In 2008, I spent my holidays at the Tumaini Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I was visiting my mentor, a 52-year-old patient with a brain tumor. My mentor was a wonderful person, not because of his numerous professional, academic, and personal achievements but because of his dedication and commitment to improving his life and the lives of others through education.
My mentor came from humble beginnings. He was born in rural Tanzania, in a small village called Rumashi located close to the border of Tanzania and Burundi. He was the 5th of 6 children and spent his younger years either farming, or watching over his family’s cattle, or walking through game reserves to get to and from school which was many kilometres away. Even though his days were long and tiring and he had no option but to solely rely on candlelight when studying inthe evenings, he somehow managed to graduate with excellent grades and was awarded a government scholarship to attend a secondary school for gifted kids. After high school, he went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and an MBA in Finance from the University of Dar es Salaam. Years later, he would complete his PhD in Engineering Economics from the University of Leoben and become a social sciences professor.
My mentor, understood the transformative power of quality education and dedicated his life to serving and mentoring young minds. At the time of his death in May 2009, he was the pioneering Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Dodoma. I would love to write a memoir about my mentor, and maybe some day I will, but for now, I’d like to shift the focus from his life line to the values that guided the man.
From farm boy to professor, he was hard working, disciplined, charming, funny, and unbearably stubborn. 2022 marks 13 years since he passed and as I look back on his journey, I am inspired by his attitude and commitment to living an excellent life. In the paragraphs that follow, I’d like to share with you the 3 most impactful lessons I learnt from him, either by observation or through our interactions. These lessons are a constant source of motivation in my life, whenever I feel stuck, or lost, or confused and I hope that they will be a source of motivation for you too in 2022 and beyond.