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Celebrating legacies of media sector trailblazers

Dr Nassanga (C) receives the award from Dr Aisha Nakiwala as Paulo Ekochu looks on

Dr Nassanga (C) receives the award from Dr Aisha Nakiwala as Paulo Ekochu looks on

As Uganda joined the rest of the world to mark the World Press Freedom day on May 3, the Uganda Media Sector Working Group seized the moment to recognize and bestow upon Prof Goretti Linda Nassanga, Dr James Rwehabura Tumusiime and Wafula Oguttu the Journalism Lifetime Achievement award for their outstanding contribution to Uganda’s media development.

Dr Nassanga is a former journalist, journalism professor, mentor and renowned journalism and communication researcher while Dr Tumusiime is a founding editor, publisher and proprietor of the country’s leading media and publishing houses.

On the other hand, Daily Monitor founder Oguttu was honoured for uplifting professionalism and safeguarding media freedoms.


Prof Nassanga is a professor at the Journalism and Communication department, Makerere University, where she was also the founding head of the department. She has a long experience in the media, starting off as a journalist at Radio Uganda and UTV in 1980, before moving into training and research in 1992.

She has made a significant contribution to the generation of knowledge by publishing more than 40 publications in international and local journals in the areas of environment and climate communication, development communication; media and gender; community media; media ethics, policy and regulation; global communication; population and health communication; new media and ICT; and peace journalism.

She has also been a consultant on national, regional and international projects. Prof Nassanga has mentored many Journalism and Communication professionals in Uganda and the region.

She has been a member of several local and International professional bodies including, East Africa Communication Association, International Environment Communication Association, Media  Communication Researchers.

In December 2017, Prof Nassanga received the highly prestigious Media Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the media industry in Uganda and East Africa, as well as being the founder head and first doctoral graduate of the Journalism and Communication Department at Makerere University and first professor in Journalism and Communication in Uganda.

On March 8, 2020, Prof Nassanga was nominated as one of the top ten ‘trail-blazing’ women in Uganda at celebrations to mark 25 years of gender activism on International Women’s Day.


Dr Tumusiime is one of the most impactful personalities on the Uganda media scene.  An agriculturalist who switched vocations to journalism, he chalked out the famous cartoons – Ekanya in Uganda (briefly after Tumusiime Rushedge fled to exile –1976-1980) and Bogi Benda in Kenya (1980-1991).

Bogi Benda was the first internationally syndicated African cartoon strip. It was published in three newspapers in Kenya, in Tanzania and in Swaziland. He was thus one of the pioneers of comic political cartooning in the country and region. This, during the difficult and repressive years of Idi Amin and Daniel Arap Moi in 1970s and 1980s.

Dr Tumusiime also worked as an editor at Kenya Times, editor Kenya Farmer magazine, and the publisher of Resistance News, an NRM-in-exile newsletter. He has published several book titles to his name, and has overseen publication of hundreds of others in education, politics, history, heritage, etc.

As a journalist, author, media entrepreneur, and book publisher, Dr Tumusiime has done it all, and done it very well. His pinnacle years, however, have been as founding managing editor/managing director of the New Vision; as founder and proprietor of Radio West and TV West before selling them to New Vision; and as founder, chairman and publisher of Fountain Publishers Ltd, the leading indigenous publishing house in East and Central Africa.

So much has Dr Tumusiime impacted Uganda’s media and publishing scene that he was once referred to by a European ambassador as “the Rupert Murdoch of Uganda”.

He has employed and mentored many journalists and editors, and is currently chairperson of the board of directors of the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).

He is also the proprietor of Igongo Cultural Centre and Museum of south-western Uganda, cementing his hallmark in the world of the written word, communications, and heritage conservation.


Wafula Oguttu, or WAF as he is fondly known, is one of Uganda’s famous and impactful “political journalists”.

He refused to return home after his journalism, literature and political science studies in Beijing, China, and worked as a book editor at Tanzania Publishing House in Dar es Salaam, while dabbling in 1970s Uganda liberation politics.

L-R: Head of Journalism and Communication department at Makerere University Dr Aisha Nakiwala, Marcela Karekye (Daughter of Dr Tumusiime who received the award on his behalf), Dr Nassanga, Wafula Oguttu and Paulo Ekochu, the chairman of the Media Council
L-R: Head of Journalism and Communication department at Makerere University Dr Aisha Nakiwala, Marcela Karekye (daughter of Dr Tumusiime who received the award on his behalf), Dr Nassanga, Wafula Oguttu and Paulo Ekochu, the chairman of the Media Council

From exile in 1979 to 1992, Wafula was reporter, assistant editor and then chief editor of the Weekly Topic, one of the independent and premier English language newspapers of the time.

Typical of political journalists, Waf carries a rebellious streak. In 1992, when the owners of Weekly Topic that had now joined the new NRM government tried to lean on the newspaper’s editorial, he refused and was fired!

Waf, together with five colleagues, then founded The Monitor newspaper in 1992. It remains the most enduring, most successful and most impactful private independent newspaper in Uganda in recent times. It is also the most successful news enterprise started by journalists. It has played an important role in lifting the standards of journalism.

It has employed and trained hundreds of journalists, who have gone on to achieve greatness elsewhere in the industry and beyond.

This is testament of the fruits of one of his dreams and initiatives to professionalise journalism in the country, hithero dominated by secondary school drop-outs. Working together with colleagues at Makerere’s Literature Department and in the industry, they championed the starting of a Mass Communications degree course to build professionalism.

The success of The Monitor (now Daily Monitor), especially in the early years, is down to Waf’s foresight, passion, integrity and political dexterity, to mention a few. He has continued to chaperone Daily Monitor as a member of its board of directors while, again, dabbling in
“Uganda liberation politics”.

Waf leveraged his political connections to have some of the most important clauses that have guaranteed media freedom in Uganda inserted in the 1995 Constitution. They include taking away power of a minister/government to ban or close a media house, and the right of access to information by journalists.

The Monitor initiated and funded several landmark litigations that saw the striking off the Penal Code clauses on publication of sedition and false news.

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