Predestination is what International model journalist Kassim Kayira says characterised his journalism career for he believes that everything is always worked out by God, however, insists “since you don’t know what God has worked out, you need to go out and look for it…for everything that I’ve done, I’ve given it my best…”.
One whose drive into media has swerved him across the African, Asia and European Continent and many a place in the world; Kassim Kayira is a beyond borders journalist whose professionalism he has explored as a reporter, on-air presenter, correspondent and News Anchor using his weapon as a linguist boosting 12 languages.
“ …especially if I consider working in countries like the UK where the freedoms are almost unlimited, freedoms in Uganda are unbelievable… things like court reporting…we’ve had access to court and this is not something that happen everywhere…in a country like Rwanda, you would cover a lot of stories as long as you know how to do it…once you know the dynamics of a particular place and the sensitivities, it’s easier to find your way around,”Kayiira explored the narrative behind limitations to press freedom in the different countries where he served.
A former head of the Rwandan Television- TVR present day RBA in 1996-2001; Kayira had risen through the ranks at the same station having started out as a reporter. He was also a Chief Editor at the Rwandan Inter News Network a post-conflict media organization in 2001-2003.
Schooled in Kenya, lived, worked in Uganda and Rwanda, Kayira revealed that his attachment to every country he has been reflects the bond to which part of his life he gave, “ Rwanda started me as a journalist so whatever I do, Rwanda is still here because that’s where I was discovered as a journalist. I could’ve been a public speaker, a preacher and so on but as long as you’re not yet on the screen to be discovered, you cannot be”.
The ordinary teacher turned journalist reminisced of the almost 65 trips he travelled with President Paul Kagame as part of the Presidential press team and his nose for the news in Rwanda during the Genocide, “… journalism was really at a test, it was on a trial. Many journalists had been involved in the genocide…many had fled the country, many were in prisons. We were there as the first post-genocide breed of journalists”.
While Rwanda nurtured his growth as a journalist; Kayira’s faceoff with Congo opened the lid off the den into his revelation of war reporting in 1998-2001 while at the BBC World Service in the United Kingdom an international broadcaster he had joined in 2003 as a Kinyarwanda News Anchor on BBC Great Lakes services, shifted later to BBC Africa, Focus on Africa and Network Africa in 2004-2012 and his outstanding delivery was even most pronounced as a Swahili News Anchor on BBC Swahili in 2012-2015.
His dreams are far beyond what he has accomplished and encompass the next generation of journalists coming together in a training center he envisages to start soon at his dream harvest farm in Bombo, Luwero district which houses free-range poultry of over 180; hens, rabbits, goats and cows.
Kayira’s proudest moments in Uganda today after 12 years at the BBC have been at AZAM TV as the Bureau Chief of the Great lakes region since 2015.
“While it feels like I’ve given my name and brought it and placed it on AZAM; AZAM has given me it’s name as well. It has allowed me to sort of come home with respect, with dignity in ways that would’ve been totally different if I was just going to come in as a poor journalist. I am not a poor journalist and that’s very important for journalists to know that you can be a journalist and still be rich. Probably I can’t claim to be rich but am not poor so in between there is where we’re struggling; the middle class I think,” Kayira said.