By Johncation Muhindo
In a world where triumphs are often overshadowed by the noise of everyday life, it is important to take a moment and celebrate those who rise above the odds. Today, we honor Joel Kaguta, a journalist whose unwavering commitment to investigative reporting has earned him international recognition and a prestigious fellowship at Goldsmith University of London.
Joel Kaguta’s remarkable journey began in the district of Kasese, Uganda, where he uncovered a grave environmental issue through his award-winning investigative piece titled “Erosion of Copper Tailings into River Nyamwamba and Kasese Town.” Through his journalistic prowess, Joel shed light on the destructive consequences of neglect and reckless waste disposal from the copper mines at Kilembe.
The documentary showcasing the aftermath of copper waste pollution left me overwhelmed with emotions. Witnessing the extent of environmental degradation and its potential link to the rising cancer cases in Kasese district was heart-wrenching. Joel’s dedication to exposing this hidden side of mineral wealth is commendable and serves as a wake-up call for the urgent need for responsible mining practices.
However, beyond the accolades and recognition, Joel Kaguta’s triumph represents something more profound. It embodies the spirit of hope and hard work that has propelled individuals from the region of Yiira, Konzo/Nande, to achieve greatness against all odds. This enduring spirit, rooted in the faith of a better future, has democratized success for the people, as generations have passed down their hopes and dreams.
The journey towards success has never been easy for the people of this region. It is a testament to the indomitable spirit of individuals like Bwambale Henry, who defied the odds and earned a place at Harvard University, despite being a “short man” from the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains. Kiyonga, a product of hope and hard work, rose from humble beginnings to occupy high offices in the land. And Winnie Kiiza, an orphan from the little village of Nsenyi, emerged as a leader of impeccable character, admired across the country.
The stereotypes and challenges faced by individuals like Loice Biira Bwambale and Taban Christopher Kibanzanga did not deter them from achieving greatness. Loice became one of the leading champions of the women’s movement in Uganda, inspiring millions along the way. Taban, born in the caves of Kahindangoma, rose to prominence as a king-maker and later served as Uganda’s minister of agriculture, defense, and veteran affairs.
The story of resilience and triumph extends to individuals like Yokasi Bihande, who saved the tribe of Rwenzururu when its mention was criminalized. Kanyama Geoffrey Sibendire Thembo Bigogo, a beacon of hope for his people, skillfully navigated the challenges of the law to save many from unjust imprisonment. Baluku owa Kiime emerged from the dungeons, reconciled with his captors, and now sits at the national high table, contributing to Uganda’s future.
The spirit of hope and hard work also led Mbasu (Gen Wilson Mbadi) from the hills of Kabingo to the prestigious Sandhurst military academy, eventually becoming the highest-ranking commander in the Ugandan military. The list of inspiring individuals from this region is endless, and Joel Kaguta’s journey is but one example.
As we celebrate Joel’s achievements, we must remember that this is just the beginning of a long chain of opportunities awaiting him and his fellow kinsmen and women from both sides of Mount Rwenzori. Our villages and revered district are just a small part of the vast and remarkable world. It is through hope, hard work, and an unyielding spirit that they can continue to make their mark on journalism, environmental justice, and beyond.
In conclusion, Joel Kaguta’s triumph stands as a beacon of inspiration for all. It reminds us that the journey to success may be challenging, but it is not impossible. By embracing hope and channeling our energies into hard work, we can overcome obstacles and shape a brighter future. Congratulations, Joel, on your well-deserved recognition and may your endeavors continue to shed light on important issues and pave the way for a better world.
The writer, Johncation Muhindo, is a human rights activist in Uganda and a team leader at Creations Forum Afrika-CAF.