Taking Over as the New Editor

By Okot Nyormoi

It has been 9 years since the idea of an online journal was conceived over tea on the serene lawn of the Guest House at the venerable Makerere University. The idea was subsequently baptized with the name Nile Journal and now known also by its unmistakable iconic picture of the rainbow over River Nile.

Flash back to 2011, I was visiting Kampala after being away for 16 years. We agreed to meet up for lunch at the old colonial style Speke Hotel. I do not remember what we ate, apparently the food did not leave an indelible impression on my  taste buds perhaps because we had so much to talk about: former college mates at Bloomington, Indiana, USA, colleagues at Makerere University in the early 1980s, other people we knew, and the national and international situations.

After lunch, I suggested we walk to Makerere University campus because I wanted to see if and how Kampala street scenes had changed in the 16 years I was away. One of the things I noticed was that Kampala City Square was no longer open to the public. It was patrolled by what looked like armed military policemen. This time, I saw many poor street children standing along Kampala and Bombo Roads begging whoever passed their way. Some of the children stood next to old women sitting down on the side of the road. I was informed that those were mostly children from Karamoja in northeastern Uganda. Allegedly, parents sent their children to beg and occasionally send the money home. The street children were not as many, if any, in the early 1980s.

We stopped by the Uganda Crafts, to say hello to the manager, a woman, whom my wife knew. I remember buying a wallet made of bark cloth. Continuing towards Wandegeya, I noticed that the Aga Khan School which was originally built for Asian students was no longer there. Even more remarkable was the unmistakable absence of bats in the famous landmark, Bat Valley. Where the bats went, nobody could tell me. I also noticed that new multi-story buildings were erected between Bombo Road and Buganda Road. Unsurprisingly, the walk from Wandegeya to Makerere University campus was as challenging as always, perhaps more so because I was 16 years older than I had been the last time I waked up this hill.

Guest HouseWorth recalling was a funny incidence that occurred while we were having tea at the Guest House. Someone who appeared to be a yardman decided to join our conversation among all others. Why he attempted to intrude into our conversation left us wondering. We decided that he must have been an intelligence officer pretending to be a yardman. He kept inching his way closer and closer till he began to ask us questions and explain things we did not ask him. We eventually told him that he was not welcome to join our conversation.

Fast forward. For almost 8 years, John Otim, the first editor of the magazine, labored against all odds and managed to successfully produce 55 issues. Due to economic problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, John cannot continue to produce the magazine from his base in Lira, northern Uganda. Consequently, we decided to relocate the production to Houston, USA, for the time being. Hopefully, when the pandemic and its associated problems are solved, the production of the Nile Journal will return to its rightful place in Africa.

Before I take over the stewardship of the magazine, I want to sincerely thank John for his selfless dedication and professionalism he exhibited while at the helm of the journal.

I also want to thank all our readers for finding it worth your time to read what we have written. Without you and your feedback, it would not be worth producing the journal. We hope to continue to satisfy your reading thirst. And, please do not hesitate to let us know how we can make The Nile Journal better for you.

Furthermore, I am profoundly grateful to all our contributors, particularly those who did so regularly. Regardless, we hope that you and others will continue to grace us with your contributions on whatever topics which excite your imagination and writing instinct.

Last, but not least, my most sincere appreciation goes to the website technical team which hosts Nile Journal. Without their help, our work would be extremely difficult. I hope we will continue the cordial relationship we have had over the years. Please know that I am truly appreciative of your service.

John has set a high bar and it is going to be quite a challenge for me to clear it. However, with your good wishes, readership, and article contributions, I will do my best to ensure that we continue to produce an online journal worthy of your reading interests. In this endeavor, I will be assisted by my wife, Vera, who graciously offered to continue helping me with editing and proof reading submitted articles.