I had a hitch. Call it a technical problem or any fancy word people use when things are not working. The keyboard of the laptop I’ve been using to type my posts is kaput. The QWERTY thing decided to show me the middle finger. Then the GHJKL followed. All vowels pissed on me.
Backspace didn’t want to be left behind. So did the quotation marks. The only buttons that were responding to my call were Mr. Space Bar and Ms. Delete. Both left my document with an expanse of white space. So I said fcuk it, joke’s on you keyboard. Joke’s on you. I’ll use my phone.
I walked out of Freedom Square at Makerere University with a Bachelor of Biomedical Laboratory Technology in January 2013. I had dreams.
I was going to work in the lab until the age of 28. I’d be a badass molecular biologist. My life would revolve around DNA; extracting them, running PCRs to proliferate more of them and doing Agarose Gel Electrophoresis to see those DNA bands. I’d do ELISAs and whatever new technology was available. And I’d be involved in ground-breaking life sciences research.
I’d have a Masters degree and would be on course to grabbing a PhD title by its shoulders. The world would know my name and I would shine.
I’d start my own business and have lots of money. I’d drive my own car, own a house and fly around the world going on vacations and making business deals. I’d be married, putting food on the table for my family. I’d be a great family guy.
Rejection emails for Masters Scholarships hit me like bullets. They kept flowing nonstop like John Rambo firing his gun away. The UK, Germany, China, Australia, Italy, US, South Africa, Uganda, Algeria. I don’t even remember the other places I applied to.
Some scholarship committees didn’t bother to respond to me, like I didn’t deserve to know my fate. Their silence would give me a clue on what decision they had made. I applied for over 15 scholarships between 2012 and 2014. None those applications for pursuing my Masters degree yielded a positive email. It was rejection after rejection. And dejection after dejection for me.
Mum decided she’d find a way. She saved up (God bless my mum), paid a deposit for a Cancer Pharmacology course I’d been admitted to in the UK. Finally something was working in my favor, I thought. Then I picked up a heavy envelop with my passport. Visa denied!
My shoulders dropped. I sighed. I got snotty.
That shredded me.
I’ve applied for one other Masters scholarship since 2014. That was in 2017. My application was still rejected. Hehehe.
Exit scholarship applications. Enter jobs.
I remember that day. The sun set my head ablaze. My stomach was churning from hunger. The air smelled of soil. I walked from the printing place at Mitchell Hall Makerere University with what I thought was a great job application in my hand.
I delivered that letter at the reception of this facility that does molecular biology stuff. I received a call about 20 minutes later.
“The boss says you should come back for your application,” the lady on the other end of the phone says.
“Why? Is there a problem with it?” I ask in a tone of unemployment.
“He says you didn’t address him the right way in your letter.”
I applied to some of the big name life science projects and organizations in Uganda. I had a burning desire to keep doing molecular biology work. But the world had other plans. I didn’t get any of those lab jobs I applied for.
The only time I worked in the lab after graduating was in a government agricultural research lab. I was doing molecular biology work. But I left.
I branched out.
I started writing. I attended leadership courses. I volunteered, I served, I prayed.
I worked in communications for a youth focused organisation, did a happy stint with the city authority of Kampala working with farmers and then for about three and a half years, worked for one of the “big four” firms. At all these jobs, I was never judged by my academic qualification. Rather by what I could deliver.
And here I am, getting to 30 in three weeks without the Masters degree I thought I’d have by this time. My bank account is what it is. Blunt! I don’t a wife and kids. I don’t have a car or a business that I’m running.
What I have is experience, the kind of experience that has given me an opportunity to join a large bioscience and technology company through a work fellowship in a country whose language I couldn’t even speak or understand four months ago.
I’m making progress. Thirty will look good on me.
PS: Blame my phone for any typos.