On 29th June 2017, Uganda music star Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, stage name Bobi Wine was overwhelmingly voted as the new Member of Parliament for Kyadondo East Constituency, in a by-election held in that area.
This by-election was sanctioned after the High Court nullified the election of FDC’s Apollo Kantinti, following a successful petition to court by NRM’s William Sitenda Sebalu who had lost in the February 2016 elections by a small margin of less than 400 votes.
In what was clearly a resounding and landslide victory, Honorable Kyagulanyi (Independent) garnered a whopping 25,659 votes, while his competitors shared less than 8000 votes altogether. NRM’s William Sitenda Ssebalu came second with 4,566 votes, FDC’s Apollo Kantinti was third with 1,832 votes while Nkunyingi Muwada (Independent) managed 575 and Dr. Sowedi Kayongo Male received only 377 votes.
While I duly acknowledge that the newest honorable contested as Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, I can tell you for free, here and now that it is Bobi Wine that won. Thus, in this writing, I will use the latter name not the former.
With this victory, Bobi Wine joined a growing list of artistes that are joining Ugandan politics and for the benefit of this article the legislative arm of the government. The other very popular artistes serving in the tenth Parliament are gospel musician Judith Babirye (Buikwe District Woman MP) and ever-green comedian, musician, cum radio personality Kato Lubwama (Lubaga South MP).
Firstly, congratulations are in order for ‘Ghetto President’ Bobi Wine, his family, friends and entire Ghetto brigade for a votes canvassing journey well moved.
But importantly, the gallant Kyadondo East residents deserve a standing ovation for evidently stating their case. On the voting day, these residents spoke through their votes and their voices were so loud and clear. Like they say, in life, you usually get what you deserve not what you want. Particularly, electorates always get the leaders they deserve. Kyadondo East deserves Bobi Wine!
Bobi Wine and Politics.
Those that have diligently followed Ugandan music for the past 15 years or so will tell you that Bobi Wine has always been both a musician and socio-political activist. Over 50 percent of his music rotates around social, economic and political activism. Most of his jams (Kabaseke, Kikomando, Ebibuuzo, Obululu, Ghetto, Tugambire ku Jenniffer, Time Bomb, Dembe, Buyonjo and Byekwaaso among others) have an element of uplifting the ghetto people, the common people and the suffering people. He somewhat invented and popularized the edutainment style of music thus delivering an education – entertainment combo.
His direction of music has all to do with his humble upbringing! Born in the early 1980s in Gomba, Mpigi district to staunch roman catholic family, he grew up from one of Kampala’s biggest slums Kamwokya; an area that is surrounded by even more slums such as Mulago and Kalerwe. In such slums, crime rates are high and it is largely survival for the fittest and ‘street-smartest’. He thus experienced first-hand suffering, poverty, crime and chaos; occurrences that shaped his perspectives of life and community. Even amidst deep poverty, Bobi Wine combined music and involvement in different odd jobs such as brick making, and selling grass hoppers to raise money and pursue a course in arts specializing in music, dance and drama at Makerere University. His journey is well captured in his music.
Thus, when he early this year announced that he was joining elective politics through contesting for the Kyadondo East seat, he was only confirming one of his worst kept secrets. For instance, throughout the 2016 Uganda campaigns, he had a soft spot for most of the opposition candidates contesting for different positions across the country. Plus, he occasionally visited opposition leader RTD Dr. Kizza Besigye and continuously used social media to denounce injustices and advocate for citizen focused leadership. For Bobi Wine; joining elective politics was never about whether he will join or not but rather when he would join!
While it was largely rumored that Bobi Wine was planning to contest in 2021, an opening showed up when Hon Kantinti lost his Kyadondo East seat after the High Court nullified his election as explained earlier in this writing. Even though, public view was that Bobi Wine, Besigye and FDC fraternity would back the incumbent then – Hon Kantinti for re-election, the self-proclaimed Ghetto President chose to contest as an independent. This decision caught his opposition friends unawares as they already had candidates lined up to contest for the same seat.
But from the day Bobi Wine declared his attentions to stand, it became clear that he would win by 5PM on the elections day. Consider my arguments. Bobi Wine is both youth and youthful, his music appeals to almost all the common, suffering and poor people. He says politically correct statements. Lastly and most importantly, he scores highly on humility; a value that most Africans hold highly. All these combined meant that he would triumph in Kyadondo East against all odds.
Will the Bobi Wine victory mature into a revolution?
From the results released by the independent Uganda Electoral Commission, Bobi Wine’s victory was largely thanks to the high turn-up of the youths, who in the past chiefly ignored their constitutional voting rights. The unmatched media coverage of this by-election also showed thousands of youths lining up through-out the day to cast their votes. Not even the heavy downpour reduced the voting lines.
Bobi Wine’s victory has since been received with growing opinion that it may awaken the youth to decide their destiny. I mean; it is now being said that thanks to Bobi Wine, the ‘lazy’ youth are now getting up and will work harder plus massively participate in deciding their leaders.
Some people have gone ahead to indicate that while each of the 426 Ugandan members of parliament has a constituency he/she represents, Bobi Wine, even with his Kyadondo East tag is a member of parliament for the ‘entire Uganda’ – representing those that whose voices have been ignored in the past. Quite ironical but again, when people are excited, they say and post anything and everything.
Others have argued that Bobi Wine is on a 20 years journey that will end at the presidency. This is supported by media reports that on his inauguration celebrations, he publically promised to make his wife Uganda’s first lady.
Predicting the future is never easy but to have a hint on how far Bobi Wine can go politically, you need to get pragmatic answers to these questions.
- Have the youth been participating in past elections and what have the results been?
- Are the issues affecting urban youth the same as those affecting rural youth?
- Will Bobi Wine remain consistent and continue with his youth awakening message?
- Like many that came before him, will Bobi Wine have a change of heart while in the August house?
- Can Bobi Wine influence youth from other regions the same way he influences the youth from the central region?
- How different is Bobi Wine from the other opposition leaders?
Logical answers to these questions will then help you assess and decide whether Bobi Wine’s victory is a revolution in the making.
Again, I congratulate H.E Bobi Wine for his well-deserved victory!