The last day of October, tomorrow, will come on a momentous note for me. For one, it’s been 11 years since I started to blog. There’s memories in there. So many.
In 2005, I was new at Daily Monitor having been recruited from The Sunrise. My friend Moses Serugo had called me up recently while I sat at this big ol’ computer editing the week’s magazine. He had been tossing out the theme in recent times then that generally went like, “oh, you need to move to a bigger newspaper.”
Moses asked if I wanted to get a foot in the door by going to The Monitor where there was a new project starting. It was a purely marketing project that many real journos disagreed with: get questions and answers into the paper and watch the parents stampede to buy the paper in hopes they’ll help their students do well in their final UNEB exams.
It sounded easy: all I had to do was go in there, contact teachers and get them to commit to supply questions and answers every week for the candidates.
It would of course involve a little bit of fact checking on my part and editing for grammar and the newspaper house style, but that was easy. I wasn’t expected to remember all about centrifugal force. Plus the teachers were thorough, especially since they realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to attract coaching shillings.
It was not how I would have wanted to join the paper, you know, doing something I didn’t really believe should be done. Only a few months prior, I had refused to join The Red Pepper, a new outfit that seemed to specialize in all things risque.
Del Wilbert Omwony, who’d also worked at The Sunrise, had made the jump to the new paper and he said the pay was more than good, and that I should also jump. But I refused to go even when the pay at The Sunrise was sketchy.
Leaving the Sunrise was bitter-sweet for me. I had joined the paper two years prior to September 2005 like a joke. My friend, E. Senkwale and I walked into the tiny office of the paper at the National Theatre and somehow, in a weird turn of events, I got a job. It went something like a blur: Hadijah Nakitende was sitting at that huge computer laying pages and throwing wise cracks as she still does. She’d worked with E’s mom together with the major shareholder of The Sunrise at the defunct Uganda Airlines.
When Hadijah was told I was a writer (wrote in grade school, wrote for the school paper in high school, edited it, wrote a bit for The New Vision while at college), she said, well come on and join us. And we’ll pay you for your trouble.
That was like really cool. I had just dropped out of uni and I was feeling rotten. Here was a bunch of people who thought I was good for something. Of course I was excited.
Anyway, two years of working here and contributing to building one of the more interesting newspaper magazines on the Ugandan market, I guess I was ready to move on.
In October of 2005, I discovered blogging. That season, the campaigns for the 2006 elections were on and Besigye was being hunted everyday. Kampala was in the brink. And there was a lot to write about, gripe about.
A whole new world was opened up for me. I think it was David Tumusiime who introduced me to it. He and I were Sunrise vets and we’d shared many a stroll on those amazing Kampala roads to cut the cost of taking taxis to our different homes. Many deep conversations those walks wrought.
My blogging family had superstars like Nyana Kakoma, Angela Rwabose nee Kintu, Denis Muhumuza, Shifa Mwesigye, Dorene Namanya, Phoebe Mutetsi, Nathan Magoola, Solomon Benge, Michael Akiyo, Ernest Bazanye, Rev Kalibwani, Chantal Ochola, Rachel Mugarura, and Collin Asiimwe.
There were many others , trust me.
It was an eclectic group with diverse interests and daily revelations that sometimes led all of us on wild tangents. Sometimes the posts were deep and they led to soul searching. Other times, many times, they were just irreverent.
We wrote about Kampala, about hair, bitched about crooked politicians and silly musicians, hit on each other…Sometimes we saw real pairings with some of the bloggers getting married.
Life got in the way for many. I admit, life got in the way for me. I stopped seeing writing as fun, a way to just bask in the awesome of all these individuals. So I stopped.
Still, it is amazing looking back. Eleven years of great writing from so many people. Eleven years!
To all the great artists of the written word: thanks for the memories. October is ending but it’s given me this opportunity to look back and dream.