10 minutes with Michael Mulambuzi Founder of Connect Uganda Radio
How did the idea of Connect Uganda come to you?
Back in 2005, I found that I couldn’t listen to any radios from Uganda, let alone any station that spoke Luganda. I also found that I was feeling homesick and bored. I neither had the time nor the money to locate social gatherings with a Ugandan theme. Eventually, I also found out that many Ugandans in the Diaspora felt the same.
That is when the idea to create something that could unite Ugandans living in the Diaspora was born. The plan was to develop a free platform that would help us forget the stresses of work and beat the homesickness without leaving the comfort of our houses or flats. This platform had to use the Internet, so as to have a global appeal. The most natural thing that I could do on the Internet without having to pay anyone to do it, for me was to build a website.
So I created a website and christened it HappyUgandan.com, then uploaded Ugandan music in mp3 format with a spoken intro to each of the songs, to give them some form of personality. Soon, people from as far as Japan and America were emailing to ask whether I could upload their chosen songs, and if I would be willing to take song dedications. This was a revealing moment!
With the number of interested users quickly growing, it was clear that the name had to change to reflect our new position in the community. Pauline Nakawooya, aka Queenie, then suggested the name Connect Uganda. It was just the perfect name and on 25 January 2006, Connect Uganda was officially registered as a company in England and Wales and the website www.connectuganda.com went live.
Today, we have grown from that flat to two fully fledged studios, one in Birmingham and the other run by Mr. James Mugga in Watford, Greater London. From the Watford studios, James and Allan present Binno Obadde Obimanyi every Saturday, and Sukuma Week every Weekday.
It takes many people to make something like Connect Uganda Radio work. Over the years, many people have rendered their excellent services, such as Omukooki Kanyerezi Kamya, Paul Matindo and Steven Lubwama, along with Phad and Zabby Mutumba, and more recently Emma Best and Allan Sekkadde.
Who and what has been the most inspiring programme on Connect this year and why?
Well, I would say Binno Obadde Obimanyi, which airs on Saturdays at 8.00pm UK time. It is a current affairs program that deals with topical issues mainly to do with our motherland. James gets to talk to various policy and law makers from Uganda and sometimes it is shocking to hear what they say or fail to actually say.
Over the course of this year, for example, the program has had guests of all calibre from academicians, such as former Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof Baryamureeba, politicians both active and retired, like the Executive Director of Uganda’s KCCA and Ret Col Kasirye Gwanga, social influencers like Maama Fiina, entertainers like Golola of Uganda. The list is long.
What do you think of the current corruption situation in Uganda and how do you think Ugandans in the Diaspora can play a part to eradicate corruption?
I am not one to actively talk about adults abusing public offices. But saying that, I would like to encourage all Ugandans who want to see a corruption- free Uganda to educate the young about the dangers of corruption and greed. The young are our only true hope and collectively, we share the responsibility of teaching them right from wrong. Akaakyama amamera!
What is your opinion on the Ugandan UK Convention and how do you think it can be improved?
I think Mr Mutenza and company are doing a fabulous job with the UK conventions. They have created an annual event that, apart from enabling us to meet, learn and network, also makes us proud of being Ugandans. The Convention further acts as a platform to show off the best that our country has to offer. It would probably be nice to get more Ugandans around mainland Europe involved in future conventions.
What is your opinion on the land law in Uganda where Ugandans in the Diaspora holding foreign passports own their land illegally?
I think they have got things mixed up a little bit here. By calling us Ugandans in the Diaspora, they are acknowledging the simple fact that we are indeed true Ugandans entitled to live, work and own property in our country of birth if we so choose to. They should simply revise the law.
Any final word before you go?
We would like to thank our listeners from all around the world. Many of them have been with us from day one and continue to be with us today and will hopefully into the future. They made us the number one Ugandan radio station in the Diaspora, and for that we shall forever be indebted to them.
Many other sources from other media tell the bad stories about Africa and Uganda. Let’s unite to support media knowledge that tells our positive side.
Please find our contact details if you may need to advertise with us, enjoy photographs from our studios and presenters on www.connectuganda.com
Tel +44 (0)7535 016 197