Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu also known as Bobi Wine is from a Ugandan slum area known Kamwookya to his late father, Jackson Wellington Ssentamu, and his mother who took care of him alongside his siblings in the harsh shanty conditions. He was born on the twelfth of February in 1982.
Bobi Wine is a well-read and studies individual carrying academic qualifications from various schools and institutions. He began schooling at Kitante Hill School, proceeded to Kololo Secondary School and then to Makerere University. There he pursued the arts-music, dance and drama. He afterwards took up a course in law at the International University of East Africa.
On completing school, Robert went into music and adopted the name Bobi Wine. His career was successful using the arts to spread critical societal messages and raise concerns in the country. He produced music independently, and in music groups he led. Among his most popular songs are ‘Sunda’, ‘Ghetto’ and ‘Funtula’. Moreover, his track Kiwani was featured in Queen of Katwe produced by Disney.
He then ventures into film as an actor playing characters in local shows and other productions. He has been featured in ‘Divizionz’, ‘Situka’ and ‘Yogera’. He uses the arts in putting out critical messages such as questioning government’s abuse of power and infringement of human rights.
Always being a politically and societal conscious person, Bobi Wine finally ventured into politics bringing a fresh voice to the arena. He came to the political scene in 2017 in seeking a parliamentary seat in Kyadondo County East Constituency. His bid was against well-established politicians Sebalue and Kantante who belonged to prominent political parties in the country. Bobi Wine adopted a novel means to win over the electorate and personally visited homes sharing his agenda and campaigning in the race for the seat.
He emerged victorious defeating his opponents and further retaining his seat in the next elections. His political career then began taking shape as he now used his added platform to raise his issues more publicly. Bobi Wine is a critic of Yoweri Museveni’s regime and manner of oppressive leadership which he uses in ruling over Uganda.
His support for the opposition has not gone unnoticed by the president who terms him as an ‘undisciplined grandson’. Following his bold engagements with the opposition party and supporting individual candidates, the government has been seen to use the law in frustrating his efforts and what can be termed as efforts to make him retaliate and fall subservient to authority. He has been arrested on account of ‘disobedience of statutory duty’, ‘intent to alarm, annoy or ridicule’ the president and flouting of Covid-19 guidelines.
His arrests have been marked with bodily harm and injuries, sometimes necessitating further medical attention abroad. All these have not bowed his will as he continues to be the country’s whistle-blower and watchdog. In 2018, he led fellow County men in protesting against the government’s introduction of a social media tax. The national government of Uganda uses social media shut downs from time to time such as during the 2016 general elections which has been globally condemned as an infringement on the human freedom of speech. Most recently, Bobi Wine is a top contestant for the presidential seat in 2021.
As at the time of this article’s publication, the cast votes were being counted with the ‘ghetto president’ on the lead as more votes were streaming in after eighteen million voters registered in large numbers for the process. His presidential campaign has been ridden with challenges and difficulties that would have broken a faint-hearted individual.
He has revealed in interviews that he has survived two assassination attempts where the military and police shot live rounds to his vehicle and over the campaigns lost some of his crew members including his driver, and bodyguard in the trail. In November 2020, more than fifty Ugandans were killed, many injured and scores arrested in a campaign event for Bobi Wine’s contest.
Family, wife and children
He married to Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi, with whom they have four children all raised in Magere village where their parents focus on offering them a normal upbringing. His children are Suubi Nakaayi, Shalom Namagembe, Solomon Kampala and Shedrick Mbogo.