ZERO TO HERO: How Bobi Wine Rose from a Ghetto Boy to a Ugandan MP

On Thursday, Kyadondo East was on fire, thanks to a by-election that pitted a pop star against Uganda’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party and the largest opposition political party of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

Bobi Wine. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu. Omubanda wa Kabaka. The singer-turned activist and politician was declared winner with a 78 per cent share of the total votes cast.

He now waits for his swearing in. But who is Bobi Wine and how did he get here?

Born at Kanoni in Mpigi District
Born on February 12, 1982
Roman Catholic
Attended Makerere University in Kampala.
Married to Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi
Four children: Solomon Kampala Nyanzi, Shalom Namagembe, Shadraq Shilling Mbogo, and Suubi Shine Nakaayi

Bobi Wine shot to fame in the early 2000s as a musician whose songs such as Akagoma, Funtula, and Sunda Paka wansi.

He would then begin the Fire Base for which he is president. He also baptised himself the President of Uganja. The musicians he has worked with include Buchaman and Nubian Li – the former has since left Fire Base Crew.

Bobi is also a professional boxer and a movie actor

In his music career, he has also be known to be at loggerheads with some top musicians. One of these is Bebe Cool of the Gagamel crew.

In fact, Bebe Cool said Bobi had joined politics because he had failed in music. But Bobi told supporters and the press upon his declaration as MP that he will still use his music talent to put his ideals across.

Whereas Bebe and a group of several top artistes featured in the ‘Tubonga Naawe’ campaign song for three-decade president Yoweri Museveni in 2016 general polls, Bobi didn’t but he showed open solidarity to four-time presidential candidate and opposition kingpin Dr Kizza Besigye such as when he was arrested or kept under house arrest before, during and after the presidential election.

It was in fact hoped that Besigye would support Bobi candidature – but this he didn’t, at least not officially. Besigye belongs to the FDC and the party had a candidate in Apollo Kantinti who was thrown out of Parliament over electoral malpractice – thanks to NRM’s Sitenda Sebalu’s petition.

Bobi has also expressed his love for the king of Buganda Ronald Mwenda Mutebi. He is infact known as ‘Omubanda wa Kabaka’ (The King’s Rastafarian).

He has also used his music to express his disdain for electoral violence. At the fall of 2015, he released the ‘Dembe’ song that called for peaceful elections. The song rubbed the authorities the wrong way.

Listening to Bobi’s music reveals how he is passionate about the social, economic and political plight of the common man.

He has also been involved in several community projects and charity drives in slum areas and disaster-prone areas. In these activities he identified with big and mighty such as Kampala mayor Erias Lukwago, the media, big companies and charity organisations.

He has been a harsh critic of the collapsing economy, healthcare systems and the widening inequality gaps.

He has been involved in campaigns to save refugees, and victims of disasters such as landslides in Bududa, and has closely worked with Save the Children, UNHCR, and the Red Cross.
He has also been Twaweza’s Parenting Ambassador.

The pop star has also spoken against homosexuality, provoking the wrath of LGBT community. In July 2014, he had his London and Birmingham shows cancelled after calls from LGBT activists to deny him entry into the UK over his criticism of the LGBT rights.

Overall, Bobi is not without controversy. He has however built political capital through his music and engagements, helping him rise from grass to grace, from a ghetto boy to a legislator in Uganda’s Parliament.

Marion Ayebazibwe