THE NEW VISION MARKED 30 YEARS AND WE WERE THERE-edited
The New Vision Marked 30 years
I was privileged to have served at The New Vision straight from school when I joined as an intern at the age of 22 and worked there for 8 years as a war correspondent, Bureau chief in charge of South western Uganda based in Fort Portal Kabarole district and Editor.
SERVICE TO MY COUNTRY
Back in the day, I was embedded with the then most feared Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) fighting unit –the battle hardened , crack mobile, 3rd battalion, commanded by the late (RIP) Major Sula Ssemakula “Suicide” . I covered the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebellion in western Uganda for The New vision as a war Correspondent for four years (1996-2000) and there were battles fought in kyaka , Fort Portal ,Bunyangabu, Buryaha, in the then vast Kabarole district;to Kamwenge to Mbarara to Kanungu and the mountainous areas of Kasese and Bundibugyo; to Hoima , Masindi, Mubende and Kibale. We ended up in Eastern DR Congo where we encountered the bloody battles of Kisangani mojja and Kisangani mbirri. The ADF rebels attacked katojo prisons in Fort Portal ,killed and released prisoners, attacked and killed close to 100 students at Kichwamba Technical Institute in Kabarole, cut off Bundibugyo , Bwera and Mponde border areas . They maimed , rapped ,defiled women and girls and killed hundreds of innocent civilians- raiding villages and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. But they (rebels)were still defeated. The war on the Ugandan side ended around 2000 and I headed back to my employer- The New Vision’s headquarters in the Capital Kampala and was appointed Editor in charge of rural news. I later went on to serve in the same capacity at the Daily Monitor . I also edited the Saturday and Sunday Monitor (2004-2010) after the ‘big walk out at NV’ in May 2004 (which changed the media landscape in Uganda forever) led by Conrad Nkutu and JB Wasswa, who became the Managing Director and Managing Editor at the Monitor (that equally important institution for free , independent private media), respectively. We were the first ‘outsiders’ to serve at Daily Monitor after the founders ,Wafula Ogutu, David Balikowa, Kevin Aliro, Richard Tebere,Charles Onyango Obbo and Jimmy Serugo were bought out by the Nation group,(that is another rich long story to be told another day.) I would like to recognize the following Afandes among others , ( named not necessarily in order of seniority ) who participated in the fight to end the ADF rebellion and allowed me the freedom to tell the story the way I saw it at the battle field. Afande Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Afande Maj.Sula Ssemakula Suicide (RIP), I directly worked under his command, Afande Jet Mwebaze (RIP) was the first senior UPDF commander to take me to the war frontline, Afande Katumba Wamala, afande Salim Saleh, Afande Charles Angina, afande James Kazini (RIP), Afande Nobel Mayombo (RIP), Afande Kahinda Otafiire, afande Nathan Mugisha, afande Muhanga, Afande David Kaboyo, afande Richard Edyegu (he suffered severe injuries and his leg was amputated after he was hit by a landmine at the Kasese officers mess), afande Stephen Masiga (RIP), Afande Charles Owor ( oba where he?), afande Walter Ochola (RIP), afande Balikudembe Kileju (headed the then PPU now in private practice), afande Abbas Byakagaba (now commanding the Oil Police protection unit he was then regional police special branch commander western Uganda ), afande shaban Bantaliza, afande Abbey Kisubi, afende Andew Muzira, afande Maj. Kibowa, afande , maj.Kawesi, afande Muhesi, afande Tumukunde. I also salute comrades in the journalism profession who joined me to carry the story forward but first to my editors at the time, again NOT in order of seniority : William Pike, Sam Serwanga, Hellen Mukiibi, Ben Ochan, JB Wasswa, John Kakande, Ikebesi Ocole Omoding ,Barbra Kaija, Paul Nsereko (RIP), Robinnah Basalirwa, Adyeri Kanyeihe, Ben Opolt, Wange M,Joacim Buwembo, Ben Bella , Epaja Ejelu, Rosemary Kemigisha and Rev Sam Adido . And the war reporters and editors ; Grace Matsiko NV, Emmy Aliro NV , DM ‘s Kevin Aliro, (RIP) ,Richard Tebere (RIP) of the Maama and Baba Pajero fame, Photo journalists, Arthur Kintu ( you remember when the mambas were first deployed to Bundibugyo and we took and survived an RPG enemy fire), Cranmer Mugerwa (RIP), James Akena ,Peter Busomoke, Jimmy Adriko, Linda Nabusayi (you remember moving in the ‘bufallo’ in the chilly Bundibugyo mountains), John B Nzijah, John Twaite, Michael Karugaba (RIP), Kagyenda Apuuli ,BBC’s Anna Bozello, and Hassan Ali of the then BBC swahilli service (RIP). Just like Afandes, Masiga, Edyegu and many others, I too, carry scars from injuries I suffered on my left hand while on duty. We were ambushed by the rebels at a place called Sempaya just before the hot springs in Bundibugyo a few weeks into the war. We lost a couple of gallant fighters and a number were injured . But all the same, I wish every youth in this country can have the rare privilege to serve in our armed forces and show positive results for their service. That will be Patriotism at its Best. In the days to come ,I will share some of the pictures and stories which were published from the war frontline in The New Vision ,nearly 20 years ago. I also want to be inspired by comrades, Joachim Buwembo (Punishing the Messenger), Charles Onyango Obbo (Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, And The Poverty,) Julius Mucunguzi ( the Story of Keeping Hope Alive) and write a book about my four years experience as a war reporter or better still, serving my country as a journalist for the last 20 years.
What went on at The New Vision
At The New Vision we also had specialized teams of journalists (reporters/writers) who were assigned specific “beats” journalism jargon- to mean specialized reporting. We had the parliamentary beat that was headed by the ever jolly and friendly JB Wasswa an accomplished journalist in his own right who later became my boss as News Editor when he took over from Sam Serwanga. For that beat they were reporters who included among others , Francis Mutazindwa later became proof reader and now head of the New Vision Group interests in western Uganda, the “naughty” Noti Mwesigwa (RIP),he also served as Jinja Bureau Chief , Fred Bananura (RIP), Sam Mukalazi (RIP) he also served as Mbarara Bureau Chief and later joined The East African, James Kigozi also later joined The east african, Lillian Nkwenge, Shiela Kawamara Mukabakoba, later covered the Rwanda war , Ian Katusiime now a major in UPDF legal department , Moses Paul Sserwanga later served as Fort Portal Bureau Chief and covered the ADF war in western Uganda and DR Congo, Grace Matisko, later covered the LRA war and Rwanda –Uganda War in DR Congo, Sentongo aka Baghdad, now lives in the USA, Elizabeth Nviri now lives SA, Joyce Namutebi , Peter Okello Jabweli, Felix Osike, crazy Margaret Muhanga , richard Mutumba now lives in the USA ,Barbra Bitangaro, Betty Businge among others .
We had Didas Bakunzi, Alfred Wasike, Ann mugisa, Hillary Nsambu, Hillary kiirya, Jude Etyang, Ruth Pauline Mbabazi, Namuyomba ,among others
Geoffrey Kamali, Stephen Chanda, Victoria Namuyomba, Pauli Ruth Mbabazi, Yiga Ssempogo,
Simon Kaheru, Stephen Ilungole, Paul Busharizi, Mulinde Musoke, John Odyek, Charlotte Kukunda,
Lillian Barenzi, Sebidde kiryowa, Simon Kaheru, Paul Busharizi, Kalungi Kabuye –this veteran has been on this beat for all the time I have come to know him – a fine writer, E Bazanye, among others
Eric Ogoso, Emmy Alio, Jabweli Okello, Ofono Opondo, Flexi Osike, Alfred Musamali,
Sir Ndyakira Amooti (RIP), Mulinde Musoke , S Kaheru, yunus Abbey (RIP), Denis jjuko, Allen Mutono, Elizabeth Kameo, Agnes Barongo, Lydia Mirembe, Daisy Asiimwe
Jimmy Adriko, Cranmer Mugera (RIP), Busomoke, Enock Kakande, arthur kintu, John Asipa, Margaret Kabuye, Shawn Ray
Louis Jadong, William Muwonge, James Lwanga, Wange W, Hillary Nsambu, James bakama, David Sseppuuya later became Managing editor, Sarah Nalubega the only lady sports reporter at the time
Joachim Buwembo -team leader,Ndawula Kalema, Wanyama Wangah, Betty Amailuk, Esther Namugoji, Samuel Apedel, Ernest Bazanye, Danny Dan Barongo, Angela Nampewo, David Mukholi, Tina Turyagyenda, James Mukanga
We also had the very best editors and subs at the time and these included among others, William Pike , James Tumusiime, Paul Nsereko, Lydia Wamala (foreign news ) this one people used to stand up and watch her strut -her thing while walking to the bathrooms in William Pike’s wooden office block, the crazy Julie Nabwire, E Egyalu, Adyeeri Kanyeike, Barbra kaija, HELLEN Mukiibi, Ben Ochan, wordsmith - Joachim Buwembo, Ben Opolot, Sam Apedel ,Ikebesi Omoding, Ben Bella” hot air” in- house training editor, Robinah Basalirwa among the first staff members when The New Vision was set up 30 years ago , Stephen asiimwe now the Uganda Tourism Board top-honcho, John Kakande, cathy mwesigwa, agnes Barango,Joan mugenzi, wanyama wangah, Jerome Mukasa, Anne Ayeta Wangusa, Betty Amailuk, Bakulumpagi , Lukia Nakamatte, Eva Nabagesera among others.
Emmy Allio, Grace Matsiko, Sheila Kawamala , Moses Sserwanga,
- Bureau Chiefs
Nathan Etengu (RIP), -Mbale
Noti Mwesigwa- jinja
‘Rev’ Richard tusiime – Mbarara now founding member and editor in chief at the Red pepper
Mujuni-Mbarara took over from Tusiime and later both joined hands to set up the Red pepper
Moses Sserwanga- Fort Portal
Patrick Luganda, ndyakira amooti, (RIP), Gerald Tenywa, Joshua Kato
John Eryemu, Fortunate Batinti Ahimbisibwe,
Fred senoga aka snoogie now lives in the USA, Charles Onen aka Mr. Ras of the “balls” fame- the best paid cartoonist in the country
David Mukholi now in top editorial management
Rose Kironde- now business woman
Olive Birungi, long serving
Rose Birungi now at World Bank Kampala
Rose Kwebiha now at UPDF bombo
Camilla Asiya- long serving
Journalism and fame; the making of ‘stars’ celebs
At the time the majority of the editorial staff were freelancers and the newsroom was highly competitive for one to get a byline. For one to have a page one byline in the New vision of the 90s earned them REAL national fame . People across the country knew us by our bylines majorly because there were few journalists and one or two national newspapers of repute. And as a direct consequence, journalism influenced much of the public policy , governance , rule of law and public perceptions on general issues around the country. So most of the above listed journalists became the first REAL established ‘Stars’ or celebs in Uganda before the musicians , FM radio presenters and comedians took over in the 2000s.
We used type writers “ manyi gakifuba” to write our stories and you had to type at least 12 carbonated pages on A 4 folio paper to fill up a center-spread feature which were edited by Mr. William Pike with his BIG black parker pen! The first desk computers and digital cameras were introduced at The New Vision around 1998 and that changed the way we did our journalism forever. There were no more , copy typists , proof readers, no more hard copy dictionaries , no more carbon paper , wall charts for quick reference , type setters, copy pasters and manyi gakifuba typewriters .
Apart from the transport facilitation ,morning and evening coffee which used to be served in the newsroom the majority freelance reporters were paid per story and photographs published . The amount of money paid per story depended on the length of the story which were measured in centimeters . But because of the commitment and love for journalism and good journalism at that, many freelancers earned more than the few staff reporters .
We used small personal Yashika cameras to take photos which were processed in a small darkroom manned by Margaret Kabuye and Jimmy Adriko who was the Chief Photographer at the time. We all looked up at the end of year pay -bonuses and parties- were the entire team led by William pike would dance and drink till the wee hours of the day! JB Wasswa was such a good dancer!That ‘s The New Vision I loved so much to work for! And I have achieved a lot in life because of the foundation I got while at the New Vision.
God bless you all!