The most pragmatic class I took in school was Home Economics, a class we all scorned because it seemed to reinforce the notion that girls were destined to run a household rather than a business. We liked it for the baked delicacies we made which were not served in the school cafeteria, otherwise we scorned its presence on the syllabus.
Yet when I wake up in the morning in the simple studio I call home away from home, the first thing I do is make my bed and I do my best to tuck in those 'hospital corners' the way I was taught in Home Economics. Nothing bothers me more than returning from office to a bed that isn't well made. I walk to the bathroom for a shower and am reminded of how we were taught to brush our teeth correctly in that same class. Then I open my wardrobe and miss those firm starched collars that we learnt to perfect even when commercial starch was unavailable. We made our own starch from cassava roots. So I wear the blouse with the floppy collar and walk to office in the humid heat knowing that by the time I get to my desk I will be thankful that somewhere in my past someone taught me the importance of deodorant.
In office I apply all the knowledge accumulated through education and experience but the things that bother me most are all the small but significant things that were not on the syllabus. How to gently tell a colleague that the meeting should have ended 20 minutes ago and how to accept the same advice when I go into talking mode and keep everyone from all the important things they need to do. And why isn't email etiquette on the Training Curriculum this year or next year? After all these years I still forget to do a spell check and must discipline myself to make sure that the autocorrect ghost does not rewrite my email before I press send - with very embarrassing consequences I might add. Then there is the mix up between official and personal email. I give my friend a business card and they immediately forget my personal email and send me Juliana Kanyomozi's latest song - and there it is between the Tasking Orders that I need to complete!
By 11:00am out of sheer boredom, I decide I might as well listen to Juliana's soothing voice but at the back of my mind am wondering what section of the rules I may be breaking by opening YouTube from my official email. And as I get into the Afro rhythm I realize that she may be the one that attended the right classes. While I was internalizing an obscure section of the Penal Code without knowing that I would not practice law, she may have been in the much despised MDD or Music, Dance and Drama class, better known in the 80s as 'Musilu Ddala Ddala!' (You'll have to ask someone else to translate that for you.)
Today the MDD graduates (and drop outs) are Kampala's glitterati. They own the towns and the masses, their following gives them the political clout that I could not build in 9 years of political activism! I shake my head and acknowledge that I was the real 'Musilu Ddala Ddala' to read law for six years and practice it for only one year in my entire career - and that was out of sheer necessity. It was never my calling. I did law because my father and everyone else knew that if you were a top Arts student and got accepted at Makerere University, then of course, you read the law!
At 50 I know that as much as they hate it, we must never tire asking our kids: 'So what do you want to be when you grow up?' And then please, listen to them carefully and help them work towards that career because we can be so wrong in predicting future employment and business trends.