Ronald Gwebawaya, commonly known as Ronnie Pop, is a host of RTV Sunday Live at Rwanda Television.
He landed the job this month after being sacked from Royal TV due to reasons he says were not clear to him.
The young graduate of Mass Communication from United Media Consultants and Trainers (UMCT) in Uganda fell in love with journalism as a toddler.
He spoke to Donata Kiiza about his life and hurdles in the media industry. Exceprts:
What inspired you to love journalism?
Growing up, my dad always encouraged me to watch news. Despite his favourite show airing late at 10pm, he would wake me up to follow the news.
Through this routine, I took it as a norm and the late Bbale Francis who was a news anchor on Uganda Television (UTV) at the time became my role model. It was his eloquence that I fell in love with and it pushed me to be like him in future. By primary six, I knew I wanted to be a journalist, especially a presenter on television.
Having developed the love for journalism, my father advised me to learn literature in school and to read a lot of books so as to improve my vocabulary. I studied literature in my secondary school and later pursued journalism as a profession.
Tell us about your career background
My first job after university was working as a cleaner for 8 months. In September 2013, I started working as a cleaner at Mapera House in Kampala for a cleaning firm called A&M. During this time, it was difficult to cope with workmates who never stepped in school. They ridiculed me and wondered why I wasted time studying yet they were doing the same job like me.
I was able to persevere since I needed an income after campus. Doing something totally different from what I had studied wasn’t comfortable for me, so I always kept toiling to see how I could get into the media industry. In Uganda, it became impossible as there was a lot of competition in the media.
What was it like when you came back to Rwanda?
After hustling, I came back to Rwanda with hopes of making my mark in the industry, especially as a television presenter because this was my passion.
My first job was at a local radio station called Amazing Grace (Ubuntu Butangaje), I worked as an English news anchor although I wasn’t paid. I took this as an opportunity to refresh my journalism skills so I did not worry about the pay.
During this time, I learnt basic Kinyarwanda although I wasn’t fluent. But two months down the road, I was confident enough to now venture into television.
Back in 2013, while at university, I had read a book called ‘Understanding the power of praise’ by Bishop David Oyedepo. From this book, I developed an idea to design a gospel show which I later used to get my second job at Lemigo TV; now Royal TV.
What were the challenges you faced?
Getting a show at Lemigo TV was by the grace of God. Language barrier stood in my way. I remember when I briefed the Managing Director about my idea, he looked at me and said he would give me a show only because of the good idea, but my appearance wasn’t fit for television.
As if that intimidation from the boss wasn’t enough, some production members plotted for my show to be done by another person who had the looks for television.
Embarrassing as it sounds, I was still grateful those months after, I began my show and from then on, I never looked back.
Working under minimal pay, I did my show with passion. The show was able to attract a large audience and we won awards including Best Gospel TV show of the year, Best Gospel Presenter of the year at the Rwanda Excellence Awards in 2015 as well as best Gospel Show at the Groove awards in 2016.
How did you end up with RTV?
In April this year, I was let go from my former work place, Royal TV. It came as a challenge to me of course. However, I was confident I would make my way to another television station. Fortunately, I landed an opportunity with the leading television station in the country where I am broadcasting a successful gospel show today.
Your advice to the youth...
They must not give up on their dreams. However, they must have brilliant ideas for these ideas might get them where they even never imagined they would be.
If it wasn’t for my good idea, I would not be where I am today.