In which I speak at TEDxKampala

A few weeks ago, I spoke at TEDxKampala about Fundi Bots which uses robotics in African schools as a learning tool for better and more practical STEM education.

The video is now live and you can view it here. Please take a few minutes to watch and share with your social circles. We believe that the more people hear and see our impact, the better our chances to change the education landscape in Africa.

Amor Fati #1

I love writing fiction, and it’s been ages, so I’m starting again, because the best way to remember how to learn how to write is to write is to write is to write.

[Amor fati is Latin, loosely translated as “love of one’s fate” and is an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one’s life.]

Amor Fati #1


The word appears out of the sky, in vibrant pinks and lush greens, billowing out of the clouds, drifting slowly into consciousness briefly before evanescing back into thin air.

She stretches out a finger and traces out the letters where the name had been. The clouds part playfully around her fingers, swirling, prancing and dancing like tiny puffy cloud people.


There it is again. This time it pops out in a lush red, larger, more defined, more luminous. In the distance, a little bird flies into view, whistling merrily; a happy little tune that reminds her of her childhood and the endless Sunday afternoon cartoons, when life was about simpler things, like a dislike for tomatoes and onions and, the visits to the ice-cream vendor around the corner who had the largest fluffiest cotton candy clouds.

The little bird turns and flies straight into the “a” letter, which yawns very slightly and swallows the bird whole. A feather pops out and drifts, very lazily, into her hand.

“I’m all alone now,” the feather says, “what happens now?”

She laughs, and taking the feather by the quill, sweeps away the word, dispersing the letters into the sky, turning it a dark red. Odd, she thinks, it looks just like blood.


The words burn themselves into the sky, bursting into flame as soon as they appear. The ground starts shaking, everything around her is on fire. In the distance, a dam bursts open and a river of blood and fire rushes towards her.

She screams loudly, and her eyes pop open.

“Janet. Wake up.”

Disoriented, Janet squints into the darkness, pushing the bedcovers back. It takes a few moments for her to find her bearings.

“Alex? What time is it?”

“It doesn’t matter, we need to talk.”

She finds her phone and switches it on, the glow suddenly illuminating the dark room, throwing sharp shadows everywhere. As she checks the time, the phone beeps a warning: LOW BATTERY.

She turns angrily at him, thrusting the phone in his face.

“Alex, dammit. It’s 3AM.”

He cringes, shrinking away from the harsh light and from her anger. Taking a moment to let his eyes adjust, he turns back to her, half his face in shadow. He looks at the phone, then at the slender fingers framing the phone. He takes her hand, and switches off the phone.

Holding her hand in his, he runs his finger lightly over the little ring with the little stone set in it. He felt her starting to pull her hand away. She was still angry.

“It doesn’t matter what time it is, baby.”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

“I’m dying.”

In the silence, the phone’s beep is louder than a gunshot. Battery critical.

“I was at Dr. Semwanga’s today. I’m dying. He says if I’m lucky, I’ll have three weeks.”

The phone beeps again, twice, and goes off.


Janet didn’t notice it was morning until the warm sunlight softly caressed her upper arm. A smile crept unbidden.

She loved waiting for the morning in this spot. The wicker chair was nicely cushioned, with three gorgeous throw pillows that she’d knitted and stuffed herself. She loved the violent clash of colour between the seat and the cushions; a cool orange contrasting sharply with the patterned green and red of the throws.

The chair was a little refuge; a place where she could curl up and lose herself in a book or a cup of coffee, or just sit and daydream, watching the sun rise up through the palm trees right outside the window. It was also a place with memories that never failed to make her blush.

She gently stroked a pillow, the green one with the puppy embroidered on it, fingers lightly tracing a tiny strand of thread that had come loose. It was one of those annoying threads that somehow lose their way and forget their purpose and so keep getting longer and longer as they unravel, but yet, somehow keep the seam from tearing. She had always meant to fix it, that loose thread. In fact, she thought, maybe if she fixed it now, she could stop the damage…


Janet looked up, slightly startled. Alex was sitting across from her on the large sofa, leaning forward, his left arm resting against the armrest and his right elbow digging into his thigh. His right hand partially covering his mouth, one finger across the bridge of his nose.

His brow deeply furrowed, he was looking at her with his usual intensity, that constant seriousness that had, for some strange reason, attracted her to him. He always knows when it happens, she thought, and turned away, embarrassed.

“Alex. I’m sorry, I drifted.”
“It’s okay, baby. I know. Are you here now?”
“Yes. Yes. I am. Thank you, Alex.”

She got up and walked to the kitchen, a small part of her wondering where she put that damn needle and thread, and asking herself if fixing it now would change anything. Why, she wondered, hadn’t she fixed it earlier? If only she had found the loose thread in time, the pillow would be fine now, and look as good as new.

She poured herself a hot cup of coffee and walked back, but this time, sat on the other end of the sofa. Alex turned to look at her. Intense. Anxious.

“What do we do now? What happens next?” She had asked the question a thousand times in the past three hours, after the screaming and the crying and the fighting and the cursing had somehow stopped.

“Well,” he chuckled. “At least we don’t have to worry about the wedding.”

“Damn you, Alex!”

She threw a pillow at him. And then laughed.

“Yeah,” she said. “We don’t have to, do we? My mother will be so happy. She never really liked you, you know?”

He laughed again, loudly this time.

“Remember the first time I met her? With those super shady dreadlocks I had on? And the mid-seventies sunglasses that we all thought were the epitome of cool? A wannabe Rastafarian with the vocabulary of a poet. “A very good evening to you, Mrs. Nanfuka. It’s an absolute honor, and, I must add, a delightful pleasure to finally make your acquaintance.” And then your mum in her classic haughty manner, “Oh, shut up, boy. Jan, who the hell is this? And what’s that… thing on his head? Never mind, tuli late nnyo, Uncle Martin atulinze.””

Janet choked on her coffee, spilling some of it on the sofa. She giggled hard.

“You’re such an asshole, Alex. And I love you so very damn much.”

“I know, baby. I know.”

She put the coffee cup on the floor, and stretched out on the sofa, resting her head on his lap, her legs dangling over the other side. Her hand reached down, searching for her coffee cup. Somehow, her fingers ended up under the sofa, and she found a little metal box. She pulled it out and smiled. It was her embroidery kit. Inside, she knew, she would find a needle and thread. But what good, she wondered, would it be now?

As she looked up at him, turning the metal box in her hand, fiddling with the clasp, Alex reached down and stroked her cheek, tracing a finger along her lower lip.

“What are we going to do, Alex? What happens next?”

“How about…”

He leaned down and kissed her softly.

“… we take it one day at a time?”

Outside the window, awakening from its slumber, a bird started singing, a tune that reminded her of a time when life was simpler. Of feathers falling from the sky and huge, fluffy cotton candy clouds.


To be continued.

Six challenges for the teams I work with

My challenges to our teams this year (Node Six, Proggie Uganda, Elemental Edge and Fundi Bots):

  1. Be completionists. Finish what you start, even if it’s ugly, imperfect or a complete failure. Learn to persevere through challenges and frustration to completion.
  2. Fail often and fail better, because that means you’re searching, growing, discovering and innovating.
  3. When success finally comes, celebrate, but not for too long, else you become a victim of your own hubris. Ask yourself, what could we have done better, how can we be more efficient, more creative, more innovative?
  4. Iterate better processes. Repeat what works, make it better until the pursuit of excellence is a part of your very soul.
  5. But in the search for excellence, tread carefully. Don’t get bogged down by the need for perfection, because that is the enemy of completionism.
  6. Above all, respect each other, irrespective of trade, skill, background or social standing. We are a team, we work together, we fail together, we grow together and we win together.

 “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

On accidental conversations with strangers

Yesterday, I had a brief but pleasant conversation with a stranger.

You know those people who walk into your offices peddling stuff like clothes, electronics, etc? The ones you angrily chase out without a second thought or listen to absent-mindedly, even letting them pull everything out of their bags and yet you know well enough that you do not have the slightest desire to purchase anything?

Well, I like talking to people like that; because they are some of the most fascinating people in the world. So I asked him if I could ask some questions. He agreed and we ended up chatting for a bit.

In brief, he is at the University pursuing his dream career: botany. He has been working as a door-to-door salesman for a marketing organization and in return for his work, the organization pays his fees. He has been hustling at the job since his Senior 2 (roughly 15 years old) and he was now in his second year at the university. He had the biggest smile on his face when he said he was graduating next year.

He then mentioned that he wanted to pursue a career in floriculture, but was hoping that the organization he worked for would give him a desk job as a reward for his eight plus years of service.

I asked him why he wouldn’t just go out and start looking for floriculturist (sic) work, and he responded, “It’s not good to forget the places that brought you up, just because you have achieved what you wanted. Without them, I would not be at the university. It’s good to appreciate things in life.”

These words really stuck with me, because it’s easy to walk away from jobs like that. Door-to-door sales is rough, especially when people have no interest in your product or services. I have really horrible memories of building Node Six by walking shop to shop around Owino and the New Taxi park looking for web hosting clients, being harassed out of shops and making exactly zero sales for weeks. You’ve never known the sting of verbal abuse until you’ve been abused in Luganda by pissed off female shop attendants jeering as you hastily retreat. On one of those days, if I hadn’t made a sale, one of my closest friends and I were going to go hungry, again, third day in a row and we’d probably have had our hosting servers shut down.

But here’s a guy who had been hustling for 8 years, going through this everyday; knocking on doors, getting abused, judged or harassed, walking the streets in Kampala’s fierce sun, trying to beat sales targets and, most likely, providing for family while pursuing an education, and somehow making it all the way to university. He mentioned that he had wanted to go to Seeta High, but sadly, ended up at a college in Kisaasi. I cannot imagine any single aspect of his journey that was easy. But here he was, just one year away from graduation.

We talked some more, and I told him I genuinely had the utmost respect for him, gave him a 5K for lunch, wished him all the best and sent him on his merry way.

I’ve learnt to never take anything, or anyone for granted, especially the average man on the street, because the truest inspiration comes from them as they go about their day to day lives, dreaming lofty dreams and hustling to make it through one day, without the benefit of some things that most of us have come to take for granted. Like lunch, a bottle of water, a chair to sit on, an office to run to when the weather riots and most importantly, the guarantee that when things get rough, there’s someone we can go to.

It’s tough out there, but thankfully, there are some seriously tough people out there making it work.

Here’s to the hustlers!

Have a blessed weekend!

Wanted: Executive Assistant

So, I need an Executive Assistant. But first, here’s a heads-up:

On average, I work 20 hours a day and 7 days a week. I get almost no sleep on most days and I’m a certified workaholic, except that I absolutely love what I do. Right now, my primary focus is Fundi Bots (robotics in high schools), but I am also a Founder and Director with Elemental Edge (visual effects, film, digital art and multimedia) and Founder and Director with Node Six (internet and website development). My full bio is here.

I have been called a perfectionist, too demanding and suffering from borderline OCD (I hope they were joking). I like to hire people much better than I am, and because of that, I expect a lot from the people I work with. I hate micro-managing, I hate poor English and grammar even more and I absolutely loathe poor time-keeping.

Bottom-line: I need someone who is highly efficient, a great communicator and can keep up with me.

Now, technically, the job is simple: there’s too much on my desk right now, and it’s only increasing, and that’s a good thing, but I seriously need help organizing and managing my professional lifestyle. However, it does come with a lot of expectations.

Your normal (official) work hours will be Monday to Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. On Saturdays it will be 9:00AM to 2:00PM.  However, you will frequently receive actionable information and requests outside of regular work hours.

You will need to maintain the highest confidentiality with all personal and professional information you have access to.

Your responsibilities:

  • Managing telephone calls, emails and general inquiries and responding to them when appropriate
  • Maintaining diaries, arranging appointments and organizing meetings at all levels of seniority
  • Taking dictation, minutes and making reports
  • Booking and making reservations for travel and accommodation
  • Liaising with staff members, managers, clients and suppliers from all the organizations I work with
  • Occasionally dealing with personal errands (within professional boundaries)

You must be:

  • A good communicator with an impeccable command of written and spoken English, professional email etiquette and conversant with professional social media communication
  • Detail-oriented, highly organized and efficient with exceptional time-keeping
  • A very fast learner and good team-player; you’ll be dealing with clients and staff members across very diverse organizations
  • Self-driven, level-headed and solution oriented
  • Conversant with basic IT skills like MS Word, Excel and various email clients

If you’re up for the job, send an email to bengeking [at] with a CV, a cover letter and a link to your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). If you’re short-listed, I will get back to you to schedule an interview.

Thank you!

 Solomon King 

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