He grew up in a slum but has today become the most influential young political leader in Uganda. His background has not dictated his future!!
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Born on 12th February, 1982, Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, widely known by his stage name Bobi Wine, is a Ugandan politician, singer, actor and businessman who gave President Yoweri Museveni a good run in last week’s election which the latter won for a 6th term of office.
Bobi announced his candidature for last week’s presidential election in June, 2019. This was an election that got Africa and the glued as most people believed there was going to be regime change in Uganda.
Bobi’s childhood wasn’t rosy – he grew up in the Kamwookya slum in the northeastern part of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.
Bobi attended Kitante Hill School, where he attained his Uganda Certificate of Education in 1996, as well as Kololo Senior Secondary School, where he attained his Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education in 1998. He then attended Makerere University in Kampala, where he studied music, dance, and drama, graduating with a diploma in 2003.
In 2016, Bobi returned to university to study law at the International University of East Africa (IUEA), where he got in contact with his then-lecturer David Lewis Lubongoya, who later became chief executive secretary of the People Power, Our Power movement.
Bobi began his music career in the early 2000s, and adopted the stage name Bobi Wine. His first singles “Akagoma”, “Funtula”, and “Sunda” (featuring Ziggy D) brought him success in the East African music scene.
His music has been characterised as reggae, dancehall, and afrobeat, often with a socially conscious message. He was the leader of the group Fire Base Crew until its disbandment, after which he started a new group known as Ghetto Republic of Uganja. He has released more than 70 songs over 15 years.
He is also a film actor, mainly starring in local Ugandan movies. In 2010, he was cast in Cleopatra Koheirwe’s drama film Yogera. In 2015, he was cast in a lead role in the Twaweza-supported film Situka with Hellen Lukoma. He has also worked on a number of other films, including Divizionz.
On 14 August 2018, supporters of the independent candidate for parliament Kassiano Wadri allegedly obstructed and attacked President Museveni’s convoy in the northern town of Arua, near Gulu.
Museveni’s motorcade was allegedly pelted with stones, leading to clashes between security forces and protesters. Later, Bobi, an outspoken critic of Museveni, and MP then, revealed through a social media post that police had intentionally shot at his vehicle, killing his driver.
Bobi had endorsed Wadri’s candidacy against the official pro-Museveni candidate in Arua.
He was arrested on 15 August 2018 for possible charges of unlawful possession of firearms and incitement to violence, after which he was brought in front of a military court and charged with the former the following day. The Times reported that Bobi appeared to have been beaten before appearing in court.
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, a lawyer who has represented detained MPs, said that Bobi was in a worrying state of health and needed urgent medical attention. The government has repeatedly denied allegations of torture.
Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye called a press conference, where he demanded the MP’s immediate release.
With popular protests growing in Uganda demanding Bobi’s release, and heated discussions in the Ugandan Parliament, the Ugandan State prosecution withdrew the charges filed during Bobi’s second appearance in front of the General Court Martial in Gulu on 23 August 2018.
The prosecution indicated it would further pursue possible charges in a civilian court for a possible trial of the MP. Upon release, Bobi was rearrested and charged with treason in a civilian court. In September 2018, Bobi was released on bail and travelled to the United States for medical treatment for injuries he allegedly received in custody.
The Ugandan government banned his supporters from gathering on the day of his release, and on the day of his return from the United States. He eventually addressed his supporters in a gathering outside his home upon his return to Uganda on 20 September 2018.
In August 2019, Bobi was charged with “intent to alarm, annoy or ridicule” President Museveni for his role in the Arua incident the previous year. The charges came a day after the death of Ziggy Wine, a fellow Ugandan musician and staunch critic of Museveni, who was kidnapped and tortured by unknown assailants.
On 22 April 2019, Bobi was detained while attempting to make his way to a planned concert at his private club in southern Kampala, which was cancelled by police.
He was accused of leading a protest in the city the previous year without prior police authorisation; the protest was held against the “social media tax” which took effect in July 2018. On 29 April 2019, on his way to the offices of the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) to honour a summons and provide a statement on the cancelled concert, Bobi was again arrested and taken to Buganda Road Court, where he was charged with disobedience of statutory duty and remanded to Luzira Maximum Security Prison until his bail hearing on 2 May.
In a statement the following day, Amnesty International demanded his immediate release and urged the Ugandan government to “stop misusing the law in a shameless attempt to silence him for criticizing the government.” On the day of the hearing, which was conducted via video conferencing (the first time in the history of Uganda’s justice system), Bobi was granted bail and released from prison, with the court also barring him from holding unlawful demonstrations.
On 24 July 2019, Bobi formally announced his bid to run for president in the 2021 general election.
On 22 July 2020, he announced that he had joined the National Unity Platform party, becoming elected its president and presidential flag-bearer in the just held general election.
On 6 November 2020, he launched his campaign manifesto in Mbarara.
Bobi was arrested for flouting COVID-19 guidelines on crowd size on 18 November 2020. At least 57 people were killed, several others injured, and 350 arrested during subsequent protests.
Wine’s bodyguard Francis Senteza was killed on 27 December 2020, after being run over by a truck belonging to the military police. He was attacked while helping to transport a journalist critically injured by tear gas during an earlier confrontation between the police and a group of Bobi Wine’s supporters. Another journalist was also wounded in the incident.
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Misso Chitsamba
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