It’s not about me. And it’s not about being President. We just want to be free.
These were the powerful words uttered by Ugandan pop star, Bobi Wine, in a recent BBC Africa interview. Bobi Wine, also known as Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, started out as a singer and has since worked his way into the political sphere. Bobi Wine comes from humble beginnings, and has made it a point to incorporate just that, and the larger economic and political struggles faced in Uganda within his music. While he still has lighthearted songs in his discography, such as “In a De Dance,” Wine has also created politically vocal and unapologetic songs. “Freedom,” for example, addresses the various problems present within the Ugandan government. Over time, Wine has not only been seen as a musician and voice of the people, but also a man that curates his wealth to help better the living conditions of Ugandans, and the “Uganjan” slums in particular.
As a singer, businessman, and community organizer, Bobi Wine found time to become a lawyer and also a member of parliament. Working to create employment opportunities for the Ugandan people has been an important item on Wine’s agenda. However, one of the main items that has placed him in constant danger has been his contention of revisions to the presidential age-limit. Wine believes that the 75-year-old age limit on presidential candidates should have been kept in place. Others, such Mr. Yoweri Museveni who has served as Uganda’s president since 1986, believe that the limit should be removed. After a brutal physical altercation on the parliament floor in December 2017, parliament agreed to remove the limit…seemingly in favor of Mr. Museveni’s aspiration to run for re-election in 2021. Interestingly enough, other restrictions, such as the presidential term limits, have also been altered in favor of Mr. Museveni.
Many have sought out to murder the Ugandan singer and politician due to his fight for the voice and freedom of everyday Ugandan people. In fact, Wine is now seen as treasonous in Uganda. Wine is currently within the United States seeking medical treatment, after being as what Wine describes as tortured by the government. Since his arrival to the States, Wine has conducted several interviews, and has also met with U.S. Congressmen to petition the current U.S. funding of the Ugandan army. Dismantling the cyclic nature of corruption, incorporating the voices of all people, while still maintaining the cultural values of any country can be extremely challenging. Even deathly. Nonetheless, I do hope that Uganda, and other African countries will be able to move forward and do so…for our own sake. Hats off to you, Bobi Wine.