Speaking the excellent English Bbale Francis did, came from a family tradition.
Picture on left is by Bukedde newspaper, Centre is by The Observer and top third is an NTV one.
“The news read to you by Bbale Francis. And first…. the main points.”
That trade-mark Bbale Francis cue as he read the English news bulletin on Uganda’s national television -for the last 25 years-will sadly be no more.
The legendary news anchor (in Uganda)-legendary for reading the English news with such flair and poise like no Ugandan news anchor had-passed on Thursday (2nd/April/2015) from bladder cancer; suffered for some years.
To the nation, his death is the loss of a household news anchor that professionalised news reading on Ugandan television.
Henceforth many Ugandans refer to him as the best news anchor the country has had (well, at least up till his death) in the 25 years he has been the household news readerface.
To his family, of which I am a member, his demise is the irreplaceable loss of a lovely son, a great sibling, a loving cousin, a beloved Uncle, a great father etc.
As a niece (his mother is sister to my late paternal grandfather), his death cut deep as he has been one of my favourite Uncles.
I have always had a very strong affection for Uncle Francis since I met him for the first time as a child.
And when I later grew up to become a journalist like he was, my affection for him carried on to into my adult life.
Interestingly, like most Ugandans, the first time I saw my Uncle was when he was reading the news. At that time I did not even know we were related.
It was my maternal Auntie (sister to my mum) who raised me that told me he was her cousin (their parents being siblings) and inevitably my Uncle.
At the time I found out that we were related, we lived in Bugolobi on Princess Anne Drive from where he lived close by at some flats.
When he once came visiting us and I got to see him face-to-face-for the first time, the excitement was palpable.
As a child, physically seeing someone I recognised from television was the ultimate thrill.
Thus started a relationship with my Uncle and remained through my adulthood.
I was particularly fond of him for his simple and ‘cool’ nature that made each interaction with him such a memorable experience. He never took his role as Uncle that seriously to wade off interaction with his younger relatives.
He was one of the ‘cool’ Uncles in the family (but again most of his siblings are very similar to him in character).
He spoke in such a measured manner, as if weighing the impact each word that came out of his mouth had. Being the well-read man that he was, there was always something profound to learn from him.
Uncle Francis always paid careful attention to what he said and how he said it.
Those are qualities that came alive as he read the English bulletin, trained new reporters and taught journalism students at the journalism schools he was called at to lecture.
Speaking English in the excellent manner that he did is actually down to a family tradition.
His mother Mrs Grace Mutongole-94-is the mastermind to how he and his other 8 siblings ended up with the English diction that Uncle Francis was renowned for.
A long serving English teacher in Kisubi (obviously now retired), Mrs Mutongole who still speaks impeccable English, brought up her children to be well spoken.
She passed onto them a tradition her own father Mr. Louise Pulle (my maternal great grandfather) passed onto his children.
Mr. Louise Pulle brought up his children in a westernised lifestyle where speaking and writing English excellently, was the expected standard at home (and at school later on).
I learnt from my family that my great-grandfather conducted English lessons (diction and grammar) for his children at home. By the time they joined school, they already spoke English far better than the other children!
Uncle Francis’ siblings are all well-spoken, speaking in a manner very similar to his. They passed on the tradition to their children and generally most of my maternal cousins are well spoken.
The same is true of my mum’s other side of the family.
My Uncles and Aunties are mostly well-spoken (a few are not but most are) and it is a tradition they have also passed on to us as children.
When Ugandans marvel at the excellent English Uncle Francis spoke, the family celebrates a passed down tradition.
Go there well my beloved Uncle.
Your effort in correcting my diction and grammar as a child (and that of my other relatives), was not in vain.
As children and great children, we carry on with the tradition you all passed on…