Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known as Bobi Wine, was born in Mpigi District in Uganda on 12th February 1982. He grew up in the Kamwokya slums in the northeast part of Kampala. His mother was a nurse and his father a farmer.
Bobi is a singer, musician, actor and activist. He has campaigned for hospitals sanitization, malaria prevention, refugees’ rights and children education. His songs are known as “peaceful protest” and “edutainment” (a mix between education and entertainment), focusing on the struggles of low income earners in Uganda’s ghettos and calling upon young people to join politics and change their country’s destiny. He is married to Barbara Kyagulanyi, known as Barbie, with whom he has four children.
In June of last year, he entered the political arena upon winning the Kyaddondo East district parliamentary by-election. Bobi defeated two other candidates (one from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, the other from the main opposition party known as the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) with over 70% of the vote. In his first statement as an MP, Bobi told the BBC that he represented a new generation: “I am going to stand up for issues. I’m here to give young people confidence”. He instantly became a voice for Uganda’s youth in the nation’s less-than-democratic political system.
Both his characteristic enthusiasm for democratic discourse and the popularity that he had earned from his prior artistic and philanthropic endeavours successfully endured the transition to politics. These assets of his found new purpose in his persistent criticism of the long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni’s administration, which he has rightly attacked as an administration built and maintained by unconstitutional means since reaching office.
But the same sharp-tongued rhetoric and bold opposition that won him the public’s favor in last summer’s by-election drew equal attention from political opponents and state security forces alike.
On the morning of August 14, 2018, Bobi was placed under arrest by SFC officers who raided and forcibly entered his hotel, ostensibly detaining him for “obstructing a motorcade.” He was then later handed over to military custody, while charges were changed to illegal possession of a firearm (though this would be a civil case). During his time in detention, Bobi was subjected to severe beatings and torture, breaking his ribs, and given multiple injections. The court martial would later drop their gun charges on August 23, and Bobi was then re-arrested by police on charges of treason.
His legal team and supporters maintain that Bobi Wine is a victim of extreme political persecution and abuse by the Ugandan authorities.
- Robert Kyagulanyi Ssestamu, known as Bobi Wine, grew up in the Kamwokya slums in Kampala, Uganda.
- Bobi is married to Barbara Kyagulanyi, known as Barbie, with whom he has four children.
- He is a singer, musician, actor, activist and politician.
- Bobi Wine has won several awards, such as the prestigious HiPipo Music Award (HMA) and Pearl Of Africa Music Award.
- Bobi is a Member of Parliament for Kyadondo East Constituency.
- In 2014, Wine was appointed a Save the Children Ambassador for their EVERY ONE Campaign, and joined a team of 14 Ugandan artists who recorded a special song and video about maternal and child health.
- Following the 2016 election, Bobi released the song “Situka,” which challenges Ugandans to do something about corruption and injustice in their country.
- His appeal to the youth caused the state to attempt to rein him in, at one point banning his music shows and trying to dictate what he could and couldn’t sing.
- In September 2017, President Museveni’s ruling party introduced a bill in Parliament seeking to amend the Constitution and remove the 75-year age limit for one to run for the presidency. Bobi opposed it and alongside other MPs, he was subsequently violently arrested and detained.
- In April 2018, he graduated with a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in Kampala. By pursuing legal studies, Bobi believes that he will use that knowledge to defend the less privileged whether in the courtroom or elsewhere.