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Monday, August 15, 2011

Bright’s optimism has brightened his life

The blight circumstances of his upbringing may have robbed him of many bright moments, but today, nothing can stop Bright Ntakky Arinaitwe from cheering up the lives of those he encounters, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza

Bright Ntakky Arinaitwe
Through self-sacrifice, humour, poetry recitals, portraiture, stage drama, inspirational speaking and writing, Bright Ntakky is determined to bring a smile on the face of whoever sees his work.

At 25, he’s the author of 7:77…Theirs was a Race Against Time, a novel he wrote while a student at Kyambogo University, where he has just completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Art And Design.

Inspired by his own story, the people he has interacted with and lessons picked, the book draws the reader’s attention to the inevitability of death, reminding you and I that every living person is old enough to die, so we must seize the moment and live each day meaningfully.

The son of the late Godson and Dinah Kamanyiro of Kabale, Ntakky was orphaned at the age of five. While struggling to accept the tragedy, he had to come to terms with seeing his mother toil day and night - juggling two nursing jobs in a government hospital and a clinic to raise him, till she too went to join her creator.

Alone and frightened, Ntakky turned to God at the age of 13 and saw his faith in Christ Jesus rewarded when African Evangelistic Enterprise paid his tuition all through high school. In 2004, shortly before he sat his UACE examinations at Kigezi High School, he fell too ill to complete his papers. Nevertheless, he scored nine points in Physics, Economics, Mathematics and Art (PEM/A) and was admitted to Kyambogo University on a private scheme. Without tuition, Bright became a hawker on the streets of Kabale, but ended up being forced to pay Shs90,000 to Super Sales Company after his wares were stolen. By the close of 2005, the young man was dismally depressed.

“I attended an All Saints Youth Camp, knelt down and prayed,” he recalls. It was a prayer of desperation that paid off. He met the Arch Bishop there, who was moved by his story, sent him to Seroma Christian High School and paid for his A-Level again. It was a new, bright beginning for Ntakky. He dropped PEM for Literature, Economics Divinity and Art (LED/A), completing in 2007. With 22 points, he earned a government-sponsored spot at Kyambogo University. It’s here that the scrabble and chess master formed a group called Laugh-2-Learn, which enlivened campus with drama and stand-up comedy on weekends.

Achieving significance by the age of 25 was his overriding dream, and he realised it early this year with the launch of his novel. The book’s foreword was written by none other than Bishop Zac Niringiye and the launch presided over by retired Supreme Court Justice Patrick Tabalo.

Getting the novel published was itself a Herculean challenge. Ntakky couldn’t find a publisher and had no money to self-publish, so he formed a praying committee that soon brought him a loan of Shs2m. His girlfriend topped that with her tuition (he would pay, later of course) and with Shs3m, the book got published.

As the title suggests, Bright had raced against time and won. “I’m living the dream because I grabbed all the chances life hurled at me. Life gives all of us opportunities and when we don’t seize them, we don’t live complete lives,” he says.

The soft-spoken writer and painter speaks so eruditely you would think he has been through Harvard. He shares a story that embodies his altruism, a story of a poor friend who used to walk to and from Gayaza to Kyambogo University every morning and evening, on an empty stomach.

Says Bright: “I told him, ‘You’ll eat my lunch and I’ll eat only supper, you’ll sleep on my bed at night and I’ll sleep during the day.’ A week to exams, he had not paid tuition, so I mobilised my friends and we moved to halls and hostels and through Kampala and by midnight, we had collected all his tuition from kind people. By the grace of God, he managed to finish and even gave his life to Jesus!”

Now out of university, Bright is painting and drawing more. He has so far done the portraits of Arch Bishop Henry Luke Orombi and the First Lady, Janet Museveni. He’s also writing three books and utilising his acting and oral gifts to counsel and inspire Kampala youth with a positive attitude.

“I want them to learn from some of my experiences and know that they too will make it,” he says. “Life is too short to give it a casual approach; you’ve to work now and get rewarded, or play and pay later!”

--Sunday Monitor, July 3, 2011