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What most People Power supporters did not know about Joel Ssenyonyi

by James Ateenyi

Joel Besekezi Ssenyonyi who was born 32 years ago was on Tuesday last week appointed by Kyadondo East member of parliament Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine as the official spokesperson of People Power pressure group.

Ssenyonyi has previously vied for Buganda youth MP slot on opposition Forum for Democratic Change party in 2011 but lost to NRM Patrick Nakabale in election that took place in Masaka.

Ssenyonyi later fell out with FDC following minor disagreements with colleagues in the FDC youth league.

On quitting FDC, Ssenyonyi apologized and was accepted back at UBC though many people at the station treated him as an anti-government for contesting on opposition ticket.

He gratefully got himself a slot at Serena-based NTV that was increasingly being threatened by new rivals; the NBS of Kamwokya. Many guys had left and glaring vacuum existed at Nation TV where he became a controversial news anchor whose true political colors later manifested with his conspicuous participation in the anti-OTT tax demo that was called by Bobi Wine who has eventually become his boss.

Born to Dorothy Nankunda (a Munyankore Munyarwanda from Ntungamo) and Joseph Besekezi Ssenyonyi of Buruli in Nakasongora district, amiable Joel endured an extremely deprived childhood and grew up with a single mother after Nankunda separated with Ssenyonyi Sr and left the Kyengera home where the couple initially lived.

Joel attended initial schooling in Kyengera at the now defunct Kazinda Primary School up to P5. For months, almost homeless, Nankunda lived in someone’s kitchen with her malnourished children many times sleeping on empty stomach for lack of food. Being the eldest, Ssenyonyi was always a naughty tiny boy which earned him beatings.

From the same mother, Joel was born with three other siblings with him being the eldest.

His mother died on the eve of his PLE exams at Trinity Academy P/S in Bukoto Kampala. Prior to that, wandering Ssenyonyi also had brief stints at two other primary schools namely Namirembe Infant Primary School near Bakuli and Joy Primary School. At the Bukoto School, Joel became head boy and later emerged among the school’s best stars in PLE. Decency has always been his way of approaching things to the extent that even when they were hurt with his exit, colleagues in FDC say his departure was cordial and not acrimonious at all.

Defending Bobi Wine in hard circumstances like this will be part of the routine Ssenyonyi will have to contend with.

For post-primary, Ssenyonyi enrolled at what used to be called St. Lawrence Citizens High School at the current location of St. Lawrence University.

As a debating champion, Ssenyonyi excelled at national debating competitions and won a trip to London, making himself the first person in his extended family to travel by air. Indeed as he went to the Airport, he was escorted by the entire family travelling in buses Prof Mukiibi provided. The same happened on the day he returned from UK and this (at home) increased his celebrity status as a major among would-be equals.

At A’level, he read PEM/Art and the points he got (though not very bad) couldn’t get him his dream course of law. So he settled for Bsc in Business Statistics. But in S6 vacation, Ssenyonyi got a part time job with UBC TV where he presented a teenage show with Nancy Kalembe. He was 19 when he first worked on TV, an engagement he maintained even as he read his University degree

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