Entry #46: Mango Man

Date: 2/8/2019
Time: 9:00am

Going in through Technical Immersion, it’s a breath of fresh air.

The great thing about Technical Immersion, the phase of learning about our nature of work as Peace Corps Volunteers, is that it’s real. It’s meant to be a practical rendition of what our day might look like from day-to-day. It’s the experience that I’ve been waiting for and it fired me up, and one of the hallmark events of being in PST so far has been visiting The Mango Man.

Who is The Mango Man

Fabled as this mysterious model farmer in Masindi, the Mango Man, or John Winter Bagada, is a farmer who works primarily with mangoes, specializing in selling juice and wine. He has a long history of lessons and experience being a farmer and also a visionary. Possessing the joy of farming, of doing something you want to do, is what propelled him in to the world of success that he sees today. And of course, he got pretty good at it too.

Many attempts, many strategies

Many times growing up in school, I was always taught to simply try harder. Just give it a little bit more juice! Things will be fine as long as you work hard; however, as I’ve come to age, Bagada’s story of his upbringing as this model farmer reinforces the idea that hard work, alone, does not make a success story.

The foolish strategy would be to try as hard as you can, focusing only on the simple strategies. It would be a waste of energy to put all of this effort in to something that doesn’t work, only to employ those same failed strategies over and over again.

To simplify our visit, overnight success isn’t necessarily a lie, it’s just the only thing that we probably see. Amidst the hours and hours of work that goes behind that success story, comes all the feelings of inability, depression, and failure. Bagada consistently pushed through the times of drought on his farms, his failures when he was originally a famer of matooke.

Exhibiting the Farm

Small-scale pasteurization. Simple wine operations. Self-sustainability. Smarter farming practicing.

Seeing what can be done with having only 4 acres of land to play with, and seeing this incredible amount of success on this farm, it poses a couple questions:

  1. How can we teach other farmers to build to a level of success, similar to this case?
  2. Is this an outlier of success in Uganda?

Success is great to see, but to be able to replicate and perpetuate that success amongst other communities to create a stronger community of thinkers and workers, that’s the vision I’m chasing. Simple success, like making money and having a bit of fame is a challenge in itself, but it’s short lived. Success that empowers others and becomes a foundation for them to build on is much, much harder.

I’m hoping to pursue the latter and do some good for the small community I will be living with in the Busoga region.

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