KAMPALA — Former Chief Parliamentary photojournalist at Daily Monitor, Alex Esagala has been appointed the Senior Press Secretary to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa.
“Friends, I’m happy to share that I have been appointed as the Senior Press Secretary to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa,” Esagala posted on Saturday morning.
He added: “With great humility, I wish to thank Rt. Hon.Tayebwa for trusting me with this new appointment as his SPS.”
Esagala was appointed to handle the deputy speaker’s media relations following a stellar performance in the office of the leader of government business at Parliament where he had a short stint as a photographer and a media relations officer.
Under his new assignment, Esagala will have to act as the face of the Deputy Speaker jn the media and, by extension, conducting news briefings with parliamentary reporters— meaning the role can be high-profile.
Esagala, previously a photojournalist at Nation Media Group, brings more than five years of media and communications experience to the role.
He has previously had a two-year stint at Makerere University’s department of journalism, helping pass on photography skills at Uganda’s oldest Journalism Centre of Excellence on a fourth-year much-sought-after course —Photo Journalism Workshop.
Working as a journalist at Nation Media Group (NMG) the biggest media group in Sub-Saharan Africa he twice emerged as the overall winner of the Press Photo Awardsi — with his works being published in the 2019 human Rights Violations in Uganda Report published by human Rights, Peace Centre and Makerere University.
Last year, 2021, Esagala received the Uganda Press Photo Audience’s Choice Award of the Decade, a top accolade given to the best photojournalist in the Republic of Uganda.
Esagala also scooped the Best Photo Journalist prize during the Uganda National Journalism Awards ceremony organised by African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) in 2017 and in the following year winning the grand prize at the 2018 UPPA for his photo titled Makerere Student Protests—walking home with a professional camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which came with an EF 24-105mm lens.
The Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, in November 2018 commended and invited Esagala to Makerere for official recognition.
Prof. Nawangwe at the time said he was happy with the strides Mr. Esagala had achieved in the journalism space so far.
The Deputy Head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Uganda, Ms. Anna Merrifield in November 2019 bought a photo taken by Daily in one the Makerere students’ tuition protests.
Ms. Merrifield who had tipped Esagala to winning the next Uganda Press Photo Award said she loved the photo because of its composition that she said looks “like painting while telling an important news story”.
“I’m always happy to support professional journalism that is why I’m very proud of my own print copy of this fantastic photo taken by very talented [Alex Esagala] of Daily Monitor,” she twitted.
The photo shows a perfect composition of what happened at Makerere during the recent tuition demo, with a man braving through a thick smoke of a burning car tyre.
Commenting on the same, former head of news at NTV Uganda Ms. Josephine Karungi said that Esagala’s pictures do not lie.
“The work you do makes all the difference,” she said adding that she is also very proud of him.
“When they say pictures do not lie, this what they mean. That no matter how many words we put next to the picture, the story is often better told with visuals captured at just the right moment,” Ms. Karungi said.
Esagala won his first Award as a Photojournalist in 2017, two years after joining NMG-U’s Daily Monitor.
Makerere University Department of Journalism and Communication nominated him for the award of Cranimer Mugerwa at the Annual Media Convention in 2017 organised by the University. This award is given to best student in the Journalism course for that academic year.
He was also awarded, third place in the News category in the Uganda Press Photo Award 2018.
Esagala is a graduate of journalism and communication from the prestigious Makerere University, Uganda’s leading and oldest university in the region.
In the face of the borderless coronavirus, an award-winning Ugandan photo journalist did better. Besides just delivering heart-gripping pictures of women venders whipped by the Local Defense Unit (LDU) in a bid to enforce a lock down, Esagala led a fundraising for said women on his personal page.
He implored his followers to help these women, also single mothers with a measly income, afford to stay home.
Pictures of Christine Awori and Aloyo Hadijah graced his Facebook page a day after that with a plea to his followers to help them. “Friends, kindly support Ms Aloyo Hadijah, a vendor who was beaten up by LDUs in Kampala on Thursday, I will be delivering the money on Thursday,” he begged.
He then took his audience on a visual journey into the stark reality of the poverty that forced these women on the streets. Videos of his visits to the women who live in the slums of Nankulabye gripped many hearts. Despite being in a fixed position themselves, many Ugandans managed to raise basic needs for these women. Day by day, Esagala updated his followers attracting help from even city socialites.
Interestingly though, one man, James Alemi, knowing how meagre journalists pay is, also then decided to reward Esagala with Shs375.000 ($100). Alemi, a city Engineer and Philanthropist, celebrated Alex Esagala for not just taking amazing Pictures, but for helping show the desperate situation that sent the women on the streets.
Esagala has already launched a number of strategic communication techniques including real time content creation on social media and YouTube and in the process, securing the much needed media space for the deputy speaker on a daily basis.