Social Media Kings: Ssemanda On the State of Digital Marketing in the Country

There are individuals that will quickly come to your mind in this country whenever digital and social media marketing come up as a topic. They have shaped their lives and careers around the subject and made it their source of income and livelihood.

Mathias Ssemanda, the Head of Digital at the oldest university in the country is one such person. For the time he has been on the job at the institution, he has revolutionized Makerere University and set it on a path where as things stand, the sky cannot even be the limit.

He acknowledges that digital literacy levels are still low in Uganda but hinted that efforts by the government and private sector players, especially telecom companies have in the recent years enabled a positive shift.

“The introduction of ICT and computer studies in our O and A level education system has helped us build initial capacity and this makes work easy for private players who come in to support government” Ssemanda says.

“If Uganda is to transform and reap big from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we must make heavy investments in equipping our universities with research facilities to handle issues in that area” he adds, noting that the sector is still facing challenges of financing and resource allocation.

With his contribution, the university right now hosts two major Artificial Intelligence centres which are funded and equipped through partners like Google at the Artificial Intelligence and Data Science Lab- Research Group (www.air.ug) hosted by the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) and the Hi-Tech Bioinformatics Center housed at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI).

He however affirms optimism in Uganda’s future in the digital revolution.
“We just need to consolidate the achievements we have made as we also encourage more government spending on ICT infrastructure, as well as subsidising private players like telecom companies, ICT equipment importers and more research funding to universities in this area” he concluded.

His works in line with digital media are all over his social handles across most social media applications under the username @MathiasSsemanda. Load MTN Pulse bundles today by dialing *157# to connect with him and further this conversation.

“I Almost Got Addicted to Drugs due to Depression” – Poet, Rushongoza Reveals

If you’re an avid follower of performing arts and poetry in Uganda, there is no way you could have failed to encounter Begumya Rushongoza Nkabafunzaki. He’s a poet, student and political talk show analyst for Andrew Mwenda’s KFM talk show, the Hot Seat.

Having experienced depression first hand, Rushongoza seeks to highlight the growing scare of depression that has claimed so many youthful lives in his upcoming poetry show at Makerere University. Our reporter caught up with him to discuss the subject of depression and poetry.

 

Briefly give our readers the details of your show please.

“Light” is a one man show based on my poetry collection by the same name that is still forthcoming. The show is hinged on two central themes; Rooms and Light.

I wrote the collection in Makerere, to detail my experiences dealing with pain, depression, anxiety and loss. The collection is centered around university hall/hostel rooms and that’s because my room was the most private space in my social life where the realities of my life were fully manifested to myself.

Are you a victim of depression yourself? Or are you detailing experiences of people around you?

I have dealt with depression and continue to. But I am also telling the stories of my friends. Some of them have been brave enough to speak to me about it, and sometimes after those intense conversations the inspiration comes to you. So yeah, a bit of both; but mostly my story.

 

Not to pry, but how have you dealt with depression? Very many youths are suffering with it.

To be honest, I would like to sell you a story about how I ran to Jesus and he sorted everything out. For me, it’s been a process of finding a way of coping and using for as long as it works, and when it doesn’t, finding the next way to cope.

When I was younger, I kept telling myself that I would grow old and forget the tragedies that cause my depression. Eventually that didn’t work. Then I shifted to immersing myself in novels and plays and that stopped working too. I tried God. After a while I began to feel empty and suffer long periods of depression. Then music, mostly Radio and Weasel and rap and that also stopped being able to do it. I immersed myself in school and taking up so many things such that I was too busy to be lonely or down, but again my depression pierced through that. I reached an extent of using weed, alcohol and parties to cope and that failed to work too. So my life has been a journey of migrating from one coping strategy to another.

Do you believe a professional counselor can help you through this phase?

The honest answer is that I don’t know. My friends spoke to a counselor and they say it really helped. I don’t think I would talk to a counselor because these are things I don’t like to talk about. When I am really down I prefer to just run away and be with myself. And the fact that the therapist or counselor is not allowed to talk about their life as well is bad. I don’t think I am comfortable speaking to a stranger about all this. I know people will say I am ignorant or stupid. But when you are in that state, speaking out or being around people is very difficult and to do the same to therapists who sometimes have never dealt with all this is even harder. So I don’t see myself in a counseling session any time soon.

 

Back to your poetry show. Where will it be and how much are tickets?

The show is at Makerere Law School, lower lecture theatre. We did it that way because we want the show to start a conversation on depression, anxiety, mental health and all of that with the students of this university who are actively dealing with these things daily.

It is on Sunday 14th April 2019, and tickets will be available at the entrance for just UGX 3000.

 

Are there any other poets that will grace the show or it will be only you?

It is a one man show in the sense that all the poems performed at the show will be written by me. (I know it sounds a little selfish). But reputed performers Mwesigwa Diego, Lilian Arinda, Aine Berna and Noah Infectious will join me on stage that day so you’ll not only be seeing my face.

Does the collection have a print copy yet?

Not yet. The process of creating a great book takes so much time. We already have a publisher, and the process of publication is in high gear. The book is set to launch this year, along with another poetry collection of mine that’s also in the pipeline. But the show couldn’t wait because everyday a friend is going through a phase. Every day, someone I know is attempting to end their life, last year someone in my hall took their life, and this week a close friend tried to do the same, thankfully someone stopped them. I kept seeing all these things and thought, will I keep sitting on my ass while this gets worse and worse? I thought to myself that maybe I should do a show and share my truth, and perhaps that would somehow help others figure out a way out. I am not offering many answers for the show, I am doing it to show people who don’t understand what depression really is. And for those dealing with it, how not to deal with it. I am telling my truth, and in a way, asking for help.

 

Alright then, we hope to attend and try to find some answers too. Any last words?

Depression is not a condition one has when they can’t find the right Snapchat filter or are too broke to afford tickets for a big show. Depression is really a disease. And it is a condition that can create other bigger conditions; addictions, self mutilation and so on. If you lose a parent and you are down for 3 months and then get better, it’s not depression. But if 6 months later it’s worse and worse, it probably is depression. Depression is like slipping on a wet floor and falling, except instead of hitting the floor in seconds, the fall lasts 5 months. It’s like if you were set on fire using fuel, except the fire is inside your body not outside and it is never dying out. You just feel so overwhelmed by emotional pain that you can’t seem to stop. That’s why people just choose to end their life. As a student community we need to be more deliberate about being supportive and understanding the plight of people with depression. We need to actively get involved in helping them, whatever that takes.

To everyone that is dealing with depression, I don’t know what to tell you. But I will probably share with you something that rapper Kendrick Lamar once said;

“Pick yourself up, life is more than suicide.”

I am happy to help you through these down phases, and I hope eventually it all gets easier.

CAMPUS GUIDE: Hey! Freshers, Campus Is Here!

August is here and within 3 weeks, new students also codenamed as freshers in all universities must have reported and nostalgia has already taken over as most reminisce about the forthcoming days. Absolutely everyone is eager to start a new chapter in their academic life, and anxious about what awaits them.

But, not to get you worried dear fresher that is reading this, Campus is mostly fun. Nonetheless, you must understand that life is never a smooth ride. That is why MTNPulse is going to take you through some of what you should expect when you inevitably report to that university you have craved so much to be in.

The Fun
Let’s face it, 80% of freshers going to report to Campus have more fun on their mind than they have academic work. Your hearts beat fastest when you remember that 4th August is the day and all your dream hangout places and night life venues will be open the next day and the day after given that at campus you’re a free man, No solid rules to deter you from your plans like high school had them pinned on the notice board.

The closest majority of you have come to intimacy is while you were watching Game of Thrones for the 100th time in your boring vacation. Now your hairstyles are shaped like Ankole long-horned cattle.

Like we noted before, Campus is really fun. You will go out till Ug Coconut starts to taste like water and you will be in intimacy till you start saying, “Let me reserve some for my future husband/Wife”

So yeah, that is a real expectation and the only thing we can tell you is to stay woke while on that, don’t break your parent’s hearts.

The Academics
This is the sole reason you are going to Campus. If you are not government sponsored, your parents are facing all odds to raise your tuition fees, accommodation fees, functional fees and meal fees. Just do them one favor; fulfil your academic purposes because at the end of the three/four/five years, your parents expect to be at your graduation ceremony. Nothing brings happiness to a parent like that day.

Because of the fun we discussed earlier, there can be diversions but face them as the champ that you are. We have seen students that enroll at law school but end up graduating with other honors because they ran away from their course. This goes to tell you that you need to study the course that you like because that is the only way you can love your job in future.
Those tales of guys that study Medicine for five or so years but end up doing other jobs are actually true. So be woke mate.

The Catch
Summarily, those are two aspects you should expect from Campus. We are not going to tell you that there is no uniform at Campus or that no one will be running after you to go and read (well, some universities do that but the most won’t care whether you attend class or not) so just pick a struggle

The majority juggle both aspects. They have fun as they also read their books. Very few concentrate on their books and at graduation, they are usually emphasized while reading out names of graduates for obvious reasons – first class degrees and stuff.
Others concentrate on the fun aspect and surprisingly they also graduate. So really, it is about picking a struggle and you will definitely go through Campus much as that is not a guarantee too since there are dropouts in that level of learning also.

Without any mentality of equivocation, we at MTNPulse wish you all the best in your new journey of education and endeavor to join MTNPulse for great offers and bundles that will help you out when doing your research and course work assignments.