I wanted to be a rapper

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“Growing up as a young man, my dream was to be the best rapper in the world,” Says Isabirye Jonathan Collins from the land of Museveni. “All I would do in high school was composing rap songs and presenting to the audiences at school.”

As he tells me this, I wonder if this really matters at this moment now that he is not in the music industry. He never ventured into it, which makes me to think that he abandoned his childhood dreams to the winds of fate. His dreams melted away.

” I remember the day I won the spirit slum competitions and went to represent my entire region,” he narrates. He grew up admiring 50 cent who was his role model. Apart from the desire to end up in the music industry, he also wanted to be a movie star.

His dreams of becoming a rapper and movie icon changed when he was pursuing his A-levels. He was in class when a mentor from Educate! Uganda approached him and fellow classmates asking them to join their club. “I had no idea what the organization was all about. Most of my friends didn’t join the club.

“When I joined the club, the mentor, Simon, talked to me and said he wanted me to be an entrepreneur and a change maker.”  Collins didn’t see the connection of this new request with his dream of becoming a rapper.

Somehow, Simon convinced him. He told him that all he wanted was him to use his public speaking skills to change lives. From here, Collins would trudge a different path, his dreams dissipating into thin air while he embraced new dreams of becoming the best entrepreneur the world has ever seen.

“My dream is to be the best entrepreneur in the world, better than Bill Gates as well as the best public speaker and trainer,” so he dreams. In today’s world, every dream, coupled with enough exertion of zeal is possible. And from the corner of my eyes I take his statement less serious, because that is how he says it.

Collins grew up from a humble background, in a family of six- three boys and three girls. Just like most people, there was tremendous struggle with education. Money was lacking and studying which is supposed to be a hobby became quite a hustle. He almost quit as there was more to worry about other than school.

In class six, he became a businessman. I don’t know a businessman dealing with what. I never remembered to ask him what is this that a class six lad would engage in so that he could manage to pay his own tuition. It must have been something big. Since then, he is been paying for his tuition.

“I was raised up in a very humble background where everyone looked at us as failures,” he says. “I always told my mother I will get ‘there’ and make her proud.” Isn’t it the dream of everybody, to make their mama proud? I mean this woman carried you in her womb for 9 freaking months without complaining, well, maybe a little. She fed you, washed you, clothed you, held you in her arms so close, breastfed you, and all sundry of things- who is that person who wouldn’t wanna make their mama proud? Unless she never did any of these, which doesn’t make her your mama.

Even those of us with dead moms usually visit their graves and promise to make them proud. We cry in the dark and ask them to come back and protect us from the harshness of this world, and from bad people. There are so many bad people in this world you know, like those who enter a matatu with roasted maize and sit next to you, and you’re extremely hungry. I wonder if they’re human. Do they ever seem to realize how heavy you salivate and hope they spare a small cob for you? They chew all of it away, belch loudly and then happily start prodding you for a conversation. You know them, right?

In Educate! Uganda, he met many other team members. It is here that he realized what he was exactly supposed to be. He started off professionally as a mentor, meeting over 120 secondary students to empower, inspire, mentor and enable them see their futures in a different perspective.

As a youth leader, he would also get opportunities to meet over 300 students to inspire and encourage them to start up innovative and creative enterprises to enable them become job creators as opposed to job seekers.

In his role as a programme officer, he meets more and more youths on a daily basis. He trains teachers in Uganda on how to use and employ experience learning methodology (learner centred learning).

He studied marketing in Makerere University and currently majors in relationship building and partnerships. He is a certified trainer of trainees, certified curriculum designer, public speaker and a YALI alumnus, cohort 22. If he lost his job, he would go back to his businesses. He is the director Lins fumigation services.

From the above, perhaps you may wonder if he has a social life. He sounds like those people who work in refugee camps who have dedicated their lives to change other people’s lives. People who never have time for themselves. And when you look into their eyes, like those of Elelita from Ethiopia, all you see is concern. Eyes that are perturbed, eyes that never find rest. Nice job you’re doing Ms Elelita.

During his free time, he goes to visit his first love-composing rap songs. At times he grabs a bowl of popcorns and lets the movies take him away. He listens to music and sometimes sweats in the basketball pitch. He is a reading man as well. There is nothing sexy as a woman who reads, but there is nothing as confident as a man who reads. His poison, inspirational books.

I understand that there are people who loathe inspirational books because at times they’re full of false and impractical things. Cut Collins some slack, let him be. Let him read them books. How else can you be a mentor and not read inspirational books. These books give you inspiration.  Personally, currently I am reading this book called The Power of Positive Thinking. Believe me; it is full of very inspiring anecdotes. At the start you might not like it, but as you go on you start to see the endless possibilities of a more fulfilling life. I am also obsessed with this motivational speaker called Les Brown. Trust me, he is good. Check him out.

I ask Collins where he draws his motivation from. You know it is quite effortless to lose motivation, especially when there is nothing around you that can inspire you to beat the odds. “I always read Martin Luther King and talk to my mom to motivate me. My dad sums up the day by telling me I am a champion.” It is the nicest thing an African father can ever say to a son. My dad has never said anything that would coat my heart with joy or love. The best he has done is to only give a wide smile during my graduation.

His source of happiness is to see employed youths and a youth led community.

Any memorable moment, Collins?

“When I am in the market and a youth comes with the parent and says ‘mom, this is my mentor. He made me become what I am’.”

Do you think what you do has any impact?

“Yes, what I do changes lives and I know I have changed lives of over 300 youths in Uganda.”

What are the challenges you’re experiencing in your line of work?

“The challenge is that not everyone wants to embrace change. All they want is material things and money.”

Any final words?

“Every day I wake up I ask myself how I will change a life of a youth. I plan in terms of changing and inspiring a sleeping giant. Educate! Uganda changed my life.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Collins Isabirye for you. Let’s meet on Wednesday.

If you have an inspirational story hit me up at info@mzangila.com/ WhatsApp 0716503589. Include a gist so that we can know what we’re gonna deal with.



Mzangila Snr

(A supreme hunter in captivity)

Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?

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