The rise of Bobi Wine, and the brutal attempts at squashing that rise, resonate far beyond Uganda’s borders. The young parliamentarian is a symbol for Africa’s next generation of leaders. The continent’s youths, locally-active and globally-minded, are not content to settle for less than what they deserve: representative, accountable governments that listen to the needs of their constituents.
The Ugandan singer and activist Bobi Wine, born in a Kampala slum and now a member of parliament, is facing charges of treason.
But Mr Wine’s real crime is more simple: at 36 and in touch with Uganda’s youthful population, he is half the age and twice as popular as his 74-year-old nemesis.
There are Bobi Wines all over Africa. Rapid urbanisation and the spread of social media have enabled a generation of young people to express their frustrations and cross-fertilise ideas.
Whether they are bloggers or rappers or human rights activists, their concerns are similar. Young people are complaining about lack of jobs, about government corruption and about out-of-touch leaders.
Across the continent, Mr Wine’s spreading fame has put leaders on notice that they face a youthful rebellion. Africa has the youngest population in the world, with a median age of 19.5. Uganda’s is just 16. But the continent has the world’s oldest leaders, with an average age of 62. Incumbents are clinging on well past their sell-by date.