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ANALYSIS: Bobi wine and Besigye

Supporters of young politician shouldn’t treat Besigye as worthy of their insults and not important anymore

Kampala, Uganda | ABBEY KIBIRIGE SEMUWEMBA | It is a story with all the makings of a blockbuster novel: a brilliant composer/ politician, an attractive woman, and a mystery that has lasted for years now. This story, though, is real. The composer is Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, the renowned Uganda musician who burst to the scene twelve years ago.

He has also been the Kyadondo East Member of Parliament for one year and two months. The young woman is Barbie Intungo Kyagulanyi, his wife. And the mystery? Is how the man who sang in a less appealing voice could become so rich in such a short time compared to musicians that are better gifted.

A study of the politician’s life reveals that for most of his life he was fascinated by the politics of our country. He tried to pass on his political beliefs through some of his songs.

I always admired his courage as a musician, and I was among those that disagreed with FDC’s decision not to support him when he stood for parliament. I stood with him when he helped brother Asuman Basalirwa to become an MP in Bugiri.

I sympathised with him when he was beaten up during the recent by elections in Arua by the Special Forces Command (SFC) soldiers who guard President Yoweri Museveni.

That’s why I think that Uganda needs an independent organisation to watch the conduct of our security agencies. Here in the UK we have got the watchdog, the Security Service Tribunal, which deals with complaints against the security service (though it always clears MI5 of any wrongdoing).

I don’t think parliament has got the tools to investigate those who tortured the MPs, and that is why anybody can tell them any ‘Nigeriarish’. Eighteen years ago, while struggling to achieve recognition as a composer, he met Barbie, when they were both teenagers.

The daughter of parents from Museveni’s tribe, the Banyankole, she shared Bobi’s interests in music, smoking weed, and politics. They got married on August 27, 2011, and now arguably are the best youthful political couple in the country.

Having a strong woman by your side helps in politics. For instance, one of opposition FDC stalwart Kizza Besigye’s luckiest decisions was marrying Winnie Byanyima, the current boss of OXFAM. Her family is influential in our politics. She has been influential almost all her life, and a big rock for Besigye.

But as nature would have it, most good things in one’s life breed jealousy. A lot of people are attacking Bobi and Besigye purely out of jealousy. My wish is for him to work with Besigye just like Kampala Capital City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago is doing.

Yes, we all have our tastes in politicians and we should not apologise for it. There is no accounting for taste! Usually, this is hurled as a taunt of one-upmanship: “I like it, and therefore I have ‘good taste,’ and you, who don’t like it, don’t.”

Life will go on whether neither Bobi nor Besigye become president. That is why I will never use nasty language to attack any politician, the way Andrew M. Mwenda does, or what Pastor Grace Lubega did, just because he is not my choice as the next president of Uganda.

People should be free to support whoever they want,after all, anybody can be president of Uganda. I’m not saying they (Pastor and Mwenda) don’t have a right to express their opinions, but, if they have a right to express their opinions, other people have a right to express theirs and take the other side.

That said, I think some of Bobi supporter’s schizophrenic reasoning is that simultaneously Besigye is not important anymore and worthy of their acts of abuse, and Bobi does not need to work with him at all. Perhaps they should ask themselves why he has lasted long as Museveni’s challenger compared to the rest. Bobi too should be warier of buying in to the advice of some of the resident “political experts”. Abed Bwanika, for instance, is a certifiable paranoiac, who attacks anybody that works with Besigye yet he was quick to swear an affidavit legitimising Museveni’s re-election after the 2016 elections.


Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba is a Ugandan political commentator and blogger who lives in the UK

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