An unconventional man

Saturday March 5 2016

Onyait Odeke

Onyait Odeke 

Who is Onyait Odeke?
I am a lawyer, professional marketer, photographer and entrepreneur. I have a Bachelors degree in Law from Uganda Christian University (UCU), which I attained in 2010, and a professional certificate in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) which I received in 2015. I am also a lifelong learner; I attempt to learn something new in multiple fields every everyday. I learn a lot from the Internet, my environment or nature and lately, from my two-year-old daughter, Genesis.

You don’t have a Christian name?
I do not use it anymore. I have not had a Christian name since 2014. It was a time when I was questioning everything in my life and asking myself the big question, “Why”. After considerable thought, I decided to drop Perez and remain with Onyait Odeke.

How did a lawyer end up in photography?
I have always been passionate about photography. As luck would have it, I got the opportunity to learn and practice my craft and I did not hesitate for a second.

For 10 years, I took up photography as a side project driven more by passion than as a possible future career direction. Soon, my friends started asking me to cover small events, including birthdays and graduation parties.

The more I shot, the more I expanded my photography knowledge. Eventually, I became a professional. I have won a couple of photography awards and a growing list of clients eager to book my services. I’m planning to venture into full time photography.

Will you ever apply the knowledge you acquired from law school?
Law school was a foundation for the sort of person I am today and I do apply my legal knowledge in everyday situations.


There is a misconception that everyone who studies law has to go to court. A law degree can be a springboard to boundless opportunities. We all cannot fit in a courthouse. That said, I cannot rule out ever going to a courtroom.

Do you wear your hair shabby intentionally?
Yes. Many people think I forgot to comb but I actually have to dip into my pocket to keep my hair the way it is. I want it that way. I am not one for being conventional.

I love challenging the status quo. People can’t help but judge one based on physical appearance as opposed to substance. I have found great wisdom from the most unlikely of people and places. I try not to judge by what I see at first sight.

Do people ever take you seriously though?
At first, they did not. But when it became my identity, people began to accept me for who I am. At times, I take longer at security checkpoints because they frisk me more thoroughly than others. Ironically, there’s this one time I went to a business meeting after I had trimmed my hair short and a woman at security asked why I had cut it off: “I loved it better the other way,” she said. I am not my hair. I can wear it shaggy, I can wear it kempt and I can go bald all of which I have done. I would rather be taken for what I can offer and not how my hair looks.
Are you in a relationship?
I am happily married to the love of my life. Jenny and I met a few years back at Garden City and we went out on a few dates, after which I was utterly convinced that she was the one. She is my polar opposite and I guess the rules of physics don’t lie - unlike poles attract. As my opposite, we perfectly compliment each other. I am an introvert (I prefer solitude) while she is an extrovert (friendly and social). Jenny is the mother of my daughter who I mentioned earlier.
Speaking of daughter, what things have you learnt about parenting from her?
I struggled a lot as a first-time father. In the last two years, I have learnt hard lessons about parenting that have given me a new appreciation for my own parents. The biggest lesson of all, I would have to say, is the realisation that 99 per cent of parenting boils down to being present during your child’s upbringing. The other one percent pales in comparison.

Do you have any regrets so far?
Regrets hold you in a loop. You keep thinking, “What if this had gone like this” or “If only I had done that” and that is not good for progress in your life. I always try to make the best of what I have rather than regret about what I could have had.
How does Odeke usually resolve conflict?
Conflict is rarely resolved without proper channels of communication. You need to put yourself in the other party’s shoes and endeavour to understand why they did what they did. Next thing after that is to let them know how their actions have affected you as well. When it fails, there are always alternative means to resolve conflict.
Which women inspire you?
My mother. She is an embodiment of a great African Mother. I would like to believe that I take after her in some aspects. My dear wife; loud and quirky as she is, greatly inspires me too. She is everything I asked God for. I wouldn’t ask for anything more. Lastly, my daughter. She is strong-willed, independent and clearly knows what she wants. I want to be like her when I grow older.

What would you say to former presidential candidate, Elton John Mabirizi?
Hmmm… I would say, “Hey Mabreezy! How about we do a standup comedy show and split the profits?”
What do you consider weird?
I often find it weird that people don’t take the time to carefully think through the decisions they make. I am also often a victim of this folly and that is why I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about challenges and how I might be able to solve them.

What kind of people do you detest?
Men or women with no conscience, no character: A man you cannot trust, whose word means nothing to them.
Your worst habit is…
I am often lazy; some people would look at it as being a perfectionist. I tend to take my time to do things so I can do them well. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t operate on my time so I am learning to do things a bit faster.


What would you consider as the turning point in your life?
When my father died in 1996. Nothing was ever the same after that. As terrible as it was, it has contributed to who I am today. Suffering, discomfort and inconvinience have a way of bringing out the best in human beings. It helps keep us in check.

What motivates you in life?
Life itself. The pursuit of purpose and happiness.

What’s the most unforgettable piece of advice someone has ever told you?
“Never give up what you want the most for what you want now.” This guides me every day and helps me keep focused on what matters the most.