Imaka reads he inaugural issue of Busoga Today

When Issac Imaka was a child living in Uganda’s Busoga region, his mother called him “the “village journalist” and other adults called him “the quick one.”

 “I started stationing myself at the village court to listen to cases of which drunk beat his wife; which villager stole food from whose garden, among other issues,” Imaka explained during his fellowship in 2015. 

 “After the village court sessions, my role then was to rush back home and retell what had transpired at the court,” he said. Neighbors would confer with him to check on the veracity of a story making the rounds.

Now, after 14 years in professional journalism and an Alfred Friendly fellowship, Imaka has a larger communications role in his home region north of Lake Victoria: publisher and CEO of Busoga Today.

The newspaper based in Jinja launched in April 2022 with print and digital editions. It has more than a dozen sections, including business, entertainment, sports and national news, but does not cover politics outside of development issues. Stories in the first few issues of the newspaper include university students launching a fundraising drive, Jinja Hospital expanding, and a railway expanding but not compensating evicted residents.

The newspaper is funded through private equity, advertising and reporting grants.

Busoga, where about five million people live, is the country’s poorest region and one of four constitutional monarchies in Uganda. The role of the monarchy, headed by a king known as the Kyabazinga, is to promote cultural values and mobilize the people for development that improves the standard of living. 

Imaka trained at the Missouri School of Journalism and worked for five months at the Miami Herald. In a blog post during the fellowship, he wrote, “I was at the Herald to learn about how journalism is managed and accomplished at the newspaper, along with the business and advertising aspects, so that when I get back to Uganda, I can mentor young journalists, and I can contribute to the growth of journalism in my country.”  He wrote in an email to Alfred Friendly that the decision to start the newspaper was essentially an answer to a question: How does one contribute to reducing poverty?

Here is how Imaka explains this news media project:

“Information is power — power for development. Therefore, for a region to develop, there needs to be a channel that not only entertains but, with credible information, informs and educates the people to influence them in making investment, business and development decisions.

“In its leadership pages, Busoga Today will hold the leaders accountable.  We will also help amplify the needs of the region for national attention.”

Imaka during his fellowship in 2015

“It’s a bottom up contribution that will see the readers at village level be kept abreast and given a direct line of expression to contribute to national outlook.

“We are here to take information and good news about development to the doorsteps in villages across Busoga. Never again shall the people in the region miss out on an opportunity be it investment or leadership on the excuse that they didn’t know.”

To ensure we can continue bringing talented journalists like Isaac Imaka into our transformational fellowship program, please contribute today to our nonprofit organization, which relies solely on personal donations and grants.


The 2015 Fellowship Class, with reporters flanking Imaka from Pakistan, Burma, India, Kenya and Ukraine