INSPIRATION WITH SEKKA BAGENDA
Now today I grabbed the pen with a lot of anger. If you are a journalist, listen. There is something that I have been warning you against doing for almost a decade now. Stop accepting brown envelopes from politicians. If you are used by the man who is trying to get into power, this person will never respect you if they come to power.
President Museveni knows how to handle you. Why? It is journalists, who mostly used pens, and paper, in the seventies and eighties that he stepped on to get to power. They just loved their country. You remember what was happening then.
Bold newspaper proprietors during the brutal regimes like Kintu Musoke and Bidandi Sali can talk more about this. These people are still alive. Look for them. They are approachable and can talk. The cells in Luzira or Kigo would today be full of journalists but this man in power today has surrounded himself with people who have told him about all the strengths and the weaknesses of journalists in Uganda.
I, but silently, follow what the journalists of today, in Uganda, do. I know a newspaper in this country that writes to only please one person. Now this is not journalism. Don’t work for people. Use your head because, you own it. If you cannot today say this government is full of corrupt officials and then tomorrow say Museveni has built roads, please, try singing. Leave journalism.
Some of you have the courage to say Museveni has spent thirty years in power, but you cannot look around to know who really can succeed him. When I am with you, you say Bobi Wine is not ready to lead this county. Because money went to your heads, you are ever running headlines in shouting colours saying Bobi Wine is going to unseat Museveni. Young man doing this, you are going to fail to build yourself a house from this profitable sector journalism.
Practicing journalism in Uganda has become a crime in this country. It is not my job to keep Museveni in power. I am not paid to advise him. I am not responsible for giving opposition men clues on how this Museveni can go. My only concern is my country. Go into the dictionary that you trust and look up the meaning of the world journalism. Then you will know why I possess a right to speak on your behalf. You have become so cheap that you can hide truth under a blanket and honey your words to make someone happy.
You elect your leaders and it is good, but are they doing what they are supposed to do. Before you hold rallies to fight for the common man in the street who is being evicted from places you don’t know who owns them, you should settle down and solve your problems. Journalists are not well paid. Journalists’ rights are violated in this country. So many journalists are poor. Journalists are undermined by rich men and politicians in this country.
Journalists are exploited by their bosses. You are fearful. All these are problems, but are you talking about them? Why should we continue to respect journalists of the seventies and the eighties and the early nineties? These people spoke their minds without fear.
They were building this country. In fact though they were working not for money only, almost all these people owned beautiful families. They bought land in Kampala here. No one of these men retired without honour or influence. Bidandi Sali wrote during those years. Kintu Musoke was a journalist. Kirunda Kivejinja was an unafraid talker.
Ask yourself why president Museveni used these these men when he ascended to power.
I have followed hundreds of newspapers across the world. Very few of even today’s newspapers will ever manage to crawl to the brackets of the weekly topic paper that Bidandi Sali and the friends were part of. Some of these men are still alive. These men are comfortably resting in their homes that they sweated to get. No one has ever said Bidandi Sali has ever stolen his money.
Kintu Musoke was not a corrupt man. Kirunda Kivenjinja is not corrupt. It is the reason why he is serving this country at an age like that. You might say I am just a wiseacre who has no right to talk about journalism. I started smelling paper when I was less than five years old. My father edited the people newspaper. He edited the weekly topic newspaper. He edited the greatest soccer magazine in Uganda ever, the soccer world magazine.
This man owned a newspaper and he was a close friend to the current president of this country and the men I mentioned above, running the weekly topic. I have a right to speak about journalism. My father was among the founders of USPA. He once headed it. My father once chaired UJA.
He championed journalism when dictators had got very determined to bury it more than five feet, down. Journalism is not a crime. All politicians should know.
Sekka Bagenda is a writer, An Inspirational Public Speaker and a sports scientist,
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