NTV news anchor and show presenter Faridah Nakazibwe. PHOTO/FILE 

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I have no time for negative energy, says NTV’s Faridah Nakazibwe

What you need to know:

  • Phenomenal. Faridah Nakazibwe has been a journalist for 17 years. She anchors news and hosts a show on NTV. In an exclusive interview, she talks about career, family, love and fashion.

Is media an industry you wanted to join when you were growing up? 
I was into fashion, art and design. My father wanted me to be a teacher, but told him that was not the profession I wanted. He gave me an opportunity to choose what I wanted and I chose journalism.

When I finished my degree at Islamic University in Uganda, I got an internship opportunity at UBC when it was still UTV. I also spent a month working as a waitress and receptionist at one of the big hotels in Masaka. My mother requested the then minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Gerald Sendawula, who was a friend to my late father, to find me a slot in a media house. He contacted Gordon Wavamunno who gave me a chance to work at WBS TV. I was asked what I wanted to do and I told them news anchoring. With limited knowledge and skills, I did a screen test and failed. I was told my voice was not good for broadcasting and I was given an opportunity to do reporting, after which I was tasked to be a producer of a traffic show called On The Road to give traffic updates and how to use the road. Two years at WBS, Nalongo Rose Bukilwa and Williams Kato, who were editors then, shaped my career. I later applied to do reporting and editing.

How then did you end up as a news anchor yet you were told your voice was not good enough?
At NTV, the panel asked me if I could anchor news and I answered in affirmative. They gave me a script, which I read both in Luganda and English. NTV trained us for three months and when the contract came, I was given an anchoring job. We were, however, trained as visionairs- people with the ability to see the big picture and accept the concept and not just anchors. We were all round.

Seventeen years in this industry. What lessons have you learnt?
As frontliners and the fourth estate, our payment is demoralising and that is a lesson that journalism is more of a service than a money-making venture. We have seen stories of journalists complaining of not being paid yet their contribution is enormous. Journalists risk their lives in the field, yet they have to ensure they are safe and also get avenues of earning, as well as use their platforms to build their personal brands.

There are rumours that you were sourced by other media houses that promised better pay. Why did you stay at NTV?
It was true, but NBS’s sourcing was not formal. I met the owner at an event and he hinted on it. BBS TV approached me when they had opened up. They wanted already experienced people to work for them. I almost got tempted after they offered triple what I was getting at NTV. But all these opportunities came at a time when I was under attack in the media. But to answer your question, I consider so many factors before making a decision.

The paycheck was good. What more did you want to consider?
NTV is a media house with proper structures. It is this TV station that made me a big brand. BBS was a new entity then and I did not know much about it. There was a possibility that people who were against me would easily influence that station. NTV chose to protect me amid the drama me and I would not trade that for money.

What has been the highlight of your career?
The day I spread my wings beyond news to host the Mwasuze Mutya programme. That has been life-changing. I needed something to connect me directly to people. You touch lives by bringing personal experiences for others to learn and give chance to people to open up.  

Did you sit an interview to host this show?
I wrote a proposal and submitted it to my bosses and three years later, the programme went on air.  

Among the interviews you have conducted, which one stands out?
Surprisingly, it is not the high-profile people I have interviewed, but the touching stories of local people. There is a young woman, who got married in Rakai District, at a tender age, and her in-laws were practising witchcraft. She got stuck there and could not find her way back. She talked about sleeping in the same house with snakes and how she slept in the forest for two months. 

Are there moments when you have regretted doing this kind of job?
When I was working at WBS, I had not yet perfected the skill of voicing in Luganda. My boss then, Williams Kato gave me a script and I delayed and he shouted at me. I cried but I soldiered on. Things like people backbiting me, no longer move me.

What tips would you give a budding journalist on how to conduct a successful interview?
Give your source enough time to express themselves. Let them make their points and those points will act as leads to other questions. Never be biased with a source and always do your research on people before interviewing them. 

How can women thrive in business and career even as single mothers?
The best thing as a mother is to be there for your children. But we find ourselves in situations where we spend little time with them because of our careers. Being available has become hard for parents lately. But always spare some time for them, visit them at school, and go for their functions, help them with academic work and be their friend. 

If you had power and resources, what changes would you bring in the media industry?
I would ensure that the new crop of journalists know exactly why they are joining this industry. Is it for money? How are you going to make that money? If it is to serve, who are you serving? Besides the mainstream media, what other avenues can one use to penetrate the industry and make an impact on society? How can you use social media to your advantage? I would encourage people to be the best and stand out.

What legacy do you want to leave?
I want to be remembered as a mother who inspired others on how to raise their children. I also want to be remembered as a mother who had so many children even without birthing them biologically. I have mothered many children including my age mates and I have given them love, care and support.

As a TV personality, your life is subject to public scrutiny. How do you deal with this?
I deliberately decided to ignore negative energy. If you pay attention to every bad comment, it depresses you and gives more people a chance to keep attacking you.  

Women face sexual harassment from school, places of work and from people who are supposed to protect them. How can women deal with this challenge?
The leading causes of all this is poverty, lack of empowerment and unemployment. If only we can teach women to fight for themselves, work hard and be innovative, this will be history. 

How many phone calls or emails do you receive a day?
I receive a lot of phone calls but decided that on most social media platforms, I do not include my number. Someone manages them.

If you are not in the studio anchoring news or presenting a show, what else do you do?
I stay indoors. That is why you will not find me everywhere. Most of my appointments are during the week and on weekends, I rarely go out.

Faridah Nakazibwe and her children. PHOTO/COURTESY

Being a homebody, which house chore do you do with ease?
I cook, clean my house and dig whenever I go to the village. Of course, I have a househelp, but I also help with the chores when I have time. 

What skills does a journo need today to excel in a highly competitive media industry?
Be aggressive because some people will not give you information willingly. You must find creative ways to scoop information out of them and when you get it, be careful with whom you share it. Be attentive and have your ears on the ground, have your contacts and keep in touch with them.

We see you in different outfits daily, who meets your wardrobe expenses?
We are blessed that NTV caters for our wardrobe and make-up and that reduces the burden because it would be too costly and stressful meeting these expenses as an individual. But people are looking at me as an influencer, so everyone wants to dress me up. I do not remember the last time I bought clothes when going on air.

What is your relationship with artiste Bruno K?
Initially, I treated Bruno K as my son. He eventually became a very close friend of mine. I did not know him before the romours of me dating him started and I do not know how it even started. But what you should know is that it is one of those rumours that actually broke me down.

How did this rumor start in the first place?
I have a friend who brings me clothes and one time he calls and says he has some nice clothes and so, he brought them to the office. He told me people on social media were saying I was dating Bruno K and I asked him who that was, because I did not know him. He told me he was the one who sang Ebisanyi and One For the Road. I told him I know Kabuye Ssemboga’s version and he told me he had done the remix. I did not pay much attention to it and I thought that rumour would pass. It did not, so I went on YouTube and saw his videos. I told my producer that I wanted to host him. People exaggerated in the comment section and said I could hardly look him in the eye. I asked him if he has had a concert and he said no. But he mentioned that if he ever does one, he would name it Farida. I asked him if he has a song titled Farida and he said he was going to work on it. The next day, he sent me the song. We were all going through heartbreaks and we became friends. He has performed at my children’s party and also taught them how to sing.

Did you feature in his video?
Yes. He asked me to at least show up during the shoot. I was coming from my daughter’s visitation day that very day and I decided to I drop by. The director told me to at least give them one shot and I accepted.

What happened to your marriage with hubby Ssali? Are you divorced?
It is three years now since that marriage ended. It was toxic and I decided to call it quits. I love a lot and hate in equal measure.

So is Farida single?
I am seeing someone.

Did your previous relationship teach you anything? 
One of the things I learnt, especially in my past relationships, is to avoid flaunting our partners on social media. People come into our lives with their own agendas, but because you are in love, you are blinded. We tend to assume the feelings are mutual and post every small detail about our partners, which haunts us in future.

What qualities should your dream man have?
He should give me respect, respect what I do, be God-fearing, and have boundaries, among other things.

If you were told to choose between anchoring news and Mwassuze Mutya, what would you go for?
I would choose Mwassuze Mutya because it is impactful. News is everywhere.

Which person would you want to host?
The Nabagereka of Buganda, Sylvia Nagginda. I admire her a lot. I would want to sit down with her and drink from her cup of wisdom. Her story is one that needs to be told. Unfortunately, protocol does not allow her. I also want to interview Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba,  the president’s daughters and President Museveni.

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