“Network: laugh and learn from each other”

by Esther NAKYAZE

As a risk taker, I committed to taking on the first blog, lol!  It’s been challenging but worthwhile!  My reason for joining the communication committee was simple, I am not the best communicator.  So how better to learn than to take that leap.  So here goes….

In the middle of `one of those nights, where your thoughts are racing, the lights off, no sounds, except the sound of a humming generator and the soothing sound of the Vaal river, trying to think of my best highlight of the day.  I recalled George, the last person I met during the network café session!

At 2:00pm the item on the agenda was the network café. I could not imagine how this would work, especially with the drowsiness that sneaks up on you after having lunch.  I tried to imagine what a network café would be, with many random thoughts popping into my mind. Maybe in the cafeteria? Maybe round tables with cups of coffee? Maybe moving close to the beautiful natural scenery of the Vaal waters? With all these random thoughts, yet trying to keep calm.

Under the tall shady tree in front of the training room, we lined up from shortest to tallest.  It still did not make sense to me. Seconds later, we started moving in our newly formed line up to the hall.  Inside we had to sit short ones occupied inner chairs, and taller ones on the chairs in the outside circle.

A living, functioning network – The ANLP Alumni

On Sunday 10th March 2019, the Mentorship & Networking Committee of the African Nutrition Leadership Programme hosted the Mentorship Workshop. As a committee, we decided to be INNOVATIVE and UNFORGETABLE, just as we had been taught during the leadership and communications training sessions.

For mentorship to take place there needs to be mentors and mentees. In our case, the ANLP delegates were the mentees and we found ourselves needing mentors. Those who will support us, questions us, hold us accountable and challenge us. That is when we got our “Aaah-Haaa moment”. We decided to involve the over 400 ANLP Alumni in our workshop. Yes, even if they are scattered across the continent and even the world, we wanted to draw on them. We posted our request on the ANLP Facebook Page. We asked the Alumni to record a 3-minute video on their mentorship experiences and send to us. We were not sure of anyone would respond! We were so humbled and super excited to get a response from a number of experienced nutrition leaders who were willing to be part of our ANLP experience. We take this opportunity to convey special thanks to Nonsi Mathe, Katie Perreira, Bianca van der Westhuizen, Arthur Pagiwa and Wise Letsa who submitted videos – we felt their presence in the room. Also thanks to Averalda who took the time to write us a message as she was travelling and to the many other Alumni who have posted messages of encouragement on the Facebook page and been reading the daily blog. Below are few pictures of the ANLP delegates paying great attention to what our mentors had to say about mentorship.

To listen or not to listen!

As a 2019 ANLP delegate, I was amazed at how quickly my listening skills were put into action. First I had to listen on the high ropes. I mean hell, I did not want to take any chances up there! But real listening should not only happen when we feel under threat.

Developing into a  leader, means developing your listening skills. This was emphasised in a TED Talk by Ernesto Sirolli, explaining what he learnt while working in Africa - “If you want to help someone, shut up and listen.” (Watch it here).


The 17th ANLP seminar launched on March 5 and is now on its sixth day.  The East African region is highly represented with four participants from Kenya and three others from Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. I believe others are yet to come in the second group as this year our unforgettable event will be held twice.

In an inspiring session today, a call to action was presented, asking the ANLP alumni to arise and make mentorship great again! The participants who are currently filled with motivation and drive challenged the ANLP support team to stand with them and call for an ANLP Alumni network programme.

"When in doubt, Be kind to Herman"

I know you are probably wondering who Herman is? Am I writing about the German Pulitzer prize winner Hermann Karl Hesse? I am in fact referring to the infamous father of one, jack of all trades, who began his professional journey in astrophysics then took a detour to study microbiology just to win the heart of the woman of his dreams and later settled in the field of nutrition. Some might know him as the introvert who moonlights as a tech-wiz with particular interest in virtual reality. And in fact, if you ask any of the ANLP alumni from the last 6 years, they will tell you that they know him as the knight in shining armour. Herman been a help to many stranded teams, at ungodly hours, in their struggle to publish newsletters overnight, after a busy day, to be ready for reading by 7am. So kindly and selflessly he has saved the day with a smile. He leads from where he stands. It is now clear to me why on that fateful night lightning struck a rock tablet and declared “Be kind to Herman”.