“I say!” Remember that? Anyone who has worked with Fredrick Musisi Kiyingi will remember that line.
It came with several possibilities. He was either nudging for your attention, greeting you with jollity, or – the dreaded one – asking for his deliverables.
Yet, behind the strict face was also a man who cared deeply about whatever he touched; be it a ball or a pen.
And now, after a 38-year journalism career, 16 of those with Nation Media Group’s Monitor Publications; the former footballer-turned scribe is pulling down curtains on an enduring vocation.
A glance at 61-year-old Musisi’s CV and ‘been there, done it’ rings a bell. Having played with four clubs Coffee, Nytil, UCB and KCC, he has three league titles (1979, 1983 & 1985) and two Uganda Cups (1982 & 1984) to his name.
His first teeth into journalism were sunk in 1982, where he helped found Soccer World. He also worked with Ngoma, and Daily Monitor, where he has nurtured and inspired many over his nearly two decades there - until March 31.
He has also – for about 20 years now - co-hosted a weekly sports programme on CBS FM. On top of serving as foreign sports editor at Daily Monitor, he was at the helm of starting the popular Luganda publication – Ennyanda. He has concurrently been acting sports editor until now.
Musisi’s journey has seen him cover the 2010 Fifa World Cup, 2009 Confederations Cup and seven Africa Nations Cup finals (1996, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2019).
The 2010 World remains his career highlight but covering six of seven Afcons without Uganda featuring is his low moment.
“In my opinion, that generation between 1996 and 2012 was far much better, but politics both at clubs and the federation cost them,” said Musisi.
Mark Gleeson, a celebrated global broadcast commentator and writer, is one Musisi credits for his international journalism.
“My first encounter with Gleeson was in Nairobi during Kenya Breweries vs Motema Pemba Africa Cup winners final at Nyayo Stadium in 1994,” explained Musisi.
“He saw me with Soccer World Magazine and was impressed with it. So I started sending him copies every week and in return he was sending me Kick-Off Magazine. I think he was the editor.
“Since then he has been key in my progress on international stage. I worked with him during many Afcon finals from 2008-2012.” A chat with Gleeson and it is easy to see the affection.
“Fred,” said Gleeson “is a man of ingenuity who overcame all sorts of difficulties to ensure that he went off to cover the top sporting events, and bring first hand to his readers the stories from events like the Africa Cup of Nations finals, even in the days when the Cranes did not qualify.
“I admire that pluck and verve and am always happy to see him. He is a good friend of mine who helped me too when I visited Uganda as a young journalist.
“He had a vast knowledge of his subject, a treasure trove of contacts but most importantly is simply a very nice, friendly man, with a smile on his face, goodness in his heart and always happy to assist. You cannot get better than that. Enjoy your retirement Fred!”
Musisi, a fan of writers Henry Winter of The Times of London, Martin Samuel of Daily Mail and Score columnist Allan Ssekamatte, always enjoyed works of the late Kenneth Matovu and celebrated Ugandan wordsmith Mark Ssali.
Ssali, currently head of corporate communications at Unra, was the sports editor when Musisi joined Monitor Publications in 2003/4, when typewriters were your today’s computers and international news was transcribed by listening to BBC Radio.
“I will remember FMK as one of the sports journalism pioneers with the ethics that came with having grown up in that era,” said Ssali, also a former topflight footballer and basketball player.
“He was a diligent worker, great time keeper, passionate, very particular with facts, records and accuracy in general, as well as the rich history and heritage of sport.”
Musisi, however, credits his early rise locally to Bidandi Ssali, Freddie Ssekabembe, Fred Ssekitto and Paul Waibale Snr.
Deadline or you’re dead
Margaret Vuchiri, the editor Daily Monitor, emphasized Musisi’s time discipline. “FMK is a stickler for deadlines,” she said, “He takes the dreaded newsroom mantra, deadlines or you are dead, quite seriously - even Ogon beat his deadlines.”
Chris Ogon is this newspaper’s lead cartoonist. “Musisi was this close to killing me for not adhering to the deadline,” said Ogon, “FMK big size. Never seen a person dedicated to his work like him.”
Vuchiri added: “He takes pride in punctuality. I don’t know anyone who beat him to arrival time in office. There’s a joke that if he finds you in office, he doesn’t take it lightly.
“I have immense respect for him as a journalist, a father figure in the newsroom, a football legend in his own right and a passionate Liverpool fan who respects other clubs.”
Score Editor Innocent Ndawula refers to Musisi as “a classy veteran, passionate journalist with a no holds-barred approach and an advocate for all-round sport journalism rather than the modern trend of soccer-mad wannabe junkies.”
His other colleague, Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo, says “Fred is relentless with unwavering passion for journalism, and challenged us to do better.
“He was always first in office and always demands so much from those he works with. In addition, with every story he would ask; so what?
“You had to retell the story or rewrite it to please his taste. Glad to have worked with him all these years and he really loved my work.”
Musisi, who has represented Uganda in the Fifa Ballon dor vote since 2010, has covered a myriad of sporting events over the years, but with motorsport occupying most of his later years.
“Frederick is an amazing writer, sticks to facts and says it as it is, something many writers lack,” said celebrated rider and driver Arthur Blick Junior.
“The motorsports fraternity will miss him,” added Uganda’s most successful motocross rider, “I have literally seen him at all motorsports events in the last two decades.” His enduring legacy lives on.
Musisi at a glance
Age. Born to Yosiya and Gertrude Kiyingi of Lusaze, a Kampala suburb, in March 1959 (61 years)
School. Went to Budo Junior and Kololo SS.
On the pitch. Played for four clubs; Coffee, Nytil, UCB and KCC.
Trophies in football. At club level, he won three league titles (1979, 1983 & 1985) and two Uganda Cups (1982 & 1984).
Journalism. Joined journalism in 1982 and worked with Soccer World, Ngoma and Daily Monitor.
On radio. Co-hosts a sports programme every Friday on CBS FM
Scaling ranks. Been editor of Ennyanda, a sports weekly, and acting sports editor at Daily Monitor until his retirement.
Membership. Member of Uspa and AIPS.
Milestones. Covered Fifa World Cup (2010), Confederations Cup (2009), Nations Cups (1996, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2019).
Family. Married to Joanita and the couple has four children