A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Guest blogger: Donna de Weijer, MA African Studies
It has been two weeks since I arrived in Kampala, Uganda, and time has flown by. Surprisingly enough, getting used to my new daily routine and falling in love with this bubbly and green city did not take much time at all.
I am doing an internship at the New Vision, one of the two biggest newspapers in Uganda. The fact that I am the only non-Ugandan at the office, plus the fact that the New Vision is owned by the government make it all the more interesting.
My alarm went off at 6 o’clock in the morning on the first day of my internship. An hour later I left my Airbnb and took a boda-boda (a motor taxi) to the office for the very first time. Full of nerves and not sure what to expect I entered the building at 7.15am sharp. The main Editor expected me and welcomed me warmly while taking me upstairs to the newsroom. His nice and welcoming attitude made my nerves disappear like snow before the sun.
After the editor had introduced me to some people, it was time for the daily meeting with all the writers in the conference room. The editor discussed the topics listed for the next day’s paper and at the end of the meeting I heard that I would start at the crime department and I would spend at least the rest of the week with crime reporter Simon.
That Simon understands how journalism works, became clear to me as soon as he took me with him at his daily visit to the main police station: Simon knows literally everybody. And it was not just a small police station, it was huge! After he introduced me to some people, he left me in an office, since he was going to interview the Head Police Officer. For an hour and a half. I have learned by now that this waiting is something I will have to get used to.
When my dear friend Simon finally showed up again, we had lunch in the canteen of the police station. I felt a bit uncomfortable, being the only ‘mzungu’ (foreigner) and only one of the few people not wearing a police uniform. But of course it was fine, since 99% of the people, or so I felt, were Simon’s friends and we were clearly welcome. After lunch we took a boda-boda back to the office.
It was around 3 o’clock, I was really tired of all the new impressions and since I had started so early, I thought I would be done by 4pm maximum. Well, no. Apparently we still had two hours to kill. These two hours mainly consisted of me watching my new friend typing and me making some small adjustments. This did result in my very first article the next day, however, mentioning me as a co-writer!
I spent the rest of the week at police stations and writing about crime, but the second week of my internship was more diverse; I went to a commission that investigates land grabs, I attended a press conference of Uganda’s ruling party and I went to the launch of a new agent against malaria at the Ministry of Health.
So far it has been a truly unique and instructive experience. Next week I will start writing articles by myself and I will also start taking interviews for my thesis. I will discuss the topic of my thesis in my next blog. For now, it is time to enjoy the weekend and study Kampala’s nightlife!