Nakalembe uses her journalism skills to promote Uganda’s tourism

Olivia Nakalembe says she grew up in a family where everyone was allowed to speak their minds.

Looking back, this freedom to speak her mind has taken her places.

“My parents knew I was meant to be a lawyer or journalist given those qualities. My big sister Princess Favour Muwanguzi guided me in career selection even when she was more into sciences,” Nakalembe narrates how her journalism journey started.

She says that while still at university, owing to advice from one of the lecturers, she participated in a challenge that  got her spotted by NBS Television which took her on to present a youths show.

Changes course

After presenting the youth show for three years, Nakalembe decided to look for a new challenge in her journalism career.

“I realized I needed more challenges mentally because I am an intelligent girl. Whereas I was passionate about young people, it was time for me to serve them even more by joining the newsroom. I talked to my producer who encouraged me. I spoke to NBS TV’s deputy head of news who encouraged me to join he newsroom. As they say, the rest is history,” she says.

On her first day into the newsroom, Nakalembe was asked to meet and interview the executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority but whereas she was not prepared for this huge task ahead of her, she accepted it.

“Whereas my heart raced a bit, I was ready to prove that I was worth of joining the newsroom.  I did exactly that with the interview,” she says.

Often up and coming reporters want to cover politics because it is the most prominent. For Nakalembe, her soft spot was tourism but the decision was not an easy one to take.

“I chose tourism because I felt there was a gap and the need to diversify stories in the newsroom given the fact that much of the stories were on politics. It was a hard decision to make because everyone’s desire upon entering the newsroom is to report [politics]. However after deliberations with the deputy head of news, he encouraged me and told me that news is not all about politics.”

The youthful journalist was lucky that the producer who was handled her, one Abubaker Tyaba had studied tourism and environmental conservation and this ensured she got the support she needed.

“He mentored me in the two fields and introduced me to the story makers there in. At the back of my mind, I knew it that I had to make my mother proud since she was a nature and animal lover. From then on I have never turned back and here we are championing tourism stories,” she says.

The start

She says the start was not an easy one as most of the stories fancied in the newsroom were political ones.

“It was tough because some of my superiors would rather first guide a political story and then attend to tourism but I was focused to change this state of affairs,” she says.

“I realized that tourism was being regarded as a luxury yet it clearly had gaps in policy, implementation, challenges and opportunities which needed a journalist to advance. This is what pushed me more to have this narrative changed.”

Nakalembe says she was encouraged by her editors to push on with her new found love for tourism and this has paid off as the narrative has gradually changed.

She adds that the journey has not been easy as many regard tourism as just a luxury and on the other hand light news.

“There’s a general lack of conservation knowledge among journalists and therefore make it difficult to have people to speak to for advice in this field,” she says.


Nevertheless, for the strides taken in her new found love of tourism, Nakalembe says she is proud of what she has achieved so far.

“I am definitely proud and words cannot express how much of the small mile stones I have made. Unlike other sectors whose news desks have been well established, I have had to work from scratch. Tourism is now regarded as news worthy sector and we have a fully established news desk for it,” Nakalembe says.

 “When you step out of this country, you will be able appreciate how beautiful Uganda is. This is partly because of my stories that I been able to market Uganda to the globe. Since my mom was a nature lover. I’m proud that she’s proud of me doing what she and I love the most,” she says.

To further promote Uganda as a tourist destination, Nakalembe also presents an entertainment tourism show named “The Travel Show”.

She is proud to have been nominated in a number of tourism and conservation awards but has also been able to inspire many youths, including females to join not only journalism but also promotion of Uganda as a tourist destination.

“I intend to cross borders to continue telling a diverse picture of tourism across East Africa but to also help more journalists better their careers in regards tourism and conservation.”

Nakalembe however asks government to invest more in conservation journalism because good stories paint a good picture of the country’s economy.

“I implore young journalists to explore this rather virgin space because it presents immense opportunities for career growth and promotion of the country,” she says.

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