Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Psst! Anyone seen our new 1,000 shilling coin?

BODA driver Patrick whipped the 5,000 shilling note out of my hand and sped off in a cloud of dust and exhaust fumes.
The motorcyclist’s mission, which he had duly decided to accept, was to find me the elusive 1,000 shilling coin which has been in circulation here in Uganda for two weeks but doesn’t seem to have found its way into many pockets.
The new coin, worth about 25p, was minted to commemorate the 50th Independence Anniversary of Uganda. It is an attractive two-tone gold and silver and circulates alongside the 1,000 shilling note, the country’s most popular and grubbiest note.
So how are the good people of Kampala receiving the latest addition to their currency? Our top team of investigative journalists from Victoria University took to the streets and found that just over a third of those questioned didn’t even know the coin existed.
The rest had known about it, but only half of them had used it and just a third had kept one mainly as a memento and didn’t intend spending it.
Our team also had to secure a coin for themselves, a quest that about half managed but sometimes not without an added ‘bonus’ of another 1,000 shillings to the provider.
So in just a couple of hours they made a story for themselves. Using the basic press release from the Bank of Uganda they developed a story that will resonate with most Ugandans. Along the way they talked to more than 100 people, practised their interviewing skills and proved that my mantra of ‘be cheerful, be confident’ really does work.
The media here does a good job of covering the basics of politics, crime and breaking news but there’s precious little that involves the reader and makes them feel like ‘this is for us’. In a few more years I hope these folk will be showing how it’s done.
And what of Patrick and my 5,000 shilling note? I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t think he’d come back. But he did, complete with shiny new coin and some change. I gave the spoils to reporter Olympia (above) who was struggling to find her own. 
Generous to the last....


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  4. I have a 1000 shillings i want to change it how much