In Summary

Life changing: There are few things more valuable than good advice. Great advice will not only change the trajectory of your life but make you look, feel and do good. What is that one piece of advice that literally made you stop and take stock of your life? Esther Oluka asked a diverse range of women to share the advice that impacted greatly on their lives.

Zuena Kirema, baker and events planner
“In 2009, I briefly walked out of my marriage, promising never to return to my marital home. At that time, I was also dealing with issues in my marriage just like most couples. My mother reached out to me and advised that I go back to my husband. She encouraged me to be strong and go back home to raise the children with their own father. That children need both parents and I should not deny them that opportunity because of my issues. And it is what I did. I went back home and resolved issues with my husband. Overall, the whole experience taught me that marriage is not a bed of roses and that I should always first consider the needs of my children.”

Aisha Nabukeera, social worker
“When I contested for Miss Uganda in 2015, I received a lot of backlash. People said a lot of horrible things about me. They were angry at my audacity in contesting for such a prestigious pageant, yet, I had body scars (which she sustained during her childhood after being burnt with petrol by her stepmother). People judged me, a lot. It was one day, while at boot camp for the pageant, when Uncle Frank Gashumba called me on the phone saying I should not let people’s words get to me and also, the scars should not define my future. His words strengthened me. And today, whenever people criticise my scars, I fall back to my uncle’s words of wisdom.”

Brenda Nanyonjo, ceo, Miss Uganda foundation
“I faced a lot of difficulty in 2011 as I was looking for sponsors for the Miss Uganda franchise. Most companies I visited turned me down. They were not willing to sponsor the event. Just as my hope was waning, I decided to visit Daniel Ogong who was then working as the marketing director at Nile Breweries Limited. I was humbled when he told me that the company would sponsor the franchise because he believed in my work. Also, he commended me for the passion I had for running the franchise. I realised that having a good reputation is more valuable than money. It is bankable; you can achieve a lot of things once people believe in who you are.”

Kahill Kuteesa, founder of Kahill Insights, a content and influencer marketing agency
“The most profound advice has been from my mother, Monica Kasozi who told me that no matter what happens, God will always love me. She gave me this piece of advice at a time I was doubting myself, feeling and thinking I was a failure. Everything seemed to work against me and I thought God had abandoned me as I had once done the same to Him. It was a lonely place walking around with no purpose or direction in life. With this piece of advice, I have learnt not to worry much about things, because, if God loves me, He will make sure I am secure and safe, provided for and protected. He will lead me where His love can be felt.”

Betty Aol Ochan, Gulu woman Member of Parliament and Leader of Opposition in parliament
“Politics is tangled with a lot of intrigue and criticism. Before my husband passed away in 2017, I remember him telling me to learn how to ignore negative condemnation and instead embrace the positive criticism. For example, if they were telling me to improve certain areas, then, I had to work at mending those aspects. Also, Winnie Byanyima (the executive director of Oxfam International) once told me and a group of other women who were attending a conference that had been organised by Forum for Women in Democracy, that we are human beings who are prone to making mistakes. When we make them, we should not blame ourselves or throw some pity party but rather, learn from them and desist from repeating the same mistake.”

Brenda Vivian Namirimo, university graduate
“I studied a Bachelor’s degree in Micro-finance from Kyambogo University from 2014 to 2017. During my first year at the university, I got an opportunity to work at a photo-studio as a photographer. I was doing this as a part-time job to earn some money for upkeep at university. Overtime, I developed passion for photography and became accustomed to taking pictures from time to time. My elder brother noticed how I was falling in love with photography and advised that if I was really serious about it, I should then pursue it as a career. I was happy when he mentioned this because I did not enjoy studying Micro-finance. I only decided to pursue the course to attain a qualification after the university signed me up for it. I followed my heart and today, I am investing more time into photography. I am happy my brother talked to me about pursuing my passion. If it was not for him, I would be probably pursuing a career I am not passionate about.”

Stella Nantumbwe, also known as Ella, Miss Uganda 2013/14
“My mother once told me to learn to let things go in life including friends who were not adding any value to my life or opportunities that were not going to make a meaningful impact in my life. On another occasion, she told me to learn to let go, and, let God lead. It is what guides me when making certain important decisions in my life..”

Eleanor Nabwiso, actress
“When I was growing up, my mother would often tell me that if you are good, make your good better, and never let it rest until your better becomes best. This was another way of her always encouraging me to work hard and when I succeeded, to not let pride takeover, but rather, stay humble. Today, she is always reminding me to remain humble despite my success in the film industry. For instance, when I win an award, she will call and congratulate me and at the same time, remind me to stay humble and not let the fame get to my head.”

Grace Amme, public relations officer
“My mother, a devoted Christian, has always emphasised the need for me to treat others the same way I want them to treat me. I am a loving, kind and generous person because of the empathy my mother cultivated in me. It is actually a nice way to live.”

Phiona Mirembe, lawyer
“There was a time I was going through a difficult time. Everything around me was falling apart from my personal life to career. During this time, I remember going home to see my parents and my father noticed there was something very wrong with me. He told me, “Phiona, everything is going to be okay.” He said those words with gravity and conviction. Today, whenever I am going through a hard time, I lean back on his words. I keep motivating myself that I can overcome anything in life. Also, in 2017, I had another setback when my law firm collapsed and I was left with no option rather than close it. My mother realised how negatively the closure affected me and advised that I read Isaiah 60 where part of the chapter mentions of arise and shine, for the light is come. She told me to keep referring back to this chapter as it was just a matter of time before I got back on my feet again.”