Free at last, thank God almighty, am free at last.

28 02 2014

i feel like Obama now

i feel like Obama now

When Martin Luther King Jr echoed those words during his maverick speech at the foot of the Washington monument, little did I know that I would repeat the same words some day in my life. Today I can proudly say free at last, thank God almighty, am free at last.

This morning as I wrapped up my show, I signed off with the popular Champion song by Moureen Nantume . Little did I know that taking a few minutes to listen to the lyrics of the song would provide an answer to a challenge that had configured my mind for over a week. It wasn’t a pay rise, no because I don’t see that coming in the near future.

Actually it was a decision to resign from my lecturing portfolio at Mutesa 1 Royal University (MRU), after a group of 3rd year continuing students decided that having me as their lecturer was detrimental to them graduating on time since their priorities were far different from academics. since my approach was strict, they would prefer another tutor. My resignation provided an ecstatic feeling, like dropping a 50-kilogram bag off my shoulders. I was born again and new.

I joined MRU in 2009 at the inception of a Diploma in Journalism Course. I was approached by one of my colleagues Dennis Sekiwu, who was a former member of Staff at Buganda Royal and had crossed to the new establishment. The class of about 18 students had me as their sole journalism lecturer taking on around 5 course units. This was no mean feat since during the same period 2009-2010, my employer CBS Radio, was off due to unclear reasons and excuses.

A year later, a degree course in Mass Communication was also started and this proved popular since word had gone around that am one of the lectures at the facility. In fact I came to learn later, that this had proved to be a wonderful bait used to lure some students into joining the course.

My induction into journalism was no mean task. Through a Postgraduate diploma and finally a Masters degree in mainstream Journalism and communication, I came to appreciate the profession especially trough strict adherence to deadline, research and reading widely. These coupled with a passion for the craft proved to be vital tenets in the practice of journalism. This explains why this particular course is weighed differently and cautiously for those who wish to join the profession at Makerere University, which is currently ranked 4th in Africa.

Since Makerere was the first University College, most universities today try to emulate some of the practices at the institution especially those in relation to admission and training. At MRU it was different. Students were admitted to pursue a degree in Mass communication if it was their course of choice. No scrutiny, no cut off points, no what. I had to struggle and suffer with a batch of youngster, some very passionate and positive, others mediocre and unmotivated in any way, where by even writing a full sentence in English, was a challenge. . They had dreams, some categorically stating that they wished to be like me. I was their perfect example, their Hero and mentor. I was privileged though it was certain that the objective of having good and compelling journalism would be a tough paper.

Now, emulating some body should be every body’s dream especially if that person is regarded with such esteem in society. During my maiden visit to Washington DC, my desire was to meet Will Smith. I liked his style, his charm and charisma and reading his autobiography made fall in love with him the more. He narrated how his dream was different from what his father wanted him to be and how, through hard work,reading the alchemist, he was able to make it to the top and even stayed there. This is what I wanted to be.

Since 1998 I have been in the business of Radio. With the likes of Neil Bariskkeli, Irene Ochwo and RS Elvis, I had joined an industry that called for intellect, humor and passion. Our radio shows were top drawer. I realized that it was not only about possessing talent, it was about being and sounding informed. I understood that reading was essential in the business, there was no short cut.

The effort to formalize my stay in the profession brought me closer to some interesting individuals who enlightened me more about the journalism craft. These included Dr Peter Mwesige, Professor Gorreti Nassanga, Dr Tayebwa, Mr. Juluis Muchunguzi, Mrs. Charlote Kaweesa Ntulume, and Mr. Kyazze Semwogerere among others. These were not selfish individuals; they shared their knowledge with a passion to our satisfaction. They were also very strict especially in relation to course works, tests and colloquial presentation. This training changed my mindset; it made me a better person and also gave me a chance to understand the media as a business. This also explains why I am still valuable in the business of radio. Therefore whosoever wants to be like me should be ready to go through I went through.

The Young lads at MRU had a far different perspective. They envisioned the journalism craft as a free and easy area, possible anytime and for every body. I tried to explain this through my numerous lectures and my strict adherence to deadlines, research and passion, an art that was grossly misinterpreted. I knew that the class had a few students who were interested in my lectures and the existence of another group whose interest was to have their degrees regardless of the set procedures of scrutiny. I had continuously emphasized the need to consider journalism as a serious profession and that their academic performance was crucial in the industry. I was wasting my time.

Until recently, I was labeled all sorts of names and brands, and when it was turn for exam results they new they were busted. They resorted to tainting and maligning my name to the amusement of some of my colleagues. They retorted that I am too strict which is not good for the crop of students at MRU, yet they wanted to be like me. I resigned. Period.

Reminiscing my time at MRU, gives me some level of satisfaction. At least a few students believed I was doing the right thing and such is the world. The bible scriptures talk about Noah, the man who built a gigantic boat and advised all human beings of different backgrounds and race to join him and save their lives. He was scorned and ridiculed. We all know how the story got to its logical conclusion.

I am happy for the time spent at the MRU facility, met a lot of friends and also had those who thought am too conceited. . On the whole, I am proud of a job well done and I know some students can testify to this. However, as one of my colleagues reiterated, I was definitely in the wrong place. Thank God almighty, am free at last.

Paul Coelho once quoted that Close some doors today,not because of pride,incapacity or arrogance but simply because they lead no where. It is time for me to move on because I have a dream. I will dream and dream on since I have come to learn that this world belongs to those who dare to dream. I know I will face some challenges but will definelty dedicate my achievements to that group of students who turned their inability and mediocrity into thinking that I do not measure to the task. One day , the world will judge us. I will keep dreaming and will dream on. The Goodlyfe music duo of Radio and Weasel say Ebirungi biri mumaaso. Keep Dreaming.

Abu Kawenja




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