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Frankly speaking with Tabu Butagira

By Joan Akello

Tabu Butagira a journalist speaks to Joan Akello on meeting Obama and why some people think he is trouble.

Why do you think you were named Tabu?

I was born in Arua after Idi Amin had been overthrown, there were revenge attacks by the victorious forces that depopulated and or exiled West Nilers, and it was a tragic situation. My name, a Kiswahili word for trouble, depicts the suffering of the time.

Does it have any connection to your job?

Not at all, although some people inconvenienced by my articles think I’m trouble myself!

What two things do we not know about you?

I was almost denied P.1 enrollment at five years because my hand could not touch the ear on the other side and I took early primary classes under a tree! In 2010, I was inside the White House when President Barack Obama addressed the pioneer Young African Leaders (YALI), although I was not one of the YALI delegates.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being contented with that you have, not seeking primitive wealth accumulation for vanity. And seeing others; particularly less fortunate, progress with your assistance.

What is your greatest fear?

Not being able to help a deserving person.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I am impatient with slow learners.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Intrigue and dishonesty.

Which living person do you most admire?

All those who uphold values.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Dining at ritzy restaurants and expending on designer clothing

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?


On what occasion do you lie?

When I suspect ill-motive, when I’m obliged by law or other non-disclosure requirements.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

That would be wasteful energy on a thing I cannot change.

Which living person do you most despise?

All those thriving on stealing, dishonesty, and intrigue

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Is intelligent, hard-working, honest, forthright, and provides for family

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Must be entrepreneurial, caring for family, self-respecting, have a brain and not just tempting looks.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I don’t have a shortage of vocabulary.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

She prefers a private life.

When and where were you happiest?

I am most of the time a happy folk.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I am concerned about how to hone and apply my innate flair.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My enduring pursuit is to improve myself, personally and professionally, and those I relate or associate with.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Rising from a free-style naked village boy who took early classes under a tree to an Urban Planner-turned-a-notable journalist, a David Astor fellow at The Times of London, now to a Fulbright (Humphrey) fellow. Credit is to those who assisted.

How would you like to die?

Snap instance, say, in a plane crash but not being hospitalised for long to burden and impoverish caretakers.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A gripping novel

What is your most treasured possession?

My brain.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

When one faces exclusion or discrimination.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Workaholic and perfectionist.

What do you most value in your friends?

Their value system.

Who are your favorite writers?

Prof. Curtis D. MacDougall, author of Interpretative Reporting. I have read many truly amazing writers.

Who is your hero of fiction?

I have no time for fantasies when real problems are confronting me daily.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Those who liberated and helped mankind progress.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Principled and gifted folks, ambitious and always seeking for more knowledge, not those power corrupts.

What is your motto?

Time is the best equaliser of events.

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