Humble beginnings

Playing catch up, here is 22 and 23

22

When 40-40 began, I had no real plan for continuity. As such I had not given any thought to things like logos, which are important for a brand. Thankfully, God had that covered. One fine morning at work, my colleague Noah walked over to me with different versions of the 40-40 logo we now use. It was (is) beautiful! It was even more meaningful because he took his own initiative. Many years from today, I will still look at it and remember how it came to be. 🙂

23

In 2014, we scheduled a strategy session for the team and invited an expert in Social work to speak to us. One of the resounding messages that day was “Stop playing small.”
When I got home I spoke to mum about it and toyed with the idea of finding office space. She immediately told me someone was vacating a nice spot near her work place and I could check it out. I went by and liked it immediately. I felt like this was a sign. The rent on the other hand, I did not even have 10% and yet we had to make a huge down payment. In the weeks that followed, I was able to secure small loans from friends (and members of the team) and a small grant from the father. Thankfully, payment could be made over time. The year is 2017 and we only got some real furniture last year.
Each time people walked in, they felt like we were just moving in and could not believe it has been around for a while.
A couple of months ago, I began to make some small changes to make it feel homey and (kind of) professional. The process is slow because there is no ‘bottomless’ fund to pick from but I am still proud of it nonetheless.
So many things in my life, in the 40-40 story have taken longer, appeared more complex or difficult and been surrounded by endless hurdles but in everything I have learnt not to despise humble beginnings- neither should you.

In everything, give thanks.

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Just because..

“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.”

This morning a random memory crept up in my mind and I thought to share it. Yup it perturbed me all morning and I thought, perhaps someone needs a pick-me-up. Here goes.

Last year, I was invited for an interview and given several weeks of notice (that always helps) I accepted, saved the date and forgot about it. On D-day, I woke up to the reminder. That week I had decided to stay indoors to reduce on unnecessary expenditure and concentrate on some work with deadlines closing in.Amount of cash in wallet=Ugx 5,000. I contemplated backing out. I could explain that I was busy, which wasn’t entirely false.

By an hour to the do,I’d decided to go. I just made a mental calculation of what I’d need to get there and consoled myself with the thought that one listener would, perhaps, be inspired.

The interview was alright. It was for a much younger audience than I was accustomed to. I honestly couldn’t keep up with some of the slang. I remembered that when I was a teen, some of the (now) teenage listeners were not yet born and that gave me all the perspective I needed.

After the interview, I had a short meeting with the producer and tried to pitch other ideas for a broader partnership. As I was leaving, she said “Pass by the accounts office on the left and pick a small transport allowance.” Pardon? <You know when you have heard exactly what someone said but ask them to repeat because you just need to make sure,just in case? That was me> She repeated the statement.

“That was you Lord!,” I thought to myself. I walked slowly to the office, knocked at the door and asked for the person in charge. She smiled and handed me a form to sign, along with Ugx 50,000. That morning’s ‘5K’ had rapidly multiplied by 10! I thanked her and walked out of the office.

I walked for a while towards town. I did not immediately get into a taxi or a boda boda. I walked slowly as I mentally examined the gravity of what had just happened. It was less about the money and more about what it represented. I could tell that in the future, that moment would represent something on this journey to dream against all odds and withstand anything and everything life decided to serve. You just never know what awaits you in this unpredictable life but chances are, if your intentions are good, eventually you will begin to reap fruits.

small

Your miracle, your moment,your breakthrough..they all await you. Now, leap!

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.

X

We came. We fell. We got up.

By this time last week, my situation was ‘a calm state of panic.’ We were at the Uganda Museum for our third edition of croak and rhyme. While many things were going right, an almost equal number of irregularities seemed to come up every now and then.
The funny thing about being a leader is that you have to strike a fine balance between optimism, realism, patience and unwavering determination during the most demanding situations. I do not think I am even half way there. Therein lies the beauty of time, experience and the lessons that come along the way!
The concept of croak and rhyme, like many of 4040’s ideas was random and uncomplicated, during one of our many meetings over two years ago. As one of the group members suggested the name, we laughed and then fell in love. Just like that, it was adopted and here we are. When I saw the bold words ‘croak and rhyme’ in one of our dailies this week, I grinned as I reminisced. Humble beginnings can surprise you!
This year’s edition was quite taxing. We came up with a theme and then needed to figure out how to work around it. Our wish list was loooooonnng (yes for emphasis) In fact, last year we toyed with the idea of bringing Sauti Sol for the event. *mental note to review my sent items folder for good laughs years from today* The irony that this blog post is coming out when they are in Uganda already for tomorrow’s show! Eh! Perhaps I could get a word with them. No? I digress.
We contacted tonnes of artistes. Some said no, others yes, a few said maybe and some simply led us on because they did not know how to articulate their negative response. I can look back and chuckle now but when it was happening, it was far from funny. We had legends with us though :D. This madam made my waist do things, good times!

These were 'our days'

These were ‘our days’

This event comes with a lot of pressure because of the expenses involved in putting it together. It is nothing short of a gamble and I must admit some of the lessons have been learnt the hard way.

Our first edition brought in a full house at a small venue. The management expected a small crowd and gave us few chairs that they did not expect to fill. Before long, we were trying to create space for the overwhelming crowd. At the end of the event, after realising the profit from their sales that night-they were asking when our next event was and more than willing to provide the venue.
The second one was taken to a bigger venue to accommodate the growing numbers. While we paid attention to that detail, other factors came into play. The World cup quarter final fell on the same date. Additionally, both traditional and social media were awash with announcements from the police about a terror threat to the city. I cannot count the whatsapp forwards I received on D-day warning me and basically asking that we discontinue our plans. These factors worked against us but we still had a sizeable crowd. The event was well organised and raised the bar for us. Armed with these lessons we set out to do even better this year.
The rain during the day got us on our knees, some of us even started yelling at the skies (yelling at God really) and thankfully the weather behaved. The drizzles during Maddox’s performance were hardly felt as the crowd sang along. Blessings just 🙂

maddox 1

crowd 2

 

 

I realised the ‘power of alcohol’ when I was confronted by a reveller who said he could not stand to look at me, knowing beer had run out at an event I organised. Eh, I took cover immediately. We must admit the crowd overwhelmed us and found us under prepared. We take full responsibility. There were other faults that we have certainly taken note of. Be sure to see changes next time 🙂
Despite the massive turn out at the event, the figures were not as exciting as we anticipated. We found out that an unscrupulous individual stole ‘tags’ from our entrance and started selling them to attendees before they reached our team. As a result, payment was made to him and sadly, it will never reach our dormitory.
That Sunday night as we tried to count, recount and then count the proceeds some more, we silently hoped that some of the coins would morph into notes and the ‘1K’ notes would transform into ‘50K’ notes in the process. This was not to happen. BUT. It could be a lot worse! We could have made an investment and then failed to break even. We could have planned this event for months only to have 50 people attend. That did not happen. Yaay!
The artistes gave energetic performances, moreover at no cost. One of the artists’ managers on our wish list insisted that we were making stuff up. There was no way any Ugandan artists could perform completely for charity. Oh ye of little faith! I hope one day they’ll understand that- *It’s not only about the money*
So, as I type this I am over the ‘we could have done better’ and now onto the ‘we shall do better’ state of mind. Everyone who attended and supported us even when we erred, the artistes who resisted the urge to become ‘divas,’ simply offering their talent and the service providers who have stuck with us, you made it possible.
Special thanks to those individuals who could not make it buts still sent entrance fee or directly contributed to the dormitory.

To the team that was behind the scenes, having pre-event nightmares and fighting then making up, then fighting again because you believe in 40-40 and what it stands for- you are invaluable.
We are now Ugx 11 million away from completing the dormitory. It seems like a little. Or a lot, depending on how you view your glass.

Nonetheless, I will be back here with pictures after we complete that building. Until then, please do not tire of answering our call. We are doing all of this, together for Uganda’s future, for a generation that will outlive us and learn from our dedication.
Till then, keep being the change, even when it hurts!
X