I have more than five years’ working experience in the media industry in Uganda.
I wield a skilful pen as a writer and Iam presently one of the most proficient features writers at the "Features Desk" of the “New Vision”- Uganda’s leading premier Newspaper.
At the “New Vision”, I have given a good account of myself as a features writer and that has shown in my well thought out and deeply researched human interest stories, which have been published on topics such as maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies, climate change, the importance of cultural customs, rising sexual harassment in Uganda’s health sector; amongst other topics.
I have also written human interest stories for several nongovernmental organisations like IntraHealth and World Vision.
Several of my standout feature stories have been published in the "Big Read" section of the New Vision.
I also write for my personal blog called MasaabaChronicles.com.
Before I joined the New Vision, I had worked a broadcast Journalist with Signal FM radio in Mbale, Eastern Uganda.
My weekly show packed a punch and was very popular with the youth demographic in Eastern Uganda.
It was an informative and educative programme that essentially encouraged the youth to embrace initiatives that bring a value to their lives.
I am also into worthy causes.
Last year, I was awarded a medal and certificate for my participation in the Journey of Hope marathon walk; a walk whose set objective was to reverse the flow of child trafficking and unsafe migration from Karamoja-in the North-East of Uganda.
The 18 day- 467 walk began in Kampala-Uganda’s capital city and ended in Napak-Karamoja.
Iam also into marathon running for worthy causes.
For the last two years, I have excelled in the MTN Marathon.
I was the best runner from the New Vision and have gotten medals for my efforts.
My professional goal is to be able to open new horizons for myself as a multi media Journalist and to spread my wings as a writer; beyond my current environment.
I want to be able to bring my writing skills to bear with other platforms.
I believe writing further beyond my current environment will sharpen my creative writing skills for the better.
Playing basketball-Several medals and Certificates recieved for playing the game
With a sparkle in her eyes, 17 year old Rita Namutosi excitedly gyrated as high-pitched Gisu traditional drums known as the Indonyi sounded at Mutoto cultural grounds, a stone’s throw away, from Mbale town.
Her collegues from the Mushika clan in Bushika subcounty-Bududa sung an accompanying traditional up-tempo Lumasaba song in praise of a famed Mumasaba ancient warrior; whilst cheering her on with glee.
Namutosi and her friends were donned in antique Gisu feminine wear; which in many ways was reminiscent of the dress code in the years of old in Bugisu.
They had gotten up at the crack of dawn to prep for the Imbalu Parade and Festival, which was held recently [16th of December] at the Lukhobo grounds, just a stone’s throw away from Mbale town.
The Lukhobo is the center of operations for the Mbale district.
Namutosi and her collegues and several other people from the 26 clans of the Bamasaba and Bamasaba from Kenya [from Bungoma and Tranzoia counties] had convened at Mutoto cultural grounds; the previous day.
Mutoto is one of Bugisu’s foremost cultural heritage sites. It is, according to gisu traditional legend, the place where the first Imbalu ceremony was solemnized.
With dry banana fibre wrought skirts, banana fibre wrought head gear, strings of beads and garland of kamabombwe [a fast creeping stem] over their necks; Namutosi and her collegues were in many respects, reliving and retracing the ways of life of the ancient Bamasaba, who ostensibly used the aforementioned, bits and pieces, not only as dancing regalia but as daily costumes.
“I feel nostalgic,” Namutosi said
“It feels good to dress like our fore mothers. It particularly feels good to be a Mumasaba as we are going to showcase how rich and diverse our culture and customs are,” She animatedly said.
Namutosi and people from other clans [around 30 people each clan] had convened at Mutoto for the shishalulo or the pre-event, in the build up to the second annual Imbalu Parade and festival.
The previous night, the people who had gathered, consorted, danced and recited poetry, in front of a huge bone fire.
On the Festival’s D-day (Saturday, 14th), the mood at Mutoto was nothing short of upbeat, as the early morning sun rays cast beautiful shadows through the trees; neighboring the grass thatched traditional huts, where clan representatives and their teams of dancers, poets and traditional instrumentalists had spent the night.
On the horizon, palls of burning banana leaf smoke drifted in the air as Kadodi drummers warmed up their drums, in readiness for the parade and dances on the way to the Lukhobo.
Some few minutes past 8 a.m, Namutosi and the rest of the parade queens and other participants draped in traditional regalia like tsisumbati (traditional animal skin cloth) started queuing up; in single file; whilst bubbling with passion.
Ululation sounds reverberated around Mutoto as Kadodi drummers sounded their drums.
At length, the carnival like procession to the Lukhobo grounds began.
The parade queens, dancers, Banamwenya [singers], poets, drummers and instrumentalists took roughly an hour to get to the Lukhobo grounds.
There was excitement in town as Namutosi and her entourage and the rest of the team from Mutoto moved through Mbale town, whilst dancing, and singing.
The glamour of their traditional costumes, which many had only heard through legends, attracted stares and cheers.
They passed via the famed republic street; the famed clock tower, and Cathedral Avenue before they reached the Lukhobo grounds.
“Dance and song rituals are key in constructing the identity of the Bamasaba. The parade and festival which was the second of its kind was created to celebrate not only Imbalu, which is the 3rd biggest cultural tourism carnival world over, but also other aspects of Bamasaaba culture.
There is a whole array of dances, foods, attires and customs the Bamasaba people of Uganda and Kenya can showcase to the world through such events. The upshot of such events will be increased tourism and hence better standards of living for the Bamasaba,” Priscilla Mungoma, the head of Masaba Tourism Initiative says.
Masaba Tourism Initiative organised and ran the Parade and Festival.
At the Lukhobo grounds, expectant crowds numbering about 900 people had gathered; awaiting President Museveni, who was the chief quest, the dancers, the local poets, the Kadodi drummers and to see the decorated carts, one for the Umukuka and others representing the three sons of Masaba-the Patriarch of the Ugandan and Kenyan Bamasaba and for good measure; the 26 Bamasaba clans.
The tag end of the afternoon saw the start of the festivities, even though the President had not yet arrived from Gulu, where he was presiding over another cultural event.
Namutosi and her posse showcased their dance motifs to the delight of the crowds that had gathered.
For many spectators, it was a great sense of occasion; witnessing the parade queens’ strutting their stuff like Bamasaba women of old did.
Other participants showcased olden times elaborate Bamasaba head gears, Bamasaba traditional regalia for men and the Banamwenya [Musicians] sung numerous songs in praise of Bamasaba culture.
A particular crowd favourite was Musician Wanyonyi Kakai from Kenya.
Kakai thrilled the crowd to bits with his spontaneous adlibbed song- calling for unity among the Bamasaba. His dancers added to the excitement by expertly performing the Kamabeka traditional dance-a colorful and entertaining Gisu and Bukusu dance characterised by rhythmic and electric-like shoulder shaking and gyrations with arms stretched forward and with modest foot movement.
There were then clan performances in folk dance, food preparation, poetry and other activities practiced by the first Bamasaba.
At the end of the dance competitions, dancers from the Mungokho clan emerged victors.
A young stylish lady from the Musoba clan emerged victor in the contest to find the best dressed young lady in traditional Gisu feminine wear.
“The festival was an extraordinaire spectacle that showed our longing to trace and embrace our heritage as sons and daughters of Masaba, our Patriarch. It was, in many ways, a renaissance of Bugisu’s cultures,” Dr Stephen Mungoma, the Principal of Uganda Christian University Mbale, said.
President Museveni on his part lauded the idea to start a traditional cultural parade in Masaba land.
“Traditional African custom displays are very important. Rich customs passed onto us by our forefathers are some of the pathways we can use to overcome the problem of inferiority complex amongst our people,” Museveni noted.
“This event will foster unity among Bamasaba of all persuasions, wherever they are, either in the diaspora, in Kenya or here. It will stand in a good stead as we try to find proper ways of preserving our folkways, folklore and customs for posterity,” Francis Mashete, the Prime Minister of Inzu Ya Masaba, said.
At issue, despite having one of the best cultural customs in the world [Imbalu], Bugisu has faced long odds in trying to make the most of it in a tourism sense.
It is why Priscilla Mungoma and her Masaba Tourism Initiative are trying to break the mould starting with the Parade and Festival.
“We can make economic sense out of Imbalu and other customs in Masaba land but it will take some will power. The idea, Masaba Tourism Institute has is to have the customs of Masaba land packaged as tourism products so that the Bamasaba can actually benefit in an economic sense. This parade and festival serves that purpose and the plan is to make the event, way bigger in the coming years. The development of Mutoto cultural grounds which is long overdue is also something, all Bamasaba in Uganda and Kenya should push for as it will generate income for them,” Mungoma says.
The Bamasaba and the Babukusu
The Bamasaba and the Babukusu of Kenya are closely related.
They speak the same dialect and observe the same cultural practice (Imbalu or male circumcision); an elaborate affair that is marked with fanfare, songs and ancient rituals as Basinde (uninitiated boys) are transformed into Basani (young men).
There are around 4 and a half million Bamasaba in Kenya; compared to 2.5 in Uganda.
By Richard Wetaya
If there is one hustle; which has consistently proven difficult to push in Uganda, it is a rap career.
Through the years, numerous Ugandan rap artists have rhymed for pittance; barely making make ends.
If you are ever in any doubt about the validity of that; ask the Big Trill’s, Lyrical Proof’s, Burney M.C’s, Don M.C’s, Unique’s, etc of this world.
They may not unequivocally share with you their disillusionment, but needless to say, it is a rough and tumble jungle out there.
The law of the jungle applies in the Ugandan rap industry-only the strong hearted survive.
Looked at in the abstract, that status quo has made it hard for both prospective and established rappers, alike.
It is just harsh fact that there is no love lost between corporate entities and the rap industry.
The corporate bodies probably don’t foresee any long term gain in supporting the genre.
To that end, the prospect of sustaining a rap career in Uganda for many seems as unrealistic as nailing jelly to the wall.
This being Uganda however, you will still find cockeyed optimists, who refuse to look reality in its face. To them a new lease of life will one day dawn for hip hop. That is a long shot. It probably will happen when every emcee embraces the Gravity Omutujju format.
The likelihood of that happening is two to one, because lets it straight the guy is not hip hop.
Keko, Uganda’s premier femcee however demures noting that the future is hip hop.
“All these other genres will soon fade out and hip hop will take centre stage,” she states.
The apathy towards Hip hop in Uganda has, by and large, meant less return value for rappers who put in work in the recording booth and that has been manifested in the few and lukewarm radio spins, few endorsement deals, fewer crowds at shows and ofcourse the minimal album or single sales.
“It takes more than the conventional methods of marketing to push a rap career in Uganda. It is twice the hustle and the budget compared to other genres. This leaves most rappers discouraged and frustrated,” states Rugged made, a veteran hip hop emcee and a mainstay on the battle rap scene in Kampala.
Hip hop lacks distribution and visibility. For hip hop to emerge as a force in Uganda, it will take a new day, an industry shake up, increased love for artist’s poetry genius and most of all, capital to fund promotional material,” Keko explains.
Plenty of anecdotal references can be adduced to prove how hard it has been to push a rap career in Uganda.
Let’s get it cracking with GNL the Baboon Forest head honcho.
If GNL had a day job then, I reckon he quit because the lad had a real brush with fame and fortune at the threshold of his career.
GNL had it all, vocal charisma, an enchanting rhyme style, a remarkable gift of gab, nice creative lyrical poetics and a cockalorum flow to boot.
Those qualities got him quite a big fan base.
GNL essentially resurrected Luga-flow and gave it mainstream appeal.
That is ofcourse an indictment on the guys that bore the flag of Luga flow before him like Saba Saba, Sylvester and Abrams and Babaluku, to some degree.
Songs like Soda, Singa, Mr. Right, garnered GNL awards, radio spins and got him love from the corporate world.
At some point, it seemed as if GNL had literally opened new horizons for Ugandan emcees to pursue worthwhile rap careers. A career in rap for once seemed plausible.
At length, however, his career and shine seemed untenable.
He kissed his hard earned money good bye on many fronts.
The upshot was a drop in popularity and corporate endorsement.
The irony with it all; is that it was happening at a time when G was dropping some of his most potent Luga flow records; to wit-Ghetto mentality, Mbawe, Ceasar and Tebangatika.
At the time his shine was dwindling, GNL just seemed like a person
casting pearls before swine; as the appreciation for his music plummeted.
GNL however did not however dispense with rap or poetry. He figured relocating to another country would suffice; and so he made off for the States, where he is pursuing acting as a second string to his rap bow and from the look of things, he seems to be living a charmed life.
Lyrical G, Enygma and Lyrical proof, Benezeri, J.B, Sylvester and Abrams, Saba Saba, Atlas, The Mith, Keko, Unique, Don m.c, Cyno emcee Rugged Made, Babaluku and many others have all; found pushing and sustaining rap careers in Uganda formidable, though they have all hard brushes with fame.
Lyrical G who has 4 PAM award to his name is currently in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, hustling as you would expect. Life had gotten hard.
In his hey days, Lyrical G gave a good account of himself with his brass rhymes and braggadocio. Did he however have deep pockets as a result of his rapping? At some point yes, but things went topsy turvy, at length.
Babaluku as every hip hop acolyte is aware is into grassroots hip hop activism; juggling his time between Canada and Uganda.
It would seem as if fame, money, a rap career and the glitz weren’t his means to an end, when you listen to him speak.
Being the clever guy he is, he probably figured out the pitfalls of pursuing a rap career in Uganda quite early.
Eventually he opted for the elevation of other hip hop fundamentals, amongst his young acolytes.
As one would expect Babaluku has his own theory on why Uganda has been a hard rap terrain.
“It has been hard due to rappers lack of desire for rooted knowledge to explore and understand the vastness of Hip hop Culture beyond stages studio and mics. To this day, all those who can claim a bit of success have had to go through the usage of our local dialects,” Babaluku opines.
Moonlighting has been the path rappers such as Lyrical Proof, Engyma, Cyno have carefully chosen, cognizant of the status quo.
Cyno works the 9-5 at a bar in Kisementi, Engyma practices law, the Mith moonlights as an Urban TV presenter and Sylvester is into business.
Navio has however been the exception, curving out a niche for himself with his consistent musical output.
Does his longevity however mean that he is a success? His videos and his rap braggadocio can certainly make one believe so. That however is a moot point.
Give Navio credit though. He has in some respects proved that it can be possible to push a rap career in Uganda.
By Richard Wetaya
The Silver-bucks, the bulk of whom, are well into their 30’s have once again just proved why Uganda is a basketballing behemoth in the Zone 5 region.
Qualifying for Africa’s biggest basketballing showpiece, for the second time, on the trot, even as the Bucks lost to arch nemesis-Egypt in the finals was not exactly a jarring experience.
Many may have not expected it but by now, all and sundry should know that the Silver-bucks can ball.
They showed and proved that in their Group B preliminary games against Somalia and Burundi and in the semis against Rwanda.
Egypt, which has its own history of fielding old players both on the soccer pitch and basketball court, beat the Silver-bucks 95-72 in the final.
By and large, the qualification milestone vindicates the Silver-back’s 30 something players, most of whom, had been the butt of ill advised jokes on the popular B ball 256 Buzz facebook page.
Before the team even got in camp, there was a hue and cry on the page about the lack of younger guys on the team.
Amos Lesuk, a firebrand member of the group sparked off the back and forth debates on whether the older members of the Silver-bucks or the old crooks as he likes to call them, should still be on the team.
The 30 and above guys on the team; to wit-Stephen Omony, Stephen Ociti, Joseph Ikong, Norman Blick before he was dropped and Ben Komakech were the target of the unflattering jokes and insults.
The firebrands on the page rationalized that some of the older Silver-bucks had, to all intents and purposes, outlived their balling time and to that end, they demanded, they should give way to younger ballers.
Unbeknown to most of the critics, the older Silver-bucks could still ball.
At length, the detractors behind the “get the old guys out of the Silver-bucks” campaign have been forced to eat humbie pie.
The old crooks served the detractors revenge in its coldest form.
Impressive performances in the Afro-basket qualifying tournament in Egypt spoke to the fact.
In the first group B game against Somalia, the older crooks showed how they were far from washed up, leading all scorers as the Bucks won 94-72.
Omony, City Oil’s new recruit scored 17 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
Hate him or love him, Omony just seems to get better with age.
Ocitti led all scorers with 33 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals, Ikong had 11 points.
In the second game against Burundi, where the Bucks won 99-54, Omony dropped 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Komaketch had 8 points and 6 rebounds, whilst Ikong had 8 and 7 rebounds, respectively.
One of the youngest Bucks-Jonan Otim top scored with 16 points.
In the penultimate game against Rwanda, Omony for the umpteenth time showed his mettle, scoring 15 points.
Ocitti had 16 and Ikong 16. The Silver buck that the ladies in the stands were drooling over-the heavily tattooed Ugandan American-Darrius Pegus top scored with 20.
In the final game against Egypt, the old crooks again brought hard work to bear. Ocitti had 7 points-6 rebounds and 2 assists.
Omony top scored with 19 points-3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Ikong has a low scoring night with 6 points 1 rebound and 2 assists.
Jimmy Enabu had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
History seems to favour the older Silver-bucks. It is buccaneers like Omony, Ikong, Norman Blick, and Henry Malinga who played first fiddle as the Silver Bucks beat off competition to qualify for the 2016 edition of the Afro-basket in Tunisia.
Ikong did not play particularly well in the 2016 Afro-basket tournament, but he has given a good account of himself in Egypt. The young guys who want to take his place will need to put in work.
The Ikong who played like he had a fireball in his belly in the National league finals against City Oilers, showed his mettle this time and his lady fans seem ecstatic. We can only imagine how the wife feels.
The Bucks qualification for Afro-basket 2017 is a feat that manifests a betterment in the team’s prospects, especially now that the Bucks have a dazzling front court tag team in Stephen Ociti and Darrius Pegues and for good measure, some promising young players in Joseph Chuma, Michael Madol, Otim Jonan and Mark Opio.
The trolls must have had a field day when Henry Malinga and Norman Blick both announced they had hang up their boots, but there is a lot of leeway to be made up before their slots are adequately filled.
Granted there are new guys but Malinga and Norman in their prime held down the fort in the positions, they played in. Ugandan basketball fans should be beholden to them.
“Ultimately the future of Uganda basketball lies in the hands of the younger guys, but they have to prove they can step up to the plate. We can not rely on trial and error in tournaments. Experience plays the biggest part in tournaments like the one which has just ended in Egypt. It is the reason, the older guys were needed. To be on the national team, one has to show and prove in the league that they are good enough and for the coach, it does not matter if the guys who excel are old or not,” says Johnson Nsubuga, an ex-player and youth Coach.
Some of the older guys on the Silver-bucks are on their swansongs.
If that is not music to the ears of young players, then one can’t possibly understand what could be.
Ocitti is on his swansong, possibly. Omony may hypothetically also be on his swansong. We already know Norman Blick and Henry Malinga retired.
Silver-bucks Coach Mandy Juruni has made it clear that no young players will be given the go by if they excel in the league.
Otim and Madol have been examples .They excelled and deservedly made the team.
The young player’s work is however cut out as FUBA-the sport’s governing body looks set to get more foreign based players. That spells one thing-the young guys will have to put in work.
By Richard Wetaya
Few players in the Ugandan Basketball league possess as cracking a handle and as lethal a clutch shot as Sudi Ulanga, the KIU Titans shooting guard.
The Tanzanian’s yo-yo handles have long become a byword for breaking opponent’s ankles, metaphorically that is.
With the Friday Night Lights season kicking off this Friday, basketball fans are on the giddy up, waiting with bated breath to stand a treat of Ulanga’s exciting skill set.
With Jimmy Enabu and Joseph Ikong on national duty, FNL fans will look up to Ulanga, to provide the sparks and highlight reels.
Ulanga has quite an impressive pedigree in the National League.
Between the years 2012-2014, he was the most dominant scoring force in the league.
At that time; Ulanga was turning out for the UCU Canons; the most exciting team in the league then.
In tandem with the dunking machine, Desmond Owili, Brian Namake and Ivan Lumanyika- the Ulanga led Canons were a real force to be reckoned with.
His creativity, shot making abilities, dropping of dimes (making assists) and consistent buccaneering play made him an arch nemesis for opposing teams, not only in Uganda, but regionally.
Season in, season out; Ulanga put in performances that set him apart from the rest. In most games, he averaged 20+ points, a feat few players in the league, manage.
Having curved out that pedigree; it came as no surprise when he was named the 2014 regular season MVP.
In his 4 seasons at UCU, Ulanga carved out a place for himself in the University’s basketball hall of fame. He literally carried the team on his back; making
them title contenders and himself; the most electrifying player in the league.
At the start of the 2014 season, he provided another imperious career highlight, dropping a game high 30 points and 7 rebounds on the City Oilers, who were then the champions.
At length, Ulanga did not lead the Canons to the National league title, but he helped build the team’s brand and establish it as an elite force in the league.
The Canons only lost by a hairs breath, at the two to three penultimate and final stage appearances the team made, when Ulanga was at his most dominant.
The national league quarter final playoffs of 2015 provided one of Ulanga’s other standout highlights. By that time, Ulanga, who has become a rolling stone of sorts, had long left the Canons. He was turning out for Power.
His repertoire of skills were on full display in game 3 of the series. He showed off his offensive mettle, dropping a whopping 41 points on the Star Times Falcons.
That game went to double overtime, and at length, Power, emerged triumphant winning the series 2-1.
To thwart the sharp shooting Ulanga, opposing teams often played double or triple teams on him. But even when Ulanga was in the opposing team’s cross hairs, he still showed; he was top of the range, feeding off pick and rolls to hit clutch threes.
If he was not shooting from beyond the arc, he made emphatic drives to the hoop.
When Ulanga was passed the rock (a basketball) in open space, whey faced opposing defenses pushed the panic button.
Ulanga’s first team in Uganda, were the Falcons. He played with them in 2014.
He moved to the UCU Canons after his stint with the Falcons.
In 2015, Ulanga moved to Tiger head Power and a year later, he joined the KIU Titans, his current team.
He was an integral part of the KIU Titans juggernaut that went 5 months unbeaten in the league last year. He however is still chasing his first league title.
At Power, Ulanga did not seem to be at peace. Though he is not the type to lay bare his feelings, Ulanga was evidently unnerved at Power and it did affect his performances.
Ulanga got his mojo back upon signing with the KIU Titans in 2016.
He played a big part in the amazing run that the Titans enjoyed that year.
Ulanga regards the NBL as the best league in the region and as such, he feels obligated to hone his skills, on a day in, day out basis.
As early as 5:30, he is up and jogging. He then does individual ball work for 2 hours before joining his Titans team mates for practice.
During his individual training, he shots the rock for over an hour and a half.
“I believe a player can only be able to perform when he is well prepared,” Ulanga opines.
Social life and hooking a Ugandan lass
Anybody who has scrapped acquaintances with Ulanga speaks golden of his good naturedness. It is a virtue that has endeared him to many, not only in player’s circles, but for good measure, to members of the fairer sex.
It came as no surprise 2 years ago when he got engaged to a gorgeous Ugandan lass- Sandra Munduru.
The pair met in 2010 when Ulanga was playing for the Falcons.
Incidentally, Munduru was also a Ball player, turning out for the A-1 Challenge.
Munduru introduced Ulanga to her parents last year in Arua. The Pair have a child together and their wedding is slated for this year.
Born and bred in Dar es Salam, Ulanga was ushered into Ugandan basketball by the late legendary Kenyan coach Smatts Olumbo.
Before coming to Uganda, Ulanga had played with his home team, the Sinza Warriors (2004-2006), Savio Basketball club (2006-2008) and later Vijana City Bulls (2008/9).
He won the Tanzanian national league twice; first with Savio (2008) and later with Vijana, where he was the top scorer.
Before his Tanzanian national league accomplishments, Ulanga had made his mark in Kenya in the high school basketball championships.
He won the Kenyan national high school championships with Laser Hill academy 4 times. He joined Laser Hill Academy on a scholarship.
Ulanga was introduced to the game of basketball around 2000 by his elder brother, who by then was playing professional basketball.