Several Makerere University journalism students were crowned winners at the recently concluded Inter-institutional Media Challenge (IMC) awards.
Makerere University won 10 of the 24 categories. Zahara Abdul, a fourth-year journalism student at Makerere University, who took home three awards, was the star of the night, and commended the organisers for recognizing the unique skills in her work.
“When I first participated in the awards in 2013 as a news anchor, we did not win the overall awards because we had a few beats of the news categories; that made us lose points,” Abdul said.
“I love photography and I had to keep trying in order to showcase my skills and in news reporting. These are my first awards and I am very excited.”
Abdul, who currently writes for a blog and is also a radio presenter, was the overall best English news reporter, best entertainment writer and best photographer. According to Abaas Mpindi, the CEO Global Media Enterprise (GME), which organised the annual awards, the event was called to mentor the next generation of journalists in the country.
“We are very much inspired by the young people who yearn for mentorship and want [to learn] from the people that are working in their profession,” Mpindi said during the event held at Serena hotel on November 27.
The GME comprises a team of six young people, also former students of journalism and mass communication. The awards were organised for students to acknowledge those they thought were making an effort in their profession.
Makerere University was followed by United Media Consultants and Trainers (Umcat) with six awards, Ndejje University (five) and Uganda Christian University, Kampala University and Makerere Business Institute (MBI), with each winning one award.
Students from St Lawrence and Cavendish Universities and Makerere Business School that did not take home any awards received certificates of appreciation. Abdul urged journalism students to focus more on improving their practical skills by utilizing opportunities like the IMC competitions.
Mpindi said the overall best student, Jerome Kule from MBI, received a one-year fellowship with NTV, while the runners-ups Douglas Sebamala and Ritah Kemigisa, all from Makerere were taken on by Capital FM.
Meanwhile, at the climax of the IMC, organisers also launched the Media Challenge Awards (MCA) where journalism students were tasked to vote for their media personalities and organisations.
“Voting was done online on our website gmeug.com and restricted to media students from various institutions. Students were presenting their registration number for them to be able to vote,” Mpindi explained.
Students voted for their best morning TV and radio shows, anchors, newspapers, among others, who also walked away with their awards. The Observer also received an accolade for nomination in the best newspaper category.
The awards also saw fallen scribes like veteran news anchors Bbale Francis, Danny Kyazze and Rosemary Nankabirwa recognised for their effort. The trio succumbed to cancer early this year.
Bbale and Kyazze had been renowned judges of the IMC since their inception in 2012, when the event was known as the Bbale Francis News Anchoring competition, before changing to IMC.
The ceremonies were also held around the theme of creating awareness about cancer. Members of the fallen scribes’ families were in attendance to hand over awards to winners in the categories named after them.
Nankabirwa’s mother could not hold back her excitement, as she handed the Rose Mary Nankabirwa best female English news anchor to Rukh-Shana Namuyimba of NBS TV.
“We should be happy … not mourning, Rosemary pursued her dream and lived it,” Rosemary’s mother said, before she also received a posthumous life achievement award on behalf of her daughter.
Ironically, Namuyimba had earlier worked with Nankabirwa at NTV. The Bbale Francis award for best English male news anchor went to NTV’s Maurice Mugisha, while the Danny Kyazze award for best Luganda male news anchor went to CBS FM’s Balunabba Wamala.