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My secret to success is honouring God, determination and never giving up


·         Bernard Mwandikwa is an accomplished Swahili poet and an electrical and electronics engineer who has a dream of using his skills to empower the youth

·         Eng Mwandikwa granted Mwingi Times a glance into his life, what motivates him and his secrets to success

·         He is, however, unhappy with massive unemployment and neglect of young people in his region, some of whom have expert skills yet are wasting away in despair occasioned by harsh business environment such as drugs and crime




Eng. Bernard Mwandikwa taking his students through an engineering installation practicals. Photo/COURTESY


Tell me your full name and age

Bernard Mwandikwa, I am 33 years old.

What about your family? Wife, children and siblings

I am a family man, with one wife Viviana Mwende my wife and one child, Nobel Munene. 

I am third born in family of six children, five boys and one girl. My father (Munyithya Maliku) is a retired Kenya Post and Telecommunication official.

Tell us more about your career. You are an engineer. Where did you go to school?

I was educated at Tala Township primary school and Kathiani/Kyome Boys school; Technical University of Kenya (then a constituent college of the University of Nairobi) where I did a Bachelors of Engineering (Electrical and Electronics).

How did you start writing poems for Taifa Leo? When did you start? What motivated you?

The genesis of my poetry is not in the stars but in the black holes that I encountered in my human galaxy. The life of a poet is not defined by a straight line. The more challenges you encounter in life the more stories you have to tell as a poet. When I face challenging situations, more often than not, I turn to my pen and let it lead me in a space of divine mysteries.

Writing poems has been one of my hobbies since I was in High school. I have been writing poems for Taifa Leo (Kenya) and Mwananchi (Tanzania newspaper) since 2017. The two newspapers provide some pages for Kiswahili poets to share their works to the public. I have been a Kiswahili ambassador in East African Forums like Ushairi Afrika Mashariki (UAM) where I have been engaging young East African poets on vital initiatives that promote Kiswahili as the uniting language of East Africa.

What advice can you give youth interested in venturing into technical courses like you?

With high level of unemployment in Kenya, technical courses is the way to go. Technical courses empower the young people with vital knowledge that can foster self-employment. On the other hand, technical education offers good opportunities for employment in the industries. Most processing and manufacturing industries prefer holders of diploma or certificate students who have better technical knowhow than the graduate engineers.

Where do you currently teach engineering? What's your experience? Successes, challenges?

I am currently a technical trainer at Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology where I have been training both certificate and diploma trainees on electrical installations and principles. Having previously worked in the engineering industry for years, I share great wealth of practical experience that I extend to my students.

Engineering is a noble profession in most developed countries. In Kenya, there are many jobless graduate engineers because there is little manufacturing and processing taking place. Kenya relies mostly on imports. There is proliferation of Chinese products in our market, from plastic cups to small razor blades. Most manufacturing factories are closing down because of high costs of manufacturing prompted by heavy taxation and unfair business environment.

On social media I usually see your advocacy for East African Community. How do you keep in touch with other colleagues from outside countries eg TZ, Ug?

I lead three groups that advocate for a common East Africa. In one group, “East Africa as One” we shared a common vision with a renown Ugandan activist Nana Mwafrika. Nana has been a key figure in the quest for social justice and Civil rights in Uganda. Ever since we started the group, we have been able to mobilize people from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda to share their struggles, challenges and prestige. However, we have experienced challenges of language barrier. Ugandans prefer using English as their communication language while Tanzanian prefer using Kiswahili as their communication language. Rwandese are neither good in Kiswahili nor English and prefer Kinyarwanda.

Any update from Uganda? I saw sometime that Nana was being 'persecuted' by M7 govt. What sufferings did she undergo?

My friend Nana Mwafrika is a Ugandan human rights defender who has been on the front line in advocacy for justice against police brutality in Uganda. She has fallen a victim to ruthless Ugandan police severally. Last year, Nana was attacked by Ugandan police force while she was 7 months pregnant and as result lost her uterus.

In the morning of April 24 2019, police officers at the Uganda Police Force headquarters in Naguru used pepper spray against the activist in an attempt to stop her meeting police inspector general to address issues on police brutality. The police forcibly removed her from her vehicle, trampled and dragged her along the ground until she lost consciousness. Such forms of intimidation have been a common occurrence in Museveni regime.

Now that Covid-19 has ravaged regional economies, what do you see as a cautious way to reopen?

I think Africa should address the Covid-19 challenge in a more African approach. There are things that do not work in Africa because of poor systems and lack of appropriate mitigation programs whenever calamities strike. For example, the lockdown does not effectively achieve its intended purpose.

For instance, the traffic police are corrupt and they will never put sufficient barrier to people’s movement in and out of the capital. People will still mingle as like there is no lockdown. Therefore, it’s a fact, lockdowns will never work in African, until we have systems that are corruption proof. It is better to open up the economy and learn to live with Covid-19 rather than invoking measures that will constrain the proletariats at the expense of the bourgeoisies’ class. 

What's your take on TZ approach to Covid-19? Is Magufuli hiding the scale of casualties or he has his country "cured"?

Majority consider Magufuli’s approach somewhat pathetic but I think he has shown some consistency in what he does than most African leaders. In Kenya the churches were closed when the number of Covid-19 victims was barely less than 20 only to be reopened when the number of victims is nearing 20 thousand! What logic is there! African countries have weakest economies and rushing to take strict measures might be more lethal to its own people.

Nevertheless, hiding of figures is a rather imprudent way of tackling and pandemic that is shaking big economies of the world. Experts can only rely on figures to forge approaches of tackling any invading problem.

TZ will go for elections this year. What chances do you see Chadema challenging CCM or it's a forgone conclusion that Magufuli must win?

I have been to Tanzania severally on my private endeavours and I have noted a more polite approaches in political campaigns. CCM has been the leading party for years. I can say without fear of any contradiction that it will not be any different this year. Dr. Magufuli will win with a big margin. There is sudden euphoria that with the leadership of Magufuli is ferrying Tanzania with a vital speed that is sufficient enough to overtake other economic giants of Africa. However, he has used both legal and rather unorthodox means to somehow put Tanzania on good developmental track record.

Uganda's Museveni is past 70 years and there are claims he may change the Constitution. What's up for Bobi Wine and other Young Turks? Do they have a chance here?

Dr.Stella Nyanzi of Makerere University proposed a vital approach that could force National Resistance Movement (NRM) leader out of politics. An alliance between Kyadondo East MP Bobi Wine and Kizza Besingye. I think the alliance might send vital shock waves that can alter the status quo in Uganda. Yoweri Museveni who has been in power since 1986 is known for his vicious use of Police Force to intimidate the opposition leaders. However, with the two leaders coming together, the dictatorial leadership in Uganda can be vandalised.

In Kenya, many young people are jobless and disenfranchised. What's the cure to this given they are usually well educated. Or the problem is in the curriculum or is it their attitude? What ails them?

It’s a fact that many people are jobless and disenfranchised in Kenya. In fact, the levels of depression because of joblessness are worrying among the Kenyan youths. Others are opting to use unorthodox means to attain their means of survival. It is the high time the youth begin to venture into innovation and entrepreneurship.

There have been improvement in Tseikuru TTI and KMTC is coming up here. What changes will the development give?

As a young leader in Tseikuru, I am glad to witness great transformation of the area through opportunities of empowering the local youths with vital technical skills and knowledge that will empower and place them on a better position for building our nation. Tseikuru is already benefiting from Tseikuru Technical Training Institute through employment opportunities and boosting the area economy.

Tseikuru is battling crime and a surge in cases of extra-judicial killings. Is that the way to go?  Any other option?

Upsurge of crime is sometime an indicator of a growing area. The bigger you grow the more devils you will fight. In that case, systems of curbing criminal activities should be firmly establish. However, extra judicial killings is an uncouth way of curbing criminal surge. Any civilised society should allow the law to take its course.  

Your final words to the young people around here and the region who see you as a role model...

Young people should realize that today they are young, tomorrow they will be old. Time does not wait for anyone. Let them redeem time by coming out strongly to address issue that so much choke their destinies. Let them fight illiteracy and ignorance by educating themselves. Let them fight poverty by innovating poverty eradication schemes through entrepreneurship. Let them fight indolence by working hard and smart. Let them overcome hatred by embracing love. Let them overcome wickedness by turning to God.

What's the secret to your success?

Secrets of success are universal. I consider the following to be the secrets of my life prowess. One, honouring God in my endeavours. Two, working smart. Three, great determination. Four, never giving up. Five, consistency in working out my ideas.

Your uncle Mr Daniel Maliku was my head teacher at Tseikuru primary. He's now retired and has great business. During our time Tseikuru was successful. Right now it is in shambles. Do you know the reason?

I can compare Mr Maliku to a rich dad in Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad’. Actually, he was a Magufuli of primary education. His performance went hand in hand with development records. During his days in school, he was soft spoken but strict. His approach of ensuring great performance in school was based on management Maslow Hierarchy of Needs.  He always ensured his staff members were at peace and highly motivated. This is uncommon in most school leaderships today where the head teachers play the dominant role and their staff members rendered recessive.



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