Bobi Wine Has Ignited a New Flame of Liberation in Africa- Here’s How

According to provisional results by the Uganda Electoral Commission, National Unity Party’s Robert Kyagulanyi popularly known as Bobi Wine is trailing the National Resistance Movement’s Yoweri Museveni who is leading with over 58% of votes cast during the hotly contested election that took place on Thursday 14th January.

Just so we’re on the same page, here are the longest-serving African Presidents;

  1. Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, 41 years

2. Cameroon’s Paul Biya, 38 years

3. Republic of Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, 36 years

4. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, 35 years 

5. Chad’s Idriss Deby, 30 years

6. Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki, 27 years

7. Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh, 21 years

8. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, 20 years

Yoweri Museveni has been the President of Uganda for 35 years. The 76-year-old was sworn in as president on 29 January 1986 and in just a few days from today might be sworn in again for another 5-year term that is renewable indefinitely. 

In a recent interview with CNN Yoweri Museveni claimed he’s the best person to lead the country because he has the experience and understands its people and their struggles better than anyone else. 

Here are some quick facts about Yoweri Museveni;

  • Participated in rebellions that toppled Idi Amin and Milton Obote in the 70s and 80s.
  • Celebrated as part of the new generation of African leaders
  • Studied economics and political science and became a Marxist, involving himself in radical pan-African politics.
  • Formed the University Students’ African Revolutionary Front activist group and led a student delegation to FRELIMO territory in Portuguese Mozambique, where he received guerrilla training. 
  • Wrote a university thesis on the applicability of Frantz Fanon’s ideas on revolutionary violence to post-colonial Africa.
  • Involved in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other Great Lakes region conflicts
  • Scrapped presidential term limits (2005) and the presidential age limit (2017).

“The second point on our programme is security of person and property. Every person in Uganda must [have absolute] security to live wherever he wants. Any individual, any group who threatens the security of our people must be smashed without mercy. The people of Uganda should die only from natural causes which are beyond our control, but not from fellow human beings who continue to walk the length and breadth of our land.” 

Yoweri Museveni during his swearing-in.

Despite promising to restore security and respect for human rights when he was coming to power, the former Pan-African idealist has turned out to be an autocrat who does not respect the rights of civilians. 

Many Africans are an oppressed lot, elections are becoming less transparent and those who ascend to power are always unwilling to follow constitutional norms and give up power. However, Bobi Wine has raised the political consciousness of many young people, not only in Uganda but the whole of Africa. 

Here are some quick facts about Bobi Wine;

  • Grew up in the Kamwookya slum in the northeastern part of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda
  • Studied music, dance, and drama graduating with a diploma in 2003. In 2016, he returned to university to study law at the International University of East Africa.
  • Began his music career in the early 2000s, and adopted the stage name Bobi Wine.
  • His first singles “Akagoma”, “Funtula”, and “Sunda” were a hit in East Africa.
  • Released more than 70 songs over 15 years
  • He’s a film actor, mainly starring in local Ugandan movies
  • Got into active politics in 2017.

In April 2017, Bobi Wine beat two seasoned candidates: Sitenda Sebalu of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party and Apollo Kantinti of the main opposition party Forum for Democratic Change(FDC) to clinch the Kyadondo County East constituency member of parliament seat. 

Bobi Wine was a staunch critic of Museveni even before joining active politics and after becoming an MP, he gained massive popularity and even helped other candidates beat NRM and FDC candidates in 2018 by-elections. Since then, he has been constantly arrested, assaulted, and detained by Museveni’s government. 

On 24 July 2019, Bobi Wine formally announced his presidential bid and on the following year, 22 July 2020, he joined the National Unity Platform party and was elected as its presidential flag-bearer in the just-concluded general election.

On 18 November 2020, at least 57 people were killed, several others injured, and 350 arrested as they took to the streets of Kampala to protest the arrest of Bobi Wine for allegedly flouting COVID-19 guidelines on crowd size during his campaigns. 

Bobi Wine has been on the campaign trail wearing a helmet and flak jacket because of daily confrontations between the police and his supporters which left several dead and injured, including his bodyguard Francis Sentezan who was run over by a truck belonging to the military police. 

“Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”

Coretta Scott King

With 77% of its population being under 25 years of age, Uganda is a country of the youth, but just like many African countries, many youths are unemployed and disconnected from power. These are the people who identified with Bobi Wine and came out in large numbers on January 14th to vote for Bobi Wine as their president. But will their will be respected?

Museveni and other repressive governments in Africa must realize that as we move forward there’s a generation of active citizens and leaders who are united in spirit and vision for a better Africa. We have noted the silence of other African leaders when we needed them to speak up on the injustice and killings of innocent civilians in Uganda. 

On 14th January, Bobi Wine was trending in Africa as thousands of African youths took to social to call for fair treatment of Bobi Wine by Museveni’s government and also congratulate him for inspiring young people all over Africa. 

Tweet by Kenyan

Kenya, who is your Bobi Wine? – General elections in Kenya is only a year away, will the youth challenge the status quo that has been constantly rebranding in the name of change?

Nigeria, who is your Bobi Wine? 

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