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From Ghetto to Parliament, Bobi Wine’s quick rise up the political ladder

Bobi Wine (Courtesy Photo)

As he often said, “if the parliament doesn’t come to the Ghetto, the Ghetto will go to parliament”, Bobi Wine lived up to his promise making his way to parliament and up the political ladder in Uganda in a way faster than anybody ever anticipated.

The self-proclaimed Ghetto President, Bobi Wine (real names Kyagulanyi Sentamu) announced his candidacy for parliament in a by-election for Kyadondo County East constituency in April 2017.

He won the contest by a wide margin, beating two seasoned candidates: Sitenda Sebalu of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and Apollo Kantinti of the then main opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

After making his way to parliament in 2018, the controversial social media tax (OTT) was introduced which sparked outrage, protests and calls to have it overturned. Bobi Wine took to the streets joined with fellow artists and celebrities including Bagonza Alex alias A Pass and Raymond Mujuni, a seasoned journalist.

He later embarked on a huge task to bring in more opposition candidates in subsequent by-elections which included the Bugiri where he campaigned for Asuman Basalirwa and Arua Municipality where he campaigned for Kassiano Wadri who both won their respective election.

While campaigning in Arua, Bobi Wine’s team had an encounter with President Museveni’s convoy. He was later arrested with some of his colleagues in the People Power umbrella as some lost their lives during the chaos that ensued in the West Nile town. His then driver, Yasin Kawuma, who was sitting in the vehicle was shot at and lost his life on the spot.

Bobi Wine was later arrested in Arua and held up in Makindye for a couple of days before being arraigned in court. This couple with the death of his driver as well as the arrest of other People Power members like Francis Zaake, sparked protests across the country and many lost their lives.

Bobi Wine and colleagues later arraigned before court where he was accused of vandalizing the president’s vehicle, possession of fire arms among other cases which they denied.

He was later released on Police bond and travelled to the USA for medication alleging that he had been tortured by the militaria and police while in custody. He was on clutches for a while.

After his return from the USA, he launched a campaign which would later turn out his road map to contesting for the government top seat, the Presidentail ELection.

In July 2019, Bobi Wine who had only joined active elective politics in 2017, officially announced taking on long-time President Yoweri Museveni in the country’s 2021 national elections.

Following the retriment of Dr Kizza Besigye from active politics, the Opposition in Uganda needed a new face and none was better placed than the youthful Bobi Wine who had already taken his stand against the government.

He later went on to join a political party, the National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party, which was later renamed the National Unity Platform after the party leadership was changed.

The former president Moses Nkonge Kibalama then handed over the leadership to Bobi Wine which leadership steered his way up to the run for presidency in 2021.

Despite facing a number of huddles during the race to the big office, the self proclaimed Ghetto gladiator became a house hold name all over the country and even took center stage as the main opposition leader towards the D-day fro elections.

He was arrested more times than we can remember, spent a few days behind bars while other days were spent in the courts of law battling several charges.

When he was neither in court nor behind bars nor on his campaign trail conversing for votes, he was in hospitals visiting a few of his supporters and members of his campaign team that had been injured during campaigns.

The former Ghetto boy had tranformed completely from just the “bouncing rasta” he was years ago to a potential leader of the country with arguably the youngest population in the world.

Today, February 12th, 2021, Bobi Wine turns 39 and as we celebrate his birthday, we look back and celebrate his fast and wonderful transformation from a Ghetto boy to a voice of hope for many in and outside Uganda.

Happy Birthday Bobi Wine.

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Arnold Nkalubo
Arnold Nkalubo is a writer and editor with an exceptional interest in issues that influence passion and lifestyle.