“Opportunity knocks once.” I don’t know whether it is proverb or a saying or a common statement used by the ordinary Ugandan. Whenever I pick The Saturday Vision and New Vision, I read the writers’ name before I let my eyes explore the story. There are particular people I’ll look out for. Carol (Natukunda/Kasujja/Kezaabu), Ernest Bazanye, Angela Kintu, Esther "Namungojji", Babara Among and Joseph Kabuleta. I’ll not want dwell too much in typing all the names. Its a whole list of columnists I follow.
I was always told by people around me on how it is hard to get into New Vision as a writer. This made me believe that it was actually very hard and that I’d need connections to get in, but each time I’d read the newspaper I noticed the writers in there were very good at what they did. Despite that I gave up so fast and gave up on writing.
In my third year as a journalism student I had never written for a newspaper apart from our campus paper. So an opportunity appears. I apply to do my internship at the features desk of The New Vision. I probably had the longest application (Only new Visions’ human resource manager knows that). Driven by negative thoughts and people around me I was never with the belief I’d actually get in.
It is the second week. I have already given up on getting into New Vision so I got a place at Business Week. This was something differing of my beliefs. I take myself as an all round person, atleast I can write business, sports and politics. They offer me a contract that expired April 30th together with an ID card. In my mind I’d given up on that opportunity to work for New Vision.
“When I was a young boy I tried to listen
And I wanna feel like that
Little white shadows
blink and miss them
Part of a system, I am”
Theses are the words in my ringtone (White shadows by Coldplay). Unfortunately I have the polyphonic version. It’s around 9:00am on a Thursday, My phone rings and a soft sweet voice says
“Hullo, is this Mark?”
“Hullo, Mark here,” I reply
“I am calling from New Vision. You applied to be an intern, right?” She says
At the sound of that I freeze for a few seconds then I reply
“I did apply last year in December,” I say as I waited anxiously for what she’d tell me.
“You have been selected to do internship with us,” She says before I interrupt
“Sure?” I say. “Isn’t this some sort of prank or something,” I add
I can tell she wants to burst into laughter. She then replies “If you are still interested Just come next week on Wednesday at 8:00am. You will go to the editorial desk and ask for Helen.”
I freeze and all I say is “Ok, thank you very much.”
“If you have question, ask when you get to New Vision. Ok. Have a lovely day Mark,” She says
“Hope to see you,” I say “Have a lovely day and great weekend. It’s just one day to go,” I reply rather softly. I know how to be sweet.
There is a brief laughter and the line dies out.
I start regretting why I was not patient and waited. I cannot terminate a contract. I did not have a convincing reason to tell my boss. Its Wednesday, I walk to industrial area, stand just at the entrance of New Vision for about 10mins then turned back and went back to Business week. Later that evening I cancel my supper plans, went to my bed and cried. The one chance I had to get in had been blown just because of a clause in a contract.
I just wish walking in reverse was possible. In a few Months University life will be put to the shelf. I hope such a lifetime chance will appear again. I always imagine myself in the News room rubbing shoulders with some of Uganda’s good writers.