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
From a local tourism point of view, Northern Uganda still largely remains uncharted territory.
For the most part, awareness about the region’s best tourist gems such as the Murchison national park, Aruu falls, Fort Patiko, Solar Eclipse monument in Nyamuriya, Delta camping site, etc remains low; yet, to all appearances, they are some of the most attractive and pristine tourist sites in Uganda.
Riding on the Uganda Wildlife Authority bus with the rest of the Tulambule Northern Uganda team, a week and a half ago; brought me to that-low awareness-realization.
From the conversations, I caught wind of, on the bus; I arrived at the deduction that, just a handful of guys we travelled with, had hitherto, ever heard of the sites, we were slated to visit such as Aruu falls in Pader or Fort Patiko in Gulu.
It is quite an indictment that people from abroad [foreign tourists] know more about Uganda's premier tourist gems than many of us.
Now that is not supposition; its truth.
But again, the foreign tourists have the wherewithal to spend; unlike many Ugandans.
There is hope; however that the tulambule local tourism campaign will bring about a change in that status quo.
The campaign, which is in its fifth edition, was launched in 2016 and aims at encouraging more Ugandans to tour attractions in their country.
And while it is safe to say, local tourism has grown steadily through the years [Uganda Tourism Board declared 2018 as the best year for local tourism], there is still leeway to be made up.
Looked at in perspective, the 20 year-old civil war in the North put a huge blot on its tourist sector, and regrettably, it is narratives about the war and its evil protagonist-Kony-that, have, to some degree, still taken precedence over discussions about its tourist potential.
Fast forward to 2019 and thus far, some leeway has being made up; that is from the perspective of the Tulambule Northern tour, at least.
The three day awareness raising tour, organised by the House of DJ's; cast a bright light on some select tourist sites in the North of U.G.
The expedition was eventful in every sense of the word.
The only anticlimax was that first day tours to some select places-listed on the itinerary [like Kafu river-a short stop, Karuma falls-photo opportunity and Delta camp] were put off because the expedition team left Kampala, late, midday, to be exact, yet set-off time had been set for nine a.m, in the morning.
In the end, the tour team missed out on what was to be the first day’s highlight-a waterfall boat cruise on the Nile River.
The level of excitement as we left Kampala was palpable and it reached fever pitch, when the tour team, led by high profile names such as Golola Moses, Godfrey Kiwanda-the flamboyant State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Gaetano Kaggwa, Fabiola, Marcus Kwikiriza, Salvado, Miss Uganda UK-Penny Wampamba, etc made its first stop at Luwero market.
The idea of using high profile Ugandans to promote local tourism is presumably one that will open new horizons for the local tourism sector.
With time, it could just be draw-card or that grain of mustard that brings grist to Uganda’s tourist mill.
Back at Luwero market, vendors struggled have a word and to catch a glimpse of Kiwanda, Golola and the posse of dressed to the nines-socialites like Fabiola who disembarked to buy some bites.
Beyond Kafu River; it’s beautiful open country to every end of the North.
After getting lost several times, the tour team, at length, got to the scenic Pakuba Safari lodge; which is nestled on the eastern bank of the Albert Nile, in Murchison falls national park in Nwoya district.
Before camping for the night, the tour team was advised to play for safety as they were camping right in the middle of a wild life habitat.
Just the thought of a wild animal such as a lion creeping up in the camp petrified many, but luckily, the team slept safe and sound, till the crack of morning.
The next day is when it felt like the real tour experience in the park had began.
The 3,480 sq km park was gazetted as a game reserve in 1926 and is home to over 76 different mammal and 451 bird species.
A traveler without observation is like a bird without wings, so it’s said.
Bearing in mind that, most of the tour team, who clearly had never caught glimpses of wild animals, waited with bated breath.
And so at the crack of dawn, the tour team embarked on the game drive, where they caught sight of several of the park’s animals such as Kobs, warthogs, antelopes, giraffes, Buffalos and elephants.
The park’s 189kg-129cms Lions and 35-36kg Leopards were hard to comeby, however.
According to Henry Buzo, a tour guide at the Park, lions were not easy to comeby at that time of day because of their nocturnal routine.
“At day time and when it’s hot, they are mostly in shades. The best time to sight them, just like the Leopards, is late in the evening,” Buzo told Masaabachronicle.
It was worthwhile riding through the park; which is according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, tour handbook, the largest and oldest conservation area in the country.
In Murchison falls park, depending on your budget, you can also enjoy spectacular views of the Nile cascading over 23kms breathtaking rapids.
The area, for good measure, is perfect for water rafting.
You can also enjoy other activities such as hiking and nature walks, birding [Avi-tourism], sport fishing, launch trips, etc.
Buzo says the number of Ugandans visiting the park has been on the ascendant in recent years.
“There are an increasing number of daily visitors. In a day, we can host over 300 visitors and of those, 30-60 are Ugandans.”
"The beauty of Northern Uganda tells its own tale. Granted, there are things that take the shine off Uganda, but none of those is related to our beautiful countryside. The tourism experience, Uganda offers is second to none,” Joselyn Kayima, a royal princess from Buganda, told Masaabachronicle.
Later in the evening, the tour team headed for Para ferry landing site, still in Nwoya district.
The landing site is where the River Nile cascades into Lake Albert.
Its ferry connects both sides of the park.
The tour team was welcomed at the site by the Mubaku musical team, who to their credit gave a good account of themselves with their music.
The irresistible sound from their traditional instructments drew forth smiles and dances from the socialites on the tour team.
The real icing on the cake for the tour team, however, were the visits to Aruu falls and Fort Patiko in Pader district.
The splendid Aruu waterfalls are a scenic charm.
The waterfalls cascade splendidly from their crest, through rough cliffs and escarpments, into river Aswa, also in Pader.
For hikers and waterfall enthusiasts, the sight, spray and sound of this awe inspiring waterfall was something to behold and experience; theraupetic to some, though the experience, would have been much more worthwhile, if the team had visited during the rainy season.
“That is when the water falls are really awe-inspiring,” Lazarus Obbo, L.C, 3 Chairperson of Angagura subcounty in Pader, told Masaabachronicle.
The tour team made hay, playing in the water falls and swimming in the wide water catchment area, just below the huge rocks that the falls cascade into.
It was most definitely the tour’s highlight.
After the swim, the tours high profile names got into the Apirr, Bola and Adyere dances, solemnized by the Otto clan, at the Aruu falls campsite.
Golola and Gaetano were the highlight, here; as they cracked up most of the local dancers and villagers, by colorfully and at times, comically imitating their elaborate dance moves.
Camping at the site is only sh25, 000, so go for it, if you have time on your hands.
Fort Patiko was the last stop on the tour.
Many guys on the tour had admittedly only heard about it in their history lessons.
Here is the interesting kicker, however; the fort’s relics still look sturdy.
Built in 1872 by Sir Samuel Baker, the Fort was gazetted as a national monument in 1972 and was ostensibly built to stop Slave trade in the Equatorial Province.
The team visited the vestiges of the Fort’s grain stores and took time to climb the numerous boulders adjacent to the Fort.
It has never been in doubt that Motor-mouthed Ugandan Kick boxer Golola Moses can set his wits to work.
Metaphorically speaking, dude is a human tourist attraction, who, if given chance or occasion, can talk the hind legs of a donkey [Pun intended] and who in his own words, can make a woman pregnant by just his glance.
With his spontaneous wit, gift of gab and with much needed adjustments to his wardrobe, Golola would do just good attracting-lady tourists to Uganda like moths to a flame.
Anybody can get in on the Uganda tourism promotion act, whatever their hustle.
If the missy curvy people are doing it, why not Golola.
Seeing that his kickboxing star is slowly fading [I stand corrected], he should make do with second strings to his bow-such as comedy, movies and tourism promotion.
Golola’s numerous one liner jokes and humorous anecdotes-undoubtedly made him the life and soul of the recently concluded eventful three day Northern Uganda tourism tulambule tour.
The tour, aimed at raising awareness of some of Northern Uganda’s best tourist sites started on Friday [1st march] last week and ended on Sunday.
Granted-Cutie-Fabiola, Gaetano and funny man Salvador, were the poster guys for the tour but Golola flipped the script as he held down the showstopper fort, right from the time, the tour team, left Kampala for their first stop in Luwero market.
His charisma and wit [both work like charms] were evident for all to discern.
The idea to use Golola and other young high profile Ugandans to open new horizons for Uganda’s tourist sector is a welcome development.
It could be the grain of mustard that brings grist to Uganda’s tourist mill.
On the tour first stop, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Golola had Luwero market on lock down, as the food vendors, all struggled to catch a glimpse of the half man, half amazing.
Celebrities-Gaetano, Fabiola, flamboyant State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Godfrey Kiwanda, Marcus and Salvado, all caused excitement but it was nowhere close to the excitement Golola drew forth, when we got to the market.
Golola literally took the shine off them but nobody made a palaver of it.
To all appearances, there was a great sense of occasion, as it was playing right into the hands of the organisers.
Back on the Uganda Wildlife Authority tour bus, Golola who clearly knew his limits; kept spewing more sporadic jokes as we traveled forth.
At one point on our second stop in Murchison falls National Park, where there were kobs, warthogs, antelopes and elephants galore; he had the happy camper-mostly-young bread buttered on both sides- tourism awareness team and tourism media enthusiasts in grin from ear to ear- fests of laughter, when he uttered loudly-“I am so hungry, I may have a miscarriage.”
Needless to add, our lunch had been delayed.
The all agog tour team included a bevy of young-dressed to the nines- flamboyant women, who, on several occasions; spoke with plum in the mouth accents; that at some points, our hosts asked if they were not Ugandan.
Its amazing how movies and songs make our millennials get accents and live in a make believe world; when some have not even crossed the Rwandese border [read the border is closed].
The upshot of the rounds of alcohol being served on the tour bus was that the back and forth conversations became louder and riveting.
Nothing gets louder than an alcohol induced conversation and usually it gets even the shiest of folks buoyed up.
And for good measure, it did on the bus; cept ofcourse for the teetotalers, who were few, however.
The NBS “Another round team” also known for inebriation during their show, got on in the act and so did the masterminds of the tour-William Byaruhanga and Tendo Kaggwa.
A hankering for travel is something the young-pie eyed women and men, all shared and at every stop, we made, the big grins on their faces could show.
At the magnificent Pakuba and Para safari lodges and Para ferry landing site, in Nwoya district, all and sundry, got into taking selfies and dancing to the Mubaku musical team, who to their credit, gave a good account of themselves.
The good sound from their traditional instructments made Fabiola and Miss Uganda UK- Penny Wampamba, get their grooves on, to a turn.
The real icing on the cake for the tour team, however, were the visits to Aruu falls campsite and Fort Patiko in Pader district.
It was a tad piping hot but it was lit all the same, at the tour posse made hay, playing in the water falls and swimming in the wide water catchment area, just below the huge rocks that the falls cascade on.
It was the tour’s highlight in every sense of the world.
After the swim, the tours high profile names got into the Apirr, Bola and Adyere dances, which were being solemnized by the Otto clan.
Golola again was the highlight, again, cracking up most of the local dancers and villagers, by colorfully and at times, comically imitating their dance moves.
Fort Patiko was eventful as well, but mostly for the selfies aficionados and those seeking lessons on its slave trade history.
A back of the envelope calculation shows that Golola was paid handsomely and it was not money for old rope, for the record.
Dude brought his A-humour game to the tour.
The smiles on the faces of the tour team, every time, he dropped a joke, speak to that fact.
Iam sure all and sundry would love to have him on the next tours.
House of D.J’s [event concepts, event marketing] were behind the Tulambule tour.
They were supported by the Uganda Tourism Board, Koi Koi, Uganda Wildlife Authority, amongst others.
The fifth edition of the Northern Ugandan-tulambule tour [tour of Northern Uganda] kicked off-Friday[1st March] at the independence monument in Kampala, Uganda.
The all agog tour team, which included a bevy of Ugandan Radio and T.V celebrities, tourism media enthusiasts and Uganda Wildlife officials were flagged off at 11a.m, by the flamboyant Ugandan State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Godfrey Kiwanda.
The mostly youthful, sowing wild oats-team are on a three day awareness raising tour of some of Northern Uganda’s best tourism destinations.
House of D.J’s, a company whose niche is event concepts, event marketing, amongst others is behind the tourism awareness initiative, which has been named Tulambule.
They are supported by the Uganda Tourism Board, Koi Koi, Uganda Wildlife Authority, amongst others.
“Our tours to Northern Uganda are aimed at showcasing and creating awareness of the available tourism destinations in Uganda.
We will cover the multiple aspects of every site we visit in order to promote the captivating aspects of each location and region.
The upshot is to create exposure of the sites through an aggressive Public Relations campaign,” Philip Mukusaba, the events operations manager, told Masaabachronicle.
The itinerary starts on Friday [February 29th] with visits to Ziiwa Sanctuary (Rhino Tour), Kabalega Diner (High Way Stop), Kafu River Bridge (High Way Stop), Karuma Falls (Chimpanzee, Falls Tour), Sundowner (Chobe) Gulu (Bomah Hotel), Night Scene in Gulu.
The first day was eventful, through and through.
"The beauty of Uganda tells its own tale. Traveling is like falling in love. Its beautiful open country to every end of Uganda once you leave Kampala. It is as if Uganda is straight out of the bandbox," Joselyn Kayima, a royal from Buganda, told Masaabachronicle.
Lots of activity took place on the first day. The tour team had their fling on the Uganda wildlife Authority tour bus.
Before the first stopover in Luwero, enroute to Pakwach, there was a plethora of loud activity; with the NBS team filming the "Another round" show, to celebrated Comedian, Salvador cracking up the team with his impulsive banter.
The penultimate day or day two [Saturday 2nd March] will see the team touring Pakwach Bridge, the Solar Eclipse Monument, Pakuba Safari Lodge and the day will end with a boat cruise at the foot of Murchison falls.
The last day will involve visits to Game Drive Murchison Falls Park,
Paraa Lodge and a stopover tour at Kafu.
Masaabachronicle will be covering the event and we shall bring you daily updates.
Vicky Amoding is a happy go lucky nurse; the kind who easily makes friends, not only at her work place, but also at her place of abode.
The 31 year old’s easy going nature has endeared her to many, but, unfortunately for her, some of the endearments have come in the form of subtle and sometimes, overt sexual overtures from men she works with.
Amoding, who works at one of Jinja’s big health facilities, has admittedly turned down several of the advances and, as a result, has made enemies.
“Some men take my easy going nature to mean a willingness and openness to engage in sexual indiscretion. I have been at the receiving end of crude sexual jokes, from several unscrupulous men I work, because of objecting. The men know they can get away with it, scot-free because there are literally no rules and regulations that can bear down on them, even when you report to a higher authority,” Amoding tells Masaabachronicle.
Amoding’s story may read like an isolated case, but, by all accounts, it is not.
Several of her collegues have also silently fallen victim to sexual harassment.
Hellen Mukimba, a colleague of Amoding’s, has a similar narrative.
Harassed several times by debaucher bosses who have insisted she will not progress in her nursing career, unless she predisposes and copulates with them.
The stories of Amoding and Mukimba are ostensibly, just a fraction of several other sexual harassment cases that are rife in Uganda’s health sector.
A 2012 Ministry of Health Gender Discrimination and Inequality survey [GDIA] revealed that 32.1% of female health workers had experienced some form of sexual harassment, at their workstations.
In 2016, a sexual harassment Formative Assessment, carried out by the Ministry of Health and IntraHealth International, an international nonprofit organisation, dedicated to working with developing countries to improve their public health capabilities; revealed that sexual harassment in Uganda’s health sector starts during recruitment of health workers and continues in the workplace.
The Assessment indicated that the vice is mainly perpetrated by men in positions of power in recruiting positions.
Experts weigh in
Rebecca Nabwire, the Principal Labour Officer, in charge of Inspectorate at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and social development says the high prevalence of sexual harassment in the health sector, casts a slur on the country’s health sector.
“By our statistics, more than one in 6 women in the country’s health sector has fallen to sexual harassment, which is another form of gender-based violence. Sexual harassment is a widespread vice and a big number of cases often go unreported because victims are indisposed to reporting, due to fear. In many ways, this vice taints the image of the country’s health sector.”
Reasons why sexual harassment in the health sector is rife despite laws in place.
Dr, Diana Atwine Kanzira, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health says sexual harassment continues unabated in the health sector on account of the unscrupulous nature of some senior male medical staff.
Speaking at a recent workshop, where she launched the human resources for health tools and guidelines at Hotel Africana, Kanzira castigated men in positions of power in the health sector who take mean advantage of young female nurses.
“There are shameless men taking mean advantage of young nurses. They cajole and want to copulate with them as a means to raise their salaries, to give them promotions or jobs. This is unacceptable,” Kanzira told Masaabachronicle.
“Many victims are not partial to the idea of taking about such vices openly but that has to change. There are many young women who are invariably harassed in the health sector but they irresponsibly keep silent. The lack of reporting mechanisms is actually feeding the beasts who perpetrate these crimes. The issue has to be addressed in earnest.”
Simon Mugalu, one of the health ministry experts who drafted the human resources for health tools and guidelines, says sexual harassment has persisted in the health sector, principally because of lack of awareness, misuse of power and the limited implementation of laws.
“Harassers operate with impunity because in most cases, the victims are not cognizant of the laws in place to deal with sexual harassment, such as the Public Service Standing Orders 2010, Employment Act (2007), and the Employment (Sexual harassment) Regulations (2012),” Mugalu says.
“The legal and policy frameworks above mandate the government to take all necessary action to ensure that all health facilities and institutions adopt a comprehensive zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment.”
How sexual harassment impacts on victims
Dr James Mugisha, a senior health planner from the Ministry of Health, says victims of sexual harassment often suffer mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“These adverse psychological consequences are all risk factors for various chronic diseases. Various studies have also showed that sexual harassment doubles the risk of psychological distress for women, than it does for men. The other negative effects for victims include intentions to leave work, low productivity, absenteeism, little work morale and low career progression ambitions,”
The global ME TOO movement; a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault, notes that sexual harassment prevents employees reaching their full professional and personal potential and accentuates gender-based inequalities.
The different forms of Sexual harassment
Alice Nayebare, the gender and non discrimination program officer at IntraHealth, Uganda says sexual harassment takes different forms.
“It can be physical; unwelcome or unnecessary touching in a sexual manner. It can also be verbal in the form of suggestive compliments or jokes, innuendos and demands for sex. It can be gestural in the form of winking, licking lips or graphic in the form of displays of objects of a sexual nature, sexually explicit pictures, etc.
It can also be psychological in the form of persistent unwelcome proposals to go out on dates.”
Nayebare adds that mediocre responses to sexual harassment in the health sector, have in many respects, exacerbated the situation.
“In many instances, perpetrators who are accused of sexually harassing their juniors pass the blame instead to the people they harassed. This victim blaming is a ploy. One of the blame constructs has been indecent dressing. The victimization, most times, has a negative effect. Victims predispose to fear often times, when their cases are dismissed.
The shame, blame and gossip that follow usually have a depressing effect on victims.”
The Ugandan Health Ministry's strategy to fight the vice
One of the new strategies the Ministry is fronting is a toll free call center platform where victims or vulnerable young nurses, can call in confidentiality and report offenders.
The toll free line-0800-100-066.
“That line is in operation. All calls with complaints of sexual harassment shall be directed to the sexual harassment focal point person at the Ministry who will direct the complaint to the appropriate person/body for further handling,” Mugisha told Masaabachronicle.
The health ministry, in collaboration with IntraHealth Uganda, also recently developed guidelines on the prevention and response to sexual harassment, which are currently being distributed in all health facilities across the country.
In a foreword in the Ministry of Health Publication entitled-“Guidelines to Implement-The policy on prevention and response to sexual harassment” Doctor Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health says the guidelines will assist and guide users in implementing effective and standardized mechanisms for prevention and response to sexual harassment complaints in the health sector at all levels.
The guidelines she concluded will help improve work conditions, workforce productivity, retention and morale of workers in the sector.
By all accounts, the health ministry is also planning on orienting and training all regional referral hospital heads and health sector employees on the management procedures of sexual harassment complaints.
At the recent workshop launching the human resources for health tools and guidelines, held at Hotel Africana, several regional referral hospital heads made commitments towards implementing the sexual harassment guidelines.
For good measure, the health ministry also plans on integrating anti sexual harassment training into the curriculum for pre-service and in-service healthcare professionals.
“The health ministry in tandem with the Gender Ministry are also planning to conduct gender-responsive research that will highlight the root causes, consequences and complexities of sexual harassment so as to develop appropriate, gender responsive interventions that reduce its occurrence,” Mugalu told Masaabachronicle.
The World health organisation in its International day for the elimination of Violence against women-message on 25th November, 2018 noted that violence against women including sexual harassment is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in the world today.
The WHO notes that the vice remains largely unreported due to impunity, silence, stigma and shame.
A Uganda Human Rights Defenders Association (UHRDA) survey carried out in 2013 in 2,910 organizations indicated that 90 percent of women are sexually harassed at their places of work by their male seniors.
Laws proscribing sexual harassment at work places
Uganda has several laws that proscribe sexual harassment like the employment act 2006 section 7 and the employment [sexual harassment] regulations 2012.
These provide legal recourse for victims of sexual harassment.
Experts note that if the sexual Offences Bill is passed, it will strengthen protection for women and girls from sexual abuse and exploitation.
The government- employment sexual harassment regulations state that an employer with more than twenty-five employees shall adopt a written policy against sexual harassment which includes a notice to employees that sexual harassment is unlawful.
The employer is to also create a sexual harassment committee in which the committee receives and registers complaints of sexual harassment. Reported cases are investigated by the labour officer.