Adversity built UCU alumnus Nsobya into author

By Kefa Senoga
In May 2012, Uganda Christian University (UCU) alum Paddy Nsobya was among four journalists who were beaten at a Pentecostal church in Mukono, central Uganda. Nsobya and his three colleagues had gone to the church to interview the controversial lead pastor, Samuel Landasa. Since they arrived during the service, they waited at a nearby shop, opposite the church. Aware of the contention of the pastor, some members of the church attacked the journalists. 

Four church members “pounced on me; one of them started strangling me as the others pulled my video camera, until I surrendered it to them, along with its electronic charger and other recorded materials,” Ronald Kalumba, a television journalist who was part of the group, told IFEX, an agency that promotes and defends freedom of expression. 

Nsobya, a New Vision journalist, said that in the attack, he was slapped several times, and got bruised. Pastor Landasa had expelled some critical members of his church, who had accused him of conducting marriages illegally, as well as changing the land title of the church into his names.

And this incident is not a one-off. In 2011, Nsobya was assaulted as he covered a story. Court later fined the woman for the assault. Events like these have been part of the life of the 41-year-old who has practiced journalism for 15 years, mainly writing for New Vision’s Bukedde newspaper that publishes in Luganda, a vernacular language. 

Nsobya, a graduate of journalism and mass communication at UCU, has now written a book, State of the Media, on the subject of press freedom, hoping that it will be a campaign tool against the injustices committed against journalists. He says that when journalists are mistreated in the line of duty, it scares off the younger generation who may want to pursue a career in the profession. 

“Any profession which is cut off from the younger generation has no future, because when people grow old, the young are expected to take over from them,” Nsobya explains. 

One of Nsobya’s books titled Sowing
One of Nsobya’s books titled Sowing

And mistreatment is not the only challenge that journalists in Uganda face. Nsobya says many media houses in the country pay their journalists peanuts in salary and, in many cases, even the little pay does not come on time. Circumstances like these force journalists, especially those who are not well grounded in integrity and moral ethics – virtues Nsobya said he attained at UCU – to depend on news sources for their daily survival. These and many more are some of the issues that Nsobya has detailed in his book, expected to be launched on World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2023. 

State of the Media will be Nsobya’s seventh book in nine years. He made his entry into the book writing world in 2014, with Akaabate, a book written in Luganda, a local dialect in Uganda. Nsobya later translated that book into English, calling it Agony. The book talks about the challenges that young men and women face in the contemporary world. 

In April 2021, Nsobya launched another book, this time on agriculture, also written in Luganda, under the title Essanyu Lyomulimi. He later translated it into English, calling it News on the Farm. In April 2022, he launched yet another book, titled Kyosiga, which he has also translated into English, calling it Sowing

Seeing the book titles that Nsobya has produced would blind one into thinking that all has been rosy for him. No. Before his first book in 2014, Nsobya, a father and husband who graduated from UCU in 2006, says he attempted to write a book seven times, each time giving up along the way, most especially because he encountered a writer’s block.

The resident of Mukono town studied at Masanafu Church of Uganda Primary School, where he wrote his final exams in 1995. From Masanafu, Nsobya, a son of Dan Kyaligamba and Eva Namubiru, joined Victory Secondary School, where he sat Senior Four exams in 1999. For the two years in A’level, Nsobya studied at Kaggulwe Secondary School. All the three schools are located in central Uganda.