As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
A co-founder of online news platforms insider.ug (former editor) and edge.ug (current editor), Rogers was an active contributor to multiple media houses like RedPepper , The Observer, and ChimpReports. As an educator, he taught in several schools in and outside the capital, Kampala.
A published poet and short story writer, his poems “Delilah” appeared in A Thousand Voices Rising: An Anthology of Contemporary African Poetry , “The Debase” in Praxis Magazine Online) and “Beyond Beauty” in Best New African Poets 2015 Anthology . His short story “Daniela” was published in An Anthology of contemporary short stories and poems from East Africa.
His essays “Unschooling the African to Deschool Society”, “On footpath with the long eye of history” and the poem “Mama Millipede” were published in Africanization and Americanisation Anthology, Volume 1: Africa Vs North America. He has also written a critical paper titled: “Swallowing a bitter pill; the subtext in Kihura Nkuba’s When the African Wakes” (still unpublished).
He worked as an Assistant Director, Screenwriter and Producer (2012) on an award-winning mini-feature “Breaking The Mesh” by students of Film at Makerere University, Kampala.
He was an Assistant Director and Gaffer (2012) on the award-winning feature film, “Hang Out” by a Ugandan filmmaker Kennedy Kihire and a Production Designer (2012) on “Gotto”, a film by Tony Angelo and Kennedy Kihire.
He is currently researching “Conquer or Die: Cwa 11 Kabaleega”, for a series on the historical anti-colonial figure and King of Bunyoro Kingdom with his mentor and former lecturer Cindy Magara.
Rogers further worked as a Research Assistant on “The Popularity of Nollywood Movies in Uganda” (2012)) by Ass. Prof. Dr. Sr. Dominic Dipio, Senior Lecturer Literature and Film Studies Makerere University, Kampala.
To date, he serves as a Communications Officer of Nyati Motion Pictures founded by filmmaker Cindy Magara with whom he co-authored a new film project “Paparazzi” which made it to the THREE TOP Winners at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Film Festival.
Meet #CreatePreneurAfrica Rogers Atukunda on the helm of purpose driven storytelling
Tell us what drives you? What is your true passion in life?
I think I’m driven by the desire to live a purposeful life and leave behind a befitting legacy. I don’t want to just pass through life like Peter Bell, an unimaginative persona in William Wordsworth’s poem who saw things the way they were and nothing more. I don’t want to do what everyone does for the sake of it without leaving my mark. My true passion in life is story-telling. From a young age, I always wanted to tell stories as I heard them from my mother who was a school teacher. In school, I wrote poems, short stories, songs and even made attempts at writing plays and novels. Later at University, I joined media and have been writing journalistic work ever since. It was in the same period that I started writing screenplays for film.
How did you find your passion and how old were you?
I found my passion the first day I stepped in a literature classroom in Form 3. Our Literature teacher was that amazing, entertaining and exciting man who was always full of stories. He was my inspiration. I wanted to tell stories the way he told them. In English language exams, I applied his tactics to write creatively and in the process, found my passion. I was about 16 years old then.
What about your passion appeals to you the most?
Do you mean what I find appealing about story-telling? Well, the fact that it takes me to another world—the far, far away land. Writing or telling stories seems to take away my mortal sufferings and makes me forget the daily labours and pains. It is that unseen plane that flies you around the imaginary world and lands you on the utopian island every creative would like to live on. It makes me feel alive and useful.
Making money has actually never been my priority in everything I do. But I would like to say that the need to meet the daily necessities of life is largely responsible—the desire to survive, to afford basic needs.
What drove you to make money from your passions?
I think this was around Form 6. As an Information Prefect, I was in charge of sending and receiving letters on behalf of the students’ body. I would help others write, improve grammar and creatively impress their girlfriends. I also read the news during morning assemblies about comic escapades (I termed Ibodo’s escapades) gathered around the school or even made up about my fellow students for the sake of entertainment. As a result, my office provided the upkeep I need at school.
When was the first time you were paid for your passion?
My actual first salary came at Makerere University when I started writing for RedPepper, a Ugandan tabloid, as a campus snoop. During the same period, I was able to win a Shs5m award in a short screenplay competition organised by Maisha Film Lab an organisation that mentors young East Africans in telling African stories.
What kept you going when you thought about giving up?
What kept me going against all odds was the gratification that came with seeing my work published or made into a film. I felt I was contributing to society and my life was worth living. I still remember the feeling of achievement and happiness when my first two news articles were published in a newspaper. It was an even greater feeling the first time I saw my story come to life on screen. It was worth it.
What motivates you every day to be even more successful?
What motivates me is the urge for immortality. I want to immortalise my life’s creative works so that my name lives on. Even when I’m no longer here, I should be remembered every time someone reads my poem, short story, news article or watches my film.
What do you have to say to all of the people who doubted you?
To those who doubted me, well, this should be your life lesson. I will strive even harder to prove all your doubts wrong and become a shining example of life’s possibilities that you never dreamed of. As long as man has the will, he can achieve whatever he sets his mind to.
What advice do you give to aspiring creatives who look up to you?
For aspiring creatives, don’t listen to those who tell you “it cannot be done”. Great people have turned impossibilities into possibilities not because they thought they could but because they challenged themselves to try the unthinkable. Set your goal, focus on your dream, and work hard towards making it a reality.
Email: [email protected]
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.