Renowned Security Journalist Joseph Kato Graduates with a Master Degree at Makerere University


Mr Joseph Kato posing for a photo after graduating with a Master’s Degree of Art in Journalism and Communication.

It was all smiles for journalist Joseph Kato as he graduated with a Master’s Degree of Art in Journalism and Communication at Makerere University’s 74th graduation ceremony. Kato is one of the renowned journalists in reporting stories about crime, security, road safety and human rights. These journalism fields what some prefer calling beats have earned him awards and several recognition certificates by different local and international organizations including being invited to make presentations at international conferences.

But when you see Kato cracking jokes, smiling and smartly dressed, you might not know what he has gone through to reach where he is now. Kato has largely footed his education costs from Primary to University since he lost his mother, Mary Kabonesa, when he was in Primary Six and he was yet to see his biological father, Jovenali Sserwadda, who has also since died. At the time of his mother’s demise, he was living with his two siblings Florence Kizza and twin brother Peter Wasswa at Kyamungu village, Karuguuza town council, in Kibaale district.

“At the time when my mother died, my two siblings and I, we did not know how our father looked like and where he was staying. But we were always informed that he was alive and living in Masaka a place we could just hear about. Wed didn’t know any route that could take us to him,” Kato narrates.

After completing Primary Seven, Kato did not join secondary school like other children did. He started working at construction sites where he was earning less than $1 (UGX3000) per day. But as he struggled to raise money for secondary school, he approached Uganda Women’s Efforts to Save Orphans (UWESO) a branch in Kibaale that was being spearheaded by Ms Hedwed Mbazira.

Mbazira took him to Buyanja Secondary School and started paying school fees for him which was UGX41,000. However, the fees was increased after two terms by more than 100% and that meant he had to look for remaining balance. He easily coped up with the new fees structure because his mother Kabonesa had taught him survival skills since she often gave him pancakes, sugar canes, samosas, chapattis, mangoes, white aunts, cassava chips and popcorn to vend at school.

“After joining secondary, I needed something that could earn me at least UGX50,000 per month in order to meet my education costs, and feeding. I started cutting logs which I could sell to bakeries. That is the money I was using to buy books, clothes and pay school fees balance,” Kato says.

But when he was about to complete Senior Two, the school requirements became too much and he had to switch from cutting logs to stone quarrying. He was selling an Isuzu Elf at UGX 30,000 to UGX40,000. He explains that he could spent two to three weeks mining aggregate or concrete stones and this meant not going to school. He later left Buyanja SS and joined Karuguuza Progressive SS where he completed the secondary education.

Kato’s elder step brother, Steven Kayemba, picked him from Kibaale and took him to Masaka where their father was living. After knowing his father’s address, Kato also took his two siblings to meet their father in Masaka. But that did not change their misery because even the father wasn’t financially well. It was at that moment that they got to know that their father had close to 20 children who were also majorly living with their mothers.

“When I meet my father, I knew nothing was going to change. He was living a humble life and he only gave me UGX10,000 which I used to travel from Masaka to Kampala where my elder step brothers Kayemba and Edward Sserwadda were living,” Kato explains.

Kayemba tried to support Kato for tertiary studies at YMCA Comprehensive Institute but this all ended in one year as the brother lost his job. But because Kato had the survival mindset instilled in him at a tender age by his mother, he quickly found a primary school where he started earning UGX170,000 which he used to pay for Diploma studies. While still pursuing Diploma studies, he joined Daily Monitor on a trial basis but quickly established himself as a reliable security and crime reporter.

“At Daily Monitor, I realized I could earn money which was enough to make me achieve a University Degree dream. I quickly enrolled for a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication at Kampala International University (KIU). However, I approached Lunda Organization founded by now IGG Betty Kamya which helped me secure a half bursary at KIU and this eased my degree costs,” Kato said.

Kato graduated with a Bachelors Degree of Mass Communication on November 17, 2018 at KIU Main Campus in Kansanga, in Kampala City. In 2020 he enrolled for a Master’s Degree at Makerere as a self-sponsored student. But because of Covid-19, their first semester began on March 06, 2021. He completed his studies in 2023 and graduated on February 02, 2024 with 12 others.

Kato is a man so many firsts. He is the first person to earn a Diploma, a Bachelor’s Degree and a Masters Degree among his 19 siblings of a polygamous family yet he is among the last three children his late father Jovenali Sserwadda sired. He was and is still the only journalism student from YMCA to ever work at Daily Monitor. Kato dreams of becoming one of the reliable communication gurus and journalism lecturer a dream he is zealously pursuing.  

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