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!

no-tv-480

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

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

Envy for Deep Waters

The mere mention of ‘deep waters’ will probably arouse the sexual glands of some people and for that I am truly sorry. However, this little piece is not about the deep waters that will occasionally be written about in the Red Pepper or the Onion. This little piece is about the deep waters as figuratively mentioned by a one Bobi Wine who, according to the guy who supplies me with Rolex, is only the best musician to ever walk this earth. I’m usually left wondering what sort of earth this Rolex guy is treading because from the look of things, his earth is quite messed up.

Anyway, the deep waters I am referring to connote or imply being in the big leagues, rolling in the high classes or just living the good life. Of course people who understand Luganda already know what I am going on about but just so everyone can get up to speed, here is where the phrase ‘deep waters’ actually originates. This Bobi Wine guy released a song entitled “Mazi Mawanvu” which, if directly translated, would mean something like “deep waters”. The deep waters being referenced here relate to being in a league that is higher than average or basically living the good life. I’m sure after understanding the context in which I am using deep waters, some people are already disappointed because they expected some graphic explanation about how women from Western Uganda are famous for deep waters – I shall not talk about that, of course it is a temptation I have to fight.  For now, let’s get our minds out of the gutter and try to concentrate on deep waters in relation to living the good life, shall we?

Everywhere you go, you will come across people who are living the good life and are surely depictive of really deep waters. We all know people who we would think fit this description and every time we wake up in the morning, we only fall short of telling God to make us like them. We want to be like them; we adore them! Often times we even want to do away with them so we do not have to watch their good life roll by as we are stuck in our own pits of desperation and suffering. I have personally been envious of some people and if stalking was not a difficult and illegal thing to do, I would consider it once in a while. I shall present a list of some of the people I am envious about and I shall state my reasons.

The little Princess Blue Ivy Carter

This little offspring of Jay and B is probably the single luckiest sucker out there. This small girl is so much a deep water girl that even a single snapshot of her is worth a lot of money. Of course the debate will always rage on about whether or not the little girl is pretty or just banged up but that is irrelevant because the little girl is simply too famous and yet she does not even know it. Someone recently intimated to me that Jay and Bey are planning to give Blue Ivy the life of a princess. This makes me look back at my own life and wonder if my parents ever considered giving me the life of a Prince. There is a fat chance they wanted to; but couldn’t. If the various canes I received during my childhood, the life of a Prince is not what my parents laid out for me. That said, I still feel they might have wanted to give me this Prince-like life however my dad is not one of the richest men in the world and and neither does my mum go around singing about Single Ladies when she secretly goes back home to a man thus leaving other women out there echoing her song and living pathetic single lives. Considering the circumstances therefore, I’m sure my parents did a great job but Blue Ivy Carter’s childhood is one I wouldn’t mind living if I were a little child.

Beyonce

of babies who are rich even before lifting a finger to do a thing! 

Le President Mugabe’s Black Love

Some of you are now wondering how the hell Robert Mugabe makes it to this list but I have just one question for you – how many human beings are able to ban a colour? Huh? How many? None? Yeah. That’s what I thought! Well, Robert Mugabe did it! This dude issued an executive order banning the colour white from his country. Apparently, he said the order would by all means outlaw the possession of all white-colored objects and it would go ahead to mandate harsh prison sentences for folks who were found to be non-compliant. This would mean that if you have anything that is white, you have to find some black paint, retouch it and have an all new black look. If your house was painted white, you had to opt for another colour. Only two words can best describe this kind of kingly action; deep waters! It is one thing to be a President and throw around decrees and laws but it is a ground breaking thing to be an octogenarian president and have people crawling and rolling at your command. Most are really too old to even lift a finger and make harsh decrees but not Robert. The Mugabe haters will probably look at this and just pass it off as impunity, short sightedness and childish behavior but the truth of the matter is if you can ban a colour, you are definitely a deep water person.

The ageless women from the West  

I know some of you have been wondering how we can talk about deep waters without saying anything about the ladies from Western Uganda. I may have mentioned earlier that I shall try not to dive into this bit but I couldn’t resist the temptation, I just could not. So why are these ladies from the West being talked about? There is the obvious reason that they are famous for having a proper supply of ‘rain water’ during sex; no question about that. I haven’t personally proven this – yet. But I am not willing to bet that it is wrong. Not after all the confessions of many of my friends about how they had to take the beddings out the next day so they could dry. That is one reason why these girls can be referred to as deep water girls. There is also the reason that these girls never seem to age no matter what! I may have mentioned this in one of my previous blogs but I shall mention it again; women from Western Uganda never age! If there is anything any woman will kill for, it is to look young forever. Well, these Western ladies have this looking good thing on lock down. Many of my female friends from Western Uganda are probably reading this and thinking; dude, you have been watching us all this time? Oh yeah! I have been watching you. We were in Primary and you looked dashing. We joined high school and you looked spectacular. We joined the University and you were glamorous. Now you are a couple of years into your career with 1 or 2 offspring and you are gorgeous? How the hell do you do that? Other women will probably be thinking they have a raw deal in this department but instead of sitting down, sulk and growing wrinkles at an early age, why not befriend some of these ladies and learn their secrets? You might however want to be careful because when you move around with these ladies from the West, your flaws will be louder and more profound because after all, these ladies seem to be without blemish. So beware!

Tamale Mirundi

Those who know Tamale Mirundi know by now that he is the only insane person who has authority and ability to insult and belittle sane people. This guy will confidently get onto the airwaves, utter a couple of ridiculous statements and walk away feeling like a champion. Now that right there is something I am envious about. Most times when I utter nonsensical things, I either lose an argument or miss out on getting a lady’s phone number. But Tamale Mirundi doesn’t lose at all. I know this might come off as overly attacking but you only have to listen to his interviews to understand what I am talking about. We do have a number of politicians in Uganda who would probably do a better job as comedians but none is quite as there as my man Tamale Mirundi. Ssebagala is a contender, especially when he speaks English but he lacks the zing that Mirundi has. Many politicians will walk up to the public, adjust their tie, pocket, make a straight face and tell an open lie. Many will defend their cause to death knowing well that there is a bank balance somewhere that is growing. Many will call those around them rubbish even when they themselves look like a pile of the same stuff. When you get all these politicians and bundle them into a room, Tamale Mirundi is likely to be their ring leader. One day, I hope to have the balls that he has; the balls to walk into an argument, misconstrue everything, confuse everyone, and walk away in celebration – deep water stuff just.

My man the Pope

I know this is probably going to come off as stereotypical but who does not want to be the pope? Who the hell is able to attract as many people and have them all sit out there waiting for you to utter just a word? I know many Catholics who just fall short of calling the Pope the holiest man alive and if you push them in an argument, they will probably say something alluding to that. The Pope probably has the fattest immunity any human being could ever have and I am confident if he committed crimes he would get away with it by just flying to a country, getting off the plane and kissing the ground. This dude is that deep – I mean in reference to the water we are talking about. I know there are probably some short comings to being the Pope for instance you can’t leisurely stroll into a bar, order a drink, cause a fight and sneak out late unnoticed. Also, you probably can’t walk up to a stranger, tell them they have a nice behind and wait for the insult. These are just but minor short comings. I am sure if the Pope wanted to, he would order for a pole to be build anywhere in the Vatican and ladies shipped in from any part of the world to make use of the pole. His ambitions in life though are on another dimension and he is probably more interested in being holy, uniting Catholics, being noble, spreading the word of God and generally living a boring life. He makes it to this list not because he lives the good life but because if he wanted to, he could do whatever he desired; and he would have people falling at his feet and worshipping him even amidst these desires.

Nelson Mandela – the living legend

The mere mention of Mandela’s name usually makes anyone and everyone bow down in admiration. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is one of the very few people in the world who does not seem to have enemies – at least right now. A good number of right-wing critics might have previously referred to him as a terrorist but that was a very long time ago and I am sure many of them will give anything to have this little detail erased from the books history. Everywhere you go today; Nelson Mandela is just adored and praised even as he gets closer and closer to his demise. Why we have more people naming their children Obama (the President), Timberlake (the singer) and Edward (from Twilight) is something that defeats my understanding. I think we should have more and more babies being named Nelson, Mandela or that other tough-to-pronounce name Rolihlahla. You do not have to go to South Africa to see how many streets, restaurants, cafes, barber shops and business have been named after Mandela. Across Africa, it has quietly been agreed that Nelson Mandela is an Angel among mortals. The rest of the world might secretly want to stifle this concept out of jealousy but it is only because Mr. Mandela is a deep water person. Deep waters tend to invite haters and beef.

And then all Ugandans

A Ugandan who is struggling to make ends meet might be wondering how he makes it to this list but before you shake your head in disagreement, sit down, keep calm and read on. I personally think Uganda is the single most awesome place in the world for a number of reasons. I say this not because I have a close friend who was recently denied a Passport to leave the country or because personally I have never really been anywhere in the world other than Uganda. I say Ugandans are deep water people because the life we live here is just out of this world! How many countries have people partying with as much enthusiasm on every day of the week? How many countries have weather that is just appropriate at all times? I mean, whether it is cold or it is hot, I would rather the Ugandan weather than any other weather. And have I made mention of the awesome people in this country? Just yesterday I was lucky to appear in the Sunday Vision having been interviewed by Hope Namanya for the Sunday Xtra. I did mention to Hope that I am lucky to have quite many friends both male and female and in all honesty, this is down to the fact that Ugandans are generally friendly people. You will occasionally meet a disgruntled Civil Servant complaining about the state of affairs or a Member of Parliament threatening to go on a hunger strike but overall, we are really cool people. If non Ugandans are reading this, you might want to make more Ugandan friends because these people are simply awesome people. I know this for a fact – I am one of them!

Kids

The happiness that these kids depict is some deep water stuff – other people ought to be envious

As I log out and wish you a great week, I shall leave you with the customary quote;

“Heart-stopping envy is the sincerest form of flattery.”

― Anna Godbersen, The Luxe

Yours Truly

Bernard

a.k.a Beewol

The Talkative Rocker