The Bbale Francis TV time-machine

Throughout my entire childhood, there are several people whose careers and persona had a great deal of impact in my life. Among all these, four individuals stand out as the constant reminders that I will forever miss the days when I was younger.

First was the pope because he came to Ugandan in the 90s and my parents seemed to worship the very ground he walked on. I adored everything they adored – the pope was one of them. We were dragged to church every single Sunday because Catholic parents were not about to let their children grow into religious weeds when there was a wall hanging of Pope John Paul II in the house.

The second person who made my childhood one heck of a wonderful experience was John James Rambo. The Lone Wolf was a great part of my childhood because he inspired some of the recklessness and adventure that my childhood was littered with. He single handedly made me want to grow big muscles, join the army and battle with insurgents while smeared in mud and sweat. I have not grown big muscles and I am not (yet) enrolled in the army but a good chunk of my childhood was focused on doing exactly that.

The third person whose life somewhat defined mine was French actor and former Manchester United captain Eric Cantona. The Frenchman was part of the reason I started supporting Manchester United in the early 90s. With his upturned collar, interesting goal celebrations and eccentricity on and off the pitch, this guy was my role model. In 1993 he helped Manchester United win the inaugural Premier League title by a sweet 10 points, making it the first time since 1967 that United was winning the English top division title.

The fourth person who made my childhood sparkle was renowned Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) newscaster Bbale Francis who unfortunately passed away on the morning of Thursday 2nd April at Mulago Cancer Institute after battling with cancer for quite a while. The veteran journalist can best be described as one of the most outstanding voices and faces of the Ugandan news scene for the past three decades or so. With perfect English, a unique accent, wonderful intonation and unmatched composure in front of the screen and microphone, Bbale Francis curved out a personality as the custodian of news in Uganda.

bbaleRest In Peace Bbale Francis (September 25, 1954 – April 2, 2015)

He may have passed away, just as so many wonderful things from the 80s and 90s are no more but Bbale Francis represents a part of my life that I will always hold dear. He alone made sure that certain things remain etched in my mind. Whenever I remember him, I remember them; and whenever I remember them, I remember him.

The Black and White TV

While owning a TV in the early 90s was a reserve of not-so-many households, owning a colour TV set was the real mark of a successful family. In the mid 80s my dad purchased a large wooden-framed Black and White Phillips TV with the a rather hard knob for a tuner. For nearly a decade, this was the altar at which we worshiped the TV stars of the late 80s and early 90s. This was the prized possession on which we watched Pingu, Mr. Bean, Rambo on UTV and of course the Ten o’clock news with Bbale Francis. This was the magic box that introduced us to MCM Africa, Sanyu TV, CTV and Lighthouse TV. When we later acquired a colour TV set, there was a bit of daily excitement in the house as we would often place bets on which shirt, tie or coat colour Bbale Francis would wear for the news broadcast that night. The colour TV made us realise that Rambo actually wore green army pants and not grey – as suggested by the good old Phillips. The colour TV also brought with it several interesting things like the VHS player and the Terminator Video game which were game changers not just at home but also at school where we exchanged stores about what we owned in our homes.philips_20inch_b&W_television_ian_edgarThe glorious vintage 20 inch Black and White Philips TV

The ‘No-Tv’ rule

Every family has had to have the no-TV rule at certain times for the good of the young folk and students of the family. In my family, there was a rule – all children went to bed immediately after the 10 O’clock news, save for Sunday when we stayed up until after the news to watch the beloved ‘That’s Life Mwattu’. On Sunday, the TV was locked up until 2.30pm when it was time for Zoom Club on Sanyu TV. Basically, there was an unwritten timetable for TV viewing. On some unfortunate Sundays, our dad would have the TV taken to his bedroom from whence he would exclusively enjoy watching the TV with his wife while their children gathered in a collection of green eyed little jealous fellas a few bedrooms away. Such sadness! On such Sundays, we would gather in the children’s bedroom and direct our anger at the next school day; we’d complain about school, come up with nicknames for teachers and basically plan to ruin everyone else’s Monday. We would then quietly and sadly slide into our beds, fully aware that we would only have to learn of what happened between Nakawunde, Dick and Dr. Bbosa from narration at school. A narration by a useless and boastful child from a TV-owning family can be a pain. Instead of telling you what Mr. Lindo did, he would venture into explaining how a TV remote works and how it was the coolest thing after the then popular game boys. We really suffered!


Oh the harsh house rules!

The News! Eh! 

From when I was little, my parents used to ‘force’ us to watch the news. We would then unwillingly drink in all the news and unconsciously stay in the know of things that were happening around the world, without even wanting to. We obviously preferred more interesting things like re-watching Jungle Book, Lion King and Commando as well as watch the final program on TV before UTV shut down. Yes; once upon a time UTV aired between 5pm and midnight. After that, the National Anthem played and there was nothing! News was a boring prospect but somehow we had to deal with it if we wanted to be in good books with the old man. Along the way, we began to unconsciously get used to it and so whenever Bbale Francis’ voice bounced off the TV and echoed around the living room, we were ready to see what new things the president had gotten up to and which district was launching a new Farmers’ program or which Ministry had held a press conference to announce a new Government project. It was fun, it its own way. The change over form Black and white viewing to full colour viewing did little to change the nonchalance at bulletin time but it gave a little more colour to the whole thing.

Francis BBbale Francis in jovial mood in an ad by a Telecom Company

For a person with a TV and Radio news career that stretched well over two decades, there is nothing that can be done to replace him. The one thing however that puts a smile on one’s face is that while Bbale Francis as a person may not be with us, his legacy still lives on. It lives on through the numerous young people he trained, taught, mentored and inspired to get infront of the camera and the microphone to read us the news.

Bbale Francis was for many years tasked with reading out names of people who the country looked at as heroes on National TV but I would like to confidently say that Bbale Francis is another of them; the heroes. He may not have wielded a gun, owned several millions in cash or commanded a celebrity like following but Bbale Francis was and is a hero to the bone!

Until we meet again Bbale Francis. Fare thee well comrade.

We relish news of our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to somebody too. – Helen Hayes

a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
Follow @beewol on Twitter


Killing the Mini Skirt Bill

Over the past couple of days the average Ugandan has been subjected to strange weather changes, Father Musaala and his borderline battle between fame and shame, the Bedroom Gospel according to Pastor Martin Ssempa, a couple of failed Easter Concerts and Ronald Mugula knocking Romanian Elek Janos to within seconds of his life. Of course one can argue that Uganda never runs out of Drama; we are born and bred in the caves of drama. However, it would have been safe to say that nothing extra ordinary was slated to happen; that was until a certain retired Catholic Priest Simon Lokodo decided it was time to reawaken the now sleeping and almost dead Ghost of the ‘Mini Skirt bill’. Of course the bill in its entirety is called the “Anti Pornography Bill” but everything seems insignificant until you read the bit about banning the mini skirt. Discussing details of the bill here is a waste of time and is extremely useless because a) I am not a Parliamentarian thus I am not well versed with how to waste time b) As long there is a risk of a mini skirt being banned, the bill must and should be stopped right away! No time for deliberation.

This bill is not only dangerous for our economy but also to the future generations. How does Lokodo expect us to look our grand children in the eyes and tell them that the mini skirt was banned in our generation? HOW? Relationships have been built and consummated, jobs earned and promotions gotten, degrees attained and careers curved out just by using this legendary piece of clothing. Stories are told of many great men who have made business decisions and even life changing decisions based on a well worn mini skirt lingering about somewhere in their lives. The miniskirt is not just another piece of clothing; it is a precious part of our history!

MINI SKIRTLook at this awesomeness. Just look at it!

The Right Reverend Father Simon Lokodo who proposed the bill is a former catholic priest so one can argue that he does not know better and so he ought to be forgiven. Catholic priests are known to cover themselves with uncomfortable robes all day and sometimes all night (being largely celibate, they need the warmth) so Lokodo is probably shocked to his core by all the flesh he is seeing. One can also argue that in more ways than we care to admit, the Catholic Church is taking over. If a Catholic leader is not in the press for washing the feet of men, then he is probably in for a ground breaking revelation of a sexual nature. Either way, the Catholic leaders are taking over. So Lokodo is simply doing what has to be done – taking over the World. Wait, maybe he is the anti-Christ! Hhhmmm. Ok that’s a very wild allegation, extremely unfounded and totally uncalled for but I just thought I would put it out there. Anyway, it can be said with a fair amount of certainty that unlike the new Pope who seems to be winning over hearts and souls with his noble deeds, his brethren elsewhere (read Uganda) seem to have different ideas. But let’s not dwell on this subject because I know plenty of Catholics who are already looking for their Rosaries so they can implore God to do some hurtful things to whoever criticizes the Catholic Priests. I wouldn’t want lightning striking me down now. I know God is an advocate for humour but I am not sure how much I can push before I cross the line.

So away from the seemingly misguided Lokodo to the more serious matter at hand; how do we kill this bill?

1. Ladies, Go All Out

Ladies, immediately you are finished reading this little piece, I suggest you head over to your wardrobe, find the skimpiest mini skirt and rock it right away. Make a statement; a very loud and skimpy one. Let the whole world know that the mini skirt rocks. Obviously it would be ideal if the women (with fine legs) did this more but why discriminate against those with unattractive legs? For once, let everyone rock the mini skirt; fine legs or not. And for once, let no man attempt to hurl an insult at a woman wearing a mini skirt telling her how she has more scars on her legs than hairs on her head. Let the women run this show. And ladies, if you rock the miniskirt and a son of a gun says anything other than that you look sexy, you have my permission to kick him in the nuts. If he is at a safe distance from the nut-kick, just hurl a stone at him or better still; pull up your skirt, bend over, show him your behind, pull down your skirt and pretend nothing happened. That ought to sort him out for a couple of hours, if not for life!


Flash it for him. Let him know you know he wants you but he can not have you

2. Gentlemen you have a Role to play

The guys might now be wondering how they are going to be a part of this miniskirt War. Well, here is how. If your partner’s birthday is coming up, I don’t need to tell you what you should get her. If you are male and you have a male partner, this entire article is probably a waste of your precious time. Please get back to fixing your make-up, adjusting your handbag and watching the kardashians. Everybody else, keep reading. So, about your lady’s birthday, go find her the shortest outfit you can lay your hands on. And while you are at it, suggest to her that the rest of her wardrobe should get shorter because you are suddenly attracted to women who wear miniskirts. If she says she is not okay with wearing short skirts, tell her you just might consider finding someone who is okay with rocking the miniskirt. If that does not persuade her to get a short skirt, then you my friend are in a complicated relationship with a nun. Roll over and join the Lokodo camp. Deal with it and find some robes, so the two of you can match each other. And I don’t mean you and Lokodo; I mean you and your nun of a girlfriend.

If you go out on a date and she wears a miniskirt on that first date, she is a keeper! If she wears anything longer, be carefully, she might just be a deserter from the convent or worse, a spy from Lokodo’s camp. So beware!

3. Campusers – You are Our Greatest Weapon

Corporate ladies who have since left campus might have fine well kept legs but the best legs are in the Universities; this one is a fact! I say this not because I secretly spend a chunk of my time analyzing which ladies have the finest legs but because common knowledge will lead you to realize that a lady looks her finest from just after 18 to around her mid twenties. This excludes women from Western Uganda who tend to look more beautiful as they grow older. (But the topic of women and their beauty shall be reserved for another Monday).

Ladies in the various Universities in Uganda need to pay close attention here. However when talking about miniskirts and how important they are, ladies at Mukono University and IUIU might want to skip this part. I say this because news has reached me that administrations there do not entertain anything that is remotely nice looking and might score you points with the guys. So it is safe to say miniskirts are not allowed in these universities. Why the students there have not yet gone on strike, I have no idea. But let’s hope they are considering it. So while I talk to the ladies from other Campuses, I suggest that the ladies in IUIU and Mukono University look at their calendars to see when the holidays kick in because when they do, you will need to join the fight; the miniskirt needs you!

Moving on …

Ladies in the other Universities should make it a point to have a good number of miniskirts in their collection. Some girls are unlucky to come from families that will only allow long dresses and/or big thick blouses worn over long ugly skirts. Such girls have no miniskirts in their collection and this is where other campus girls come in handy. Be good to one another and share those skirts; remember united we stand and divided we fall. If you have two miniskirts, lend one out – if only for the night. If you don’t have one, do not hesitate to borrow. Make sure everyone gets a feel of this wonderful piece of clothing. In due time, the Government will either ignore the whole bill or push it into the distant future like they did the Simcard Registration thing. The key issue here is to convince everyone to wear it until the Government changes its mind and decides that it is illegal not to own a miniskirt if you are above 18.

4. Government Workers

People who work in Government offices are notorious for attending series of meetings, workshops, seminars and conferences just to discuss issues ranging from how to attend other meetings to how one should conduct oneself when coming to and from the bathroom. Surely one such workshop can and should be dedicated to the miniskirt cause. Of course when suggesting the idea, you will need to disguise it under the title “A Workshop Aimed at Raising Awareness Amongst the Grassroot People About how to Harness their Abilities and Capabilities in the Field of Human Appreciation.” This might be a long title but it should do the trick as your bosses will not ask too many questions – they never ask questions if the title is long. During the workshop, go through the subject called “The Miniskirt”. Discuss (at length) the negative implications the banning of the miniskirt will have on the GDP, NNP, GNP, Geo Political affairs, Multi-lateral trade and economic integration. Have someone display some complex slides and design some graphs, curves, charts and gloomy projections.

5. Everyone Else

By everyone else, I am actually referring to every Ugandan except Father Lokodo and 2 or 3 of his juniors who might have no option but to offer him backing on this issue lest their families sleep hungry. Everyone should prepare to hit the streets in support of this idea of killing the mini skirt bill. The ladies down at Speke Road are already doing their part; what are you doing to help the miniskirt cause? Pick your miniskirt and hit the streets NOW so the whole world can know how much we still need this precious piece of clothing. And while you are at it, be sure to flash a little flesh and there – for added effect. Also, capture some pictures and let’s share those on instagram. I would have suggested that we get a picture of Lokodo and through photoshop we could tweak with it till we get the perfect result; Lokodo chillaxing with a few miniskirt cuties. But my leniency is getting the best of me. The whole photoshop idea would however make for some good fodder and it would keep him off the miniskirt issue for some time, of course after we have squeezed some money from him so that we do not publish the images.


If and when we do these things, I am confident that this talk about miniskirts will be shoved and then we shall get back to more serious issues like corruption, poor service delivery, potholes, medicine-less health centers, skyrocketing unemployment figures, monetized political climate and all other crucial issues that MPs somehow refuse to discuss for lack of the customary 5 million Shillings for facilitation.

As I sign out, I leave you with a very insightful quote that says so much in just a few words;

“A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.” ― Sophia Loren


Yours Truly


a.k.a Beewol

The Talkative Rocker