I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly- Patrick Kamara

Saturday August 01 2020
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Patrick Kamara

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a cool, calm and collected person.
What did you want to become when you were a child?
I wanted to be a soldier. I even tried to join the military but my father wouldn’t let me. He even convinced the man who was trying to recruit me not to.

What inspired you to become a journalist?
Blame it on some people in major media houses such as the BBC. They don’t actually know me, but they inspired me. The first was Robin White. I loved how he conducted his interviews, and regardless of what part of the world he was, I always walked part of that journey with him. Then there was Tim Sebastian, who was also with the BBC, and was the first presenter for the show, HARD talk. He was never intimidated by any personality and always asked Heads of State the toughest questions. The third was Julian Marshall, a presenter of the News hour on BBC. I would love to meet the latter two sometime in the future.

You have been in this industry for years. What lessons have you learnt?
I have learnt to check and double check facts. This will keep you out of trouble many times. It’s not enough to break the story, your story must be accurate.
What has been the highlight of your journalism career?

I’ve been in the media for a while so I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. One of my biggest moments was when I walked into the office for the former Israeli Prime Minister, the late Shimon Perez. You would probably find this quite intimidating, considering this is a world renowned figure. But he had a parental approach, and he made me feel warm and welcome. This is definitely top on my list. The whole experience of being in Israel and studying the history of the place made quite an impact on me.

Are there moments when you regretted your profession?
Twenty years ago, when I was still a budding journalist at Voice of Tooro, I covered a story on the ongoing ADF conflict in the region. I was the acting news editor at the time, and when the military came, they accused me of running false news. I was whisked away by a military van to the scene. It was a sacring moment. But I am glad this was clarified afterwards.

You have interviewed big shots in Uganda and other countries. How does that make you feel?
When I manage to scoop out information from a source that the viewers need, I feel like an achiever. When that does not happen, I get frustrated. Some interviewees are warm and are willing to share information. Others, however, are hard nuts to crack. A mixture of all this makes my work interesting.
Take us through what you do before you host a panel or before you go to interview any dignitary.

It is all about preparation. First, I take time to understand the personality I will be having on the show, interpret their temperament, background, policy and programmes they are implementing. I speak to people whoknow my guest better. I also speak to colleagues in the newsroom and this is where I get more information about the guest. If you don’t prepare, you can be torn to shreds by your interviewee live on television.


What has fatherhood taught you?
That children are born with different abilities. As parents, it’s important to find out what these abilities are. It’s also important to be friends with your children. It has also taught me to be patient with children as this stimulates them to work harder and brings out the best of their abilities. I can’t force my children to achieve the things I failed to.

What’s your philosophy in life?
A life lived for others is a purposeful life. I should live to be able to add some value to somebody else’s life.

What do you find attractive in a woman?
An intelligent woman who has the ability to challenge me appeals to me. I would choose beauty and brains any day.
Are there book you would you recommend a friend to read?
I read a lot of biographies of world renowned leaders. I always want to have insights on people who are better than me and get a feel of their lives. I’ve read Steve Job’s biography, The President is Missing, a political thriller novel by former US President Bill Clinton and novelist James Patterson.

If you had to change anything about the media in Uganda, what would it be?
I wish to see more critical, and independent minded media houses, even when it comes to the advertisement. I long to see media practioners as real watch dogs even to the money bags who run the newsrooms.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
I would like to be remembered as someone who could have done many things in his profession for free but was lucky to have been paid for it. I want people to remember me as someone who got paid for doing what I enjoyed.
What would you tell a university graduate who wants to join journalism?
Come into it with passion. If your passion is your profession, you will have positive results and won’t be frustrated along the way. Don’t go for journalism because others are doing it or because that is what your parents want. Passion will be the fuel that drives you to succeed.

What kind of Uganda do you wish to see?
A Uganda where people are free to exchange opinions on how to develop Uganda. I want to see a free, fair, democratic Uganda, run on the principles of integrity and humility, especially for those with power.

I would like to be remembered as someone who could have done many things in his profession for free but he was lucky to have been paid for it. I want people to remember me as someone who got paid for doing what I enjoyed doing.