- Batre will be buried on Saturday at his home village of Aya in Ajia Sub-county in Arua district
- He worked with Voice of Life, Daily Monitor, Redpepper, Uganda Radio Network (URN)
- When the vagaries of joblessness hit afterward, Batre reaches out to me to find him something to do, including perhaps at URN
I and Ronald Batre have been friends for more than a decade. We had many things in common. Just about height mates who could co-act in a movie like the famous Nigerian midgets. We have both been journalists. At some time, we each bought sleek, yes nice, double-suspension Mountain bikes, and rode majestically on Arua town streets before or after news gathering.
We had a madness of high-speed motorcycle cruise. He plied his journalism trade with Radio Pacis and I with Daily Monitor. When I moved to Monitor Publications headquarters, I encouraged him to write as a Freelance contributor, the way I started. When his byline began gracing the Daily Monitor pages, his supervisor at Radio Pacis took offence, tasking him to choose between the radio (where he was staff) and the paper. I advised him to continue at the radio.
Later, Batre got a job at Uganda Radio Network as its Arua Bureau Chief. He performed above his qualification.
Everyone was impressed. Myself too. Batre got another jig with the BBC, filing weekly news round-ups. The cash increased. So did his alcohol uptake. Colleague journalists tried to talk him out of drinking and his new friends, mostly businessmen, but in vain. They reached out to me to prevail on Batre.
I travelled to Arua, engaged him forthright as a friend and he reduced the drinking. I asked him to pursue at least a diploma and he enrolled. Later I had conversation with his supervisors to transfer him to Kampala so that his links with bar colleagues could be truncated.
One day URN assigned Batre on routine story, and he just vanished. The reason is a long story. He then lost the URN job. I was as disappointed as his supervisors because he was a good performer — and abandoned work, just like that.
When the vagaries of joblessness hit afterward, Batre reaches out to me to find him something to do, including perhaps at URN. I reached out to Samuel Gummah, who said he was offering a second chance to Batre purely because of me. Batre got the job. Because I knew he’d been out of job, I hosted him at my home in Kampala for about four months as he got back in the world of work. He reformed.
Then it was time to rent his own place. The drinking started. Then he abandoned work again. Just like that. He ended up in Arua where he would later work briefly as News Editor for Access FM and later turned a writer for Red Pepper.
On February 28, I was in Arua. I telephoned Batre, who was always among the first to know of arrival, to join me. He accepted, never showed up and his phone went off.
“This morning, I missed a telephone call from our long-time mutual friend, Albert Tondia. He then sent a message: Batre has died.”
Two others called shortly afterward, with Batre’s cousin giving a rundown of his final moment. He was fine yesterday and dead this morning.
It was great sharing friendship and mentoring you. The candidate moments count eternally.
News of your crossing to the land of our ancestor found me at the airport, lifting off on a trip. I won’t go for your burial, but our world lives.
Go well, friend. All the memories of our shenanigans have come back alive.