Kabushenga back on Spaces with African Speak

Kabushenga back on Spaces with African Speak
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It is not Kabushenga's maiden foray into the Spaces platform. Two years ago, the former Vision Group chief executive made waves on then Twitter with regular Spaces on topical issues of the day.

By Catherine Ajuna Ayebare

JOURNALISM | Robert Kabushenga is a man who runs many races in life but one who seem to always return to the same event: talk-show.

The latest round of a major race was exposing corruption in the coffee sector and while some would have thought Kabushenga was taking up social media activism, he is back to his 'dear root'.

Kabushenga today launches yet another dimension to his X (Twitter) with a Spaces programme, "African Speak".

"The AfricanSpeak podcast will focus on politics, culture, history, inspiration, development, economics..." he says.

"It will be in the format of interviews, talk shows and audio documentaries which automatically makes digital spaces the right form of message dissipation."

It is not Kabushenga's maiden foray into the Spaces platform. Two years ago, the former Vision Group chief executive made waves on then Twitter with regular Spaces on topical issues of the day.

"The issues to be handled are society related which requires unlimited engagement with the audience," he says.

Spaces is a feature Twitter started in 2021 that allows users to have live audio conversations on the platform.

Spaces give an audio option which is less tedious and since Twitter (X) has distinguished itself as a platform of serious public debate, Kabushenga expressed confidence that it will deliver the results.

This also explains why he has not taken his new idea to the conventional media such as radio or even television.

Kabushenga will roll the carpet Monday evening with distinguished political analysts and former legislators Ben Wacha, Salaamu Musunba and Dan Ogalo.

Announcing his new foray, Kabushenga said the panelists on today's 8pm Spaces will share their perspectives into the politics that have led to the "Uganda Parliament Exhibition".

The Uganda Parliament Exhibition, like those before them on civil society and other institutions, saw social media expose of gross corruption in the Eleventh Parliament, with revelations that the Speaker's Chambers was doling out billions of shillings monthly for "corporate social responsibility".

The exhibition, championed by social justice activists Agather Atuhaire, Godwin Toko and Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo, also revealed that billions of shillings wa spent on per diem for the Speaker, hee deputy and MPs.

"Digital platforms are where the public debate agenda is set," Kabushenga says.

"It is also where the public has unrestricted participation; It has no structured programming that is wooden and restrictive."

The catch for Kabushenga's African Speak is that he has opted to get renowned political commentators to the MIC rather than the 'usual suspects' who have already said much.

It creates the expectation of something fresher popping from the Spaces.

In another world, Kabushenga could have pursued talk-show journalism and possibly ended up bigger than a Ugandan version of Larry King.

But fate kept pulling him to other engagements that looked like they were more serious than talk-shows yet when you see the man himself, you can tell that this is where he truly belongs.

A trained lawyer, Kabushenga was the executive director of Uganda Media Centre - which he created in a way - and corporation secretary of the New Vision where he also wrote incisive columns.

In 2007, he replaced William Pike as the chief executive of Vision Group, and went on a journey of growing the state-owned company into a media empire with huge broadcast presence.

When he retired from Vision in 2021, he retreated into private business and bacome more obsessed with coffee than coffee bugs can claim.

Rugyeyo Farm has grown to provide inspiration to many young Ugandans that there is life to be lived in the coffee cup straight from the farm itself.

But even if Wacha, Mufumba and Ogalo spent time sipping coffee during the talk-show, the listeners will only hear their words however loud they slurp the drink.

Kabushenga, too, will be in it for the topic, not his coffee - which takes us back to his true roots.

Most Ugandans first heard of Kabushenga on Radio Sanyu (now Sanyu FM), which was then broadcasting from Naguru hill.

Around 1995, Kabushenga would be in the studio of Uganda's first FM radio on Saturdays with Candy Wekesa, a fellow young lawyer who simply called herself Lynn

Lynn, who also hosted "Wind Down Zone" on Sundays, would later join Radio One when it opened in October 1997 while Kabushenga joined Capital FM for the revamp of its premium Saturday talk-show, the Capital Gang.

Ever exploring new horizons, Kabushenga had in 1996 reunited with Lynn to organise the Miss Uganda beauty pageant.

Yes, before Sylvia Owori became the face of the pageant, a man who stated greying in puberty had been there and the crown for that legendary effort was worn by Sheba Kerere, one of the most outstanding beauty queens the country has had.

After twisting several degrees and still finding himself deeper into the talk-show root, would bushenga consider selling his African Speak to radio to reproduce it live to a wider audience?

Yes, but there are buts and ellipsis to be filled.

He still acknowledges the power of traditional media in agenda setting but the African Speak podcast could struggle to fit in their programming schedule, complying with stringent regulatory requirements and advertiser expectations.

"It is up to the legacy media houses to think of how to fit the live sessions in but better still to adopt their programming and format for digital platforms," he says.

To the Spaces...

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