Flavia Kalule: Teacher, Women’s rights activist and Politician.
Asked about how she became a teacher and later made the switch from teaching to working at FOWODE? Flavia cheekily states that her first thought was to study Music, Dance and Drama at University targeting a career in acting, but that did not happen and she was encouraged to look for another option. ‘I love expressing myself, talking to new people; that is just my passion’ she says emphasizing her love for theatre. In selecting another career, she picked one that would allow her to work with people while still exploring the theatrical and creative side she had. She decided to pursue an education degree in literature.
After graduating, she taught at Namilyango College (an all-boys school) where she noticed the gender insensitive perceptions her students possessed. Listening to them, she quickly realized she had a big role to play in changing these gender biases. It’s in that moment that she decided that her next job would be in a women’s rights organization where she could learn and acquire skills to deal with these biases and help empower fellow women.
She didn’t have to wait for long. Five years after she joined Namilyango an Internship position opened up at FOWODE. Flavia quickly grabbed the opportunity paying no attention to the salary-cut and the demotion in responsibility. She was satisfied with the opportunity to reinforce her knowledge, she felt she was in the right place. The five years she spent at FOWODE taught her a lot about herself. It was during those five years that she realized she possessed a voice that she could use to advocate for women’s rights and activism, something she believes is her calling.
Flavia believes that while in a place, do what you do and do it to the best of your ability and when it’s time to leave, leave. If you do not leave, people elsewhere will not benefit from you and what you have to offer. Flavia does not believe in restricting herself to doing one thing while she could be doing more. To her it’s important to reach out and influence as many people as you can.
And regarding her switch to electoral politics Flavia says working very closely with different women in influential positions sharpened her leadership skills and reawakened a desire she always had to seek an even bigger platform to serve people. Being a Member of Parliament for her district was certainly one of such platforms. The 2016 elections provide that opportunity and she started to ‘plough the ground’ for the voting season as early as 2014. Unfortunately in 2015, on her way to her district Mubende she was involved in a fatal accident that kept her bedridden for three months. Six months later she was back on her feet and swiftly back into the campaigns where she emerged second an honorable feat considering the short time she had to campaign. Unlike many who lose an election, Flavia’s experience seems to have re-energized her and her desire to serve her people.
On how she came to join AYLF Flavia recalls the first AYLF event she was invited to in Makerere University in 2007 while serving as chair lady of CCE Complex Hall. She says ‘At that moment, it was about making friends, eating the food, networking and knowing who the other student leaders were.’ However after the first day, she kept going to the subsequent meetings and became a member. She states that from the group of student leaders that pioneered AYLF at Makerere University that day in 2006 came the small group that she is still part of. ‘We are now a group of about 7 core members, we meet over a meal, share personal challenges, share a verse and pray.’ Realizing how crucial the bonds cultivated in AYLF were, Flavia and her small group decided to officially begin what they named as AYPN – Africa Young Professionals Network a group that would preserve AYLF values long after University. She acknowledges that her small group has and continues to play a pivotal role in shaping, guiding and growing AYLF not only in Uganda but in the wider East African region.
Reflecting on the impact of AYLF Flavia mentions that
‘AYLF’s arrival in Makerere was very timely, it came when we had just been elected leaders and needed guidance on how to lead.’ Flavia states that leadership based on Jesus as an example is just what she needed at that point in time, someone they looked up to as a perfect model of leadership. She adds that it was easy to comprehend and practice. It is from that foundation that Flavia has built her leadership, emulating Jesus. She also appreciates the immense networks across East Africa and friends who are trustworthy that she met through AYLF.
On her fondest AYLF Memories Flavia vividly recalls ‘The Food! Sharing a meal with friends strengthens the bond.’ Flavia believes some of the fondest memories are created around food. ‘There was always so much food to eat.’ She also finds memorable the occasions when she is called back to engage with younger student leaders.
Asked to paint a picture of AYLF 20 years from today, she quickly responds. ‘I envision a stronger network of young leaders that adhere to the principles of Jesus.’ Flavia believes that if AYLF can give birth to a person like her, and continue to take in student leaders through the same curriculum and churn them out, she believes we are capable of causing a change in the leadership in the country. She hopes that our numbers will be able to actualize into tangible leadership. Besides that, she hopes we will be able to take a moment to reflect on where we have come from, where we are going and creatively find ways to meet the young people’s needs so they can come into these Godly spaces that they are afraid to explore.
NOTE: Flavia Kalule is one of the pioneer AYLF members in Uganda. She is currently an activist and a Member of Parliament in waiting. Thank you Flavia for being part of AYLF and playing a pivotal role in advancing our mission towards developing young leaders.