Uganda’s Solomon Serwanjja is 2019 Winner of BBC’s Komla Dumor Award

Solomon Serwanjja

Ugandan broadcast journalist, Solomon Serwanjja is this year’s recipient of the annual BBC Komla Dumor Award.

Solomon said he was contacted by the BBC through a Skype call and he could not contain the excitement when they revealed to him that he had won the award.

“Oh my God. I’m so honored. I was standing in this yard, and I just stood still. I froze,” he told the BBC.

The Komla Dumor Award is a journalism award sponsored by the BBC. It was established in honour of Komla Dumor, an exceptional Ghanaian broadcaster and presenter for BBC World News, who died suddenly aged 41 in 2014.

It recognizes outstanding individuals living and working in Africa, with strong journalism skills, and an exceptional talent in telling African stories.

Uganda’s Nancy Kacungira was the first person to win the Award in 2015, followed by Nigeria’s Didi Akinyelure and Amina Yuguda in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The 2018 winner was Kenya’s Waihiga Mwaura.

Solomon Serwanjja said that he drew a lot of inspiration from Komla Dumor who was at the time anchoring and reporting for the BBC.

“I felt very good because I saw him in me. I’m a flamboyant person. Some people call me ‘Flambo’,” he said to BBC.

Solomon adds that he admired the unconventional character that Komla carried on the set while anchoring news.

“I love on-air flair. I love the excitement. I don’t believe that news should be static. I believe it should be dynamic”.

“You need to communicate. So you have to use more than just the words and English, but the body language as well. Komla had that unique style in him. He would come on set and just light up the studio. And you’re like ‘I want to be like that guy'”.

He said Komlar told the African story differently.

Now as a recipient of the prestigious award, Solomon says he looks forward to share experiences with the world’s best and to grow his career as a journalist in different spheres.

The winner of the Award earns a three-months’ development contract with BBC.

“I know that during this time, I will be interfacing with the world’s best. In television, radio and online. I will have to amass all that experience to make me a better journalist to take the African continent forward,” he said.

The former NTV Uganda news reporter and anchor becomes the second Ugandan to win this Award after Nancy Kacungira who currently presents world news on the BBC.

Solomon receives the Award only a few months after Police pressed charges on him and his colleagues following an investigation they undertook on the stealing of government drugs in health facilities.

The investigation was jointly carried out by NBS TV and BBC. Solomon’s colleagues and his wife, Vivian Serwanja were arrested and detained by Police after security operatives raided his home and found a consignment of government drugs. He wasn’t home at the time.

Solomon revealed that the drugs had been used during the investigation and that the team had returned to Kampala late in the night and decided to keep the stock at his place.

He later showed up at Kampala Central Police station and recorded a statement. On the same day,  They were later released.

Solomon has been behind a series of investigative stories during his time with NBS Television.

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