Until midday, Brenda Zobbo had not heard about Penny Tinditina’s passing. The shock on hearing the news took her aback. “What????? When? I had no idea, oh Lord,” she responded, visibly in shock.
Tinditina and Zobbo were colleagues at Radio One, a top English station in Kampala, where the former anchored news, and the latter was a presenter. Tinditina, wife of Alex Jakana, who works at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a former journalist with BBC, succumbed to lung cancer in Seattle, USA where she has battled for her life for more than a year.
“Penny was kind, beautiful, always polite and focused. I loved the way she loved the Lord, that unselfish unconditional love for her faith. I still can't believe it,” an emotive Zobbo recounted what she remembered about the fallen journalist, mother and wife.
Alan Kasujja, a journalist with BBC, spoke to Jakana shortly after Penny died. He was calling to encourage him but choked on words.
“Perhaps because I don't know many married couples that love each other as much as Alex and Penny. All these years later, he still called her 'my bride'.
I'm sure Alex sensed my loss of words and decided to encourage me instead. I listened as he powerfully extolled her virtues as a woman of faith and declared that it was his job to honour his wife's faith in Christ,” Kasujja explained.
He added, “I'll never forget Alex telling me, ‘Mourn with me Alan but rejoice with Penny’. He had watched his mugole battle a ruthless disease and was now consoled by the fact that it was over. It will be tough for my brother but the faith that he and Penny shared will anchor him.”
RS Elvis, real name Elvis Kalema a presenter on Radio One also spoke highly of Tinditina “She was one of the sweetest souls I ever interacted with,” he said.
Santa Anzo, says she and Tinditina met in school. “Penny and her brother Ian Munanura were my most loving friends. Five years later, we met again at Watoto Church, and when l launched Arapapa, she booked as one of our very first commercial models, advertising Hima Cement,” Anzo recollects.
She described the late as sweet, calm, kind and very principled. “I loved her. Oh my, what a shock. Penny and her son Darren where among Arapapa's first commercial models. She was a sweet soul. I am saddened to learn of her death. She kept her health struggles to herself. l wish l had known. I would have prayed with her. Arapapa and l, celebrate her memory,” Santa adds.
Many who had never met her but heard her read the news and liked the way she did so sung her praises. “I had never met Penny Tinditina, the former Radio One news anchor, but I fell instantly in love with her voice in the early 2000s. It is sad to learn that she has been felled by cancer. Sorry Alex Jakana, RIP Penny,” Edris Kiggundu, a journalist with The Observer wrote on Facebook when news of her death was announced.
The Jakanas had three children – Darren, Dione and Divine. A Penny Jakana's memorial fund has been created on Gofundme.com. “We would like to support our dear friend financially by contributing towards her funeral in Uganda. All funds raised will go directly to Alex Jakana. Thank you for your generosity and God bless you big as we stand together with the family,” reads a plea message on the website.