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Drake Sekeba: On his 50 years as a journalist

He is widely known for hosting “Vumbula’ program on former WBS TV. 

Kampala, Uganda |Agnes E Nantaba| Drake Sekeba is not only the face of then popular social and political investigative documentary show; he was also the brain behind it. Through the program, Sekeba believes that he was able to fulfill his dream of impacting on people’s lives through highlighting the key society challenges and probable solutions.

“It required investigating into the issues and solving people’s problems,” Sekeba says. He had worked at WBS for close to 15 years before it was sold and changed name in 2016.

Sekeba says at about 12 years, while he was a primary five pupil of Nabagereka Primary School in Kampala, he developed interest in journalism for two reasons; he was poor at numbers  so he figured a non-math oriented career was the better option. But he also admired the men and women at functions who carried cameras, ball pens and note books and had free access to highly guarded state events.

“I realised that they were pressmen which motivated me to be like them,” said Sekeba. To align well with the profession, he also embarked on a mission to read newspapers to have a feel of the kind of stories written by the pressmen.

Back at school, he initiated writing lessons for a class Newspaper for which, he and fellow classmates contributed stories about experiences in their home areas over the weekends. As the self-assigned editor, Sekeba’s role was to edit and pin the stories on the notice board.

There was no media school in Uganda by 1966, so he sought admission to the Publicity Media Institute in Tanzania where he was offered to study the following year. At the same school, he hit two birds with one stone; studying both journalism and advancing secondary education. More opportunities for writing popped up when he returned to Uganda. At school, he was attended the morning class sessions, which left him with more time in the afternoon to work at his passion. Without much experience in writing, Sekeba gathered the courage to seek an opportunity as a trainee reporter with `Sekanyolya’ a Luganda newspaper.

Unfortunately, for months, none of his stories made it to publication but he persisted.

“I continued writing because of the undying passion I had for journalism and finally my attempts paid off,” he says.

His first story to be published was about a man who died in a fire that gutted his hut. He had to re-write it twice before it was published. From then on, Sekeba worked as writer and editor for several publications including The people, Uganda Argus, Munno, Ngabo, The Star and Ngoma among others. In 1984, Wolfson College, Cambridge University offered him a press fellowship from which he earned a Higher Diploma in Mass Communication.

Along the way, Sekeba says he has trodden on countless roads, meeting and dealing with incomprehensible, shocking, and extremely tear-jerking issues.

On one occasion as the Founder editor of `The Star’ newspaper, Sekeba passed the publication of a story ‘Probe Minister’s Wealth’ highlighting corruption in the late former President Milton Obote government in the 1980s. The story angered president who ordered Sekeba’s detention in Luzira Maxim Security Prison near Kampala for four months. He was only set free after pressure from civil society and the public. Sekeba also won several awards; including ‘Journalist of the Year in Africa’ by BBC Focus on Africa and the 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee medal of the Uganda government among others.

Sekeba is the first child of the seven children of Nekemia Butume and Eriyosi Kabejja Namugaanyi. He was born in 1944 in Makindye, Kampala and is married to Margret Nakayiza Sekeba with whom they have four daughters.

One comment

  1. Thank you Mr.Drake Sekeba for being a selfless journalist. I always followed your Vvumbula programme on WBS. This programme saved so many people’s lives.

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