MEET AGABA BILLS, UGANDA’S EMERGING PROLIFIC AUTHOR

In a world where tweeting, Facebooking, whatsapping are the order of the day, it is hard to find people who can afford time to read through pages of novels.

It’s even more challenging to find those who can spare time to write books, especially in a country where it is said “If you want to hide anything from a Ugandan, write it.”

Agaba Bills Ronald is one of a kind. He is an emerging young author, passionate about effective leadership. He has one book already to his name:‘Secrets of Effective Leadership In Schools.’

With the foreword written by the current Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, the book is doing well on the market.

Bills while speaking to Ndejje students
Bills while speaking to Ndejje students

Agaba spoke to Red Pepper’s Alex Masereka about what it takes to compile intelligent content in 96 pages and engage in a campaign to make Ugandans own more book shelves instead of TVs in their homes.

WHO IS AGABA RONALD BILLS

I was born in December 1986, in Kazo, Kiruhura district. I am the last born in a family of four of the Nkwita Family and not yet married.

I went to Kazo Primary school, Kanoni Secondary School and Mbarara High before joining Kyambogo University, where I undertook studies in Procurement and logistics management.

I am a mentor for young leaders, member of Global Smart Partnership and Strategic Leadership forum, and a commentator on current affairs.

RP:You Are An Emerging Author And Some Of Your Work Is Already On The Market. When Did You Start Writing?

BILLS: I started writing in my Primary Six by participating in essay competitions both at school and national level. However, throughout my secondary school life, I wrote for national newspapers. I have actually written for all major dailies. Writing comes easily and I draw inspiration from my surrounding, it has become my life.

RP: What Inspired you to write your book, ‘Secrets of Effective Leadership In Schools and when did you begin working on it?

BILLS: My shock realization for the lack of literature on leadership in the country is one of the reasons that gave me the conviction to write this book. There is no standard guide of leadership from young and fresh minds who had experienced and wanted to tell others about it and so I felt it was high time I combined my interest in writing and passion for good leadership to pen this book.

Also, there is a lot of moralization of leadership as a ‘church thing’ in school instead of transformation.

So in 2009 after my university is when I started organizing my thoughts on putting together the book.

RP: Your Book Talks About Leadership In Schools, why did you focus more on schools? Is it the only place where leadership is required?

BILLS: It is a known fact that children are taken to school with the hope that they are leaders of tomorrow and time and again reminded of the same. Schools provide the foundation of a human being’s growth hence the need to take advantage of the opportunity.

Experience has shown that when you invest in the early stages of a human being, wonders can happen. Our current Prime Minister, Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, a former Head Prefect of Busoga College Mwiri is a classic example of why nurturing leaders should not be ambushed later in life.

Schools help students think beyond themselves, what they will do for their country. It is a reminder for national/personal service and gives an outlook of how life is supposed to be.  Schools are grounds for young open minded individuals and I believe this is where the leadership message should be taken.

RP: What Are Some of the challenges you have faced in trying to make this book see the light of day?

BILLS: The first was public attitude. Investing in an area without market like writing is normally viewed with negativity. It is not a field where one can get quick money. Secondly, local publishers are not professional enough. I had to source for private editors for editing. Then there was the issue of time, balancing my work and writing was a bit tricky but am grateful that for me where passion is, energy flows and it kept me going.

MINISTERIAL ENDORSEMENT; Agaba Bills Ronald with ICT Minister John Nasasira
MINISTERIAL ENDORSEMENT; Agaba Bills Ronald with ICT Minister John Nasasira

RP: And the gains?

BILLS: This book has opened doors of opportunities for me. I am able to network with different people across all sections of society. I have met ministers, CEOs, head teachers, students along the way which doesn’t happen every day.

My book has enabled me travel around the country and the region. I have been to both Rwanda and Burundi because of it in addition to being a guest speaker at a UN event. I have also given motivational speeches at Institutions of higher learning like Makerere University. My book is in libraries in most prestigious schools in the country (Buddo, Gayaza) and this gives me some sense of pride.

If I can add, the current Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda wrote the foreword, what else can I ask for?

RP: You speak like one whose work has had a tremendous reception

BILLS: The reception has been epic! People who have bought my book to donate are more than those who have bought copies for themselves. Individuals like; Nicholas Opiyo bought for schools of my choice, Red Pepper’s CMO, Arinaitwe Rugyendo bought more than 20 copies to donate to his former schools, political analyst Godber Tumushabe bought copies as well and I have been able to pay the loan I borrowed for publication within the first month.

RP: Since your subject is leadership, what do you consider the true qualities of a good leader? Do you consider yourself on and at what level?

BILLS: Leadership is work in progress, it is about service to others.People fear leadership because of association with politics.

Take for example, Esther Kalenzi, founder of 40 days/40 smiles who realized the vulnerability of children and decided to organize friends on social media put up a dormitory for an orphanage in Luweero. That to me is leadership.

Personally, I am involved in charity/leadership capacity building for young people and I think the fact that others can acknowledge that am contributing to Uganda is a qualification that I am one.It is about inspiring people towards achieving their goals.

Esther Kalenzi, team leader of the 40 Days over 40 Smiles charity
Esther Kalenzi, team leader of the 40 Days over 40 Smiles charity

Politicians look at the next election and leaders look at the next generation. Some politicians may not necessarily do things that prove leadership and vice versa.

RP: I am sure writing is not your only preoccupation. What do you do other than writing? Your hobbies, interests?

BILLS: Reading and writing aside, I am not very rich in social life. I enjoy debates, sometimes i go dancing. I am media shy though. I am not concerned that I am not known I seek to be worthy to be known.

I am currently reading leaders eat last, by Simon Snake but my favorite book is The richest man in Babylon by George classer, what I wish I knew when I was 20 by prof. Tina Serlig and Robin Sharma because I am an addict.

In Uganda, I am a huge fan of writers like; John Nagenda, Daniel Kalinaki, Arinaitwe Rugyendo and Arthur Gakwandi.

RP: What do you think Ugandans should do to be good writers?

BILLS: We should graduate from the culture of promoting short term benefits. The notion of amassing wealth has made ventures that need focus and time to suffer.

The culture of promoting mediocrity has to stop in addition to enforcing the copyrights law. I am glad of the campaign to confiscate pirated books, people must learn to reward hard work. Ugandan families have TVs and not libraries that culture should change.

RP: Is this going to be your first and last book or can we expect more?

BILLS: I am already working on my second book on leadership. I have also started a leadership consult taking on young inspired leaders. The motive is to go out in schools and universities/work places and spread the message that leadership is not about titles.

I also intend to inspire new writers, organize leadership dialogues where I will invite international authors, with ex-leaders from abroad to come and lecture on what it means to be a leader.

Organizing leadership fellowships like Desmond Tutu’s African Leadership Institute is also one of my dream where we will be able to train exemplary leaders.

My book is only 20k and can be found in university bookshops, the hub bookshop at Nakumati oasis mall, Adit in Mbarara, Aristoc or you can get in on call 0774-244-183 and all my social media platforms.

 

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