How Bobi Wine is pushing for Ugandan change

Despite the obstacles to his success, Bobi Wine continues to fight for change in Uganda.

Bobi Wine is somewhat of a legend in Uganda.

Primarily known as a reggae artist, his lyrics are permeated by narratives of social change that focus on the high levels of suffering prevalent in Uganda.

Much of the population is able to identify with the inequality and deprivation that Wine brings to life in his music, which has propelled him to the fame he knows today.

It is Bobi’s musical career that eventually drove him into politics. Wine ran as a member of Parliament in his area and succeeded in 2018. Since then, he has become a central figure in the opposition movement to the current government.

The role he now holds has become more of a curse than a blessing, though. The current ruling party, the National Resistance Movement, has been in power for 35 years under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni.

The length of this rule has allowed for a destruction of the political and democratic foundations of Uganda. Originally a revolutionary, Museveni has dismantled the free press and shown disdain for the principles of the rule of law and of human rights.

How then, does an opposing politician get their voice out? Bobi Wine is fortunate to have already been a public figure. His appeal isn’t limited to his fame – he is young and has proven his undying commitment to grassroots change.

This motivation has inspired a great many young Ugandans to rally their support around Wine. Not only are they showing up for rallies and elections, but they are also running for local councils and even Parliament.

Affiliations with Wine come with harsh consequences. In the past year, hundreds of Wine’s supporters have been arbitrarily detained or even abducted from their homes. These have been undertaken by the Ugandan military and information has been withheld from families as well as from other Ugandan authorities.

Bobi Wine has not been exempt from similar treatment, far from it. Since his overt political involvement in 2018, he has been continuously detained, beaten and was even shot at on the campaign trail.

What Bobi Wine does show, however, is a real dedication to his cause.

Despite all of the obstacles that he faces, in terms of the physical harm he has felt and the political impediments to his success, he has not given up. After every arrest, every incident, he returns to the streets to continue contesting Museveni’s power.

The amount of support he has garnered, and his appreciation for the rule of law, democratic principles and social justice, gives hope that Ugandans will soon see a government that reflects the change they want to see.


This article was originally written by Julie Luebken, a student at the University of Cambridge interested in digital politics, climate justice, and international relations. View her LinkedIn.


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