“He who stands on his own feet” – Ndyetabura – this is the name my Tanzanian great-grandfather gave me. Throughout my life “standing on my own two feet” has taken on a special meaning for me. In a figurative sense, it is the guiding light for Jambo Bukoba – making children strong through sport.
Growing up in different worlds
I was born in Munich and moved to Tanzania, my father’s home country, at the age of five with my sister and parents. My father was a professor of chemistry and had studied in Munich in the 1960s where he met my German mother. I mainly lived in Tanzania until the age of 12, we relocated seven times during this period.
Moving so often was difficult for me because I had to give up friends I had became fond of and I was greatly challenged by the fact that the colour of my skin made me different both in Germany and in Tanzania. What I learned from this experience was how to adjust quickly to new and foreign situations, to approach mistrust with great openness and to find common ground with people when exchanging ideas. And this is also one of my special strengths today: building a bridge between the different worlds in Germany and Tanzania.
After my parents separated, my mother, sister and I returned to Munich. I was 12 years old and was well aware at the time of my situation: my future prospects would have been limited if I only had a Tanzanian education.
The death of my father and a sweaty, signed football jersey
In the spring of 2006, my father died in Tanzania. I was 41 years old at the time. As a result, I thought a lot about my second home and my own childhood from the perspective of an adult. I found my father’s doctoral thesis when I was cleaning out his house and that was when I became aware for the first time of what he had actually accomplished back then as a 20-year-old man from a village near Bukoba.
Rhetorically, i begun to question myself as to why that he came to study in Munich? How were my grandparents in Tanzania able to afford it? “Education” was the thread running through my research about Tanzania, the Kagera region and my family.
Surprisingly, I found out that there were only 12 Tanzanians with a university degree back then and my father was privileged to have studied in Germany and then to return to his country. That my grandfather, who was a farmer was committed to invest in education of his children using the yields from the sales of harvested crops.
Children in Tanzania – An affair of the heart
I started reviewing the statistics on HIV/AIDS infections and orphans in Tanzania from a different perspective and I saw people, not numbers! I had memories of girls who were sent to fetch water with canisters every day who didn’t have time to study and pupils who are still taught today using textbooks from the 50s. Then I realized how lucky I had been in my formative years in Germany to have had an environment conducive of education. Obviously, children in Tanzania didn’t have the opportunities I had and some might not have the chance to successfully be the masters of their own destinies in the future especially girls. Most girls in Tanzania are greatly disadvantaged by societal structures that tend to shape their future and this was what motivated my passion to make a difference.
About 60% of new HIV/AIDS infections occur in individuals between 15 and 24 years of age. The existing sensitization campaigns, programmes and projects on curbing HIV transmission, achieving higher education, promoting quality health and gender equality in Tanzania do not appear to truly reach children and young people.
A sweaty football jersey signed by Willy Sagnol compelled me to take action. A friend handed it me happily after a Champions League match with the words “Do something with this for your people!” This was during my time as the manager of sports sponsorship at HypoVereinsbank and that was when I was struck to really do something for Tanzania that will positively impact the lives of the people.
Making children strong through sports
The Ambassador of Tanzania set up meetings for me with leaders from the fields of education, health, family and sports in Bukoba in November 2008. I visited a vocational school to discuss my idea with the students: The girls and boys who were playing football on the shore of Lake Victoria in Bukoba shared a few pairs of thin trainers and wore only one shoe on their shooting foot. When I asked them what sport and football means to them, they answered “football games help keep our minds off our problems. When you’re playing football, you forget you’re hungry.”
After all my research and discussions with many people and experts in Tanzania and Germany, the findings were finally clear to me: “I want to help children in Tanzania”. I want to positively make an impact by helping children enjoy better education, improved health and gender equality and use sport as a means to build hope and a way to open doors for a brighter future.
Whether swimming certification or jogging – sport has always given me more energy and self-confidence and has shown me what I can achieve. I later discovered running marathon through my colleagues at work and I gained strength and inspiration from my daily training. My goal was to be open minded and to live a healthier life.
In December 2008, I founded Jambo Bukoba e.V. together with our financial director Andreas Meindl, my wife and some other nice people.
We want even more children to be able to stand on their own two feet!
I met many wonderful people through Jambo Bukoba. With volunteers, donations and as an ambassador, we not only make children in Tanzania strong, but ourselves as human beings.
ASHOKA, a global non-profit organisation that promotes socially responsible company start-ups audited our work through a survey in August 2014 and we had positive results, we recorded increased school attendance among pupils coupled with improved grades in exams, better awareness about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS as well as how to curb it and significantly girls have become more confident and aware about their capabilities.
Spurred by this positive result and the wonderful (team) spirit, I decided to work full-time for Jambo Bukoba in October 2014 at the age of 49. It was evident that my passion and courage were rewarded. Chancellor Angela Merkel honoured Jambo Bukoba with a national startsocial award in spring 2015 and Ashoka selected me for further support as a social entrepreneur at almost the same time. Now, I can confidently put all of my energy into pursuing my goal of empowering children in Bukoba with opportunities in order to achieve a bright future.
“These girls and boys of today are the leaders of tomorrow if they have access to education, better health and gender equality. Give us your support”!
Munich, 24 August 2015
Clemens Ndyetabura Mulokozi