

• I disappoint so many times - I believe in universal goodness but while at that, I also speak for the minority opinion, often called the unpopular opinion. Free speech, yes; respectful free speech, if you look down on anyone, we are not taking the same ship: as I often say, black lives matter, as all else. 

• I know so much and I learn so much - have a lot to learn - but! My intellectual humility has limits, if you condescend, I will call you out; if you act like an A - hole, I will come for you, without fear or favor. I know it is important to be humble but humility, on my end, has limits. I have been taken advantage of, I can't afford another time. 

•I am very daring - this means so much; I don't cuddle and coddle people who have made perimeter walls of eggshells; you are either/ or. I love going the distance, always. I move with the movers and doers, the ones that see magic in the power of yet: #dontbeafraidtobe movement. 


 


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