By Joseph Ondiek.
Born in February 1968 in Uganda, Micaiah Samuel’s journey from being a driver to tour operator can be described as epic. He says his parents escaped to Uganda during the internecine conflicts that afflicted his mother country, Rwanda, during that period and they sought refuge in the neighboring country.
Micaiah went through his primary education in Rumero district where they had settled. He also attended secondary school in the same district but the specter of another conflict didn’t allow him to go further than senior four, though he says he was a precocious student who wanted to go further in his education odyssey.
During the period between 1981 and 1986, Uganda was embroiled in a war, known as “The Bush War.”
In February 1981, shortly after the new Obote government took office, with Paulo Muwanga as his vice president and minister of defense, Yoweri Museveni, a former Military Commission member, and his armed supporters declared themselves the National Resistance Army (NRA). Museveni vowed to overthrow Obote by means of a popular rebellion, and what became known as “the war in the bush” began. Several other underground groups also emerged to attempt to sabotage the new regime, but they were eventually crushed.
The war disturbance during this period made Micaiah drop out of school. Instead, he found himself doing menial jobs like cattle herding and farming, and his hard work and honesty made him rise to the post of assistant manager in one local farm.
Micaiah’s thirst for an alternative skill that would make him take care of his family made him enroll in a driving school in 1990 that took him two years to fully complete and to have a clean driving license which would thrust him in the skilled and formal job market.
“I began my driving career by driving for different people in Uganda. Though initially, my driving was not structured, since I could hop from one job to another, at least with my driving skills, I was now able to take care of the family,” he told The Traveller during an interview at Discover Youth Hostel in Kigali.
But he also had another driving force in life: to come back to his motherland, Rwanda. This he eventually did in 1996 after the government gave his family a land to settle in. Micaiah continued with his driving job while in Kigali, eventually finding work with the University of Kigali in 2000 from where he worked for a period of eight years.
He says that after doing driving work for all those years, “the spirit to adventure; to find other work that he would call his own, and not to work for other people was overwhelming.”
He left his university job and started doing his own things, as he narrates, and this made him work in a USAID project that they partnered with the government. When the project closed, he started getting casual employment, where he landed at Discover Rwanda in 2010 as a driver and a tour guide.
Eventually, he plunged into the world of self-employment with the founding of his tour company, Abed Saba Tour Company in 2017.
“During my driving work, I was a very hardworking and honest employee who never had any problems even with the clients. They always praised my honesty and this was what I wanted to transfer into my business,” he adds.
He says the tour company operates in all the East Africa Community countries together with the neighboring DRC.
“I enjoy working with tourists from every corner of the world. They too appreciate my work, particularly my driving and guiding skills, and this gives me the motivation to continue providing the best services,” he says.
Micaiah adds Abed Saba is modeled in hard work and honesty, saying without the two attributes, one can never make it in business.
He, however, says the challenges that tour operators like him face is when they want to take tourists to trek the wild animals and the weather is not conducive.
“We have problems, particularly when it rains and the vehicle gets stuck. Sometimes the tourists have limited time and they need to hurry up, and you’re there with the vehicle stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere!” He says.
Another challenge he says is the prediction, particularly among the tourists, the particular character of the wild animals since each of them has its own unique trait, and an attack can’t be ruled out.
For now, Micaiah says he wants to build his upstart into among the best tourism firms in Rwanda and entire East Africa through honesty and hard work.
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