Bobi Wine, police and Kiwani 2021
Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE |“Kiwani” in Kampala street-speak means “something fake.” Musician Bobi Wine coined the word in 2007 as the title of his song that won that year’s award for best Afro beat single.
Twelve years later, Bobi Wine (real name Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi) is the MP for Kyadondo East and kiwani (fake news or fake claims) has become a major talking point. It could become even bigger if he challenges President Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 presidential elections.
According to some observers, that is the significance of the debate about who is lying, telling the truth, or making political points from the recent death of a young man called “Wyne” that has thrown Bobi Wine, the police, and the dead man’s family in a swirl of “Kiwani” – fake claims.
Kyagulanyi is the leader of “People Power,” a political wave that emerged in 2018 and is threatening President Yoweri Museveni‘s grip on power and the dead man, Zigy Wyne, has been linked to both Bobi Wine’s People Power group and his music group, the Firebase Crew.
The 30-year old Zigy Wyne, real name Michael Alinda, died on Aug.04, seven days after he was discovered in Mulago National referral Hospital, badly bruised with burns on the body, two fingers missing and left eye in a patch.
The story made international headlines. “Ugandan activist Bobi Wine condemns killing of his follower,” was headline on Aug.06 on Voice of America and The Washington Post. “Zigy Wyne latest victim of Gen. Museveni’s Uganda,” screamed the Black Star News.
His family had reported him missing on July 21 and when days went by; they said he had been kidnapped. Fourteen days later, he was dead.
“I think his involvement in political activism with People Power could be behind his brutal torture,” his sisters Immaculate Chocho Nalwadda told journalists as she collected the body from the Mulago Hospital mortuary on Aug.05.
“Zigy Wyne was abducted and subjected to horrendous forms of torture. His left eye was plucked out, two of his fingers cut off and parts of his body were burnt with a flat iron. He was beaten to near death, and dumped at Mulago hospital,” Kyagulanyi said in a statement on Aug.05. He said People Power supporters were being targeted for kidnap, torture, and murder and he listed several cases.
The police backed up the story – at least initially.
Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga on Aug.05 told journalists that homicide detectives were tracing what he called “thugs” who kidnapped Alinda and maimed him leading to his death. He said they would look at the CCTV footage to see who dumped him at the hospital.
But on Aug. 06, Enanga issued a fresh statement which sharply contrasted with the first statement and has thrown a mist of mystery over the death. Most people listening to the police and other government officials, and Bobi Wine and the dead man’s family are not sure what is real and what is fake.
Fake or true
Facts are being made up or twisted to misinform or deceive, traditional and new media – print, electronic, and online – is being exploited or manipulated, and authenticity of images on TV and photographs is being doubted.
The police say Zigy Wyne was on the evening of July 21 racing at fast pace on his big Honda sports touring motorbike when he got involved in an accident on a section of road under repair. Accounts differ but a police statement said he was blinded by the full-beam of oncoming traffic, hit some road furniture and struck the temple area of his head before ending up in the road drainage gutter with the big bike on top of him. A woman who police identified as Loy Atworo; a 24-year old teacher, was also injured in the accident.
But the story took a dramatic twist when police paraded Atworo to the press to explain how the said accident happened. In an unprecedented cyber-challenge, Atworo was soon after “exposed” as a policewoman not a teacher. Social media became awash with photos of a woman who looked like her in police uniform and involved in various public relations activities. Public debate got heated.