Over the past few months, Ugandan MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu has been the man on the news. The Afrobeats star turned lawmaker was detained and tortured by the country’s security agencies following an incident that had his driver shot by police.
According to police account, the security officials fired rounds to disperse a violent crowd that had attacked president Museveni motorcade but the musician-turned-politician would object to this, according to Bobi Wine, it was a case of mistaken identity, and that actually the bullet was meant for him. The incident occurred during campaigns in Arua Municipality, the hotly contested by-election would pit Bobi Wine backed candidate against ruling party candidate who was Museveni’s man.
The arrest of Bobi Wine and his four colleagues sparked protests across the country, the protests would continue on social media under the hashtag #FreeBobiWine, the hashtag helped spark more protests across various countries internationally. The Ugandan government was accused of high-handedness and leading a violent campaign against free speech.
President Museveni would not just let go, he also took to social media to ‘advise’ and warn the youth in Uganda, the ageing leader would rebuke purported violent actions by Bobi Wine, whom he says is like his grandson. In his Twitter account he would state ‘violence, threats and intimidation in elections will not be tolerated’. As the Ugandan president ‘advised’ the youth, the protests would not die down, more and more groups would stage protests, At least one person was killed by police in street protests.
Meanwhile as videos emerged of a frail Bobi Wine being escorted to court, the Military Court would drop treason charges against him, but this was short-lived, he was rearrested by police to be charged at a civilian court, condemnation would continue to reign as the Ugandan government appeared to have lost control of the situation and the narrative, only resorting to violence against civilians.
Messages of hope and support for Bobi Wine and his colleagues would flood the social media, top musicians globally also slammed the Ugandan government including the likes of; Angelique Kidjo, Femi Kuti, Chris Martin, Seun Kuti, Peter Gabriel and more. “We the undersigned strongly condemn the arrest, imprisonment and vicious, life-threatening physical attack by Ugandan government forces on popular Ugandan singer and Member of Parliament, the Honourable Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, a.k.a Bobi Wine” the musicians would state in a letter to the Ugandan government.
As a musician, Bobi Wine would use his music and popularity to highlight social issues, the popular musician is a darling of many youths across the country that has one of the youngest youth in the world with over 75% of its youth being under 30 years old. The politician that is Bobi Wine is crafting a different tune and as it were, the music is loving this youthful politician.
Bobi Wine emerges as a man with roots in the ghetto, and speaking the people’s language. He is leading the cause for ‘people power’ in Uganda, this is an approach to politics that is rarely associated with Uganda and it is exiting to the youth who have known only one president all this while, to them history is not that close to them as the present.