What you need to know:
- Death is painful, but the rattle is more pronounced when it occurs so suddenly to a person as close as our staffer and friend.
On March 25, 2023, our staffer and friend met an unexpected death in a car crash on Kampala-Entebbe expressway. The news of the fatal accident struck us like a thunderbolt in clear dry skies.
At 34, Edward Muhumuza, a reporter at Nation Media Group-Uganda (NMG-U), was just beginning to reap from a budding journalism career.
Like other mid-career professionals, he held lofty ideas, could be steely resolved and was ambitious about changing society, country and the world.
His was a death mourners and relations called “before his time”.
It was easy for a perceptive person who came into contact to notice that Muhumuza was clear-headed about what he wanted in life and how to go about getting it.
Born in Kyegegwa District in July 1988, he grappled with early childhood upsets and vulnerabilities of life to power through Wekomiire and Mubende Army secondary schools onwards to career-building.
ALSO READ: My last 72 hours with NTV’s Edward Muhumuza
He had developed a passion for journalism from an early age, leading him to pursue a diploma in Journalism at United Media Consultants and Trainers (UMCAT) School where he graduated in 2013.
Passionate about the profession, he worked his way through Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), Nile Broadcasting Services (NBS), and Vision Group’s Urban Television stations before finding NTV-Uganda, the home for his talent.
It is here that he last year snapped up the coveted Land and Property Rights award at the Uganda National Journalism Awards held by African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME).
However, to understand what made Muhumuza the award-winning journalist, it is important to understand the person he was.
He was a man of integrity who demanded the best out of himself and all those he worked with. He was honest, and sometimes quite blunt, almost to a fault but those who knew him understood that all he said came from a heart of love and wanting to make things better.
His dictum was doing either something of quality, or nothing, and insisted on quality accomplishments the right way and for right reasons. As a reporter, when he felt the story or the angle his editors wanted him to pursue was not right, he would not hesitate to tell the editor so.
He was the sort of person that was not afraid to put the leaders on the spot by asking tough and often uncomfortable questions that others rather avoided.
Because Muhumuza was the sort of person who did not want to be bound by official structures, he always kept pushing the boundaries of what opportunities he could take advantage of to become a better journalist.
We had hired Muhumuza at Nation Television (NTV) Uganda, a subsidiary of NMG-U, as an English language Reporter. But he was a man fluent in several local languages; Runyankore/Rukiga, Rutooro and Kinyarwanda, although he gravitated more towards Luganda, which was not his mother tongue.
Mr Williams Kato, the assignments editor and chief Luganda news producer at NTV-U, quickly became aware of Muhumuza’s Luganda fluency and interested him to try out filing stories for the Luganda bulletins.
Like a fish to water, Muhumuza embraced the opportunity and before long he had become one of the few truly dual-language reporters at NTV-U.
As a reporter, he was meticulous with research because he never wanted the facts in his reporting to be questioned. He went to great lengths to make sure what he produced was something he could proudly defend.
A devout member of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Kampala Central Church, where he was the director of communications, Muhumuza deployed his professional skills to the service of his church.
In fact, on the day of his tragic end on Saturday, one of the many things he had to do was overseeing the launch of an SDA TV channel that he had been instrumental in bringing to fruition.
Interestingly, Muhumuza was born into a Muslim family, but converted to Christianity in his late teens. When asked why he chose the Adventist denomination he would say he looked around, studied the doctrines of the different Christian denominations and the Adventists were the closest to what he felt catered to his spiritual needs and their worldview mirrored his own.
Though not born into the Adventist Church, once accepted, Muhumuza took to it with a passion and zeal that many professed life-long Christians couldn’t match.
He was never shy about defending his beliefs even when they went contrary to what the generally accepted stance was on whatever topic.
He was unequivocal about not working on Sabbath. Sometimes because the media business, especially TV, is a 24-hour, seven-day a week operation in a dynamic and rapidly evolving news industry, a staff can be summoned to work at any time.
But not Muhumuza, and on Sabbath, a stance that appeared to border on insubordination.
However, Muhumuza was hard-working, delivered with quality and gave 300 percent on the other 6 days of the week when he was available to work, which freed him to dedicate Saturday to church.
Such was his ethic that that the day before he passed away, he had just wound up a tour of the Albertine Region on an assignment that immersed him into the specialised oil and gas reporting beat. Put another way, he was super-charging his skills to report intelligibly about Uganda’s oil production journey.
As soon as he returned to Kampala on Friday night, Muhumuza immediately embarked on finishing a coursework for the journalism course that he was pursuing at Nkumba University.
“I was in the newsroom, Edward entered and jokingly asked, ‘but Sandra when will you start a family when you are here this late’? It’s midnight, go home! I asked him the same and he said, ‘well, I am from upcountry',” workmate Sandra Twinoburyo tweeted.
She added: “We laughed about it for a while and carried on with work. I later left [the newsroom], leaving him behind … [then] woke up to the news of [Muhumuza’s] passing [on].”
Death is painful, but the rattle is more pronounced when it occurs so suddenly to a person as close as our staffer and friend.
On the fateful day, workaholic Muhumuza was on his way to Nkumba University to submit coursework and return to Kampala to co-chaperon the launch of SDA Church’s Hope Television, which went on air as its co-architect by fate transitioned up to the creator in heaven.
As in the biblical Book of 2 Timothy 4:7, Muhumuza fought a good fight, finished his race and kept the faith. As he joins the embrace of the Almighty and the singing choir of the angels, Muhumuza, the SDA choir member on earth, will headline with joy in the glory of the risen.
The author is the Head of News, Nation Media Group-Uganda (NMG-U) | [email protected]