Making strides: The last two weeks have been graduation weeks and among the people who graduated was celebrated media personality now psychologist, Daniel Isaac Katende, commonly known as Kasuku, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Community Psychology from Makerere University. Kasuku opened up to David Mujuni on why he decided to go back to school, despite attaining what most people consider ‘success.
Why did you go back to the university?
That day [graduation day] was very emotional for me because people never understood where I was coming from. I wanted to set an example for my son and daughter. I want them to understand that education is important because today we know many people who miss out on jobs because they have no papers.
Why did you choose to study psychology?
It was an idea I had for some time. I spoke to two ladies who were doing psychology at the time. Then I said if these girls can do it that means I can also do it. The reason I chose to do psychology is because I interact with people a lot and at some point, I had the power to tell when someone is going through something, without them even saying so. I could tell after being around people for some time. Most times people use instinct, others claim you have some spirit on you to be able to do that, I cannot rule all those out but when you look closely, you study someone, nomutegeera (and you understand them).
Since you had the skill, why did you decide to pursue the course?
I wanted to put a professional touch to it because when you go for psychology classes, it is more about the causes [of human behaviour] and looking for solutions. Today, we have modern-day problems in Africa. Modern day problems are the internet, radio, TV, and everything that comes with it. That includes how you eat, drink, and how you relate. Today we have a lot of drug abuse, social media bullying, and keeping up appearances. All those things lead you to issues such as poverty because you want to impress, depression, and the like. All these things I am telling you are the problems today. So apart from people talking about them, what are the actual solutions? Those are some of the things I want to tackle.
What was your learning schedule?
I was studying in the evening, going to the university of course, not every day but I used to go there.
How did you find campusers?
I think for starters, our campusers today are naive and overambitious. They are so eager to take on the world, but I really do not think they are ready. Makerere is giving education but is not offering life skills. Most of the students I saw are living in a world of their own. They overrate themselves, they feel like they are the “ish” and when you talk to them, the things they say… well they are still young.
In our days, we had ambitions. We were not overambitious but we were hardworking. Which is not the case with these people. I remember the time I did a diploma, the goal was to get a job and kickstart my career, to make money. Today when you go to the Mass Communication department at Makerere University, the students want to be famous, they do not want to make money.
How did you balance work and books?
Well, I am always busy between 6am and 1pm. So by the time it came to 5pm when I had to go to class, most times I was available. But you see the thing about universities is, you pay your fees to study. Unlike primary or secondary school, they will not push you; it is up to you to pass or not. So you have to motivate yourself. When you go back to study as an adult the way you see things is different from other students.
The First Year disturbed me because it had a lot of theory but when we reached the practicals such as project planning, things became easier. I had to study hard. I did not want to become a joke that I have been at the university for five years.
Did you have a graduation party?
I had a party, a very good one with my longtime friends. When we were studying, the goal was the tent, and I was in the tent. Yeah it was quite an experience.
What other qualifications do you have?
I have a diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication that I attained in 2010.
Are you looking to get a job somewhere?
After my diploma, the intention was to study and get a job, this time it was about adding to my qualifications, and seeing how I can change the world because there is something I can do. If I do research, present it, and people avoid killing each other, avoid using drugs that would be something, unlike before when my dream was to get a job, build a house, and start a family. The question is, after those things, what happens next?
Is this the end for brand ‘Kasuku’?
No. You see the problems I am trying to solve are in this business. There are certain things I will have to adjust because you cannot be offering therapy to someone and you are cracking jokes. I have three job offers from some hospitals but I think about having to sit on TV, radio, crack jokes, I look very unserious, yet someone has to sit in front of you to explain to you why they use drugs… you know those things. That is why I am not so eager to move into practice right now. I may have to get a little bit serious but that is in the long run.
So what is next?
Right now, I first want to go back to school because like I have told you community psychology was basically about society, human behaviour, how it is shaped and where we deviate and all those things. I want to go back and do clinical psychology. Clinical psychology deals with you as a person. So you touch the detail of a human. I want to understand why someone uses drugs. Why someone’s relationship failed. And how best we can help those people. That is where I want to go. But of course, before that, I want to partner with some organisations to do research before I complete.
I want to engage in something. We can visit Luzira prison and get acquainted with inmates over time. At some point I will pitch to the Uganda Prison’s Service, that is if they are interested, because we are in a country where people are not interested. We have some cases of people killing each other but the Uganda Prison Service and Ministry of Health have not invested money in people to go and find out what caused this guy to do what he did and how do we avoid it.
Any advice to First Year students?
Let them enjoy themselves because it is very important that they enjoy themselves. Campus is what your next life is going to be like. It is the beginning of your adult life. But, they have to study hard, and have to work hard. Also, they should not be overambitious. Lastly, they should make the right friends.
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