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All You Should Know About NUP President Bobi Wine That You Didn’t Know

Bobi Wine

Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert, also known by his stage name Bobi Wine, is a 42-year-old Ugandan singer, musician, actor and activist; he’s an artiste-turned-politician who, by popular acclaim, heads the generational and transformational People Power Movement which is a resistance pressure group formed in 2018 to unite Ugandans across the globe on issues such as ending human rights abuse, corruption, redefining the rule of law, restoring dignity and rebuilding lives.

Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu is the current President of the National Unity Platform (NUP), a political arm of the People Power Movement, and was the National Unity Platform presidential flag-bearer in the January 2021 general elections which were the most violent elections that the country has ever witnessed. He contested the results that were opaque of counting process and abound with state violence, electoral fraud and other forms of electoral malpractices.

Personal life, Education and Accolades

Kyagulanyi Ssentamu is a proud father of four children, two girls, and two boys, and is married to Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi, known as Barbie, who is an equally trailblazing leader in her own right as an activist, entrepreneur, author; an outspoken advocate for girl child education, primary health care and the elimination of domestic violence, among other noble causes. Born in central Uganda, Kyagulanyi Ssentamu was raised by his mother, a street vendor in Kamwokya, one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Kampala city.

His humble upbringing has shaped his social and political consciousness as reflected in his music and current public service. It is from the same tough streets that Kyagulanyi Ssentamu rose to attend school and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Dance and Drama from Makerere University, Kampala in 2003. In April 2018, he graduated with a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in Kampala believing that he will use that knowledge to defend the less privileged whether in the courtroom or elsewhere. He is currently pursuing further studies from within Uganda and in the United States and has earned a prestigious Leadership Certificate from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, which trains government and policy leaders from across the globe.

In 2018, Bobi Wine was named the Africanews Personality of the Year, in 2019, he was named among the Global Thinkers under the Singer and Politician Category, and he was selected for the 2019 TIME 100 Next List which is dedicated to spotlighting the leaders of tomorrow. At the TIME 100 Next Event held in New York on November 14,2019, he told TIME, “I’m very worried about my safety. I think about it every day. But I know that the task ahead of me is so important that my safety is not a priority”.

Kyagulanyi Ssentamu is the recipient of the 2019 Rainbow/PUSH International Humanitarian Award in recognition of his advocacy for civil and human rights in Uganda. The award was presented by the Rainbow Push Coalition, a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization fighting for social change. Upon receiving the award, he stated, “I am profoundly humbled to get this International Humanitarian Award, which I dedicate to the men, women and children of Uganda who have paid the ultimate price in our struggles for democracy. Thank you Reverend Jesse Jackson and the entire leadership for Rainbow Push Coalition for this recognition.” He received the 2019 DEAR Lifetime Achievement Award from the Diaspora Entertainment & Award Recognition, a prestigious non-profit organization that honours individuals who have excelled in their chosen fields and recognizes Africans in the diaspora making an impact in the world; he dedicated this award to Ugandans in the diaspora who left Uganda due to difficult living conditions and/or political persecution. In 2019. Hon, Kyagulanyi Ssentamu was also honoured with the Africa Freedom Prize by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Johannesburg, South Africa in recognition of his advocacy for democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Uganda under the People Power Movement.

Entertainment Career

Using the adversity in his background and experience, Kyagulanyi built a stellar, award-winning career as an artiste to worldwide acclaim. As a playwright, actor and songwriter, his works cut across genres ranging from World Music, Contemporary Folk, Reggae, and Afro Pop. To his peers, his music is known as “EDUTAINMENT”, a mix between entertainment, and educational messages. His music is infused with powerful lyrics steeped in political consciousness and self-determination mantras, calls for social justice, defence and promotion of human and civil rights, socio- economic emancipation, African values, cultural heritage and the universality of Ubuntu. Art has shaped his public service, and he is now successfully using music as a tool for change and activism, mobilizing ordinary Ugandans around issues that affect them, and the ills vested upon them by the hostile regime in Uganda.

Bobi Wine has won several awards, such as the prestigious HiPipo Music Award (HMA) and Pearl Of Africa Music Award. He is the first ever Ugandan music to win the Super HiPipo.com Charts Festival Artist Medal. In 2014, Wine was appointed a Save the Children Ambassador for their EVERY ONE Campaign and joined a team of 14 Ugandan artists who recorded a special song and video about maternal and child health.

Activism and Political Career

Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu joined public service in July 2017 as an elected member of Uganda’s Legislative Assembly representing Kyaddondo County East constituency in Wakiso District. While campaigning for his first elective national office, he used his simple clarion call “If Parliament can’t come to the Ghetto, we will bring the Ghetto to Parliament.” This resonated with the majority of Ugandans, who had gravely suffered under the 33-year long military dictatorship of a self-styled former warlord, Yoweri Museveni, and his family. In this respect, he has been able to mobilize the masses behind him, especially Ugandans who felt they didn’t have a voice, and their support for him surpassed the borders of his constituency to the rest of the country and now the international community.

The turning point for Kyagulanyi Ssentamu was in 2016, during the then presidential elections, which was characterized by rigging, violence and irregularities exercised by the state and the ruling NRM party, when he refused to join fellow singers who were bribed to sing praise songs for the reigning dictator Museveni.

Although he always addressed social ills in his music lyrics, it wasn’t until 2017 that he announced his decision to join active politics. Ugandans were awakened, they listened attentively and were drawn to this emerging leader who wasn’t willing to sell out or be compromised but stood on his own principles.

During his tenure as a Member of Parliament, Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, along with other members of the opposition, led the “Togikwatako” (Do Not Touch) campaign against amendments to the Constitution of Uganda to remove the age- limit, which would open the door for Museveni to have life presidency. He also played a significant role in mobilizing Ugandans, especially the youth, to protest the social media tax, which was intended to quell the growing anti-Museveni fervour among the younger generation who are active on social media and technology. He was arrested several times, tortured and barred from singing at concerts and addressing rallies.

On August 13, 2018, Hon. Kyagulanyi became part of Arua 33, a group of 33 Ugandans who were brutally arrested and tortured during the Arua Municipality by-elections. Kyagulanyi was in Arua to support Kassiano Wadri, an opposition leaning candidate. He and other members of Parliament, most notably Hon. Francis Zaake, were beaten and detained. Even when he was being held in military detention, candidate Wadri, won in a third parliamentary election—where Museveni’s party lost to the opposition and Kyagulanyi played a crucial role in the outcome of the election. Government decided to halt all by-elections as a result of Hon. Kyagulanyi’s influence.

Despite the grave personal danger and costs that they face from a corrupt cabal using the state machinery, and directed to them, their families and associates, Hon. Kyagulanyi and his Pro-People Power colleagues continue to champion the people’s yearning for a constitutional and peaceful transition of power.

The dangers these opposition leaders face include brutal torture; illegal detentions; embargos on their businesses and professional livelihoods; baseless and unending trials on trumped-up charges; assassination and attempted assassinations. Despite this increasingly brutal crackdown, Kyagulanyi and his colleagues continue to fight the most egregious ills being perpetuated by Uganda’s unpopular regime and its henchmen peacefully and legitimately.

In a class of emerging young leaders in this century who are striving for African self-actualization, Kyagulanyi is unique because he maintains a magnetic pull in the political arena, which has helped the opposition win key elections. He has reiterated that “Uganda is the only home I know” and will die trying to change it for the better. The Foreign Policy magazine named Kyagulanyi as one of the top 100 foreign policy global thinkers of 2018 amongst many other awards.

Although police interrupt his music shows, he consistently uses his art as a tool for activism to challenge apathy. He urges Ugandans to speak up, mobilize and organize—online or offline. He is an outsider, who was not born rich or privileged, but rose from the slums to Uganda’s parliament. Hon. Kyagulanyi gives Ugandans hope that a post-Museveni future is possible and very near, where perennial ills will be cured.

These ills include widespread socio-economic deprivation; near collapse of public infrastructure and social amenities; brutal stifling of political and constitutional freedoms; subjugation of human rights and civil liberties; wanton military takeover of various institutions, swatches of land, and civilian properties; unemployment; corruption; state-meted

violence; systematic abrogation of the constitution; and the abuse the rule of law and order with impunity. This is exactly what Hon. Kyagulanyi and the People Power Movement are seeking to change and usher in a generational, positive change under a 21st century, bottom-up leadership based on accountability, diversity, self-determination and patriotism.

Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert, a man born to no title and lives a deathless name, is a pivotal factor that has influenced the young people of Uganda and Africa at large. A child of four years at a time when General Museveni took over the presidency of this country by the barrel of a gun, contested against the same dictatorial Museveni who has mastered manipulation of democracy to suit his dictatorial tendencies. While campaigning against all state institutions, Kyagulanyi won the January 14, 2021, presidential election undoubtedly in line with the Declaration Forms collected countrywide. Unfortunately, the Electoral Commission of Uganda, working under the dictator’s surveillance, couldn’t announce him a victor and the Military took charge by the power of the gun.