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BCW Africa expands Starting Blocks Internship Programme across Africa



BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) Africa, a leading African communications agency, and affiliate to brainchild Burson Cohn and Wolfe(BCW) in Uganda , today launched the virtual version of its flagship internship programme, BCW Africa Starting Blocks, continent-wide.

Robyn de Villiers, Chair and CEO, BCW Africa, says: “2020 has given us all the opportunity to pause and reflect, to repurpose and improve on things we have done successfully in the past and to innovate to ensure we deliver on an even-better future. The expansion of the BCW Africa Starting Blocks programme across the continent is part of our ongoing commitment to our Africa network partners and to the up-and-coming talent the continent offers.  According to the World Bank, Africa has the largest return on education of any continent, with each additional year of schooling raising earnings by 11% for boys and 14% for girls. We are delighted to be able to make a contribution to furthering the educations of students of the communications profession through BCW Africa Starting Blocks, and we look forward to this initiative growing from strength to strength in the coming years.”

BCW Africa has run Starting Blocks in South Africa for more than 20 years, for final year public relations students from local universities to provide them with practical, on-the-job training combined with a theory programme spanning critical elements of public relations. The programme has been built on a long-standing partnership with South African universities which has ensured that it answers their requirements for final year students who need to complete an internship in order to graduate.

Dr Rene Benecke, Senior lecturer and Work-Integrated Learning Coordinator, University of Johannesburg, says: “Building relationships and partnerships take time. The new Starting Blocks programme offered by BCW has taken years to mature into its current form. The long-term partnership between the Department of Strategic Communication at UJ and BCW has enabled many young people to reach their dreams of becoming public relations practitioners. Their training at BCW complemented their theoretical knowledge and today many hold senior positions in the industry. I know that the new Starting Blocks programme will create many similar opportunities for young people throughout Africa. We are proud to be part of this new programme and wish Robyn, her team and all the young practitioners all the best.”

To date 60 interns have graduated from the Starting Blocks programme in South Africa, many of whom now hold senior agency and corporate positions at global and local organisations, including Ipelegeng (Ipi) Thibedi, CEO of Weber Shandwick’s African operations, Frederic Cornet, Managing Partner, Instinctif Partners Africa, Tintswalo Shikwambane, MAX Project Director at WomanCare Global and Ed Jardim, Group Communications and Investor Executive at Murray & Roberts.

The first Starting Blocks virtual programme commences on 01 October 2020, with 45 participants hailing from 10 countries across the continent – Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Mauritius, Eswatini, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco and South Africa.

The programme covers lectures and practical exercises, and teamwork and feedback sessions.  All practical work is based on a case-study which will allow the interns to see progress using one case through all the different elements they learn.  There will also be “critical conversations” with leaders from the industry who will be our invited guests. These interactive sessions will allow our participants to pose their questions to experts in their fields, who will also share best practice examples and their top tips with the learners.

“The virtual internship programme allows us to use our vast, unmatched African network and in-country partnerships to its full potential by leveraging expertise from across our African and global network to upskill African PR leaders of the future on topics ranging from reputation management and communications strategy development to crisis management and digital communication,” adds de Villiers.

Faculty members from BCW Africa, who are leaders in their fields and are committed to advancing the communications industry across the continent, include:

  • Robyn de Villiers, BCW Africa Chair & CEO, and APRA Vice President and Training Chair
  • Yomi Badejo Okusanya, CMC Connect BCW Managing Director (Nigeria) and APRA President
  • Desiree Gomes, Engage BCW Managing Partner (Kenya) and Vice Chair, Association of Public Relations and Communication Management Firms in Kenya (APReCom)
  • Bridget von Holdt, BCW Africa Business Director and ICCO Regional President, Africa

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived, it is what difference we have made to the life of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela.

About BCW Africa

BCW Africa is a truly African agency with a leading global parent and a 30-year heritage of partnership with clients, staff and its extended team. Johannesburg-based BCW boasts an unparalleled reach across Africa through BCW Africa, our network of affiliates across the continent, and international best practice, expertise and a global footprint through BCW globally. Our African network, which covers 50+ African countries, is based on partnerships which span more than two decades with local agencies highly regarded in their markets.

 About BCW
BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), one of the world’s largest full-service global communications agencies, is in the business of moving people on behalf of clients. BCW delivers digitally and data-driven creative content and integrated communications programs grounded in earned media and scaled across all channels for clients in the B2B, consumer, corporate, crisis management, CSR, healthcare, public affairs and technology sectors. BCW is a part of WPP (NYSE: WPP), a creative transformation company. For more information, visit

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City lawyer Ssemakadde summoned by CID over alleged offensive communication




By BigEyeUg Team

Ugandan satirical lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde has been summoned by Uganda Police over alleged offensive communication to the prejudice of Hon. Justice Ssekaana Musa.

According to a statement from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, its conducting inquiries into alleged offensive communication of Ssemakadde.

The self-proclaimed ‘Legal Rebel’ is required to report at the CID headquarters for an interview and statement recording on Monday, February 28, 2022.

The summon further instructs currently Hon. Muhammad Nsereko’s strongest tormentor to particularly show-up to the Officer in Charge of Cyber Crime D/ASP Kayiza Henry at 10AM.

It should be recalled, Ssemakadde recently requested the Chief Registrar to avail him with a record of proceedings of this year’s Judges’ Conference to enable him decide the next course of action.

This sparked-verge from the resolution by the judges as they complained of being cyber bullied by some lawyers.

The judges identified lawyers Male Hassan Mabirizi and Ssemakadde particularly whom they accused of making cyberbullying-like statements on social media against judicial officers.

This comes to life just a day after lawyer Male Mabirizi was sentenced to 18months in jail over contempt of court.

Full statement:

Invitation for an interview and statement recording vide CID headquarters GEF 136/2022. The subject matters refer; The Directorate of Criminal investigations is conducting inquiries into alleged offensive communication to the prejudice of Hon. Justice Ssekaana Musa. You are required to report to CID Headquarters on February 28, 2022 at 1000hrs and you will particularly report to Officer in Charge of Cyber Crime D/ASP Kayiza Henry on telephone number 0714401470 who will guide you on what is required.

We will keep you posted

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FDC activists win Bank of Uganda pig case by simply keeping quiet




FDC activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja

Buganda Road Magistrate’s court has acquitted two opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja of common nuisance charges.

FDC deputy chief administrative officer Ojobile and Mayanja have been acquitted by the grade one magistrate Fidelis Otwao on charges stemming from their protest held in November 2018 when they carried pig heads to the central police station (CPS) in Kampala protesting the rot in the Bank of Uganda that had reportedly resulted into the closure of a number of commercial banks in the country for many years.

According to them, corruption at the Central bank had been the sole ingredient for the closure of commercial banks in Uganda over the years because it reportedly mismanaged them and made erroneous decisions that led to their closure.

With fresh pig heads tied around their necks and stinking blood oozing across their white T-shirts, Mayanja and Ojobile walked through the streets of Kampala to the police in a protest that was spearheaded by their pressure group known as the Jobless Youth.

One pig head had a placard bearing the name of the former and late BOU governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and the other of his former deputy Louis Kasekende.

The protest at CPS came a few days after another that was staged at the Central bank where two piglets were dumped bearing the name of Juma Kisaame (a Muslim), the former managing director of DFCU bank. 

As a result, the duo was arrested and taken to Buganda Road court on charges of common nuisance and the prosecution adduced evidence from five witnesses who included police officers and Muslims who were reportedly angered by the protest.

According to the witnesses, the actions of Mayanja and Ojobile were annoying to the people whose names were mentioned and tagged on pig heads, and the smell that was coming out of the fresh pig heads was most likely to result in injury to a considerable number of the public by affecting their health, and the protest affected businesses since some shops allegedly had to close to see what was happening outside due to their commotion.

But when Mayanja and Ojobile were asked to defend themselves over the allegations, the duo that didn’t have legal representation chose to keep quiet as their defense and let the court make its decision based on what the prosecution witnesses had testified to.

In a judgement read today Friday by Otwao, he indicated that the evidence from the prosecution witnesses is wanting because none of the people alleged to have been annoyed by the actions of the activists testified in the case or recorded a statement with police.

According to Otwao, the testimonies were based on what the witnesses were feeling as individuals and that there were no abusive statements on the pig heads that the prosecution had indicated which would cause annoyance, save for putting the names of people only. 

As such, the court has ruled that such testimonies cannot be relied on to convict a person because the prosecution has failed to prove that there was common injury, danger to the public or destruction of property.

Consequently, the magistrate has acquitted the duo and directed that each of them starts the process to seek a refund of the Shs 500,000 that each had paid to be released on bail.

The activists have welcomed the ruling saying that the court has recognized that the citizens have a right to protest peacefully.

The pig protests have been commonly used by activists who subscribe to this group known as the Jobless Brotherhood which has since rebranded to the “Alternative”.

In 2016, their members including Luta Ferdinand who is now facing trial in the court-martial on different charges, and Joseph Lukwago were arrested for dumping piglets at parliament protesting the Shs 200 million given to each MP for buying personal cars.

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Saudi Arabia executes 81 people in a single day | Death Penalty News




The death penalty applied for a range of charges in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom’s modern history.

Saudi Arabia has executed 81 men over the past 24 hours, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national, on charges including “allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations” and holding “deviant beliefs”, state news agency Saudi Press Agency said, in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.

The number dwarfed the 67 executions reported in the kingdom in 2021 and the 27 in 2020.

“These individuals … were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” SPA said on Saturday, citing a statement from the interior ministry.

“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, such as ISIS [ISIL], al-Qaeda and the Houthis,” it added.

Some travelled to conflict zones to join “terrorist organisations”, according to the SPA.

“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process,” it said.

“The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world,” the report added.

The men included 37 Saudi nationals who were found guilty in a single case for attempting to assassinate security officers and targeting police stations and convoys, the report added.

Saudi Arabia’s last mass execution was in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people, including a prominent opposition Shia leader who had rallied demonstrations in the kingdom.

In 2019, the kingdom beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shia, in a mass execution across the country for alleged “terrorism”-related crimes.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights records have been under increasing scrutiny from rights groups and Western allies since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

It has faced strong criticism of its restrictive laws on political and religious expression, and the implementation of the death penalty, including for defendants arrested when they were minors.

Saudi Arabia denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security according to its laws.

SPA said the accused were provided with the right to a lawyer and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process.

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