Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meet Simon Kasyate

Simon Kasyate
EDGAR R. BATTE

At slightly below six feet, with a not-so-dark complexion, well-trimmed hair is Simon Kasyate; reporter and programme presenter with Daily monitor and KFM respectively. As an award-winning journalist who has worked in both electronic and print media and yet for not longer than five years, it is no doubt that his is now a household name in the business.
Born 25 years ago to an average family in Bugolobi flats, Kasyate is the first born to Kenneth and Hope Kasyate.
He passes as a go-getter who will not give up on anything until it works his way. He will not hesitate to break a social norm if that is what it takes to archive his goal-little wonder his CNN Africa journalist of the year award was born from an interview with a lesbian, off Kampala’s street.
"The bashing I got for this story was due to societal stereotypes here and the homophobia, but I had this gut feeling it was well done," said Kasyate of the stir his story caused at the Monitor FM when it aired.
“Much as to describe an evil is not to condone it, many of my colleagues were branding me a homosexual sympathiser yet all I did was put aside my sentiments and just interviewed a lesbian who was willing to tell her story, thank goodness it won,” says Kasyate, adding that “as a journalist, one should have his/her ears open to whoever for as long as they have a story to tell.”
The award judges could not agree further. "The interview is intriguing, informative, revealing and often entertaining. What is nice about it also is that it is very conversational and manages to break stereotypes regarding homosexuality," was their citation of Kasyate’s works.

Break-through into Media
First he thought he was destined be a medical doctor because that is what his mother wanted me him become. He had studied Physics, chemistry, biology and Mathematics at high school but as good fate would have it, Kasyate was among the few in his class at St. Mary’s College Kisubi that did not make it for human Medicine. Out of disappointment he rejected Veterinary medicine which he was offered and sought an Arts course on private sponsorship. He is now a graduate of Social sciences from Makerere University Kampala.
“Much as I offered sciences, all indicators were such that I had a niche in the arts world,” he said “Look, I owed a tabloid at Ntare School, was information minister at SMACK and also Deputy Editor-in-chief of the college Magazine The Eagle and yes, read a bulletin to the school every Monday at assembly.”
So during his S.6 vacation, a inner voice commandeered him to enter WBS offices and ask to be part of the Teen’s Club cast.
Jackie Sengendo, the then producer of the popular Teenage show immediately showed him the exit sighting he was a little to old for the show and had no flare. He was not convinced though so he decided to give Jackie another visit and this time give her ‘double barrel’.”
He did not find Jackie there as she was reportedly on leave and managed to convince Jacinta Kagoro, her assistant and that day went in for as screen test. Despite being star struck by the famous Teen’s club cast, the screen test went just fine and as they say, the rest is history.
“Soon I clocked twenty and Teens’ Club was not it for me anymore, I had to think fast,” he said.
He had made friends with Yusuf Kalyango Jr, the News Editor who then took him on as sports news anchor after Daniel Vien and Khan Ramathan had left WBS.
This exposed him to many challenges and lessons a he revealed Soon he was doing the Prime news, the breakfast news and Week In focus, a weekly news review. From all this he appreciates WBS TV helped him learn the art of reporting.
About the same time, Monitor FM opened and being initially a news-oriented station, Kasyate gave it try. He sold the idea of presenting a youth show-tackling issues affecting the youth to one of his friends, Andrew Mwenda who gave him the green light. However, he found he just couldn’t balance between the two jobs, since he the remaining serving member at WBS, the rest having left. So when he fell out with management, he decided to concentrate on his job at Monitor FM. But he did this along side a short stint at Uganda television where he anchored the Sports news next to veteran News Anchor Bbale Francis.
At Monitor FM, he began writing a few feature/leisure pieces for the News Paper and soon realised his hand at the print media with his debut hard news story, the AGOA girls’ strike.
But most recently, Kasyate is a name that comes to mind whenever the underwear scandal that involved the Director of Information at the Movement Secretariat, Ofwono Opondo is mentioned. On the issue, Kasyate smiles and discloses that he has never had a problem with Ofwono Opondo.
“It was just so unfortunate that he happened to be under the watchful eye of Simon Kasyate but I have no problem with Ofwono Opondo,” he smilingly points out. When he looks back to all this, he prides himself for his self-driven ambitious and aggressive character.
On the hand, tabloids have had a field time in what he calls ‘demonising’ him.
“They have exaggerated my actions and parts of my body much to my chagrin but what can I do, these are things that serve to please the people,” he elaborates, “one thing that never gives me sleepless nights are those reports because my conscience is always clear.”
One thing though hurt deep inside him. He wishes his mother should have lived longer to ‘unlimitedly’ enjoy the fruit of his son’s hard work.
His philosophy for life? “A wise man will seek an opportunity in every problem; a foolish man will see a problem in every opportunity, I always strive to be the former.”

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