In 2012, my second year at University I woke up to the realization that I needed money. That I needed a real solution for survival as opposed to eying handouts from family. And that triggered many a thought. And like many educational theories dictate, I made an analysis of myself. My skills, weaknesses, strength, that ilk. And among the many, one memory came into play. The fact that I had a writing history.
I was the President of the writing club at high school and that I also edited the school magazine. So I came to the resolution that I was going to write for a living. Bang copy and pay bills.
On that note, I came to the New Vision offices without an appointment and at the reception, I asked to see the editor New Vision. With no idea whatsoever, that there were many editors. That every editor handled a different product. And that the reality was different from the perception I had that there was just one editor who people like me who wanted to write see.
I’d of course figured out that they’d ask for something like a copy of my work. And I’d written something to show them. Problem is, the receptionist, the elderly Lady Chamilla (who is now my good friend) wouldn’t take any of that. She demanded that I tell her who I’d come to see and asked if it were scheduled on their appointment. I lied that I was, with the “editor”. She said which one, I said; “the one, the editor”.
And I guess she thought I’d come to see the features editor, a lady called Lilian Agasha. So she called her. The lady obviously relayed she had no appointment with any Solomon Oleny. Heck, she didn’t know any Oleny. Was that a new Cocktail in town. Oh-lay-knee? Okay, she didn’t say that. But even if it were, she hadn’t heard of it. So Chamila put me on phone with her. And I told her that I wanted to see her because I wanted to write. I wanted. That was my plight. Wanting. She said I had to make an appointment. And for a second there, I saw my lunch, supper, dinner and breakfast money flushed down the drain because I’d used it for transport and then I figured; nope. I wasn’t going anywhere. I had come to see her and I was going to see her. So I hang up and lied to Chamilla that she had called me up. The unsuspicious 50 year old directed me and moments later, I was there. On the Deputy Editor, Lilian Agasha’s desk. She was so furious she’d drink a 300ml bottle of harsh Chilli sauce and not bat an eyelid. But she heard me out. Because she is a mother. And because, like the question she’d thrown around so many times during our brief encounter, I’d barged my way into her office without an appointment. She directed me to the current Pakasa Editor (then Society and Lifestyle Editor), Sebide Kiryowa to whom I handed my work. A creative story printed on one page.
On Friday, later that week, I awoke to numerous phone calls from relatives, ex-girlfriend, friends and other people who had certainly found a reason to feign significance. All of them were congratulating me. I of course, shrugged their congratulations off. I told them that was the wrong person. That they should stop drinking things they cannot handle. I also told someone that she should learn how to read. But when the phone calls grew in number, I was prompted to buy the Friday New Vision Newspaper. And there it was, the article I’d handed in. Touched only to correct a few punctuation mistakes, and slightly altered to fit New Vision’s house style. And if you’re a writer, you know what that means. I was, wait, I won’t use overwhelmed and overjoyed. They are cliché. I will go with; I was blown off my throne.
Later, I started writing only whenever I needed money. Problem was, when my family, the sole taps of my finances, realized that I’d gotten a job, they reduced the flow.
My very first profile was however, to change all of that. I interviewed Amos Wekesa, the president of Uganda Tour Operators. His love for tourism overwhelmed me as much as it touched me. When he sold me the idea of promoting local tourism, I bought it with such enthusiasm. He arranged my first tour in Budongo forest and I fell in love with the wildlife. I saw the need to protect and conserve Uganda’s wildlife and stepped up to the responsibility. And like they say, the rest is history.
Behind every writer lies a team of editors who dedicated their lives to bringing out the best in him. Meet the team of Editors who have mentored me, guided and paved a way for my dream. The Sunday Vision Team. Esther Namugogi, Lucy Parwot, Dr Charles Wendo. Hillary Bainemigisha(Dr. Love). Features; Sebidde Kiryowa, Diana Kadama, John Eremu, Lilian Agasha, Andrew Kalema, Nigel Nasser, Joshua Kato, Sylvia Kesiime, Arthur Baguma, Sydney Miria, Conan Businge. Magazines: Keturah Kamugasa, Cynthia Nankunda, Raphael Okello..
Everyone who has held my hand where I needed it, in their various capacities. I am grateful. Because I know this is not a journey I could start, nor accomplish on my own. I am eternally grateful for your support.