“If I get support, I will build a real robot. Even the prototype is not yet finished because I am yet to attach a camera to it. I also need a proper transmitter"
Arsene Wenger is one of football’s most revered philosophers. The Arsenal boss once said it is not enough to have talent; you have to be given a chance to achieve your potential.
“First you need the talent, but also you need to meet someone who believes in you and gives you a chance. You can imagine though that plenty of people have talent in life but they do not meet someone who gives them a chance,” he said in an interview the Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson in 2011.
“Can you name one Formula One driver from an African country, apart from South Africa? And can you really imagine that there is not one guy in Africa with the talent to be a Formula One driver? Why are they not there? Because no one has given them a chance.”
Well, the fate of many Africans with the aspirations of becoming Formula One drivers may befall 22 year old Mwaka Lucky, a student at Kyambogo University, who wants to be the first Ugandan to build a spy robot, unless someone comes out to support him.
The Ordinary diploma in mechanical and production engineering student has built a prototype of what he hopes to one day build—predominantly with plastic materials from old computer parts, which he cuts into pieces to fit the shapes he wants, old antennas and even mortars from photocopiers. There is even an old Compact Disc involved in the mix.
And the prototype, which is powered by a laptop battery, does move, and picks up something. It did pick up a water bottle during a demonstration at the New Vision. The real robot, he says, will be able to pick explosives during military exercises.
“If I get support, I will build a real robot. Even the prototype is not yet finished because I am yet to attach a camera to it. I also need a proper transmitter, mortars,” he says.
So how much money does Mwaka need to come up with an actual robot? He pauses, for a minute or so, and then he eventually says a few words.
“I have to sit down and calculate the exact amount of money I need,” he says with a smile lighting up his face.
Mwaka may not be furnished with the finances; all he cares about is trying to come up with new solutions to projects.
“One day our army may use a robot developed by Mwaka in an operation. How cool is that to use a Ugandan robot by our soldiers?”
He is even inventing a concept that can enable one use a phone and a television remote to switch electricity on and off.
Mwaka is also yet to patent his ideas. Patents and finances aside, the young man from Rukungiri also has to deal with doubters.
“I have a friend pursuing telecom engineering at Makerere University. When I told him that I can use a phone to switch lights on and off, he thought I was crazy.”
Since Mwaka is only pursuing an ordinary diploma, lecturers at Kyambogo University do not pay any meaningful attention to his efforts, preferring to instead work closely with those pursuing degree programmes.
Will Mwaka’s grand dreams come to fruition one day?