Article by Ogova Ondego Published March 6, 2008 Bamuturaki Musinguzi, r, received his prize from Aida Opoku-Mensah, director of ICTs and Science and Technology Division, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), in Kuala Lumpur.
His entry was “Taking ICT to rural communities” ArtMatters.Info writer, Bamuturaki Musinguzi, has won two international awards in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Nairobi, Kenya. OGOVA ONDEGO writes. Musinguzi, who says he developed his interest in journalism “after working as a handy boy with Soccer World, a local football magazine in 1989”, received the 2007 African Information Society Initiative (AISI), Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) Media Award for Print during the 3rd Global Knowledge Conference (December 11-13, 2007) held in the Malaysian capital. “The AISI Media Awards”, says Opoku-Mensah, director of ICTs and Science and Technology Division at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, “were introduced in 2003 to encourage more informed coverage of the information society and ICT for development issues in Africa as part of ECA’s Information Society Outreach and Communication Programme.
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The Awards are aimed at individual journalists and media institutions based in Africa that are “promoting journalism which contributes to a better understanding of the information society in Africa. The Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP), the International Development Research Center (IDRC), and the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), currently support the programme.” Musinguzi’s entry, “Taking ICT to rural communities”, won the First Prize and was, accordingly, invited to Kuala Lumpur to collect his well deserved prize with all expenses paid for hm. A year after completing his Advanced Level studies in 1993, Musinguzi joined a Kampala weekly newspaper, The Tribune, as a Cub Reporter. But rather than sit back and forget about education, Musinguzi pursued diploma studies in journalism from the Uganda Management Institute (UMI) through a Konrad Adenauer Foundation scholarship. “Since July 1997, I have been a freelance writer with various local and international newspapers and magazines including The New Vision and Daily Monitor newspapers of Uganda, the New African magazine of the UK, Global Knowledge magazine of the Norwegian Center for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU) and The Other Voice of the Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA),” Musinguzi says.
Musinguzi has also worked with the broadcast media such as Voice of Tooro FM and Bunyoro Broadcasting Services FM. He also works as a Special Correspondent with The EastAfrican weekly of Kenya besides writing for ArtMatters.Info from Kampala. “It is challenging to be a journalist in a society like Uganda where there is no official political opposition and the Press is seen by the government as an enemy. Overtime I have gained more courage and confidence to be a critical yet non-antagonistic journalist,” Musinguzi says. Another challenge facing journalists in Uganda is low pay. Musinguzi says this issue of low pay challenge makes journalism less attractive. “However, I have overcome this challenge by focusing more on what the role of a journalist is in society, rather than on how much I can get out of journalism,” the philosophical Musinguzi says. Rather than be discouraged, Musinguzi is pursuing some advanced studies in journalism as, he says, “the level of professionalism is said to be dropping by media observers and this has its own far-reaching implications for press freedom.” And his hard work, if looked at from the many professional awards he has been nominated for or won, has not gone unnoticed. His entry in the Business & Economics Category of the CNN/MultiChoice African Journalist 2006, for instance, was Highly Commended (Runners-Up). He was also declared Runners-Up in The Human Rights & Rule of Law Category of the Uganda Investigative Journalism Awards 2006 organised by Makerere University and Eastern Africa Media Institute. In the same year, his two articles were short-listed in the Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism.
A year earlier, Musinguzi had been declared the ICT Journalist of the Year in the Golden Pen Journalism Awards 2005, organised by Bulleye Creative in conjunction with the National Institute of Journalists in Uganda. But perhaps his biggest win has been the African Information Society Initiative (AISI) : Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) Media Award for Print that has come with US$3000 that Musinguzi says he is investing in his education. And 2007 appeared to be a particularly good year for Musinguzi whose other article, emerged first in Uganda and was awarded KSh50000 (US$770) by the African Population and Health Research Center’s Sexuality Journalism Award. “The 2007 APHRC Sexuality Journalism award was sponsored by the Ford Foundation to recognize the commitment and contribution made by print media journalists to the coverage of sexuality issues in the region.” “Although sexuality issues in Africa are often under-prioritized and, therefore, superficially investigated by the mainstream media,” notes Chi-Chi Undie of the Education and Sexuality Programe of the Nairobi-based African Population and Health Research Centre, “your work in 2007 greatly contributed to fostering informed coverage of sexuality issues in the Ugandan print media.” In addition to the cash award, Musinguzi also received a certificate of recognition. So who says journalism does not pay? Just ask Musinguzi who has written for ArtMatters.Info since September 2005.