Thursday, November 30, 2006
Blogging and Media in Africa
I was privileged to be among the team of Mass Communication students to participate in tele-conferencing at the American Embassy, Kampala.

The tele-conferencing that began at 6:00pm East African time, had participants from Makerere University (MUK) and Islamic University (IU)with the American colleagues from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC).

The theme for our discussion was “Blogging and Media in Africa”. Blogging being new to Africa, it propelled more questions on how ethical and objectives blogs can be.

Kiiza Benjamin, a participant in the discussion articulates, “Blogs can be abused, for instance by the information-spinners or propagandists and most cases it raise more questions on clarity.”

Fears for blog-sphere to wipe-out journalism took center of the discussion for some good minutes but later Abdullahi Boru from Makerere University commented that, “Blog-o- phobia has to be substituted by blog-o-mania. Journalist will not run away from the new technology instead they should do their part professionally”.

Hard material like Academics and news are blogged not forgetting sensational or un-researched material. Journalism students or journalist too have to blog, but what is the impact of their blogging?

Away from blogging to the media in Africa, Namigadde Olivia tabled the tilted state of the media in Africa. Clarity and accuracy is almost becoming a forgotten characteristic of journalism as tabloids [tabloidism] gains ground in Uganda in particular. Apart from the tabloids in Uganda market like 'Red Pepper', 'Black Mamba', 'kamunye' just to mention a few, the main stream newspapers have adopted tabloidism for instance, 'Bukedde'.

Press freedom to the SIUC counterparts was an easy thing to talk about and how it is practiced in America. For Africa the experience is reverse or uncertain as Archie Luyimbazi, Broadcasting Lecturer in Makerere University.

In the discussion, a blames from one of Islamic university student, was to SIUC team, “Why does CNN, AP, Reuters, VOA and many others International news agencies get negative news from Africa, yet we have positive things that are news worthy that are not covered?”

“But what is in your newspapers today (29th, wed, 2006), I am in the ‘New Vision’ Newspaper website and the headlines are Saleh Grilled on FDC Funds, Missing Budo boy in Nairobi, HIV increase worries M7, UN, is that positive news?”, William Recktenwald.

The debate became more academic where values of news like prominence, controversy, impact and oddity were pushed to be the source of bad news. As it is said “if it bleeds it leads and negative news is best news”. The issue of bad news taking the lead went unresolved.

The pre-recorded warning for people to leave the embassy by 7:00pm cut short our interaction, but, well it was good discussion and most issues were tackled.
posted by ombui at 5:16 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
Monday, November 06, 2006
What makes Kenya and Uganda similar?
Kenya and Uganda being on the same geographical region full of almost same geographical features like the Rift valley and Equator, the sharing of Lake Victoria and not forgetting some social elements like having same tribes that are found along the border between the two countries like the Teso and the Sebei (Sabaot).

From history we learn that, Kenya and Uganda were all colonized by the British and the two nations got the independence at almost the same time. Uganda became independent in 1962 and Kenya became independent in 1963.

Some of the colonial characteristics that take center in the management of governments today is "North-south divide" which is well known in Uganda. The "North-South divide" gave the south communities roles of agriculture and the north communities to serve as security work force. This divide affected relationships and development of the communities from the two regions up to date. He who became the president concetrated developing the region he comes from.

In Kenya, the story is not different, “North- South divide” has gradually grown roots. A good example is that before and after independence in Kenya, the Northern people in the North Eastern province, North of the Rift Valley and North of Eastern Province communities have never developed. Basic infrastructures like Hospitals, Schools and Roads have never been developed to a fair state. The issue of security to the communities has not been given attention.

The slight difference is that the Kenyan Northern communities suffer from food insecurity. Lack of rain being a major cause, has resulted to less agricultural activities meaning deaths of citizens and livestock continues. In Uganda, food insecurity in the North has been blamed too much on the war by the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) that has lasted 20 years. Fear has made the people in the North of the country not to engage themselves on the cultivating their lands.

With a capitalist mentality, privatization has robbed the nation off its assets although some of them were idle. Though Uganda is too fast to privatize all the government corporations to the investors, Kenya is picking up the pace and soon Kenya might be at the same level with Uganda.

Politically, Kenya embraced multiparty politics in early 1990’s to push a side the one party politics since independence. Uganda also has not been left behind with the multi party politics. In 2006, Uganda had it first election in the multiparty system after its collapse in Obote 2 regime. Currently, Kenya is headed by a coalition government, NARC- National Alliance Rainbow Coalition and Uganda is borrowing a leaf of coalition government as a way of defeating NRM- National Alliance Movement, but as we speak today, the opposition desire to initiate a coalition did failed.

Corruption levels have soared in both countries. According to Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of 2006 Uganda is positioned 110 and Kenya is 144. The report states that Kenya misappropriation of funds of public funds was enabled through fraudulent contracts, namely the Anglo-leasing scandal. Shockingly, bribery costs Kenyans about US $ 1billion each year, yet more than half live on less that US $ 2 per day. Uganda also has sunk into the pit of misuse of Global Fund that was to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria leading to suspension of five grants worth 367 million US dollars to Uganda.

The judicial structures in the two countries have tried to see that the perpetrators involved in swindling the funds are brought to book. In Kenya, Kenya Anti- Corruption Commission (KACC) is combat corruption culprits as Inspector General of Government (IGG) does the same in Uganda.

Few weeks events in the Kenya and Uganda have tended to happed simultaneously. Lately October, Kenya University dons went on strike their grievance being “we want pay increase”. This resulted to indefinite closure of the public universities. Here we are and the lecturers in Makerere University are on strike also wanting pay hike. This comes just few days after the lecturers in Kyambogo University did strike also wanting their salaries to be revised upwards.

Last week, front-pages of the Newspapers in the two countries were all similar. In Uganda the PLE, UCE and UACE exams penetrated the black market. The poor schools or parents ended up unlucky to get some ‘leak’ for their candidates or children. The government security agencies like ISO, VCCU, CMI, SIB, and ESO promised to get the culprits as pressure grows that the UNEB boss Mathew Bukenya to be fired. In Kenya, the KCSE exam leakage was more pronounced in the coast province.

The above similarities do not mean that there are no differences. To begin with, our education systems are different. The Uganda’s education system is 7-4-2-3 which reminds Kenyans of the abandoned system before the adoption of the 8-4-4 system. The fact is that the two systems in both countries also have failed to consume the big number of students who qualify at each level.

Lastly, our cultures are different and this makes the two countries enjoy the uniqueness of the divergent cultures and practices. For example, Ugandans has the kingship or Kingdoms amongst the Baganda, Toro, Japadhola, Banyoro which still exist though they are ceremonial, they hold the heritage amongst the Ugandans. In Kenya, cultural practices like circumcision make most of the Kenyan communities very particular. The communities that circumcise men on include the Kalenjin, Maasai, Somalis, Luhya, Kisii and many others.

Remember that the differences and similarities are very important and let us concentrate on what will bring Kenya and Uganda together to achieve our goals.

*Pictures from,,,
posted by ombui at 8:07 AM | Permalink | 5 comments
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Bat fights for life
A bat was found fighting for its life in near University Hall on Saturday afternoon at around 2pm.

The Vesper bat (Lasiurus ega species)that fell from a tree looked unconcious after knocking the floor with its head and blood spilt.

"Ohh, baambi, it is bleeding and it seems it is feeling painful to breath, ohhh", says Ruth Namusoga a Computer Science student 3rd year.

According to the residents of the Hall, they say that the bats are a problem to them because they stink and they are a nuisance.

No reports reached the Veterinary Department of Makerere University for examination of the bat.

*Picture by Tumusiime Jacqlynnne, 28th October,2006.
posted by ombui at 12:02 AM | Permalink | 3 comments