The question of whether leaders are born or made remains unresolved, but what is undisputed is that with early initiation on the principles of leadership, every child can grow into a productive being in their careers. Whereas such skills are mostly taught by teachers and counsellors, students and young people are also embracing the cause because they believe they know how best to communicate to their peers.
Enoch Tumwine, 21, a student at University of Kigali, is one such student. He has chosen to traverse the country teaching leadership skills to students, writes Lydia Atieno.
The first-year student of bachelors of law at University of Kigali, grew up in Uganda, but completed his A-level studies at Cornerstone Leadership Academy Rwanda in 2012.
While at Cornerstone Leadership Academy, they studied about leadership and one of their reference books was ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’ by John Maxwell.
“This book inspired me greatly. I was very active in the students’ leadership workshops and I participated in several students leadership conferences in different provinces. After my high school, I decided to empower the community, especially the youth, with the vast knowledge I had received in leadership. My plan was to reach out to school-going children who unlike me don’t get a chance to get these lessons in their schools at an early age,” Tumwine says. He started conducting these leadership training drives in 2014.
Other than school, he volunteers with Edify, a non-profit organization that promotes Christian-centred education and teaches leadership skills in schools. He is also a member of the African Youth Alliance Forum.
His approach and impact
Tumwine says he approaches school directors and tells them about his leadership training programme.
“I also explain to them the leadership gaps in our community and why training students is the best approach as they get empowered at an early age. I have packaged my training under two categories, namely; ‘The 21 Laws of Leadership’ and ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’.
“Whereas I adopted these topics from publications already on the market, I localise the content to make it more relevant to the Rwandan situation. ‘The 21 Laws of Leadership’ are very elaborate guidelines every leader needs to deliver effectively; violating any of the rules means failing in all the others because all the laws are inter-twined. ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ are adopted from Stephen R. Covey’s book are cross-cutting principles anyone can use to be effective in life and to attain the highest form in their respective callings. Like these two authors noted, these principles are best inculcated in people’s lives when taught to them early in live because they are empowered at a formative level to be good managers and better planners,” he explains.
Tumwine’s programme has seen him facilitate in six high schools – all based in Kigali. These are; Riviera High School, GS Kicukiro, Martyrs High School, St. Ptrick SS, College Doctrina Vitae and Apaer Rusoro Institute. He has also trained student leaders at University of Kigali.
“Truthfully speaking, the reception I have got has been awesome. I always leave students yearning for more and some schools have even asked me to go back for more training. Some schools have even formed leadership clubs to mentor students and to ensure that the message is not lost after I have left,” he says.
The law student says hi work is on a voluntary basis, but he is normally given ‘tokens of appreciation’ where he facilitates.
My inspiration comes from former South Africa president, the late Nelson Mandela. His life and message provoked me to challenge myself to actively take part in building my country. That’s why I tell Rwandan youth to stand and be counted in building their nation.
“My desire is to see Rwandan youth transformed in attitude, behaviour, work ethics and perceptions. I wish to see a generation of young people who dream big and achieve big; youth who aspire to take up big leadership positions and transform society. Most importantly, I wish to entrench the value of patriotism in our youth so that they embrace national service programmes like Umuganda, among others. The lessons I give these youth are not limited to any field; they empower anyone, be it a political leader, business person, religious leader, a farmer or even a student, to mention but a few, to excel in their respective field,” he says.
Tumwine says he carries out most of the trainings alone, but once in a while he is joined by members of the African Youth Leadership Forum.
The biggest challenge is that most people only associate leadership with politics, he says, explaining that he normally meet audiences with a negative attitude about the topic.
“My plan is to cover all schools across the country, but I do not have enough financial resources to achieve this.
Another challenge is that schools have strict timetables, so at times they turn me down because of lack of time.
And being a student, it is also not so easy to balance my academics with this work,” Tumwine says.
Message to youth
“I appeal to youth, especially fresh graduates, to think creatively. They should seek their inner strengths and use them to impact society,” he counsels.
Tumwine also advises youth to stop lamenting that there are no jobs.
“Youth ought to understand that work comes from within while a job comes from without. And for that reason, they should understand that one can be fired from his job, but not from his work.
“For example, an artiste cannot be fired from composing songs even when they lose their job with a particular record label. Therefore, when one appreciates the meaning of work they will have a lifetime occupation yet those who do jobs can only be employed for a specific period,” he says.
Tumwine also urges youth to know that it is pointless to dream big but fear associating with the big shots in society. “If you want a big job, you must be ready to knock on the doors of the big offices,” he says.