A leading Somali media entrepreneur and activist has scoffed at Ugandans for being indifferent to the work of the UPDF under the auspices of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and keeping a blind eye to the plight of troops in the Horn of Africa, with the media doing little to tell the ‘other side’ of Somalia.
Speaking at this year’s African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) second annual lecture under the theme “Media and Politics in Africa,” a lecture series that explores the relationship between media and politics in Africa, Ms Fatuma Abdulahi, decried the coldness of Ugandans to Amisom and rallied the media to break the silence on pertinent stories from the battle field.
“There is little concern for what your troops are doing on the ground from my interaction with some Ugandans,” she said, adding that actions of Amisom fighters indulged in human rights violations have severed the force’s ratings in her home country.
She cited Ugandan soldiers currently facing trial at the General Court Martial for offences linked to among others, mismanaging logistics and recent reports by human rights groups connecting Ugandan troops to violation of human rights of Somalis.
Lt Col Bakoko Barigye, the first Amisom spokesman, however, disagreed with the broadcaster, saying Amisom can only become unpopular when and if al-shabaab radically changes its behaviour.
Lt Col Barigye described al-shabaab as a force whose potency cannot be written off, despite being weakened owing to its lifeline of “killing one person and threatening a million.”
The Wednesday debate also explored the intricacies of the media’s coverage of the story of a UPDF soldier held in captivity, with a horrific video released by the propaganda wing of the terrorist group.
Mr Maurice Mugisha, the NTV Uganda news manager, shared the dilemma broadcasters sometimes face balancing trending topical discussions on social media such as the UPDF soldier’s captivity video and the straight jacket rules that govern traditional media.
The African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) is a Kampala-based independent, non-profit professional organisation that is committed to excellence in journalism and mass communication in Africa. ACME’s main goal is to make the media a more effective platform for the provision of information on public affairs, a tool for monitoring official power, and a forum for vibrant public debate.