Barely a week after quitting NTV, Joel Ssenyonyi has bounced back in the limelight, this time as the People Power spokesperson.
Ssenyonyi made his first public appearance as the pressure group’s mouthpiece during a press conference in Kamwokya on Tuesday morning.
His appointment was announced by the leader of People Power also Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.
“Joel Ssenyonyi is an intelligent young Ugandan, accomplished professional, and devoted patriot. He is a man of unquestionable integrity with an impeccable record in speaking out against injustice, bad governance and the many evils that bedevil our society,” Bobi Wine praised Ssenyonyi.
Adding, “It gives me great pleasure to see intelligent young Ugandans join this struggle to liberate our country from oppression and dictatorship. Thank you comrade, for accepting this responsibility, which I know is a sacrifice.”
Last week, Ssenyonyi who had been at the Serena based station for five years ago signed out by thanking all for being supportive in his journey.
“Today was my last day to anchor news at NTV. My journey with NTV begun five years ago, and it has been nothing but worthwhile. I’ve grown, gotten better, made friends (and enemies too) in the course of my work. I’ll forever be grateful to my colleagues at NTV, they’ve been my other family & I’ll always cheer them on. The 13 yrs I’ve spent in the media from my days at UBC-TV back in 2006 have been memorable. Thank you all for being supportive in this journey,” he posted on his Facebook page.
Who is Ssenyonyi?
Now 32 years old, Ssenyonyi was born to Joseph Besekezi Ssenyonyi and Dorothy Nankunda Senyonyi.
He is a Muruuli by tribe who grew up in Kyengera, a Kampala City suburb.
“I am the first born to my mother. She was the official wife, the wedded wife. We are four of us. My father was a hardworking man. So, I have half-brothers and half-sisters, each of them with their own mother. But eventually, many of these half-brothers were brought to our home. My mother asked my father to bring them. She said I will raise the children. So, we grew up together. Unfortunately, we had to leave our Kyengera home, move elsewhere and began to live real life after the separation of our parents,” Ssenyonyi told The Observer,a local newspaper recently.
“So, we went to live somewhere and it was a kitchen really! In that room we were six of us: my mother, myself, my three siblings and then a maid that we came with from Kyengera. I remember my mother going without food some nights so we [children] could eat the little that was there.”
Ssenyonyi admits that during his childhood, he was a naughty and inquisitive boy who used to disturb his mother a lot.
“I got beatings from my mother. Mothers can beat! I guess that is why we love them. You know they can beat with anything: slippers, hanger. My father, he never laid his hand on me at all, or any of my siblings. It never happened, for many reasons. Partly because he was a stay-away father.”
He studied at Trinity Academy Primary School Bukoto for his Primary Seven, St Lawrence Citizen High School for his O and A Levels.
“When I was younger, I wanted to become a lawyer. But then I thought but these lawyers are liars. I did want to work on TV. I remember in my O-level, I was chairman debating club. Of course I became prefect in different portfolios. In S6, I was still chairman debating club. I became head boy again. I was a tough one.”
“I remember in my vacation, UBC advertised looking for anchors. I applied, with nothing. I didn’t have even the senior six results. People applied with master’s degrees, diplomas and so on. But somehow I had this gusto in me of it will happen. So, we go, we do interviews and cross over to the next round, like that, like that. I remember the final round and these people were asking how old are you? I am like, ‘I am 19’. They say, ‘you are 19! Are you at campus or what?’ I say ‘I am in S6 vacation’. My results are not out yet. They looked at each other…but they liked what I offered. They chose two us: myself and a lady, to begin working.”
Despite enrolling for a science course [bachelors degree of science in business statistics], Ssenyonyi remained committed to journalism.
When he left UBC, he joined NTV Uganda as a host and news anchor. He spent five years at the station before calling it quits last week.
Last year in July, Ssenyonyi alleged that Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander CP Moses Kafeero threatened to “crash” him over his involvement in the social media and mobile money taxes protests.
“This afternoon I got a call from CP Moses Kafeero, commander Kla [Kampala] Metropolitan @PoliceUg [Uganda Police]. He promised to “crash” me because of my involvement in the protest against social media & mobile money tax. Nonsense! Away from this indiscipline officer, I’ll have the latest devts at 9pm on @ntvuganda,” he lamented.
However, CP Kafeero denied the ‘allegations’ saying ‘for him [Ssenyonyi] to tell a lie and judge me and call me names is unacceptable and regrettable,” adding that “Mr Ssenyonyi is using social media as a tool to peddle lies and playing with people’s hard earned integrity.”
In the 2011 general elections, Ssenyonyi contested for Central Youth Member of Parliament on Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket. He lost.
“The leader in me has always been there. At one point I looked at things around me and said how can I be part of making things different? I said let me run for political office.”
The ‘virgin’ Ssenyonyi
In 2017, Ssenyonyi claimed that he was a virgin.
According to Uganda Christian News website, he made the revelation at Watoto Church.
“I’m a virgin, some people might think that maybe I do not have opportunities, or that my ‘things’ don’t function. Of opportunities, they are immense. In fact, I was about to report a police case. About the ‘things’ God blessed me with, they are working. However, just because they work, doesn’t mean I go all over putting them in every place.”