What you need to know:
Daily Monitor pays tribute to the veteran broadcaster who succumbed to cancer on Friday.
KAMPALA- In the past five decades, a baritone and somewhat husky voice would break the silence of the night or mute the twitter of birds at dawn to announce the start of the news bulletin. Routinely, without fault, the newscaster would announce the time, greet the listeners and proceed with the news bulletin.
This was the inviting voice of Danny Kyazze, the veteran broadcaster whose voice was on Friday morning silenced by death. From Radio Uganda, the premier public broadcaster, to its successor Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC-TV) and until his death, Radio Two (Akaboozi FM radio), 72-year old Kyazze was impeccable.
Death evokes emotion and pity. However, the outpouring in the media fraternity points to a man who was admired, mentored the young crop and presented himself as a role model.
Mr Julius Mucunguzi, a journalist, said: “Although I never got to meet him in person, I felt I knew Danny Kyazze so well personally. His voice graced the airwaves of Radio Uganda with his legendary Luganda news reading style for decades. He had a calm way of weaving words. He enabled even, I, a Mukiga, to follow the news even when I did not know the language.”
Needless to say, from last Friday evening, friends, journalists, broadcasters and leaders thronged Kyazze’s home to join the family in mourning his demise. The family was inconsolable as only eight days before his death, on Valentine’s Day, Kyazze made 72 years.
His children and grandchildren joined him to mark the milestone of his life by his death bed and even cut a cake. Not so many days earlier, he had celebrated 50 years in the broadcasting industry.
He breathed his last in the early hours of February 20 at Kadic Hospital. He had been suffering from Cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the bile duct) since August last year.
“He had been going through a lot of pain since December,” said Mr Danny Kyazze Junior, his son. “But I am grateful to God that towards the end, he went out gradually and quietly. He died peacefully.”
Kyazze’s brother-in-law, Mr Edwin Kayukyi, described him as a painfully conscientious man who never stepped out of his house without a coat. “He kept the first coat he bought in the 1960s. He was always smart and time conscious,” Mr Kayukyi said.
Mr Earnest Mutanga, Kyazze’s other son, described his father as a loving man who was very considerate to his children to the point of being accused of spoiling them.
Kyazze was not only dedicated to his family but also his work to the extent that seven months before he died, at 72, he was still reading the news on Akaboozi ku Bbiri radio station every morning.
His brother, Dr Jones Kyazze, explained that when Danny finished Junior Two (current Senior Two), he did not sit for his Ordinary Level examinations.
“In the early 1960s, any educated person was expected to enter the school system as a teacher, and he did that, teaching for a short while at Jungo Primary School,” Dr Kyazze said of his brother.
However, his calling was in the newsroom and when Uganda Broadcasting Services (UBS) launched a radio station, he joined in 1965 as a Luganda news anchor.
Later when the television section was launched, Kyazze was among the pioneer working with the likes of the late Eli Wamala, Hajj Haruna Mwanje Muteesasira, who headed the Luganda section of Radio Uganda, and Andrew Patrick Luwandagga, a sports presenter.
Mr Kayukyi recalls that he first heard Kyazze read the news in 1967. “I have listened to his broadcasts throughout the years and I believe that he has been the most articulate Luganda news reader in the industry.
His voice was distinct and no one had to tell you he was reading the news. You just knew it. I am yet to hear another reader like him,” Mr Kayukyi noted.
It was not all a smooth road though. Pastor James S. Kyazze, his other brother, remembers a time when an occupational hazard imperiled the life of the news anchor and now editor.
“Around 1975, there was a film that was critical of the Amin regime, called 365 Days. One day Danny was in the UBC library doing research, after recording a news bulletin. A malicious co-worker took a clip off the film and joined it to another clip showing (the late) President Milton Obote talking with (the late) President Mobutu Seseseko of Zaire (now DRC).”
That evening, the clip appeared as a silent film behind Kyazze as he read the news. “Within minutes, he was picked up by the State Research Bureau soldiers and taken to Makindye Military Barracks. He was terribly beaten and tortured for a week before they realised that he was innocent and released him,” Pastor Kyazze recalled.
This incident had a lasting impact on Kyazze’s work. Where he once thought journalists were free from the torture meted out on civilians by the regime, he now became cautious, insisting on reading the news live, instead of recording the bulletin and leaving it to be edited by others.
To keep abreast, Kyazze spent most of his time in libraries, researching facts so that he would not be accused of peddling rumours.
When other radio and TV stations opened in the mid-1990s, Kyazze continued working on WBS, Akaboozi, and Radio One.
The church work
Kyazze has been one of the pillars of Uganda Martyrs Church, Nateete Mackay Church of Uganda. He was the church treasurer before being elevated to head the laity.
Uganda Federal Alliance leader Betty Kamya said she has known Kyazze since 1964, when she was primary seven pupil. “That is when I began listening to him on radio.” Ms Kamya also commends Kyazze for his service to the church as an elder. “He has served God well with his life and I believe God is pleased with his work.”
The late Kyazze was a teetotaler and did not smoke. In August 2014, Kyazze fell sick and was admitted to Kadic Hospital, diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct. In November, he had surgery at the hospital but his condition began deteriorating in December.
Leaders eulogise model journalist
Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka has described Danny Kyazze as “a specially gifted news reader” for both radio and television news.
Speaking at his requiem service at Uganda Martyrs Church, Nateete, yesterday, Ms Kiwanuka said Kyazze was a role model.
“Every day of the 13 years that he read news on Akaboozi ku Bbiri Radio, he used to come in at 3am to prepare for the 6am news,” she said.
The service was attended by, among others, Rubaga South MP Ken Lukyamuzi, Rubaga Division Mayor Joyce Ssebugwaawo, former Katikkiro JB Walusimbi.
Veteran journalist Mukalazi Kyobe, who spoke on behalf of the media fraternity, described Kyazze as an intelligent anchor who researched his stories before broadcast. “I met him when I was 13 years in school, then we met again at Uganda Broadcasting Services in 1967. He has been an example to younger journalists.”
Dr Edward Ssebagala of Kadic Hospital encouraged men above 40 years to test for cancer. “When Kyazze came to hospital, we discovered that the cancer was in its final stages. It started in the prostate and spread to the liver, bladder, kidneys and then to the brain.”
He will be laid to rest in Kasokoso, Lugazi in Buikwe District today.