Mayor of Nansana and Former Ashinaga Scholar Speaks at Kokoro-Juku
Matovu Joseph is a former Ashinaga Scholar who attended Waseda University in Tokyo, one of the top-ranked universities in Japan, until 2014. After graduation, he worked for both Ashinaga Headquarters and then in the Uganda office for several years, before pursuing his dream of becoming the mayor of Nansana, a town in the Central Region of Uganda. He was elected on February 3, 2021.
Born and raised in Nansana, Matovu lost his parents to illness when he was 11 years old and began participating in the activities of the Ashinaga Uganda Rainbow House. On April 8, 2021, Mr. Matovu gave a lecture at Ashinaga Kokoro Juku (Hino City, Tokyo), a dormitory for college students of Ashinaga, and where he lived during his time at Waseda. In his speech, he talked about his academic and professional experiences, as well as his path to becoming mayor. He said;
“I lost both parents in 1998. I was in primary 3, 11 years old. In a country like Uganda where people are struggling to live and feed their own families, it is very difficult to take the big stress of being without parents. I had twelve siblings by then, and I survived on partial scholarships to get my education. I got myself through high school but could not find the means to further my education. Finding Ashinaga changed my life, and I had the opportunity to study abroad and meet so many people. Through those experiences, I could find my kokorozashi and find success later in life.”
In 2010, he enrolled in a study abroad program at Waseda University. After graduating from university, he went to work for Ashinaga HQ and later on Ashinaga Uganda. Six years later, with a desire to improve his home community, he left his job to prepare his campaign.
“I knew I wanted to be in politics. I started to take action. I began to engage in the African community here [in Japan]. I joined the community and became a leader in different positions, and I was the president of the Uganda student’s association in 2015. While doing that, I tried doing as much as possible to engage with people who I thought were better than me, so I could equip myself with the skills I thought I need, while also trying to use the skills I already had.”
“I was told by many people that it would be a mistake to quit my stable job to pursue an uncertain career in politics,” he said. “I was worried myself, but I wanted to prove to my younger colleagues in Uganda that I could be successful back home. To be honest, I was scared to go back to my home country because there are not many job opportunities. But I wanted to show them that the environment can be changed.”
He will lead Nansana as Mayor for the next five years. He says that he wants to focus on education, medical care, human resource development, and internationalization.
“I want to open Nansana to the world, and especially to be a bridge between Japan and Nansana.”
In the future, Matovu hopes to move up in politics. He told the audience, “We can all achieve great things. The important thing is to start.” He also thanked Ashinaga for supporting his dream, saying, “Thanks to the wonderful Ashinaga family, I am where I am today. I am really grateful to them.”
We would like to extend our gratitude for Matovu’s visit to Ashinaga and are excited to see the change he brings to Nansana.
Ten Years Since March 11, 2011: Remembering the Devastating Triple Disaster in Tohoku