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Uganda elections 2021: who’s Bobi Wine?

Bobi Wine raising his fist
Bobi Wine elevating his fist

There has on no account been a peaceable handover of vigour in Uganda, but pop celebrity-turned-flesh presser Bobi Wine is hoping to change that by unseating long-serving President Yoweri Museveni in Thursday’s vote. BBC Africa correspondent Catherine Byaruhanga takes a glance on the challenger.

a number of weeks earlier than the familiar election and what can be the greatest day of Bobi Wine’s lifestyles, he brought his presidential campaign to his household’s ancestral home.

The 38-year-ancient pop big name, whose real identify is Robert Kyagulanyi, made his popularity within the informal settlements of the capital, Kampala, but right here in Kanoni, a sleepy rural town in critical Uganda, his aid is barely as evident.

lots of of young americans, normally guys wearing crimson, appear to emerge from the bushes and gardens and surround his motorcade. Bobi Wine, also known as the “ghetto president”, climbed in the course of the sunroof of his white Toyota Landcruiser and waved on the crowds – they frantically respond.

Bobi Wine supporter
Bobi Wine has a fiercely loyal base of young supporters

In an not likely sartorial circulate for a presidential candidate, he has all started donning a bullet-proof vest and shielding helmet.

In December, a bullet was shot via his automobile’s windscreen narrowly lacking a passenger. Bobi Wine observed that he idea his life was in hazard.

In Kanoni, as had happened numerous times throughout the campaign, he ran into a police and army blockade – teargas and bullets were fired. The authorities mentioned they had been without problems attempting to disperse crowds and enforce Covid-19 instructions.

but Bobi Wine believed this turned into yet one other signal of intimidation. He has been consistent in saying that it will now not prevail as he feels that he is at the head of a mass flow.

“people are not just following me. people are following a fantastic that I signify,” he advised the BBC in 2019.

“I did not start it and that i will not end it. i’m only one of the hundreds of thousands and millions of Ugandans that want improved.”

The manifesto of his national unity Platform (NUP) birthday celebration is geared in opposition t fundamental wants like enhancing access to healthcare, training, clear water and justice. All of this, the NUP says, can only be done by using doing away with President Museveni from vigour.

Over the remaining two many years Bobi Wine’s musical output has been stuffed with songs about these issues and they have inspired a fervent following.

‘He is aware us’

Twenty-three-yr-ancient legislations student Marion Kirabo is vying to be a local councillor and she is one in all his supporters.

“Even earlier than his political lifestyles he was someone the early life may identify with,” she says.

“certainly through his music, you could clearly see that he understood the social issues that younger americans have been dealing with, notably young americans from the ghetto.”

When President Museveni got here to power in 1986, Bobi Wine turned into very nearly to turn 4, and residing in Kanoni.

Uganda's general election. 14 January 2021 [ 18.1m people have registered to vote ] [ 11 candidates are running for president ],[ 1 of the candidates is a woman, Nancy Kalembe ],[ 5 elected terms so far for Yoweri Museveni ],[ 50% plus 1 votes needed for a candidate to avoid a run-off election ],[ 529 MPs will also be elected ], Source: Source: Uganda electoral commission, Image: A woman in a mask in front of a mural
Uganda’s typical election. 14 January 2021 [ 18.1m people have registered to vote ] [ 11 candidates are running for president ],[ 1 of the candidates is a woman, Nancy Kalembe ],[ 5 elected terms so far for Yoweri Museveni ],[ 50% plus 1 votes needed for a candidate to avoid a run-off election ],[ 529 MPs will also be elected ], source: source: Uganda electoral fee, photograph: a lady in a mask in entrance of a mural

primary Uganda had been the battleground of the bush battle that introduced Mr Museveni’s insurrection countrywide Resistance military, and its political wing, the national Resistance stream (NRM), to energy.

Bobi Wine’s grandfather, Yozefu Walakira, changed into part of a special rebellion contingent however sometimes all the way through the conflict hosted Mr Museveni in his apartment.

Walakira died right through the civil struggle after being injured when his home turned into bombed – an assault which additionally killed three members of the family.

Bobi Wine’s family unit later moved to Kampala, his mom Margaret Nalunkuuma, a nurse, become the main breadwinner and bought land in the Kamwokya slum where the musician lived and built his now world-famous recording studio.

some of his basic and secondary schools had been frequently inside walking distance from Kamwokya.

As an adolescent he discovered a passion for the humanities, however when he first attended the distinguished Makerere tuition he begun out discovering for a social sciences degree. After one semester he switched lessons and took on tune, dance and drama, earning a diploma from the college in 2003.

‘Campaigning all my career’

In 2017, the reggae star became his hand to politics as he saw it as the logical subsequent step.

“You comprehend, right through my musical profession, i have been singing in regards to the challenges that… americans move through,” he instructed the BBC.

“So it be as if i have been campaigning, all my musical profession.”

His music Tuliyambala Engule (we shall wear the Victor’s Crown) has turn into probably the most campaign’s unofficial anthems.

He received a by way of-election to become MP for Kyaddondo-East, a constituency to the north of the capital and however an independent he aligned himself with the opposition. In a collection of through-elections he campaigned for candidates who defeated hopefuls from the NRM.

There become a sound of feel sorry about in Bobi Wine’s voice when he reflected on his rival’s career in a BBC interview in 2019.

“Why did this sort of prized progressive make a decision to turn into one of the vital world’s most despised dictators?” he asked.

“but it’s also a lesson to many people, realizing that we’re asserting what President Museveni turned into announcing when he changed into in our times. And also to bear in mind that it is only the theory of building mighty institutions that can shop us from ourselves.”

Face masks with images of Bobi Wine and Yoweri Museveni
Bobi Wine is hoping to do what no challenger to Yoweri Museveni has achieved during the past 35 years

The comparisons between a younger Mr Museveni – charismatic, vigorous and galvanizing – with trendy Bobi Wine are complicated to break out.

The riot commander changed into just forty one years ancient when he seized vigor, promising Ugandans protection, a higher economy and a more robust future.

Some do wonder even if his new challenger filled with idealism and populist rhetoric might now not make the identical mistakes.

Activist Siperia Mollie Saasirabo, 24, who says she is now in “political exile” in Kenya, is disillusioned with Bobi Wine.

In 2019, she became the face of pupil protests over a fee hike at Makerere institution. For that, she turned into abducted by using people she believed had been simple-clothed soldiers, badly overwhelmed and left barely mindful.

‘He lacks an ideology’

on the conclusion of that yr, she briefly joined Bobi Wine’s celebration but left on account of what she noticed as an absence of ideological grounding.

“He changed into asked about his financial device when he’s president,” she says, referring to a July 2020 interview Bobi Wine gave to a native radio station.

“He changed into asked no matter if he become on the left or the right of the ideological atmosphere, and his answer changed into he was neither on the right or the left and he’ll simply use what works. It simply does not make sense for me.”

other than the large crowds that collect to guide him, just like the one in Kanoni, it is challenging to tell how really well-known he is and even if the cheers may be turned into votes. information on registered voters and their vote casting patterns are very constrained.

Francis Kibirige, country wide co-ordinator for the Afrobarometer survey in Uganda, has been accomplishing opinion polls and reviews in Uganda on the grounds that 2000.

He says the query is still as as to whether Bobi Wine has accomplished satisfactory to transcend opposition politics and chip away at the huge vote that President Museveni and the NRM have received in outdated elections.

He argues that NRM supporters see the celebration and the president as “the guarantor of peace” and Bobi Wine’s NUP has not accomplished sufficient to persuade them otherwise.

Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine (L), helps his producer Dan Magic (R) into a hospital in Kayunga, Uganda, on December 1, 2020
Bobi Wine (L) says he aren’t intimidated by using the drive that his campaign has met

just as in lots of the outdated 5 elections under Mr Museveni, this one has been marred by using allegations of violence towards the opposition, press and civil society activists. In November, at least fifty four americans had been left useless after police and troopers moved in to break up protests over Bobi Wine’s arrest.

in this context there are some who are already questioning the validity of the vote.

Bobi Wine, youngsters, has encouraged people to solid their ballots and says voters may still make sure there is not any rigging at polling stations.

he is beneath no phantasm that unseating Mr Museveni could be effortless. “while we understand that we are up towards a brute drive, we’re confident,” he advised the BBC in a 2020 interview.

“we are assured since the americans of Uganda are on our side. And we’re assured as a result of background is on our aspect.”