They called themselves the “SWABOT” brothers. S.W.A.B.O.T, is an abbreviation for the surnames of Moses Serugo, Wafula Oguttu, Kevin Aliro, David Ouma Balikowa, Charles Onyango-Obbo and Richard Tebere.
During my tenure with the Monitor, I also learnt a bit of their history. A group of disgruntled six journalists who were working for the Weekly Topic, the second widely read newspaper after the State owned New Vision decided to come together. They called themselves “SWABOT” brothers. SWABOT is an abbreviation for the surnames of; Serugo, Wafula, Aliro, Balikowa, Obbo and Tebere.
These six young graduates of Mass Communications, who were all employed by the Weekly Topic, decided to walk out after disagreements over the editorial policy of the politicians who employed them at their publication.
Although SWABOT existed as a loose association of like-minded individuals (just as NUMEC is), they decided to established a Limited Liability Company and baptized it “The Monitor Publications Limited.”
They mobilized personal resources (savings) as their shares into the business and began from a rented premise on De Winton Road opposite the National Theatre. They had to prioritize where to put their limited resources first so as to enable the first copy of the Monitor hit the street. I imagine they would sometimes give up on lunch
I joined the Monitor six months after it hit the streets. While I am as poor as a church mouse from the time I first joined on February 8, 1993, today, the Monitor, as a business empire is occupying is own premise, employing thousands of people, including vendors across the country. The rest is history.
The question we should all be asking is; what is it that I did wrong that I could not develop as much as I should have had if I continued with my business at Gulu Central market? Some of my juniors, who were persistence in business, have now built and drive cars, but I still commute from home to town.
Better still, we should ask ourselves; what did the SWABOT brothers did right that they were able to rise to the level they achieved in such a short period of time? What lessons can NUMEC learn from my experience and that of SWABOT?
Recently I was privileged to attend an eye opening training of a few of us, journalists, by one of our partners-the “Unwanted Witness” in Gulu town. During the training, NUMEC was rated as the best and well organized media association in Uganda at the moment by the trainer; and that we could be making real money if we utilize the internet website by posting stories from northern Uganda on it for the world to read.
An internet is a platform where people across the world can access information or interact with each other using computers or smart phones. We could begin to attract readers to our refurbished website, then we could also attract advertisers to the site they would then pay us handsomely.
After the training, I posted a piece on our Google group, challenging all of us that if we could make NUMEC website active and attractive to both our followers and advertisers., then we could mint real money, which will in turn benefit us all, just as the Monitor directors did more than two decades ago.
Unlike SWABOT which began using personal savings in 1992, NUMEC is in a privileged and better position to prosper to the level of the Monitor with partners like “Unwanted Witness” to mentor us. We already have over 100 followers of the website. Let us not disappoint them.
It takes will, to begin the first step to riches. The sky should be our limit in this dream to transform our lives as journalists practicing from the greater northern Uganda.
Mr. John Muto-Ono p’Lajur who reports for the Black Star News based in New York, USA and is a blogger: http://www.mutonoblog.wordpress.com.