Francis Bbaale and wife Mercy on their introduction day. PHOTO/COURTESY


Revisiting road crash that orphaned five children

What you need to know:

  • On Good Friday, Francis Bbaale, his wife and seven other people perished after the Alphard car they were travelling in was involved in a head-on collision with an oncoming fuel tanker.

Francis Bbaale, who died aged 38 in a head-on collision accident during this year’s Easter Weekend, was an avid water engineer who ensured people entrusted to his care had access to clean safe water.

After joining the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) as an intern in 2006, Bbaale rose through the ranks to become a network manager. 

Mr Moses Bigabwa, the NWSC central region manager, says Bbaale’s special leadership abilities and charismatic personality were readily apparent.

Combo: The wreckage of the vehicles that collided along Masaka-Mbarara road, killing nine people on the spot on April 7, 2023. PHOTOS/ COURTESY

Born on March 28, 1985, in Old Kampala, to Sarah Nabweteme and the late Samuel Kamemuko, Bbaale had a happy childhood that helped him to develop and nurture his love of humanity.  

Educated as a civil engineer at Uganda Technical College Bushenyi, Kyambogo University and Makerere University for his diploma, Bachelors and Masters degrees respectively, Bbaale benefited from the respect associated with his name since it invoked a renowned, silver bearded telecaster. Although he had no relation with the legendary Bbaale, he silently took pride in the association and did not deny or confirm the confusion surrounding their connection. 

Water network champion
Bbaale had an outstanding career which many colleagues at work explained as one driven by passion and commitment. His works and roles over the years at NWSC mainly revolved around water supply management, a task that requires reliability and quick response. 

Mr Bigabwa reminisces that unlike most people in their department who depended on a computerised water network system, Bbaale had the entire greater Kampala water system off head. 

Oftentimes, when clients contacted NWSC in case of any water leakage or shortages, even while away from office, Bbaale would step in fast because he knew the systems and channels of the water supply.  

“He would then guide the field team on what to do when they reach the affected area, even when he had not stepped there,” Mr Bigabwa told Monitor

An NWSC field worker previously under Bbaale’s supervision described him as a problem solver who instantly developed innovative ways to fix problems. He was also a team player who—before implementing his ideas—presented them to colleagues, even juniors. His calm approach to achieving results from subordinates set him apart from many of his senior colleagues who usually went hard on achieving results. 

Among his peers at work and home, Bbaale was known as a friend and source of advice. At his funeral, people from all walks of life attested to his friendship and good heart. He always reached out first to those who were in need of help.

“He was a blessing to many of us in his little way. No matter how small the details were, he was there. He helped many of us without mentioning whatever he extended to us,” Allan Mukalazi, a close family friend, says. 

People watch as police retrieve bodies from the wreckage of a road crash in Lwengo District on April 7, 2023. PHOTO/GERTRUDE MUTYABA

Mr Herbert Mujuni, who worked closely with Bbaale, describes him as a very friendly, cheerful coworker who looked out for others. Mr Mujuni, who also doubled as Bbaale’s best man and witness at his wedding, further speaks fondly of the Bbaale’s love for his family. 

“We would be there working and out of the blue, he would talk about his family.”  

Bbaale always found time for his colleagues, his friends and his family. More so his mother, his wife Mercy and their five children. He kept in regular contact with them when he was away from home, and always made certain that he returned with a “special little something” for each of them. 

Mr Bigabwa says when he received the sad news of Bbaale’s death, his instincts told him he must have been with Mercy Nakaweesa, his wife since December of 2018—which turned out to be true as they both perished, together with a neighbour, friends and relatives in the same accident. 

Bbaale’s ailing mother says her son was the breadwinner for her household. She reminisces that Bbaale gave her his entire first salary years back when he had just obtained employment. 

Moving on 
At 38 years, Bbaale was yet to milk from his career that had shifted from budding to stable. He was only kickstarting his journey to attaining personal development and did not leave much to himself aside from an unfinished residence. 

The biggest gift Bbaale left for himself besides his five children are his friends. 

They have jointly put together a fund to help support his children. Spearheaded by Mr Bigabwa, the Bbaale Children Education Support Fund is aimed at mobilising funds from friends, family and well-wishers for his children. Bbaale’s eldest child is 12 years and the youngest is just eight months.

“The idea of the fund is to help his very young children go to school, attain education to at least degree level the same way their father would have wanted,” Mr Bigabwa told Sunday Monitor, adding that when of age, the children will then use the resources from the fund to further finish pending projects in their father’s estate. 

Kampala Quality School, where some of his children studied, offered to fully sponsor one child through their entire primary education.  

Mr Bigabwa further notes that they are engaging St Savio Primary School, where his eldest son studied, with the goal of securing a bursary to eventually get a Primary Leaving Examinations certificate.  

Bbaale’s mother says with the death of her son, she is left with no support and cannot manage looking after her grandchildren, who were since taken to her counterpart from their maternal side where they currently stay. 

Bbaale’s warm smile, caring nature, and dedication to his work will be dearly missed by all who knew him. He was laid to rest alongside his wife at their ancestral grounds in Ndejje-Kitwalanyi. He is survived by his mother, five children, and four siblings.

Background...Accident revisited 
On Good Friday, Chris Ntege, his wife Cindy Butesi, and their two children—Jaiden and Jiana Ntege—moved in their car from Mbalwa zone in Namugongo, Wakiso District, to Bbaale’s home in Kawanda. The two families were longtime friends.  

On reaching Kawanda, they met with the Nteges; Bbaale’s maternal half-brother, Sam Mutyaba; their neighbour, Joseph Sserunkuma; and Mercy Bbaale’s brother, Wycliff Kabugo. 

All together, they agreed to move in one car—an Alphard that belonged to Bbaale’s wife. Their destination was Ntege’s country home in Isingiro District. 

The wreckage of one of the vehicles that was involved in the accident on April 7, 2023. PHOTO/GERTRUDE MUTYABA

In what the police labelled as reckless driving, the team’s Alphard car was involved in a head-on collision with an oncoming fuel tanker on a climbing lane from Mbarara side at around 4pm. This was at Kyoja Trading Centre, in Kinoni on the Masaka-Mbarara highway in Lwengo District. The grisly accident claimed the lives of all the nine people in the car—on the spot. The driver of the truck and his turn boy sustained injuries.