16 August 2017

Uganda: Mary Arach Wins Big At Young Achievers Awards

Uganda is fast becoming a home of awards and festivals; almost each year, a new establishment is set up in one of the categories.

Only a few though live to see their first anniversary, and the story of the Young Achievers' awards that took place on Saturday evening at Kampala Serena hotel is one of the few exceptions.

Started seven years back, the Young Achievers awards have since proved to be one of the few award shows that have stayed around and grown bigger with each ceremony - from the days they used to happen in modest rooms to the Victoria room, the shows are becoming calendar events not just for socialites but business minds, innovators and influencers in different fields.

The awards recognize youths that are making a difference in nine categories like journalism, creative arts, technology innovations, agriculture and business, among others.

This saw people like photographer Abdul Zahara, cinematographer Ian Akakwansa alias Sasha Vybez, journalist Raymond Kataha and footballer Farouk Miya nominated for different accolades.

In a partnership with Reach A Hand Uganda, a youth-led organization, the theme for this year's event was 'Rewarding innovation and excellence, inspiring the next generation of world leaders' and aimed at getting young people to be involved with the change they crave.

With nominees and winners like Ricky Papa Thompson, co-founder Safe Boda, or Muhammed Kisirisa, executive director of Action for Fundamental Change and Development, the stories were as inspiring.

For instance, Ricky Papa used to be a gateman at Akamwesi hostel in Nakawa. He later became a boda boda rider before turning into an innovator while Kisirisa came from Bwaise to make a difference in people's lives.

During the awards show, Akakwansa, a renowned music video director, won the Creative Award for Film and Photography, beating Acess Film's Haruna Ssebagala, Faces Up Uganda's Emmanuel Ssekitto and freelance photographer Zahara.

In a video interview, he said when he started out as a photographer, he had no idea this would change him or touch people's lives.

Famous fashion collector Brian Ahumuza of Abryanz Collection took home the accolade of Creative Award in the fashion category, noting that they started small vending clothes in smaller shops but he is happy he has been able to turn his business into a fashion empire and inspiration.

President Yoweri Museveni was supposed to be the chief guest though in absence, he delivered a video message where he asked the youth to be involved in activities that add something onto them because this is their time to shine.

The biggest award of the night, Overall Winner, went to Zilla Mary Arach, co-founder of Lacel Technologies, who earlier on had picked up the Farming and Agro Processing award, and whose initiative creates different applications that they intend to use to digitize agriculture.

Sadly though, Arach wasn't present; thus it was a friend that accepted the awards for her, noting that agriculture is a virgin territory that has not been fully exploited by the technological boost.

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