Senior Presidential Adviser on Buganda Affairs Robert Ssebunya has decried the habit of fundraising for cancer and heart patients to travel abroad for treatment.
He made the remarks during a requiem service for veteran news anchor Bbale Francis at the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) offices. At the time of his death, UBC was launching a fundraising drive for funds to cater for his treatment in India.
“We have the expertise and the personnel to cater for such illnesses. Some of the doctors treating our people in India are Ugandan doctors, who fled the working conditions here. We should ensure that the Uganda Heart Institute and the Uganda Cancer Institute are properly facilitated,” Mr Ssebunya said.
Mr Ssebunya, a former minister for Information and National Guidance in the 1979 interim government of Yusuf Lule, applauded the late Bbale as “a good civil servant, diligent in his duties.”
Because of the Easter season, the requiem mass could not be conducted in church due to religious traditions. The ceremony was attended by the media fraternity, media students, religious leaders and government officials.
Mr John Mitala, head of the Civil Service, praised the deceased as a humble man, who shared his ideas and was open to learning. He said Bbale was very meticulous in his broadcasts on TV because he was aware of the power of the media in influencing people.
Colleagues told anecdotes of Bbale’s tenure in the newsroom. Mr Ronald Ssenyondo, Star FM manager, told of how a snake once entered the studio while Bbale was reading news. “Because he was on air, he only exclaimed “Oh my God!” The episode was widely reported on BBC because it was unimaginable that a snake could enter a studio,” Mr Ssenyondo said.
Mr Dean Kibirige, the programmes manager of Star FM, said the deceased had passion for the youth. He said one day, Bbale told him the youth would discover their situation was not right. Daniel Kanyerezi, also known as Irish Kyebandula, a comedian who made a career out of mimicking Bbale, threw congregants into bouts of laughter when he reenacted Bbale reading the news. His voice was so eerily close to that of the deceased that he left mourners in bewilderment.
Bbale succumbed to cancer of the bladder on Thursday morning at the Mulago National Referral Hospital. He will be buried tomorrow at his ancestral home in Kawuku-Wamala, off Entebbe Road.
Bbale Francis was a celebrated news anchor and journalist for UBC television. He was also a speech and language lecturer and instructor at many media institutions and has acted as a mentor to many of the more current journalists. He was one of the longest serving and exhilarating broadcasters to ever grace the TV screens and air waves in Uganda.