I met Andrew Mwenda earlier this year at the Royal Ascot Goat Races. He was wearing a tie and put his arm around me, and together we watched the Casino Simba girls perform a blend of Kazakh-traditional and Britney-exotic dances.
This is how I will always remember him, though Mwenda is known for other things: his passionate argument against foreign aid to Africa during this year’s TEDGlobal conference is one. His run-in with the Ugandan government for reporting openly on the death of southern Sudanese leader John Garang is another.
This month will add another line to his CV: after spending a year as a Knight Fellow at Stanford, Mwenda is back in Uganda, and he has big plans. He’s leaving the Daily Monitor, where he has served as the political editor since 2004, and starting his own paper:
The newspaper is already registered. It is called The Independent. It is going to live up to its name – to be a platform through which Ugandans and other interested parties of all persuasions can freely discuss public issues. It will also be a forum through which national issues can be covered without fear or favour of any person or authority.
The aim of the paper will be to support the democratic process in the country, defend human rights, freedom, liberty and accountability.
The maiden issue of the paper is supposed to come out on October 19. It is going to be unique in that it will lift the level and quality of public debate a lot higher. A lot in its opinion pages will discuss the fundamental problems and solutions for Africa.
And maybe, just maybe, it will feature a picture of us at the goat races.