Harvard, Princeton, William and Mary, and Yale are all highly regarded academic institutions each counting more than one U.S. President among its alumni. Has a graduate of Ensign College ever attempted a run for President?
Meet Amram Musungu, Ensign College alumnus, Kenya-born husband, father, and philanthropist. In 2017, Amram ran for President of Kenya. We recently spoke with Amram to ask him about his experience as a presidential candidate and other experiences that have shaped his past and will help direct his future.
You were a candidate for President of Kenya in 2017. Talk about what that was like, your motivation for running, and how long you stayed in the race.
I have always had a great desire to serve. In 2016 I was encouraged by a few people to return to Kenya and to run for President. I had long been aware that our Kenyan government was fraught with dysfunction and some corruption. So, I accepted the invitation to run for president and threw my hat in the ring. Unfortunately, because of my late entry, I was not able to get enough exposure to see the race go in my direction.
While the outcome was disappointing, because I chose to get involved, I met several people in government who have become my friends and who reach out to me on occasion for my perspective when challenging decisions are in front of them. More than anything, I use my influence to encourage more open government with less corruption.
I am throwing my support for the 2022 Kenyan elections behind some of my friends I met in 2016 and 2017 who can represent my values and interests and fairly govern the Kenyan people.
In addition to my interest in Kenyan politics, I am also an elected official for one of the major political parties in Utah.
Talk about the inspiration behind your non-profit, Watoto Rescue Foundation. What’s the significance of the name Watoto?
Watoto in Swahili means “children”. The purpose of the foundation is to bless the lives of women and children in underdeveloped countries, not only in Africa, but in other nations such as the Philippines, Venezuela, Madagascar and others.
For some reason I was born with a sensitive spirit to the struggles that women face and those struggles often directly impact their children. Watoto addresses a variety of challenges such as nutrition, education, health care, and newborn care. We are also heavily involved with teaching self-reliance principles.
On several occasions we have donated funds, without a repayment obligation, to sister returned missionaries, to help them start a promising new business venture. We have many examples where the donated funds have been used successfully and the businesses are not only sustaining the families of the owners of the businesses, the businesses have hired others and are providing sustenance for employee’s families.
Your parents were strong on their emphasis for education. Why?
My parents were wonderful people and very devoted Christian members of a Protestant faith in Kenya. Neither had much education but saw the importance of education in liberating individuals from living lives of daily want and physical labor. They wanted something better for me and my eight siblings, two girls and seven boys including me. They knew education was the key to finding employment that relies on the mind to solve problems and to create better futures for themselves and for others.
I took their counsel to heart. I graduated from Ensign College (then LDS Business College) in 2000, received a full scholarship and attained a Master’s Degree in Accountancy at Westminster College, and I’m currently finishing a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity.
I have an affinity for Ensign College. In 2005 I attained the high academic honors including the 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award. I would love to return and teach at Ensign College someday.
In your opinion, what makes a good leader? Have you had any leaders in your life that exhibit these traits?
The traits I look for in a leader are integrity, humility, love for all, good listener, and one who values the Christian principle of doing to others as you would have done to you. Good leaders think about how their decisions today may impact tomorrow. They always have an eye to the future.
I try my best to follow the examples of my Church leaders, both local and general, who I believe exemplify the many positive traits I have listed. I have a particularly close relationship with President M. Russell Ballard who has served as a personal mentor to me in my temporal and spiritual life. He is only representative, however, of the many who have influenced my views on living a full and productive life.
I am forever grateful for my devoted wife Noelle and our two children, Mira and Wesley. Without their love and support I could not be doing what I love to do – love and serve others.