Past joys

35
Today’s entry has come so easily.

On this day, 3 years ago; I posted this

Originally posted on 5 April.

It is the ordinary days when you get up early, run a few errands and try to make all ends meet that turn out extraordinary.
Yesterday was one of those.
At lunch time a stranger asked if he could pay for our meal (my friends and I) When he noticed my puzzled look, he simply said “Thank you for the good work you do in the community, I am 40-40.” He paid the bill and left.
We were mesmerised, to say the very least!

Later that evening, after jumping from one appointment to another-literally, I honoured an invitation to Sales pitch Night where 40-40 had a slot to speak. I arrived late, made my 5 minute pitch and joined my team at our table.

At the end of the night, it was mentioned that there had been ‘secret judges’ throughout the event and we were handed an award for “Best Pitch.”

 

The shock and elation, I can’t even explain..plus people generously donated to 4040 just based on my pitch- at very short notice!
Here I am still wowed..and amazed!
Let everyday be exciting even if it is ordinary-for God, the maker of all will add an extra to your ordinary.

Thank you Jamila for organising this event and successfully pulling it off.
40-40 team, you rock.

Bless you all.

Trudge along..

At the beginning of last week I received an invitation for a three day holiday, out of town, all expenses paid. I’d been talking about seeing more of Uganda and visiting new places for a while. In fact, on more than one occasion, I mentioned travel writing as the next dream to pursue.

travel

Imagine my shock when the one opportunity finally arose and the only thing I could reply was “Sorry, I cannot make it but do have a great trip.” I almost wept after that phone call. My reason? 4040 had an event that weekend and I could not imagine myself bird watching while the rest of my team hustled through all the caos that comes with these events. Two of the colleagues I told were unsupportive of my decision. The first one assured me the show would go on perfectly without me, while the other asked if she could go in my place. Heh! I just replied “It’s not you, it’s me” and ran off.

You know how you plan everything that can go wrong and subconsciously pull together a plan B? Well, most of it just went over and above the expectations.

Before the event, there was some bearable bad News like a sponsor casually pulling out despite a one year agreement. There was no time to even seek closure.

So, on the eve of the event I prayed for the sun to be scorching and God did just that. I did not want to confuse him and ask for any more requests when the heat got unbearable. For that reason, I sweated with no complaints.

The biggest mishap was the food situation. You know how a party isn’t a party with no food? Well, we experienced it first hand. We were a little shocked to see the caterers carry only barbeque grills that morning. However, we were assured the other materials would be brought since our menu had been extensive. So much so that we discouraged other service providers from bringing food since these ones assured us they could do ‘everything.’ Big mistake!

Long story short, the attendees started to starve as the grilled meat could not be ready fast enough. A few left and did not return. Some came back all the same * bless their souls.* In the background, we were calling anyone and everyone asking them to bring anything they could prepare in the shortest time possible. Some showed up, albeit late (who could blame them?) Others didn’t and we could not do much. I found some people leaving and they could not find it in them to tell me the truth so they would just say “We are coming back,” even if we both knew the cause of the situation. You are awesome 🙂

Now, there are people who walk in without a basketball and walk out with one of ours shamelessly. I thought it was difficult to understand those ones. Imagine my shock when I found out someone was caught packing chairs, that aren’t his, in a car at a charity event! You think you have seen it all, then this. Unfortunately, we were late. He had probably already taken some to the ‘drop off point’ earlier. The service providers are yet to give us our bill.

It’s funny how amidst all the hustle and bustle of the event, you have to look out for people with itchy fingers too.

The numbers have been bigger before, that’s for sure. Then again, people have also been fewer.You begin to always expect an upward curve although that cannot always be the case. I smiled when people who had last been to one of our events years ago marvelled at the growth. I certainly wasn’t going to rain on their parade.

Even if you make a projection for Ugx 10 million, and make only half , at the end of the day it was only a projection. Accept it. Move on.

The beauty of each experience, however terrible, is the opportunity to pick out a lesson. I meet people who ask “You mean 4040 is still there..?” I am about to come up with a witty remark similar to President Mugabe who wondered out loud where the people of Zimbabwe were going when asked when he was planning to say goodbye to them.

I remember a meeting we had two and a half years ago, “Ahmed.” who was running an NGO at the time warned us that people would move on and we would find ourselves struggling. He had gone through the same thing. At the time, I must say I believed him. Over time it wasn’t about whether it would happen but when. One must keep on moving, nonetheless, no?

As you can imagine, it is difficult to keep reinventing anything, whether as an individual or an organisation. That doesn’t mean it is impossible though.

I vividly remember mum telling me in the past, “You started it, end it whenever you want,” each time she noticed my frustration. That possibility was there but I do not think it is anymore.
While the easiest option would be to run away and nobody really has the moral authority to convince one otherwise, the eternal optimist in me knows things will get better. In fact, things have to be bad before they can be better.
I know I’m not the only one feeling the things that I’m feeling, whether it’s a new business, job, relationship or any other responsibility. There are many days when what you put in will not have visible output. Do it anyway.
Meanwhile, there’s a good chance  that what you’re doing, what we are all doing is doomed to fail. As in, it wasn’t even meant to be in the first place. However, the only way you can find out is to keep at it, trying anything and everything. At the very worst, it will teach you what you do NOT want/need and that’s good enough if you ask me.
At the end of the day, we really have to choose who/what is deserving of our heart, blood, sweat, tears, the whole shebang.

Here I am, doing the absolute best and most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Nonetheless, I do it and will continue to for as long as I can. I can’t imagine waking up at 40, (or God forbid earlier) wishing I’d done more and knowing I could have. Be small, do little but if it makes you content, I think that is all that should count 🙂

Comparing

I find myself thinking on end about ways to become a better leader, wondering how we can improve the organisation. What can we do differently? What do we keep, what do we throw out..?
I laugh at myself thinking ‘Which kind of person stakes absolutely everything they have and then just sits back waiting for something to materialise?’ While I’m busy critiquing myself, a relative or acquaintance will ask me as if on cue “So, uh huh, what’s the plan?” Or “When will you stop all this and find a real job?”
I’ll want to share my inner most desires, bare my soul open, utter my deepest thoughts and fears.
Instead, I’ll give the first template response I can think of and quickly change topics.  I am always amazed at how we human beings, think we are in better position to figure out everybody else’s right now and even their tomorrow.

You know how single people have the ‘best’ advice for couples and vice versa? It’s quite easy to watch from the side lines and perfectly diagnose then treat a condition, no matter how ignorant.
Even during soccer games, you’ll hear someone say “If only he’d passed the ball sooner..” In more fictitious circumstances, you’ll find yourself ‘telling’ the good guy in the movie “Turn around! They are coming for you” As if he can hear you.

When it comes to real life, we don’t always see the stop sign before our next turn. We have no idea if the business cards we hand out are in a huge dumpster or being saved for a major project. It’s not possible to tell that the guy whose arrogance irked you will become your life partner or that the bossy girl from school will contribute a tenth of her salary to your dream, monthly.

At the end of the day, even taking a bath is a risk. You could slip and break a limb or two but we do it anyway.

Find that which you are willing to put at stake and risk on!

xx

Happy tears :)

While I was chatting with Barns last night, after we won the award, he ended with “I will await the blog post.” So..here it is!
For the past couple of years I would see the advert for the NSSF torch awards but I felt we were not ready. We needed to have something to our name and present a good plan. This year, when I looked at it, I felt it was time.
Thankfully, when I shared with the team, one of the members, Benjamin said he had a plan. It was then that a small team came together (virtually) to concretise this plan and send in our proposal. We joked about winning for a bit but then went back to work and ‘forgot’ about it.
A little over 10 days ago, I received a call. We were shortlisted and they needed to visit our offices to shoot a video as soon as possible. I was unavailable and found most of the team was too.  Trying to put  all of it together took the joy out of the News. We agreed to do the shoot that Saturday (18th) We participated in a charity walk organised by Wakisa Ministries to raise awareness for teen moms and then walked slowly to the office (because we had so much energy that need to be exhausted) to await the Nssf team.
When we saw the camera crew, it began to sink in. We asked about the other nominees and I can swear my insomnia worsened from that night onward . What if we win? What will this mean? Can we actually do this?
Fast forward to last night. I was glad we were able to secure invites for everyone who worked on the proposal so they could at least have a nice dinner if we didn’t win. We noticed early in the evening that we were the ‘wohoo’ table. We made more noise for the other winners than they did for themselves.
The past winners shared their testimonies and renewed our hope in humanity. Then came this year’s nominees and their incredible work from making sanitary towels for school girls to providing training for secondary school students left us in awe.

I am a bowl of nerves whether it is a competition or a celebration so you can imagine what was happening. It was so bad that Zindzi, a team member said she had felt nothing from the start but our anxiety quickly spread to her as well. We were leaving no one behind!
Different regions were awarded as we tensed up and held hands, cracked stale jokes and sang along to the band’s music. Anything for a distraction! Finally, they got to Central region and we were NOT mentioned. The young lady who won happens to be called Esther. She is only 19 and working to protect young mothers under her organisation Child care and Rescue Program. I was amazed by this teenager!

We celebrated her while trying not to think about our own disappointment. Only one award was left, the national award and that couldn’t be us. Could it?
There was some suspense and finally they mentioned that the next organisation had impressed the most and would win the coveted Ugx 20 million cash prize handed over by the First lady, Hon. Janet Museveni. That group happened to be…Yes, you guessed it 4040 !
What happened next is still a bit of a blur. We pretty much broke into tears at the same time. There were cameras, people and.. more cameras and more people. Somehow, we got strength to walk up to the podium.
I kept crying and the handshake with the First lady quickly ‘evolved’ into a hug. There I was weeping and she took me into her arms and it was not awkward at all (really?) The team that had gathered around hugged her in turns. *this was all normal*  She handed over the award and dummy cheque (for 20 million shillings!!) along with Hon. Bahati, the NSSF Managing Director Mr. Richard Byarugaba and his pleasant Deputy, Geraldine.

 

gloria hug

first lady
We were ushered off the stage for the guest of honour to give her speech. She spent the first few minutes applauding our work. I can’t confirm this for sure because I was high on emotions but amidst my astonishment, I think I heard her say that ‘Uganda’s future is secure if it has young people like these (4040) doing such work.

This was the exact moment actually. No lie! She is gesturing towards us on the left. Nope. I t wasn't a dream.

This was the exact moment actually. No lie! She is gesturing towards us on the left. Nope. I t wasn’t a dream.

 

After a few photographs, she left the function (before we could exchange phone numbers, sigh)

group
A three course meal was served but you can’t pay me to tell you what that tasted like. I also have no idea what I said in the acceptance speech.

These were all side shows after we saw that cheque.
Breaks into song “It’s not about the money money money, We don’t need your money money, money.” *NOT!*

I kid. That moment itself, in its entirety was really everything.
While at the washrooms, a lady came in and said “Congratulations.” Just as I was completing my thank yous, she added “But you are so emotional!” Neither her tone nor facial expression suggested this was a compliment (Apparently washrooms are not free of judgement) While the other ladies who were with me exclaimed at her reaction, so many thoughts quickly went through my mind. Wouldn’t she be emotional if she had gone through what we have? Does she know how many proposals we have written and been turned down? Could she comprehend the gravity of this win for us? Well, I guess my questions shall remain unanswered and it’s okay because I certainly do not think anyone needs to justify their tears, or laughter for that matter.
We stayed and danced to every song the band played and when they were done, we turned to the DJ’s music. Thankfully, Mr.MD stayed for a while so we had more time to ‘celebrate’ but sadly, every good thing does come to an end. What an amazing Monday it was!
I barely slept and my poor mother has confessed that after we spoke just before midnight, her sleep did not return till much later. I did realise in that moment, as I do now that not everyone gets an opportunity to chase their dreams, have a great support system and also live to tale. It is for that very reason that I will share this story for as long as I can talk, write and breathe.
Unlike many of the previous awards, the public’s vote did not count. A panel chose us from the over 350 applications received from all over the country. However, if it wasn’t for the public’s support up till now, we would never have achieved enough to achieve the level of credibility we can now boast of and for that we are eternally grateful.
Our (winning) proposal *yaay* was for a children’s community library in Luweero because we believe in education and strongly advocate for literacy. Even if this amount can have us complete our dormitory in days (literally) we have to stick to what it was meant for. The good News is, by the end of this year we shall have a dormitory and a library up and running. How awesome is that?
This award means more to us because a Uganda company is supporting us, a Ugandan organisation. This represents one of the core messages we like to share which is that we are perfectly capable of writing our very own happy Ugandan tale, and essentially African tale by supporting our own. It takes a village to raise a child and we have plenty of villages..and children, so why not?
Thank you NSSF for believing in us and other local organisations. I am also grateful to everyone for supporting us thus far and the amazing behind the scenes 4040 team.

To God be the glory 🙂
A luta Continua!

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

You win some. You lose some

During the month of World Cup, there was no avoiding it. Whether you were a fan or hater, it followed you in one way or another.

The fans have probably recovered by now while those who couldn’t wait for it to end are thinking “What was the fuss anyway?”

Football has a way of revealing emotions in an admirable manner. The raw energy, excitement and heartbreak can be a sight for sore eyes. For some people, it is either a win or loss but even a curious observer like me knows that it is worth much more. The joy of seeing an underdog excel as the mighty fall (at least for me) or just watching your favourites get better and better can be gratifying.

The finesse, the stolen hearts, the adrenaline rush-all of it makes for proof that this seemingly simple sport holds a lot more than meets the eye. I am a firm believer in lessons from pretty much anything. As dark as it may sound, loss can be good for you. Perhaps it would not have been wise to say this to a player from Brazil after the 7-1 loss to Germany but well, when it is all over- you look back and start to see it. If you are lucky, it teaches you something to prepare you for the future.

That is the most I shall ever attempt to write about soccer so let me dig right into why I actually wrote this. Losses or wins, in my life that hold a lot more than meets the eye.

“Sometimes not getting what you want is a brilliant stroke of luck.”

Before 40-40  ever had office space, awards or beneficiaries, we had a dream. However, we needed space in which to sit together and throw ideas to make this dream come true. Everyone had a job or was looking for one so we set aside one evening weekly to meet and plan, you know make sense of this dream.

The first space was too small. The numbers were a bit scary even for me. To get to the bigger space enough to accommodate these numbers, we needed to pay a certain amount the next time we came. We did not return.

The next week we moved to a more spacious restaurant that had a ‘laissez- faire’ feel to it. No one really complained about our numbers, in fact the waiters and waitresses became friends. We knew them by name and they knew our orders by heart.

It was win-win.

For one year, we met there first every Tuesday and then every switched to Thursdays.(because some of our team members had lectures) We had no qualms until one ‘fine’ Thursday when the manager of the establishment decided to show us his true wrath. It was so sad that it was funny.

He told us we were too loud yet his other clients had come to enjoy silence. He showed us these clients, a table of about 10 girls in their late teens/early twenties. They were anything but quiet but hey, what do I know. He assured us that his rent was in dollars (is 300$ ‘greater than’ 300 million UGX? He didn’t specify how many dollars so I am just asking) Many unkind word followed before he concluded by saying he did not want us to return.

The strangest thing is that on that day of all Thursday we were battling despair as an organisation and the last thing we needed was such antics. I remember even the loudest amongst us being speechless that day.

Fast forward to us ‘restaurant hoping’ in such of a new ‘home.’  We finally got one. On a random Thursday the manager calls me to inform me that he had noticed our consistency and yet there is no increase in sales. Also, do I know that other restaurants charge for this sort of thing? I told him to be straight forward. If he wanted us out, he needed to speak like a man and not beat around the bush. I was distressed but let that go.

A week later he called me aside. “I have noticed that you are a good leader and know how to mobilize people. Do you think you can help us get more clients, especially using social media?”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Sometimes you need to act first, think later

Several years ago I was in boarding school, I though those were the most dramatic years of my life until I grew up.

During the rainy season, so many of the girls got asthma attacks. On this particularly cold night, so many students were admitted at the school clinic and I was present because had taken a roommate.

The nurse was overwhelmed so she asked me for help. Before I knew it, I was connecting IV tubes (drips) and searching for veins. It didn’t dawn on me at the time that it was unsafe, let alone illegal. I had been around enough patients to know generally what is expected but didn’t think I would practice this ‘knowledge.

Thankfully none of the patients got a needle stuck or badly connected drip. I was in the right place at the right time with almost the right ‘experience.’  Needless to say, I have since retired from this ‘profession’ but who knows, right?

Standing out

Social media is pretty pretentious. You are one person in real life and transform into the exact opposite when typing out your ‘thoughts.’ We want to impress everyone and end up losing ourselves in the process.

You share photos of ‘bliss’ on instagram to cover up for the actual depression you are going through.

We share so much information about the world outside , fill our heads with all of it but know nothing about the actual lives of people with whom we share houses, cultures, and friends.  For every perk, there are two disadvantages but hey- whether you love it or hate it, it still exists.

That is when I bring you the exception to the rule-

There are several causes that have actually benefited from social media and businesses that are flourishing by maximising the reach, access and low cost of using this platform.

I happen to have evidence 🙂 While I loathe the pretence, cyber bullying, hypocrisy (etc) that is magnified by this particular type of media- I can admit that without it 40-40 would not be where it is today.

I have actually tweeted different people about 40 days over 40 smiles. Some scrolled through and many do not even run those accounts. I am sure others did read them though CC John Legend, Michael Kiwanuka, Ellen, Bill Gates and even our very own President Museveni.

They are simply waiting for the right time to join us J Jokes aside, even with those tweets that we simply cast like a net, hoping for a big fish to put its head out, so many everyday heroes have joined us and believed with us. On July 4th, we got a call from the office of the Prime Minister thanks to #CroakAndRhyme. He read our tweets and was moved to contribute to our cause. As you can see, we are just getting started. (Waves at Hon. Amama Mbabazi) *wait till we are on first name basis-heh!*

Speaking of #CroakAndRhyme, this is actually a good example of winning and losing. Of course as an optimist, the glass will always be half full.

See, the event we had before this, which was #5AsideUG  pulled about 1200 people. We needed to at least be close to this number. We had the world cup  ‘against’ us and an obscene amount of terror threats going around.

There was only one thing we could do, have faith and give it our absolute best, and that we did.

Did you guys see Maddox Sematimba? I mean, everyone thought it was just a stunt but we surely did have him on stage- LIVE (this is repetition but it is for emphasis) He nailed it and wowed us all.

maddox

 

All the amazing artists who spent that evening giving their best on stage and left us in awe. We didn’t pay them a single shilling. What an honour!

 

The jump c&r

After two years of 40-40, this was the best teamwork I had ever witnessed. That was a real plus!

Now we did not make the amount of money we thought we would and it was a bit difficult to explain to the beneficiaries…but…but..BUT..There was a lot to be thankful for. Some things you needed to be there to understand  (I am not saying we pulled off what some promoters can’t but…wait, I think that is what I am saying. Bye)

Getting out of your comfort zone

I went to journalism school to be able to do one thing- tell the stories no one was telling so that the readers/listeners could get inspired or at least angry/happy enough to effect change.  I knew that a by-line would be suffice and I would ensure any photographs or other information would be ‘kept’ in the background.  I did not get to practice this besides a bit of free lance work, life had other plans.

I am happier behind the scenes which is something few people believe because extroverts often relish attention. I do not.

Last week, I happened to have a profile in the New Vision.

My mom asked ‘Did you hate having your photos and information shared because you were waiting for  it on a large scale like this?” We both laughed.

The spread was quite generous, bigger than I expected. People even asked if I paid for it. Whhhyyyy? *shakes head*

I tried to be discreet with personal details, so much that the reporter even inserted his own ‘spices.’

I know that these interviews shall continue. People need to put a face to certain things, even if I have a large team and I am constantly trying to push their faces out there too 😉 Whether I like it or not, it has to be done.

It is a price that needs to be paid (as minimally as possible when I can help it) but it does have its advantages. Perhaps the next time we walk into a corporate company, they will recognise the name or a face and need little to no persuasion 🙂

I have met a few ‘strangers’ since then who were responsive. Last Friday a gentleman met us just before we went for a meeting and said he had planned to seek us out anyway. It was fate that he had bumped into us.

He mentioned three areas that 40-40 is passionate about and said he would be happy to help.

The truth is, whether he does or not, I have learnt to find joy in right now and put hope in the future.

Some promises might never materialize but at that point when you hear them, it might be all you need to keep on.

 

 

 

“Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is everything.”

Winners: Best Campaign at Social Media Awards

“We would like to thank all our haters for getting us here.” These should have been the opening remarks of my speech at the Social Media Awards on Friday 15th November, 2013, right?

I am only kidding! We all know who got us there and we shall thank him for all of our days 🙂

The two nominations 40-40 got for these awards were a pleasant surprise. Faith said we would get the accolades, doubt shouted ‘Never!’ We on the other hand, didn’t know what to expect.

The atmosphere that evening was bright and breezy. I am not sure if I should be confessing the bit below but here goes 😉 *Types with eyes closed*

The terrific organisers of the event had an invite for me, uhm, yes, just me. I could not imagine being at the Hub ‘on my own’ at the time we were announced winners, or mourning solo in the event that we lost. We had to devise semi crafty measures *No further details* to get a few more invites.

If I had my way, the room would have had about 20 members of the team(or more) in one LOUD corner but, we got a good number nonetheless 😉

image

When I got to the venue at 6.00pm, which was starting time according to the programme, there was some activity but at the back of my mind, I figured the event would start an hour or so later. That was the case. However, with the drinks and tasty little bites at the cocktail, I am certain very few people had a chance to look at the time..Perhaps after the treats were done 😉

Roy, the entertaining MC of the night eventually got the ball rolling, and Patricia Kahill, one of the judges later got onto the stage. At this point the short but eventful evening started to unfurl as we watched and listened expectantly.

The first award was for the best blogger category. Bernard aka Beewol, who is one of our teammates, was up against some credible writers like Ruth Aine. We had our moment of ‘loud silence’ as we held our breaths to hear who the winner was. Beewol scooped the award and in trademark 40-40 fashion, we ululated and probably got ‘those looks.’ Still…yaaayy 🙂

Girls who chill with  winners be like ^^

Girls who chill with winners be like ^^

After this, we knew that only two other categories were close to our hearts, the Social justice award and the Best campaign.

We followed the programme religiously, got mini-heart attacks, pre-labour pains, short breaths and other conditions that I am afraid to put in writing for fear of being blamed for exaggeration:p

Just when it was time for the ‘Best campaign Award,’ as we held our breaths, it was cleverly skipped, leaving us disturbed and possibly numb.

Entertainment went on and I forced myself to sing along to songs, laugh at jokes and make small talk, anything to forget the ‘trauma’ ahead.

Eventually we got to the ‘Social justice’ award. We had each secretly believed this was the one we had a possibility of bagging. If anything, it defined us and the competition did not seem that stiff compared to the other but ALAS!

“And the winner is…… Barefoot lawyers….” Everything after this was a blur.
Some people took to twitter to ‘rant’ others ‘researched and gave stats of the traffic on the winner’s twitter and facebook page to understand why they won. It was too much to take in. My friend Ritah simply walked out.

We did NOT look like this at that point

We did NOT look like this at that point

Through all this, I sent whatsapp messages to tell everyone I knew had voted that we had missed out on one but would have faith for the next. That kept me occupied for a bit, then reality crept back. “What if we walk out of here without an award? I thought.

We had recently incurred losses at our Charity Bazaar. How was I to explain to the team that we had failed yet again? I needed some air so I walked out as well.

When I got to the bathroom, I found a disappointed Ritah. She told me she would stay in there till the event ended. She could not take the pressure and wanted to weep in private. “It is not fair, we deserved that award,” she said. All I could tell her was we had one more to go. I gave her a big hug and hoped to God for a miracle.

I went back inside. I wondered why we had finished the complimentary m n’ m’s. The chocolate would have been a good distraction.

In time, Seanice Kacungira , CEO Blu Flamingo came on stage with Nancy, her sister and their entire team. She gave an emotional speech which left my friends and I going ‘awww.’ This did not stop me from noticing the last three awards of the night ‘chilling’ on the side. “Would one of them be ours?”

The torture was colossal but there was nothing left to do. Breathing into the little ‘SMA’ paper bag did not do much for me either. Judgement day had come later than expected but it was still coming.

Finally it was time to announce the winner of the Best Campaign. I have no idea who handed it over or what he does, to tell you the truth I was in a daze for a while.

Who were we up against? Coca cola, MTN, Airtel and Malaria free Uganda. That must have been the first time ever those names were used in the same sentence. It most certainly won’t be the last. :D. Did I mention we are going to stalk them for sponsorship? Well….uhm, you know 😉

I do remember the camera man focusing on the scan which later unleashed a long-ish name. Could that be ’40 days over 40 smiles?’ It could be…and it WAS!! We won!! How/ When/Who/Where Which? Uhm, who cares, we did! 🙂

The pressure my goodness! I saw everyone around me get up but I couldn’t feel my legs. I let out a loud scream. For a moment, the room was empty except for the 40-40 team.

The Lord never fails his own, never!!

We went to the front; I said a few words (yawn) Let us go back to the real matter. WE WON!! The MC remarked “Indeed there are over 40 smiles!” In that instant, it felt like each of us had 40 smiles independently.

No one had screamed that much for their award, or had a crazy team smiling ear to ear until we did but let’s face it, we are not like anyone 😉

sma box

We were too excited after the ceremony to network, even when we spoke to the MTN marketing manager, there were just smiles, the photo op with the judges, also a blur, Navio in our photograph asking to also do the 40-40 sign (woah!!!) all went by too quickly.

We walked out with our excitement and had a mini celebration. I doubt I shall forget this special night any time soon. The award was great but everything it represents is so much more amazing.

Perhaps, another blog post shall be written for that bit.

In the meantime, (Didn’t get to say this in the 20 word speech), we thank Blu Flamingo for the initiative, and all the sponsors that believed and came on board, the amazing people that nominated and/or voted for us-family members and ‘strangers’ alike, the awesome 40-40 team that works tirelessly like they are expecting a reward simply because it is the only way they know how…and God who has NEVER forgotten us, as we come close to our second birthday.

ASANTE!!

Blessings 🙂 🙂 Love…love…xx

Wululu!!

Wululu!!