Famed TV journalist, Gertrude Tumusiime Uwitware, has been a fixture in Uganda’s broadcasting since her arrival at NTV on February 11, 2013.
Her stories, known for helping the society understand what is going on around them, are served with savvy and good sense. The millions of viewers will not easily forget how the intrepid 26-year-old reporter played the victim of a con syndicate in one of her news reports, taking on the victim’s character to perfection. This story had the whole Kampala talking, showering praises on ‘Trudy’, as she is fondly known amongst her peers.
Yet, that was just one of them there are many more attention-grabbing news reports where that came from.
Uwitware’s passion for journalism began as a young girl who loved to interact with people and get ‘behind the TV’ to be watched.
“I grew up watching Beatrice Akello on UTV and I knew I wanted to become like her. Whenever it was time for the news, I would ask my mum to open the TV so I could get in,” the seasoned reporter recalls with a laugh.
She maintained an active profile as a member of Interact club and MC throughout O and A-level at Kitante Hill School and Kisubi Mapeera SS, respectively. Her popularity was unmatched and this stood her in good stead for being an invited guest at every social function at school.
In 2008, she joined Makerere University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication. She started her journalism career at Record TV where she did her internship in 2010. Uwitware later joined The Observer newspaper as a features reporter under the persuasion of her close buddy, Lydia Ainomugisha.
“Trudy proved herself worthwhile at The Observer where she mostly concentrated on penning Education, Health and Society features,” remarks Ainomugisha.
Trudy worked here for one year before joining New Hope International, an NGO that promotes children’s welfare, as a volunteer in 2011. No sooner had she settled into her new job than an aert placed by Nation Media Group calling for trainee journalists caught her eye. She gave it a shot and succeeded. She was flown to Nairobi for a nine-month’ training stint in May 2012.
“This training grounded me in good storytelling and packaging, [sharpening my skills in] how to make any story compelling,” she recalls.
She considers herself extremely lucky for the experience she has had over the past one and a half years of news reporting at NTV. The most fulfilling stories, Trudy says, “are about the ordinary people doing extraordinary things or news behind the news.”
Although she believes she has reached a turning point in her career, her future ambitions are not founded in journalism. For her, giving vulnerable children a comfortable and happy life would be a fitting legacy.
Uwitware is the second-last born child of the late Philip and Peninah Iyabuhanya’s 12 children. She grew up in an extended family setting and their home in Kamwokya was always a full house. Some particular incidents will forever be etched in her mind as they had a bearing in her later life.
“My father was always up before the hens to go and clean the church (Holy Trinity Catholic church, Kamwokya) in preparation for mass. This he did daily until he died this year. Seeing him do this made me revere and love God,” she says.
This influenced her so much that she thought of one day becoming a nun, during her stay at Kisubi Mapeera SS, where she served as a religious prefect.
“Although I was quite serious about becoming a nun, I later changed my mind because the nuns that lived near the school had appalling character. Can you imagine that they let the mangoes on the trees rot, yet wouldn’t let the students have them? They were being so mean,” opines Uwitware.
Despite being a religious prefect, her cheekiness always brought out the sanguinity. From being suspended two weeks to her mock exams in S4 for being noisy, to leading a parade of girls dressed in micro minis – protesting a looming suspension of her friend – Trudy was truly the students’ heroine.
In her book of school memories, the page on her pee-ka-boo play with her headmaster will always remain foremost.
“I was one of those students that loved staying in the ‘dorm, especially during prep time. So, whenever the headmaster came to sniff us out, we would run around, hiding in the maze created by the deckers. It was fun and I was hardly ever caught,” she said, bursting into laughter.
She nevertheless emerged the second-best in her school and this academic success continued throughout her A-level.
“I love journalism because it gets me meeting different people and travelling, and this has been possible because I work with a very supportive team,” she says.
Source : The Observer