Bill Oketch

IWPR-trained journalist

Bill Oketch

I was born on December 25, 1980 in the village of Akuki in the Oyam district of northern Uganda. I'm the first born in a family of four children. Both of my parents are still alive, but two of my brothers were abducted in an attack by the Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA, in 1998 and my uncle was executed. My village was destroyed by the rebels in the same year.

The day that changed my life forever was August 16, 1998. The LRA, whose leaders claim to live by the Old Testament's Ten Commandments, launched an attack for the sixth time on my village, Akuki - to the northwest of Lira, capital of the northern district of the same name.

On this occasion all our cattle were stolen and my family's few possessions were looted. My brothers Tonny Okello and Geoffrey Odongo, then aged 18 and 16, were abducted and I never saw them again. Nine other boys were abducted and twelve of my villagers were killed.

I joined the media because I never wanted to have blood on my hands, unlike my fellow countrymen who joined the army to fight the LRA for the pain the rebels inflicted against our relatives. I joined the media after finishing my secondary education. That was in 2004 and I've been working for the Vision Group, a government newspaper company as well as for IWPR.

I've been using the knowledge I've gained from IWPR training sessions to write stories for my local newspaper. In 2008, I won an award from the BBC World Service Trust.

My story, War Victim Seeks Justice for Dead Relative, was selected as best newspaper feature produced during the Communicating Justice follow-up training in Gulu from October 20 to 31, 2008. The training was sponsored by the BBC World Service Trust under their Communicating Justice Project. I was among the 20 trainees selected out of 500 applicants.

Of the IWPR stories I’ve produced, I'm most proud of Northern Aid Programme Probed.

The story led to the arrest of top district officials accused of mishandling rebuilding funds for northern Uganda. Part of the money has been recovered and an investigation is ongoing.

Being a journalist, to me, means committing yourself to inform, educate and entertain the public in the hope of creating a healthier world.

Stories by the Author

Press Freedom Takes a Dive

Observers worried that threats to journalists and restrictions on media could derail redevelopment efforts in northern Uganda.

30 May 12
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