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


Post WC

For very many people, the past few weeks of World Cup euphoria have offered an experience that can best be described as memorable. Obviously it was not as memorable for the Brazilians, English or Spanish but overall, the World Cup served up some real excitement. In our own backyards, relationships were created, bets won, friendships terminated, allegiances shifted, breakups initiated and basically life lived to the fullest – all because of the football showpiece.

Now that the World Cup has ended, many people have been left confused, dazed and basically non compos mentis because of the absence of football action. Some are already starting to suffer from World Cup withdrawal symptoms seeing as they had gotten used to a Brazilian drubbing here, a Spanish annihilation there or an English humiliation the other side. There is simply no more World Cup and coming to grips with this realisation is going to be a challenge. The World Cup is like a sweet drug that people have gotten addicted to and now need ways to stay away from because the supplier just ran out of stock.

As a person who is an expert at addictions and keeping them in check (try to not think so much about that), I would like to offer a few remedies for all my friends as well as my enemies; the German fans. Here is how you can pre-occcupy yourself during this World Cup aftermath.

Watch plenty of TV

For most sane people, soaps, TV shows and TV series are generally a waste of time and a very effective way of keeping your mind stagnant. They do not add to one’s intellectual sharpness, acumen, wisdom or intuition and neither do they make one any more insightful. They however play a very crucial role in holding friendships together, helping people shave hours off their often boring lives and basically offer people topics of discussion during stale blind dates or during boring house parties. During this time when there is no football going on, give these TV series a shot. True, you may emerge dumber, less insightful and probably addicted to one or two TV shows but you will certainly have helped yourself get over the absence of football. I have to add that you must desist from watching any World Cup replays or you will have a seizure or some kind of delirium because your mind will suddenly demand for more football. Watch TV but stay away from Football.


Make sure the volume is turned up so she doesn’t read anything

Medidate and do Yoga

Specialists at peace and tranquillity recommend meditation and yoga for people who would like to get their thoughts together. You will probably have a rough time trying to forget Mario Gotze’s heartbreaking screamer against Sergio Romero or Tim Cahill’s beauty against Netherlands but Yoga and meditation should just about do the trick. Instead of constantly replaying Lionel Messi’s 90th Minute winner against Iran, you can focus your mind on healthier things like doing Yoga. While doing group Yoga (preferably with females around) you can be sure that football will be the furthest thing on your mind as other softer and more delicious issues will take up that space in your mind ( No – I do not know this from experiencel; I am only working with assumptions). The meditation will help you look at your life more critically so as to identify the mistakes you have made and how you can make other mistakes while trying to correct previous ones.


Go on and Challenge yourself

Plan for 2016

Every day that passes in Uganda brings us closer to 2016 – the year of reckoning. Whilst the rest of us were busy arguing bitterly during the World Cup, some visionaries were laying strategies for 2016. If you were lucky (or unlucky) to have watched the World Cup on UBC TV, you would have noticed a certain consistently loud message about the Kyankwanzi Resolution. I am yet to understand why and how such a video even runs on a National Broadcaster but that is besides the point. The video simply begs the question – if other people are getting ready for 2016, what are you doing? World Cup is over; start drawing up plans for your 2016 manifesto. Plan for how many bars of soap you will supply in your constituency and how many sacks of sugar you will need to get the local leadership on your side. Look at which banks have favourable loan deals to help you cover your campaings. You could also create a video that may or may not talk of you as a demi-god who everyone must vote if they want to stay alive and then you can have this video run on UBC Tv.


Start planning your political career

Work on your relationships

It is highly likely that for many people, the World Cup dealt a huge blow to their relationships with friends, family and lovers. Now that it is all over, such people should now resort their energies to fixing those broken relationships. If you and your partner broke up or filed for a divorce on grounds that you two could not agree on whether Messi is better than Ronaldo, maybe it is about time you called a truce. Most footballers in the world are now on holiday – take a hint. Free your mind from the slavery of football and focus on making those around you happy. Get home in time to have dinner with your wife, make that phone call to the grandmother and pay a friend a visit. With the World Cup out of the way, you can now go forth and multiply because you now have the time for coitus. Don’t disappoint the missus by saying you are occupied. The most popular sporting event is over; make some time to engage in intimacy with your partner. It is the least you can do after ignoring them for the entire duration of the World Cup.


People like Wenger are out there striking killer poses – join them!

Other things

There are about 92 other things you can engage in now that the World Cup is over. Some of those that I haven’t mentioned above include starting a cult, joining the army, becoming a musician, practicing for Big Brother Nominations and stalking an ex partner.


 *Yawn* when does the season start again?

The point is – World Cup is over and we must work hard to forget it.

“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.”  ― John Irving

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


World Cup Notes

The World Cup is a few days away and the football fever is slowly snaking its way through my bloodstream and that of many other football lovers. True – it isn’t as massive as it was four year ago but it is building up pretty fast. I am confident that by this time next week, I shall want nothing to do with anything other than the World Cup.

I am peace loving person who would like to stay in one accord with all those around me. Being the football loving individual that I am, there is a chance that my relationships with people will either be strained or strengthened during this one month of footballing madness. But just so we are clear, I would like to send a personal World Cup note to everyone around me.

Note to the Friends

For the entire duration of the World Cup, my friends will be determined by what teams they support. We shall be good friends if you support any African team, we shall be very good friends if you support The Netherlands, Germany or Spain, but we shall be absolute inseparable BFFs if you support Argentina. If you have a jersey with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuan or Ezequiel Lavezzi, there is a chance I’ll share my ATM Card pin with you. If you are female and you can name even half the Argentine squad, it is likely I will make a pass at you – during half time or after the game.


Discuss anything other than football and you’ll say hello to the fist

Note to the Boss

I am confident you will be watching the games too so I expect you to understand that my entire schedule will revolve around the games. And I am not saying this because I expect to be becoming in late for work, far from it. I shall come in well in time but you need to understand that certain things will change. Those work meetings that take forever might need to be cut short. No one wants to miss the pundit banter prior to the game. Also, if I show up dressed in an Argentine Team Jersey on a weekday, please bear with me – it is because La Albiceleste will be playing that day.


The Wardrobe is about to get an overhaul 

Note to the Girlfriend

It would be advisable for you to find a teddy bear to keep you company for this month because for the whole month, my eyes will be glued on the TV watching the World Cup,  watching previews and highlights of the World Cup, watching shows about the World Cup and watching anything that has to do with the World Cup. This essentially means that if I do not pick your calls or reply your messages, it won’t be because I am flirting with a random lady at the bar. It will most likely be because I shall be completely engrossed in World Cup things. You will have me to yourself before and after the World Cup season. In case I watch the game from home, the TV Remote shall be in my possession and there will be no discussion about why the volume is turned up loud.  Any discussions that do not center around the World Cup shall be postponed for the entire month.


That Will Be All!

Note to the other girls

If Spain is playing Netherlands and you ask me why Ronaldo is not on the pitch I will hurl something in your direction – probably a bottle or wooden ash tray. Also, if you happen to support the same team I support, do not be shocked that I might find you more attractive than usual. It will have nothing to do with your smile, legs, behind or intellect. It is simply down to the football passion. As for the girls who have boyfriends, if he tells you he was watching the game with me, it is likely I will support him. I don’t care if in truth he was banging the next door neighbor, I will always side with him – unless he is supporting France or England which I absolutely dislike.

Note to the Government

I know my country is not playing in the World Cup and there are chances it might never play in the tournament – in my lifetime, but for the love of God, please make an effort to support football. The only other thing that can unite people as much as football is music and seeing as Uganda and music still have a strained relationship, it is safe to say that we could / should give football a shot. On Saturday while we were at Mandela National Stadium, every Ugandan rallied behind the team with the assumption and belief that we are one. No tribes, religions, skin colour or political affiliations were realized – we were one people. If that is not reason enough for the Government to support football, then surely nothing is.


Fooball has the power to Unite us all

Note to UBC TV

As the official national broadcaster, it is likely that you will have exclusive rights to air the tournament across the one month period. However, history has proven that you have a tendency to be far from reliable. If the transmission isn’t consistently interrupted then the sound shall be deafening. And if the sound is okay then the half time commentary will be something of a bedtime story. If that does not happen then the game is just not aired and instead some strange PPU program will air – something about Mr. 1986 meeting Unemployed Youth in Katakwi district. Let’s have all these PPU programs air before and after the month of the World Cup. Oh, and Jane Kasumba; I like your accent – share some of it with your panelists.


Hello Jane 🙂

Note to UMEME

Where do I even begin with you lot? I do not know of any institution that has taken a lot of heat as much as UMEME. Truth be told, most of the heat is well earned. You guys have outdone yourselves in keeping a good number of Ugandans in the dark. However, for the duration of the World Cup, I will cut you some slack. I will pray that the Good Lord touches you and you SEE THE LIGHT. I will pray that you light us up and even it we have to pay double – please do what you have to do. I have loaded enough Yaka units to last me the entire month so please do your part and let me watch the tournament without pausing to curse and abuse UMEME. If there should ever be any load shedding, please let it be in the hours when the World Cup is not airing.


I have done my part, please do your part UMEME

Note to other people

If we happen to be in the same bar and my team is playing, I shall not be held responsible for any injuries you sustain from my celebration. If you absolutely have no interest in Football, stay out of my lane – that way you will not get too much World Cup nonsense coming your way. Also, if you are interested in learning about football, please do so with caution. Do not ask me which team is wearing white, why someone is getting a yellow card, how much time is left on the game or which team is winning when everything is right there on the screen. Also, be sure to postpone your death, wedding, birthday or child delivery until after the Finals of the World Cup.

Other than that, I love you all and as they usually say about football tournaments; may the best team win.

“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.” ― Bill Shankly

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