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Muhanguzi book offers lessons in perseverance

For a group of people who are almost always at the centre of historical events in this country, Ugandan journalists are not known for documenting their personal experiences for historical record.

Veteran journalist Justus Muhanguzi Kampe bucks that trend with his book titled, Eyes of a Journalist. Muhanguzi’s 181-page book, which was released in July 2016, is a two-in-one package of insightful reading.

Part one is a deeply- intimate account of how he overcame all kinds of hurdles to realise his dream of becoming a journalist. The second part is a collection of memoirs from his coverage of the 1990-94 Rwanda war.

Born in 1959, Muhanguzi grew up in the remote village of Buyanja, Kyeizooba sub-county, Bushenyi district.

“I was not born in a hospital. My parents, being uneducated, did not make any record of my birth. For several years, my mother tried to guess my exact age until she remembered that I shared a birthday with a neighbour’s child,” he writes in the first part of the book.

The struggle to find his birthday serves as an appropriate metaphor for the better part of his life. Whatever Muhanguzi tried to achieve in life, he had to take a long detour, winding before reaching it – from finding a wife (he eventually married two) to attaining university education.

Having been compelled rather than inspired to complete his education by the sight of security officers herding 40 graduation tax defaulters to jail, Muhanguzi failed to qualify for university due to a misfortune during his A-level examinations.

Instead, he took a detour into journalism by becoming a proof-reader at the Uganda Times. He would eventually excel in his career to a level where he held dual jobs of information officer for Mbarara district and New Vision bureau chief. By then, he had secured a diploma.

“One night, as I reflected on my life, I realised that much as I had achieved my professional success, and as such, was basking in the glory of my career, I did not have a university degree to support my practical excellence. I feared the future and knew that someday, the lack of a degree would come back to haunt me,” he writes.

In what is undoubtedly the climax of the first part of his book, Muhanguzi narrates how he sold some of his property, begged friends for support and then eventually juggled a security guard job in the UK with his studies at the University of Cardiff to secure a master’s degree.

Eventually, Muhanguzi would return to Kampala after his studies and secure a job with Uganda Human Rights Commission, where he is in the last year of his second seven-year contract.

The two parts of Muhanguzi’s book are separated by nine pages of pictures of his personal and professional journey, including those of his family, his time as a security guard in UK, and his professional life.

In the second part of the book, Muhanguzi narrates hair-raising accounts of covering the war that brought the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) to power, ending the genocide that led to the death of more than 600,000 people. Muhanguzi explains how Uganda bore the cost of the war even though the government denied supporting the rebel group.

“Trillions of shillings were being lost in terms of replacing the military equipment and army ware that the RPA took with them at the time of the invasion,” he says.

“What was more intriguing, though, was that on top of the financial loss, Uganda lost innocent lives and property.”

Muhanguzi’s book is the kind of work that every journalism school in Uganda should stock because it gives aspiring journalists a practical insight into what it takes to become a top-notch media professional.

Even if someone is not a journalist, this is the kind of book that can easily inspire you to go the extra mile to achieve more with your life than you would otherwise have thought possible.

hobenon@observer.ug

This post was syndicated from Breaking and latest news, analysis, comments, business, lifestyle, entertainment and sports from Uganda. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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