Thursday, October 25, 2007


Ashoka aims " to build a world that responds quickly and effectively to social challenges" but evidently seems incapable to respond quickly and effectively to its own Ashoka Fellowship application process...!

Please find below a copy of emails exchanged between myself and the Ashoka regional office for East Africa with reference to my Ashoka Fellowship application...

RE: Ashoka Fellowship Application...‏
From: Yajna Centre (
Medium risk You may not know this sender. Mark as safe | Mark as unsafe
Sent: March 6, 2007 2:58:08 PM
To: East Africa (eastafrica@ASHOKA.ORG)
Cc:; DSerwadda@ASHOKA.ORG;;

Uganda, Kampala

Mrs. Annet Tumwijukye,

Please allow me to express and share with both
yourself and your colleagues at Ashoka my thoughts and
reflections about my disappointing experiences with
your organization with regards to my Ashoka Fellowship
application submitted to you over 6 months ago, on 21
August 2006.

First of all, I must admit that, although you had
indeed pointed out to me that the Ashoka Fellowship
selection process is “long and rigourous” – I did not
think that it would take over a year to “maybe” meet
with you and your colleagues “sometime when you come
to Tanzania” for the first interview…In fact, when I
contacted you in November 2006 to inquire about the
status of my application, you told me that: (see copy
below) .

Wed, 15 Nov 2006 01:11:37 -0500
From: "East Africa" View
Contact Details Add Mobile Alert
To:, "Annet Tumwijukye"

CC: "Debbie Serwadda" , "Abu
Musuuza" , "nkaturamu"

Hello Arya,

Thank you for the email. I am fine and doing well.
Indeed it has been
quite sometime since I last communicated to you
regarding your
application for the Ashoka fellowship. I apologize for
that. But on the other
hand, I should have informed you that the Ashoka
selection process is
long and rigorous. I have not forgotten you yet. I
have your application
and documents on file and hope to meet you sometime
when we come to
Tanzania. I will let you know when this will be. I
encourage you to keep in
touch and to contact me incase you need more
clarifications on this
issue. Have a good day.


I then wrote back to ask you to please tell me when
you were planning to travel to Tanzania so as to allow
me to organize my future plans accordingly.(see copy

Wed, 22 Nov 2006 04:01:35 -0800 (PST)
From: "Yajna Centre" Add to
Address Book Add Mobile Alert
Subject: Travel plans...
To: "annet tum"
CC: "Deborah Kaddu Serwadda" ,
"musu uza" , "akatu ramu"

Hello again Annet,

I hope that you are well. I wish to inform you that I
plan to be travelling within the cotton growing
regions of Tanzania next week and will thus be away
from Dar es Salaam. Therefore, could you please let me
know when you plan to travel to Dar es Salaam so that
I may organize my future plans accordingly to be able
to meet with you. Thank you.

Kind regards,


I never got a response from you regarding your travel
plans to Tanzania. Nevertheless, I chose to cancel a
trip I had planned in December in the cotton growing
regions of Tanzania, while waiting for your response;
unfortunately my inquiry remained unanswered to this
day and I never saw you in Tanzania nor did I hear
back from you since…Elementary rules of courtesy and
of professionalism dictate that you at least respond
to correspondence that is addresses to you!

I then recently wrote to you on 02 March ( see copy
below) to inquire about the status of my application –
since I had not heard back from you since November -
and was shocked to read that:

" Yes, we still have your application for the Ashoka
> fellowship but we can not put it into consideration
> before we meet with you. We have not been to Dar Es
> Salaam for quite sometime but we will plan for this,
> maybe early next year..." ( see copy below)

YEAR...!" You must be extremely busy at Ashoka in
Uganda…to plan to meet with me "MAYBE early next
year...", although I noticed that you have only
elected 3 fellows in Tanzania over the last 6 years
since you opened a regional office in Uganda in 2001.
Frankly, given the “long and rigorous” selection
process, I am not surprised of this outcome…

Furthermore, I do not quite understand why a candidate
to the Ashoka Fellowship must wait for YOU to travel
to his area of residence to meet with him…? Would it
not be easier, more time-efficient and more
cost-effective to have a candidate travel to the
nearest Ashoka regional office…instead of waiting for
the Ashoka office/representative to travel to the
candidate for the first interview…???

In any case, my role is not to make reforms within the
selection process at Ashoka. I hereby limit myself to
sharing my disappointing experiences with you and your
colleagues. Hopefully, you and your colleagues will
use my remarks to make some much needed reforms within
the Ashoka Fellowship selection process. I can’t help
but wonder how long the whole selection process takes
on average, if the first interview "MAY" take place
over a year after the application is submitted…?

In its website, Ashoka states as its vision:

“Ashoka envisions a world where Everyone is a
Changemaker: a world that responds quickly and
effectively to social challenges, and where each
individual has the freedom, confidence and societal
support to address any social problem and drive

However, it is difficult to imagine how Ashoka can
“respond quickly and effectively to social challenges”
when it evidently seems incapable of responding
quickly and effectively to Ashoka Fellowship
candidates…and its own selection process?

Implementing this vision in practice is crucial to
successfully resolving urgent social challenges. As
far as my project is concerned, responding “quickly
and effectively” is of crucial importance. As
indicated in my Project Idea, both the cotton and the
textile sector is near collapse in Tanzania and
throughout sub-Saharan Africa mainly as a result of
massive illegal cotton subsidies paid to cotton
farmers in the US/EU and is seriously threatening the
survival of both the cotton sector and the millions of
cotton farmers who rely on cotton farming for their
livelihoods in Tanzania and throughout sub-Saharan

Beyond my +40 pages detailed analysis of the crisis
prevailing within the cotton & textile sector in SSA
submitted to you, I have, over the course of the last
few months, forwarded you with several recent press
articles relating to the cotton crisis in Africa and
describing the resulting plight, and the REAL
suffering and poverty of the African cotton farmers,
hoping that you would realize how severe the crisis is
and how urgent it is to act “quickly and effectively”
to help the millions of suffering African cotton
farmers who are caught under the crushing wheel of
poverty, hunger and misery. But evidently, my efforts
have been vain!


In any case, I shall continue fighting for global
social and economic justice with or without Ashoka.
Fortunately, Ashoka does not have a monopoly over
social and economic justice and, as history testifies,
those few great men ( i.e. Gandhi, Martin Luther King,
Mandela, etc) who really made a difference in the
world, were able to successfully pursue their cause
without ( fortunately) having to go through Ashoka’s
Fellowship selection process…

I wish you all at Ashoka success in your mission to
change the world...


Arya A. Tajdin
Executive Director
Yajna Centre
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

--- East Africa wrote:

> Hello Arya,
> Thank you very much for all your communication. Yes,
> we still have your application for the Ashoka
> fellowship but we can not put it into consideration
> before we meet with you. We have not been to Dar Es
> Salaam for quite sometime but we will plan for this,
> maybe early next year. Please get to know that the
> Ashoka selection process is long and always open. I
> apologize for being silent so such along time but I
> did not forget all about your application. Please,
> keep in touch for updates and have a good day.
> Annet.
> ASHOKA East Africa
> Office No. 3 Kisozi Complex, Kisozi Close (Off
> Kyaggwe Road)
> P.O. Box 71510, Kampala Uganda - East Africa
> Tel: +256 41 348780, +256 31 261190
> Fax: +256 41 230359/235681
> <>
> <>
> ________________________________
> From: Yajna Centre []
> Sent: Fri 3/2/2007 3:34 AM
> To: Annet Tumwijukye
> Cc: Debbie Serwadda; Abu Musuuza; nkaturamu; East
> Africa
> Subject: Fwd: Ashoka Fellowship Application...
> Hello Mrs Annet Tumwijukye,
> I am writing to you to inquire about the status of
> my Ashoka Fellowship application sent to you over
> six months ago on 21 August 2006 ( pls see copy
> below). Surprisingly, I have not heard back from you
> since. The last time I contacted you in November
> 2006, you told me that you would be travelling to
> Tanzania in the near future and would meet with me
> then. Unfortunately, I have only met utmost silence
> on your part since...Could you pls tell me whether
> my application is being considered and its status?
> Thank you.
> Arya. A Tajdin
> Executive Director
> Yajna Centre
> Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
> Cell: (+255) 753-170010
> Yajna Centre wrote:
> Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 05:42:22 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Yajna Centre
> Subject: Ashoka Fellowship Application...
> To: annet tum
> CC: Deborah Kaddu Serwadda ,
> musu uza , akatu ramu
> ,
> Dear Mrs Annet Tumwijukye,
> I hope that you are well...Please find enclosed the
> information you requested. I naturally remain at
> your disposal for further information and/or
> clarifications.
> Meanwhile, I thank you for looking into my project
> and for considering my application to become an
> Ashoka Fellowship member and I look forward to
> hearing back from you in the near future.
> enclosed:
> 1) Ashoka Fellowship Application form
> 2) Ashoka Project Idea
> Thank you for confirming reception.
> Kind regards,
> Arya A. Tajdin
> Executive Director
> Yajna Centre
> Dar es salaam, Tanzania

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