Treated to Raw Creativity in Karlstad, Sweden!

Cecilia (80) chatting with Therese

Cecilia (80) chatting with Therese

There are people who leave marks in our memory when we meet them. When I came to do a course at Life Academy in Sweden, I definitely knew it was going to be interesting, but not to the level it has got lately. On Tuesday May 24th, we were informed by one of our programme officers, a very creative lady named Therese, that we would participate in a day’s creative workshop. This workshop would involve fellow change agents from Uganda, Kosovo, Cambodia, Tanzania, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe; a team of 12-year old children; and a team of over 65-year olds. “How can this happen?” This was my first question. As I dragged myself from my hotel room, I knew Wednesday 25th was certainly going to be a very long day. But I was wrong.

Once I got to Life Academy (, I found a team of elderly people. All of them were over 65. Therese referred to them fondly as the “more experienced”. In my context, it is rare that I would find myself in a discussion about creativity with men and women my parents’ age. My parents are very wise. In fact, I have rich traditional discussions with them. They advise me about relationships, courtesy, managing time, managing my family and all things that life seems to be about. Clearly I didn’t come all the way to Sweden to have such discussions. So why was I expected to engage with the “more experienced” people. We are in different generations!!!

12 Year Old Children exhibiting their ideas with Ugandas and Elders

12 Year Old Children exhibiting their ideas with Uganda’s Change Agent and Elders

But just before I could get over this shock, a team of excited 12-year old children arrived at the workshop. The sight of them reminded me of my own children back home. They were as playful as my own children. Once again, my mind flashed back to the kind of discussions I always have with my 13-year old daughters. Oh yes, we talk about their homework, the house chores they should do, the kind of girls I would want them to grow into. And the question on my mind was, “what am I going to discuss with these little kids?” Just before I could fathom all my thoughts, Therese in her ever energetic mood took charge and briefed us.

We were over 50 participants. Therese decided that we would break the big group into about 8 smaller groups. Each group would have a good representation of the middle aged change agents, the 12-year old children and the more experienced. In these small groups, 80 year olds were sharing with middle aged change agents from different corners of the world and 12-year-old children

Exhibition time: The Experienced People Go round the exhibition

Exhibition time: The Experienced People Go round the exhibition

On this one day, Therese, our lead facilitator of the day pulled off all the stops and brought together 3 Generations of people to visualize the future, build bridges amongst them and spur their creativity.  Three generations, one workshop. In our focus groups, we were challenged to envision what we wanted our lives to be 10 years later in 2026. We were particularly to focus on being innovative and getting out of our comfort zones by envisioning a future with the ever dynamic technologies.

We then shared our ideas through an exhibition with the rest of the group. Oh my! It was interesting to hear 70 year olds envisioning some world rich in technology, with GPS enabled Spectacles, and 12 year olds proposing systems that multiply oxygen to combat climate change. Others proposed umbrellas that become jackets or even fly, self-cleaning tables that could expand and fold…the list is endless. The creative energy of 3 generations had been released! What a day. We loved it and learnt that creativity is not the preserve of a select few.

This day was remarkable, for it’s not everyday that you share visions of the future! We usually boast about the past and about our achievements. It’s not everyday that we share visions of the future ourselves. It’s usually our leaders who share visions. It’s not every day that we share these visions with a people. It’s not every day that 80-year-old Cecilia shares her dreams with 12-year-Old Alvar and with 35-year-old Horn from Cambodia.

80-Year Old Cecilia browsing through her photos

80-Year Old Cecilia browsing through her photos

The Organization was meticulous but still highly risky, just like creativity itself. In her own words at the end of the workshop, Therese said she was sure what she wanted to do with us but not quite sure how it would turn out. But she went for it nonetheless! The whole Staff of Life Academy realigned itself to deliver this day. From the top  Managing Director to the person making tea, they were involved, and deeply so.  They listened attentively, facilitated parts of the discussions in small groups, translated in a few cases (and indeed for just a few cases as 12 years olds couldn’t let them.  These kids, the 12 year olds would quickly pull out their smart phones and google-translate words in private discussions)

We were challenged and inspired. Inspired by Therese and her team whose stated aim was to spur creativity amongst us, young and old. She certainly delivered! Take Erasmus for example from Tanzania who was inspired to take the most amazing photographs! And I must thank the people of Karlstad for sharing your visions and aspirations of the future with us. And of course, the brilliant Rebecca Pearl who has helped me edit this article; a pearl indeed!



  1. Kasozi Herbert says

    I just took my time reading through your Blog Mr Kalema…wow…such a great work well done building and maintaining all what it holds.

    I must say I am Thrilled and I can´t wait to reading more from you…infact with the story about culture and creativity with those kids I was just laughing through, ahahahaha you spieced it up really very well and it keeps someone going on and on reading

    I am sure your having a great time in Karlstad Sweden and that creative lady Therese must be these bajjaja takuviiraako awo nga toyize kyayagala in all forms, ahahahahaha I am sure you enjoyed….how you managed to bridge the gap between those above 65yrs and then those 12yrs old it´s a big learning Theory one needs to have, if thought about and just seat back and see if the intended finds play a good role to justify your goals…… naye kanyumidde

    Well me here I am one of your products ndowoza tonelabilanga….Kasozi Herbert, Those days I was always called by my nickname Herzo. I was in mengo ss from 1990 to end 1996 both A and O levels, Nkumannyi burungi….you made our lives simple the day you entered our class as a geography teacher, until we left Mengo SS after completing our A´level ….. wow….Those days, I remeber Life became so easy and exams where so easy though if you never payed attension in class very well, still you could jump out with a credit 🙂

    I was in South from Senior one upto Senior Six…I was in fact on A-level join by one Teacher now in Mengo Kabonge D…. I remember him in class always joking and good at history.

    You managed to find us better ways to learn geography with love, passion and seriously up to date I remember your classes…. We could not miss them coz they where so interesting and for me it was like an adventure into this world and the underneath plus all that man can never explain in life besides attending your simple and interesting classes.

    At Mengo S.S, we where so lucky to have you as our teacher and I extend my big thank you for all the efforts you used all the stress we engaged with you via explaining more of a topic and your humble but direct contact with all of us in class and outside classroom , each time we came up with a question, I my self I remember we became friends and all the time we used to joke or say a hello.

    About your Blog…I would suggest you add the feeds where we can sign up as members, you can even add on the link to social media whereby someone can share an article you posted. In fact I suggest you can also add on an icon for donations since you still go out there and provide help, services and teach, learn, those who need help via ICT be it online or village group, a small village community etc. ICT is very important in our Uganda and people like you willing to give a helping hand can do much to develop and empower our locals in all areas of need.

    I will write to you later on a few of my own desired assistance in the field of ICT as soon as I here from you about all that I have written above….I am so sorry it´s too much to read, but all is intended for a good cause…appreciating you and all your skills, experience and that helping hand. Have a blessed day my Teacher

    I forgot to tell you that I am now in Austria

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Kalema Golooba Ayub