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Andrew Mwenda is back in the country and with style! After having recently resigned from The Monitor citing the negative influence of the Aga Khan as a major reason, he has launched The Independent, a newspaper/magazine for ‘uncensored news, views & analysis’.

This is great news for the freedom of speech in Uganda and great news for all those who missed Mwenda’s Harakiri journalism (such as myself).

The first issue, released on 14th December, is a colour-printed 30-page A4 booklet which was published even though, according to Mwenda, the government attempted to stop the printer from publishing it ‘especially if it contains anything critical of the government’. Well, it most certainly does.

Here is my personal rating of the first issue, from double plus to double minus:

++
The project itself.
There certainly is space for a truly independent voice in Uganda’s media landscape. I love the format and hope it will not turn into a daily newspaper – rather become a weekly voice of analysis, opinion and provocation.

+
The mix of topics.
I was slightly scared that The Independent will serve as Mwenda’s personal diary or, even worse, as the forum for his private battle with the first family. And to a certain extent it does. However, overall there is a good mix of stories, including Ugandan politics, Kenyan elections, Ebola, telecommunications – and sex!

Kampala only gets mentioned briefly within the News Round-up section: The amendments to the Local Government Act which will put the Capital under the control of the central government have The Independent commenting that ‘…if past experience of the central government’s management of projects, parastatals and in fact the country is anything to go by, then many will be forgiven to wonder whether Kampala is not jumping from the frying pan into the fire!’.


The cover story. Rumour has it that The Independent is financed by former Health Minister and Museveni rival Jim Muhwezi (Mwenda’s response: ‘…that is nonsense. I have been working for more than 10 years, consulted for international organisations, etc. Don’t you think I have made enough money to begin a small newspaper?’). Whatever the facts may be, I doubt it was a smart decision to use the Museveni-Muhwezi saga as the title story of the first issue. Especially, if the story doesn’t reveal much and is full of insider information which the author can only have obtained from two sources: Muhwezi himself, and Faith Mwondha, the Inspector General of Government (he even cites a phone conversation between those two – was he standing next to them?). If for obvious reasons he can’t name his sources, he should at least describe them. Otherwise, a story risks being read as conspiracy or plain lugambo.

– –
The website.
An atrocious piece of work, even the New Vision site is better. Let’s hope it is temporary and not talk about it any further.

6 Comments

    • tracy1314
    • Posted Wednesday, 26th December, 2007 at 8:23
    • Permalink

    ummm… the footer states the following: Marketed and Designed by: SEO Africa, web design and internet Marketing.

    Seriously he paid for that crap? He would have been better off with a wordpress template.
    Sheesh.

    Here’s hoping that there will be more pluses that minuses!

    http://www.projectdiaspora.org

  1. For Mwenda to start a paper based on lugambo is really not surprising. I’m still hoping for the best.

    • Taylor
    • Posted Saturday, 29th December, 2007 at 5:27
    • Permalink

    Newspapers should be able to turn a profit or at the very least, pay for themselves.

    If Mwenda uses start-low-go-slow approach, he might just be fine. If he remains one-dimensional, he won’t have much of a sustainable market.

    That said, I am insanely his numero uno fan, mostly because of his show-no-fear persona and his raw passion for his beliefs.

    But is that enough to keep a newspaper running? Nope. On top of AM’s qualities, you gotta have a shrewd uncompromising business head like W. Pike; it’s a dog-eat-dog world of journalists and politicians out there.

    • Jackson
    • Posted Monday, 10th March, 2008 at 19:57
    • Permalink

    It was definately a great decission for Mwenda to start his own paper, wether self funded or by a rival of the president i care less really, all iam gonna do is look forward to more editions from the independent.Mwenda is my favourte journalist around and iam very hopeful that he will indeed the profits why not?

    • Ekwangu Mark
    • Posted Saturday, 7th June, 2008 at 18:44
    • Permalink

    Nothing is so powerful like an idea whose time has come.The Independent is the moment of truth.Please keep up the good job.

  2. iam augandan send me newsabout our city


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