A few proceeds from those that found his work worthy, saw him advance to a communicating with a mega phone. This automatically meant bigger opportunities and as years passed by, he became the biggest and most trusted source of information, ‘the face of Radio Katwe’.
With no job in 1999, he thought of taking advantage of his Luganda Language and perhaps posed his father’s musical genres to become “ a walking communication medium”
31-year-old Ali Ssenkya is a
household name in Katwe Sub County, Kasese District, known among the young and
the old as the authority on anything that is happening in the area and beyond.
To many, he is referred to as
Radio Katwe, a name he won as a result of the routine announcements he makes, using
After losing his father shortly
after completing primary seven, Senkya’s first attempt at work was fishing at
Lake Edward. But because of his age and lack of skills, the job did not yield
In 1999, he thought of using his ability
to speak Luganda and a little bit of talent to become “a walking communication
medium”. With no capital and a bleak future, Senkya began a thorny journey to
deliver community information.
His first attempt was with local businesses;
shops, bars, restaurants, and saloons, where operators picked interest in a
young boy who voluntarily offered a service for a soda, a piece of soap or even
a promise for anything small.
A few proceeds from those that
found his work worthy, saw him advance to a communicating with a megaphone. This
automatically meant bigger opportunities and as years passed by, he became the biggest
and most trusted source of information, ‘the face of Radio Katwe’.
Soon after, he was the go-to
person for local organizations and government entities that wanted to spread
information on various programmes. The
latest was spreading Ebola messages, in the wake of an outbreak that spilt
over from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where thousands of lives were lost over
the last year.
Senkya begins his broadcast at 6
am, with a diverse line up of activities. They include commercials,
announcements and news updates. On
average, he takes between 4-5 hours moving around the Town Council. On the
trek, he collects information, delivers, markets his service and signs new
Senkya says he uses the evening
hours as a field Reporter looking for news for his morning broadcast. His work,
he says, is a blessing to the community, adding that the local government at
Katwe has since embraced his work and empowered him through training in areas
of community health.
Luganda //Cue in; guno omulimu
Cue out…ebintu ebigwa
Radio Katwe charges between 5,000-20,000
depending on the kind of announcement, coverage and the number of times it will
be aired. He makes an average of 10,000 – 30,000 Shillings a day. But death
announcements, calls for those seeking aid, lost children and health warnings
are aired at no cost.
Luganda //Cue in; “Mpozo ebilala
Cue out…nebamuwayo ku ka
Ssenkya says that the job has
been the sole source of income for him and his family of four children. He has
been able to take them to school and provide for them.
Luganda //Cue in; Nsobode
Cue out… balita jabesi.”//
Like any business, “Radio Katwe”
is prone to people who don’t pay on time, those that default or even undervalue
his work. But this doesn’t sweep off his energy.
Luganda Cue in; “Ntambulira
Cue out…Lye linya lwebakozesa.”//
His call to the government is to establish
a community radio station in Katwe that he can be part of.
Luganda //Cue in; Nsaba
Cue out…kwenakola nga
Kasaija Robert, a resident of
Katwe Town Council praises Senkya for keeping their community informed. “Whenever
Radio Katwe is away and a need for communication rises, we suffer, we don’t
have any other person who does this apart from him,” Kasaija says.
Rutooro /Cue In; onu Omusaija kayamba…
Cue Out… akukwata omuzindaro
Margaret Alinda, another resident says that Radio
Katwe has been an essential part of her business.
Runyankole //Cue in; Ogu omushija ogu…
Cue out… nabasa kurabwamu
With nearly two hours needed from
Katwe to Kasese town, where the nearest community radio is, Senkya’s role remains one of the most important for
locals in the area.