Bobi Wine, real name, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the ghetto child turned pop star and lawmaker gave the Ugandan government a hard time through 2018.His “People Power” movement continued its march to what it said is “freedom” from the Yoweri Museveni-led government.
Before joining politics, Bobi Wine perhaps thought he could effect social change through his music. It had undoubtedly made him as many lovers as haters in the East African country.When he entered politics and parliament for that matter, he got quick off the mark. He became one of the biggest opponents in the age-limit debate that threw parliament into chaos twice in 2017.
Eventually, however, the bill was passed into law and allows Museveni to extend his stay in office. Bobi Wine currently is the member of parliament representing Kyaddondo East constituency in Wakiso District, in Uganda’s Central Region.
But yet another government move to tax social media got Bobi Wine and others back on the streets. The July 2018 protests was labeled “National Peaceful Demonstration Against Mobile Money and Social Media Tax,” and was accompanied by the hashtag #ThisTaxMustGo.
The came a by-election in the Arua constituency. Bobi Wine had thrown his support behind an opposition candidate for a seat that was held by a ruling party candidate who was assassinated.
In the heat of the campaigning, his driver was shot dead, according to him – the security forces were had originally targeted him. Government explained that the shooting happened because the lead car in a presidential campaign convoy had been attacked.
Between then and for the next few weeks, Bobi Wine was held by the military, at a point by the presidential guards – charged before a military tribunal at one point – released and immediately rearrested and then hurled before a Magistrate Court on treason charges.
Bobi Wine and the then-aspiring MP were among over thirty persons currently before the courts. In the end, the candidate he was backing won the seat despite being in custody.
Then the next leg of Bobi Wine’s hustles as series of blocks by state agents – blocked from traveling abroad for medical treatment after allegedly being tortured by the presidential guards.
Then when he was allowed to fly out, blocked on his return home, whisked by security agents at the airport and “escorted” back home to avert a public procession.
At the time of his arrest and detention by the authorities, the Bobi Wine effect went beyond Uganda and even the East African region, tweets of support poured in from especially young activists in southern and west Africa.
There were actually protests at the Ugandan embassy in next door Kenya calling for the government to respect the rights of the lawmaker. Since his return from the United States on medical treatment he has since been under an officially unofficial media blackout.
His biggest interviews since returning in September was in Kenya. Where he continued to throw jabs specifically the president and at government, he has also granted Africanews an exclusive interview.
Bobi Wine came up against Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Ebola responders in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Paul Kagame for his work as 2018 President of the African Union.
At our end, all nominees are winners in their own right but as in any contest, there is always one winner. Our Personality of the Year 2018 is Ugandan pop star and lawmaker: Bobi Wine.
He joins an elite group of past winners that includes Congolese surgeon Dr. Denis Mukwege and anti-CFA activist Kemi Seba who won the first and second editions in 2016 and 2017 respectively.