Take a bow to some of the greatest names in Uganda’s journalism

Sunday August 2 2020

 

By Gawaya Tegulle

After nearly two decades out of Daily Monitor, I think it was insolent of me to start a column, two months ago, like I’d never left. Even Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini would find that completely unacceptable.

I should have begun by reminding the world of journalists that made us love journalism; that made many of us love The Monitor (as it then was). Journalists that made writing for The Monitor a certificate of worth; and shaped Ugandan journalism into a profession worthy of many a child’s dreams. I am not worthy to sit at the same table with any of them.

Kyazze Simwogerere: gifted, brilliant and like most really good, admirable journalists, a scoundrel through and through. Kyazze, who distinguished himself as a bookworm at Busoga College Mwiri, would make the irreligious Alan Tacca – that dubious Sunday Monitor columnist of long standing – sound like an altar boy.

Possibly the only one in our days who had as much hair as then President Milton Obote, except that Dr Obote believed that hair really should be combed. That Kyazze… he’d hardly recognise a comb if it fell into his lap. And yet he managed to look really good that way.

Martin Lutalo Mpungu was a study in journalism efficiency. And he’d be the perfect advert for government if the State wanted to show that the policy of exclusive breastfeeding of babies for the first six months works very well. In his earlier day, Martin must have been an excellent advert for Baby Soya or such other baby food as might have been trending in them days. The kind of boy you wanted your daughter to bring home.

Dismas ‘Rubashov’ Nkunda; what should I not say? An excellent journalist. But if your daughter brought him home you’d want to pull her aside and ask her to double check her convictions – either for her own sake or yours, especially if you didn’t want very noisy and stubborn grandchildren. The only consolation is that they’d come first in class all the time.

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The less said about Peter Mwesige, the better; because too many superlatives about the same person doesn’t often read well. Let’s just say if he had had his way, Peter would have sent people to Military Court, or straight to the gallows for bad journalism. Should Uganda ever need to appoint a high priest for journalism… here you go! If he hadn’t read journalism he would have run mad.

His interview with then Lt Col Kasirye Gwanga – for The Crusader newspaper (must have been 1996) when he had left The Monitor – is probably the best read you ever will find about the controversial Gwanga and, is in itself, a study in journalism excellence. But that was pre-internet days and Google will tell you he’s never heard of it.

Some of the names rolled off the tongue in a particularly delicious manner. Onapito Ekomoloit does sound like a botanical name for a wild tropical African herb that the Masai – clad in their bright checked wrappings – will assure you cures just about every disease. Immediately.

On occasion the editor found it necessary to run Onapito’s opinion as a lead story. Nobody does that anyhow; which should tell you the stuff that Ona is made of. That voters in Amuria refused to return Ona to Parliament two decades ago is evidence that maybe not every adult in Uganda should be allowed to vote.
Vukoni Lupa Lasaga is the sound an empty tin would make if you threw it down a long flight of stairs. Yet it actually is a name. Surprise, surprise!

A proper government, on confirming that it belongs to a real person, would have it ban the chap from practicing journalism anywhere – just on general principles. You can’t practice journalism with a name like that. A quiet, smiling, unassuming West Niler who looked perfectly harmless, until he picked up his pen…my, oh my!
Coming up…Shalita, Mulenga, et al.

Mr Tegulle is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda gtegulle@gmail.com

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