By Isaac Akugizibwe
KIU, Main Campus - When KIU emerged as the best University in the 2022 National Newsroom Contest, there were celebrations on the fourth floor of the Kabalagala-based Tirupati Mazima Mall where the organizers of the competition, Media Challenge Initiative (MCI) resides. Absent from the jubilant winning team was the outstanding duo that won the Gender Award in the Luganda News Category.
Prior to the awards night, authorities at MCI called all the top contenders inviting them to the awards ceremony. Surprisingly, the only duo that won the best gender report award in the Luganda news category was never called. Though everyone had acknowledged that their story was outstanding, no one expected them to win for they were never summoned.
The crowd at the MCI Hub was forced into wrong guesses as the announcer of the day read out loud, "And the best Gender Reporter 2022 award goes to!" After 30 seconds of silence, the name 'Nayiga Hilda' was mentioned sending team KIU into a frenzy once more. They stood roaring and dancing like they had done all night long.
Lucky for Hilda Nayiga, she was able to follow the awards ceremony online though she still never expected to win as she would later confirm.
"I wasn't called but I followed the whole event online. I never expected to win given the stiff competition from different universities," she said.
Her compatriot, Ruth Nalwanga did not know they had scooped an award until she would learn a day later.
"I felt good though I could not believe it, the competition was tough and because we had not been called, there was no hope that such a miracle would come to pass," Nalwanga narrated.
Nayiga and Nalwanga's award was one of the eight that team KIU collected on 15th December 2022 out of which four belonged to the Luganda news team which beat all the others by far to emerge the best. There was no other team that had two people in a category during last year's competition except KIU's Hilda Nayiga and Ruth Nalwanga. Their story was based on an informative report on the Effects of Gender stereotypes on Women in Uganda. KIU's duo defeated other contestants from Makerere University, UMCAT and Cavendish University.
After a month of preparation, the two decided to combine their minds to come up with one great story. Nalwanga took the role of sourcing in which she looked at and conducted interviews with the sources while Nayiga deployed her magical voice, narrating the story with a captivating flow and intonation. This they said contributed to their victory.
"We believe that two heads are better than one, and because of our combined efforts in looking for the best sources, sticking to the theme of the competition and then ensuring that our story was well produced could have made our story indispensable," Nalwanga explained.
"Though we never expected to win, we knew our story was spot on. We had the right sources, wrote a good script and in the end, the story was well-produced. We deserved this," Nayiga noted.
Since winning the prestigious award, both Nayiga and Nalwanga admit that a lot has changed in their lives. They are now more confident than ever and their status has all of a sudden changed.
"Things have changed, people now call us award winners and this makes us feel good,"Nalwanga said.
The two are currently working on their research projects and will look to graduate this June during KIU'S 27th graduation ceremony if their projects get done on time. They are optimistic that the award they won will open doors in their journalism careers.