Thursday, 20 October 2016

Why Uganda's Rwenzururu anniversary never got serious national media coverage


The cultural institution of Rwenzururu marked the coronation and official government recognition on October 19 in Kasese Town.

This event marked 50 years since Charles Wesley Mumbere was enthroned to take over from his father Isaya Mukirania. Isaya, the key leader of the Rwenzururu movement died in 1966.

Uganda government officially recognized the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu on 19th October 2009.

Thus, yesterday’s event was historic for Rwenzururu. Indeed, thousands of people living around Rwenzori Mountains attended the fest. The central government was well represented by four ministers at the function.

President Yoweri Museveni who was the expected chief guest, delegated the Minister of Tourism, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu to represent him. District chairpersons from Mubende, Ntoroko, Kabarole and Kasese attended in person.

Omusinga Charles Wesely Mumebere holding a spear (wearing bark cloth)


The media at national level especially the television stations were missing in action except reporters from local radio stations, New Vision, CBS fm,  Red Pepper and Daily Monitor. In the newspapers today (October 20) only New Vision ran a front page story picture and a news story on page 3 with a contradicting headline about the same event on the two pages. CBS fm aired a story about the event and of course radio stations in Kasese town and Rwenzori sub-region.

There was no live coverage of the event by any national television. Even the “public” broadcaster UBC  TV did not do better. Was it because these stations were not aware of the event? Or it was because there was no news (conflict) in the area? Perhaps Kasese is too far away from where news stations are headquartered.

Minister Kamuntu (shaking hands) being welcomed at the Rwenzururu anniversary

Rwenzururu kingdom, particularly Kasese has been rocked by clashes between Uganda national security agents and the elements in Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu royal guards.

The leading television stations in Uganda have always rushed to Kasese to cover the sad news of floods of River Nyamwamba, the clashes between security agents and royal guards, the deaths of people resulting from simmering ethnic tensions. In such times TV and radio stations even broadcast live feeds to the rest of the country.

But, lo and behold, they are slow to cover and broadcast the good news that portrays the happy moments in the Rwenzoris. I am told, some national TV stations had reporters at the event but they are still filing the stories because this kind of news from Rwenzururu is not urgent. What message are such media houses sending to the community? What kind of impressions do such absent media want the rest of Uganda to have about the people of Rwenzururu?

Maybe isn’t it time that we redefined news to include happy times as well not just conflict?


6 comments:

  1. Well put Herbert, the media houses especially TV didn't show solidarity with us during time of joy! They must change this trend!Otherwise, they may end up portraying the Rwenzori wrongly yet we harbor a big percentage of tourism activities in the country!

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  2. Thank you for reading and for your comment. We as a people from the region now have the power of social media and we tell our story.

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  3. On the other hand Mubatsi, the rwenzorians do give business to those media houses e.g announcements,documentaries, adverts and many others its sad that they took the event unserious, can i shun thier internet live streams?

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  4. Could there be an invisible hand in the media operations? Are the media houses independent?

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    1. Thanks for your comment Jimmy. Two things explain the low media coverage as I have found out. One, some individuals in some media houses say they were not informed about the function in time. there was a challenge on the side of event organizers especially the sub-committee in charge of publicity. Two, some journalists claim they were not facilitated. This I think is a weak excuse.

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