Kenneth Mugisha, 47, is the current governor of Rotary district 9211, which covers Uganda and Tanzania. An accountant, he has been a Rotarian for 22 years and has received an honorary doctorate for service toward humanity. He spoke to Catherine Ageno about his achievements and off-duty passion.
At 47 you are one of the youngest District Governors in the world. What inspired you to join Rotary?
I was inspired by the cause for which Rotary was founded and my family. My father played a great role in shaping the values I hold today — caring, giving and respecting everyone irrespective of their social status.
When former district governor Emmanuel Katongole invited me to join Rotary, I realised it was the best place to be of service.
What is your biggest achievement as governor so far?
I was one of two governors who received special recognition at the Zone Institute in Johannesburg in November by the president of Rotary International for my Rotary Mission Green Project. The other governor was from India.
Besides the Green Project, I have also committed to raising $1 million for the Rotary Foundation.
Besides these two projects, is there anything that you feel you must accomplish before your term expires next year?
Yes, the Project Fair, through which we will be bringing international Rotarians from all over the world to partner with local clubs in district 9211 to do joint projects under the global brand.
The projects cover six areas of focus: Water and sanitation, maternal and childcare, basic education and literacy, disease prevention and treatment, promotion of peace in communities and economic empowerment projects.
This will be the first Project Fair in the region and will run from February 8-10 in Entebbe town. It will help bring in resources and break the fundraising fatigue suffered by most of our local clubs. I believe it will change the work of Rotary in our district.
Any challenges so far?
No. Rotarians have given me a lot of support, in line with the Rotary International 2017 goals.
What’s your off duty passion?
I love being around people, exchanging ideas or participating in team sports, especially football, tennis, motor sports and golf. I used to play football a lot but now I simply watch.
What would you be if you were not an accountant?
A big time farmer. I believe I can still do it.
How do you balance work and family?
I have a supportive wife. She quit her job as a lawyer to help in managing our businesses and to cover up for my absence at home and she has done well. I have dedicated the afternoons to Rotary business.
What is your personal style and who manages your wardrobe?
My wife and I exchange ideas. Given the nature of my work, I always wear formal suits but whatever I choose, whether casual or official wear, I always go for the smart look.
How do you unwind after a long day at the office?
I take a drink, a wine or a beer.
Where would you be found spending time on a Saturday afternoon?
Saturday is my family time. After a long week, I prefer to stay indoors reflecting on the past week and planning for the new one as I relax with my family.
What is your best destination in East Africa?
I have been to every East African country and each one has some unique features. But the one place I would love to go to is the Massai Mara in Kenya because I have never been. It is my first destination once I am done with my governorship. I intend to spend a weekend there with my family.
What is the one place in the world that is on your bucket list?
The US, although I visit every year! I think it is my best destination for so many reasons. I love the environment, the people, the shopping.
What is your best collection?
Cars. I love cars, although I do collect other stuff too.
Is there any movie that has impacted your life?
The Last King of Scotland. I have watched it several times and it still impresses me.
What’s your current big read?
I don’t have anything in particular. I enjoy reading the Economist because it brings me up-to-date with current global economic affairs and being a businessman it is my biggest read.
Your favourite music?
I love Afrobeat especially Nigerian music. Here in Uganda, I love Jose Chameleone’s music followed by that of Radio and Weasel.
What is a constant in your fridge?
Fresh fruits. All types.
Kenneth Mugisha joined Rotary in 1996 at the age of 22 on the invitation of then governor Emmanuel Katongole.
He says growing up, he was taught to help the less fortunate and to do all that is possible to improve other people’s lives and for this, he felt very comfortable in Rotary.
He is aware that Rotary is perceived to be synonymous with old people, because for years, the organisation chose not to announce its community work or successful projects, making it less appealing to young people who hardly know anything about it.
His objective as district governor therefore was to make Rotary’s story known, encourage young people below the age of 40 to join to not only grow membership but also bring in more helping and giving hands.
An accountant by profession, he is currently pursuing a Masters degree at the University of Roehampton in the United Kingdom and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Tennessee for exemplary service toward humanity.
Mugisha says all the people of the world need to come together now more than ever before to take care of the less privileged with whatever they have.
“It doesn’t matter how much you contribute, whatever contribution you make can save a life. For instance, Uganda has gone down in history as the first country to have a Rotaract club in a refugee camp at Nakivale and that is the spirit of giving we are looking for going forward,” he told The EastAfrican.
He quit his job at the Uganda Revenue Authority to venture into private business and now runs Parapet Company of East Africa and Totally Wired, a subsidiary of a US-based solar company, among a chain of other businesses.
As district 9211 governor, he oversees Uganda and Tanzania.
He runs the Green Project, through which Rotary intends to boost the tree cover in Uganda and Tanzania. He is also an a mission to raise $1 million for the Rotary Foundation by May 2018, and so far has raised $400,000.