Growing up, “Bbale Francis” was a household name. The man is so famous, my nine year old sister knows of him. And she is 2000 born! When I heard of the Bbale Francis Anchoring Competition (BFRANAC), I thought, “Finally, a great journalist gets appreciated” and knew this was a story I had to write.
The Bbale Francis Competition, the first of its kind took place on Saturday, 23rd June 2012 at the Sharing Hall Nsambya. It served as the inaugural launch of the annual inter-university news anchoring and reporting competition named after the veteran news anchor. The starting time was 9:00am and by 8:00pm the competition had ended. The organizers were UMCAT School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the events was organized for and open to students from universities and institutes in Uganda offering Journalism and Mass Communication as a major course.
Images from the event at the bottom
The purpose of this was to create a platform for aspiring news anchors to exhibit their talents and expose the participants to media houses. Most importantly though, the competition was a way of appreciating Mr. Bbale Francis for his contribution and role in the media industry in Uganda. The sponsors of the event were Simba Telecom, Sanyu FM, UBC, NTV, Campus Journal, Business Today Magazine, Graphic One and Radio Sapienta.
Makerere University, Uganda Christian University, Islamic University In Uganda, Kampala University, Muteesa University and of course UMCAT School of Journalism and Mass Communication participated in the competition. The activities were News Anchoring and News Reporting. The competitions had three rounds. In the first round, universities had to form teams of Anchors, Reporters and Directors. The team would then go to the field and gather news stories to compile a script which was presented at the event.
The best 4 Anchors would qualify to the 2nd round to read a script prepared by the judges and subsequently the best 2 Anchors would go to the finals. In the finals, the two anchors would then interview a guest live on stage to assess their interview skills and then also answer 5 questions on current affairs. Awards and trophies were given to the winners.
The best news anchor, best news reporter both English and Luganda received glass awards, the best team in both languages trophies and other participants certificates. Uganda Christian University Mukono won both the Luganda and English Trophies. Individual accolades went to Kyeyune William Best News Anchor English (UCU), Kamulegeya Ackleo, best news anchor Luganda (UMCAT), Best Reporter English Atukunda Daisy (UCU), Nabagereka (Muteesa 1 University) best Reporter Luganda.
The highlight of the show was the grand entrance of Mr. Bbale Francis as all the students stood up at once and started chanting his name in unison while the ushers poured flowers on him bringing the show to a standstill. Mr. Bbale’s speech where he praised the organizing committee for their efforts, thanked the universities for honoring the event and encouraged the students to use their role as journalists to help the society live better lives was wonderful.
A big number of students turned up for the show which I think considering the fact that it was happening for the first time, was a very good sign.
I spoke to Abaas Mpindi, a student at UMCAT and the brains behind the competition about his expectations for and challenges faced during the organizing of the event.
I found out that Nsambya which I thought was quite inconveniencing for a venue, was chosen because of logistical constraints and the fact that they needed a place that is freely accessible to the youth and students.
They chose to honor Mr. Bbale out of all the journalists out there because of his long term commitment and service to the broadcast media in Uganda, his willingness to share his skills and vast experiences with others and train them to become even better than him. Many know him as a news anchor but they don’t know he is also a speech and language trends lecturer in many media institutes and that the faces we see on our screens today like Maurice Mugisha, Jackie Lumbasi and Gabriel Epenu have gone through his hands.
Above all, he is perfect in his trade which is a rare adjective to give a man. Obviously there are many good journalists but in the news anchoring business, he has set the standards and he deserves credit.
On some of the challenges faced, I was told the major challenge was financial constraints since it was a student initiative and they depended on the little resources they had. Abaas says while they were not able to achieve everything they wanted, he is content that they achieved at least 70%.