Solomon Serwanjja is the winner of the 2019 Komla Dumor award. He was announced earlier today.
The Komla Dumor Award is hailed in Africa as one of the pinnacles of journalism’s achievement. It’s a feat to achieve and requires a dedicated and thorough understanding of reporting on Africa to win. It was started in honor of BBC’s Komla Dumor five years ago.
Solomon espouses the qualities of this award and more. Solomon is the second Ugandan, after Nancy Kacungira – whom the BBC retained – to win the coveted award.
Solomon’s achievement means a lot for Ugandan media and is a definite stamp of approval for the level of investigative journalism that is taking root and shaping reporting on/about/in Uganda.
Let me tell you a little story here though.
Some five years ago, my paths and Solomon’s crossed. We had both been nominated for the African Centre For Media Excellence Award for investigative reporting. At a cocktail party, we chatted with Solomon – then in NTV and I at Uganda Radio Network about the possibility of a future for long form broadcast investigative reporting.
Our chat had been influenced by what was happening in the Kenyan media space where the John Allan Namu’s and Mohammed Ali [Now an MP] were influencing and impacting the Kenyan social and political space with their reporting.
Solomon challenged me to join the broadcast space first. I initially refused.
Over the months, we started collaborating on projects, sharing with each other documents and looking at each other’s stories. A small telegram group we forged started to dig into the big stories and the enthusiasm and leadership that Solomon offered, in part, kept the fire burning.
Years later, after a lot of moving passions around, we agreed to sit on the same desk. I joined him at NBS where he had already dug into the ground work breaking stories like the criminal gang of Kifeesi and The Trade in Drugs.
The small dream nurtured at a cocktail is now an undeniable reality. With Solomon’s leadership, we have a desk at Next Media where we release one long-form explanatory/investigative report each week. We have explored topics on accountability, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, crime and corruption.
To win the Komla, for Solomon, is no mean feat. It is, as I’d earlier said, a testament of the hard work and trail-blazing that he has made for Ugandan journalists.
Ugandan journalism, I have always argued, is on a far better pedestal now than it has ever been. For every mishap, there are tens of good stories, balanced, well told and incisive. For every fake news/gaffe, there are hundreds of other investigative, well researched reports that bring communities to life, that bring power closer to the people and hold it to account.
Solomon’s win, proves, yet again, that Uganda’s journalism is destined for the skies.