Alan Kasujja describes himself as a “sucker for information” and being naturally curious about people, it is not surprising that the BBC broadcaster abandoned law for journalism.
The Ugandan is the presenter for the new BBC news podcast, Africa Daily that was launched on January 18 and seeks to give an in-depth on news stories shaping Africa, focusing on one story per episode on weekdays.
In an interview with The EastAfrican, Kasujja was optimistic that he and his team of five people can weather the challenges to come up with an in-depth 15-minute news podcast every 24 hours.
“BBC has a network of reporters and correspondents all over the continent. We are part of a bigger family and we are just tapping into these resources. It is a case of putting a microphone in front of an African and asking them, tell me your story,” said Kasujja.
The 43-year old broadcaster, who joined the BBC in 2012 after stints with radio, television, and newspapers in Uganda and Kenya, has since then been a lead presenter on the BBC World Service’s Newsday programme.
After presenting news for many years and doing many documentaries that focus on the continent’s social-economic transformation, Kasujja believes that he now has an opportunity to do stories that have an impact on the lives of Africans.
“I have been presenting news for many years, but most of the time you are rushed and listeners are left asking questions, but the Africa Daily focuses on one story per episode to make sure we cover as many faces as possible,” said Kasujja.
“Half the time you don’t pay much attention to the story because you don’t have time for it. But now, we have an opportunity to tell a story, spend time on it, and answer as many questions as the listener might have,” he added.
Africa Daily is produced by the team behind Newsday — the BBC World Service’s flagship breakfast news radio show — and the podcast seeks to hold conversation with those at the heart of the story. Each day, Africa Daily puts a spotlight on a single news story that’s dominating headlines through interviewees with people who are living the story, or the reporters following events on the ground.
“African voices are at the heart of each episode. The long term vision is to allow listeners to understand Africa better because you can’t talk about the world without talking about Africa. Africa is an important part of the global conversations,” said Kasujja.
As he seeks to make another mark in his over ten years in broadcast journalism, which started by chance as a teenager, Kasujja hopes that Africa Daily will get as many Africans as possible on the podcast to tell their news-related stories.
Born in 1978, Kasujja says that he first got interested in broadcast journalism in the early 1990s when he listened to Alex Ndaula presenting on Capital FM.
After joining Form 6, Kasujja started following the media keenly and soon got a job at the New Vision newspaper as a contributor. He was inspired by established journalists such as Charles Onyango Obbo, Kevin Okeno Aliro, but was mentored by Barbara Kaija at the New Vision.
However, he had a love for broadcast journalism and later joined Sanyu FM, where he was given a slot of three minutes to talk about social issues.
“You can’t imagine what one can do in three minutes if it is all you have,” he said.
One day, one of his colleagues could not make it to her talk show and Kasujja, as a teenager with no experience, was asked to stand-in and lead the panel discussion that included Robert Kabushenga, the current CEO of Vision Group.
“I must have done something right because the owner of the stations offered me a contract,” he said. Later, he took leave from journalism and went to study law at Makerere University.
After completing his law degree, Kasujja rejoined Sanyu FM as a breakfast show presenter. He later worked at Capital FM in Nairobi, Kenya, between 2007 and 2009 before returning to Uganda to present the Big Breakfast on Capital FM in Kampala.
Kasujja has also hosted Uganda's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He also anchored The Fourth Estate, an influential political talk show in Uganda.
Kasujja says that while he did not have formal training in journalism, he has been learning on the job and has become better through daily experiences and the consistent in-house training offered by the BBC.
He believes that the biggest challenges facing broadcast in Africa in the current Internet and social media age is misinformation and disinformation.
This article was first published in The EastAfrican newspaper on February 6, 2021.