Before he was a politician, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was a musician going by the moniker Bobi Wine. His music would hit the airwaves, getting people dancing and talking about social issues.
He has been critical of President Yoweri Museveni’s government and when he got into politics, his aim was to stand up against the excesses of the government and ensure the people’s interests are represented.
It was, therefore, no strange thing that he won a by-election in his constituency of Kyadondo East, central Uganda.
And he has been true to his word. He took to the streets of Kampala, the capital city, to protest the social media and mobile money tax the Ugandan government implemented as a way to boost state revenue and to stop fake news.
He was also among the legislators who criticised the bill that increases President Museveni’s term limit by getting rid of the age limit of 75.
Bobi Wine has quite a youthful following, and as a first-time legislator, he just had a taste of Museveni’s state machinery.
Just the other day, his driver was shot in the chaos that erupted in Arua, one of Uganda’s constituencies. The chaos erupted after people started throwing stones at President Museveni’s motorcade and Bobi Wine was arrested for his alleged role in the chaos.
The legislator was yesterday charged with unlawful possession of firearms in a military court. His lawyer, Medard Sseggona, told reporters that his client had been so “brutalized he cannot walk, he cannot stand, he can only sit with difficulty … It is hard to say whether he understands this and that.”
A number of questions have arisen over his arrest, including why he was tried in a military court when he is a civilian.
Right groups have questioned Uganda’s use of torture on Bobi Wine, and have asked for the government to produce the musician/legislator within 48 hours. The family had yesterday held a press conference asking to see Bobi Wine.
“We as a family of Bobi Wine, we do not know where he is at the moment but all I can say is that we are demanding for him, alive in the next 48 hours. Whether what he did that led to his detention is right or wrong… we want to see him because he has a right to be seen by his family, wife and children,” Bobi Wine’s brother Eddie Yawe said.
Supporters took to the street to protest his arrest but were dispersed. Supporters from other African countries took to their social media to call for the release of the legislator under the #freebobiwine hashtag. Here are some reactions:
FELLOW KENYANS JOIN THE CALL TO #FreeBobiwine #FreeBobiwine#FreeBobiwine#FreeBobiwine@KagutaMuseveni is a psychotic dictator. The whole world needs to focus on this! #DespotsMustFall and UGANDANS MUST RISE! @hrw @UNHumanRights
— #AmKenyan (@WanjeriNderu) August 16, 2018
In the search for a single victim, in whom the hopes of the people converge, so much damage is caused.
— Sacrinos.?️♂️? (@dnahinga) August 16, 2018
What M7 thinks is that @HEBobiwine is just a Ugandan citizen, you’re wrong sir he’s a Pan African with support across the continent if Uganda will not hold you accountable the entire Africa will.
Hii Mchezo inafanyika EA lazima ikomeshwe .#FreeBobiwine #ReleaseBobiwine pic.twitter.com/P7Ypsp2KZZ
— MANG’ONG’O (@JoshuaOkumu4) August 16, 2018
— RADIO & WEASEL (@RadioandWeasel) August 16, 2018
— Anne Whitehead (@WhiteheadComm) August 16, 2018
My friend, MP & powerful fighter 4 justice @HEBobiwine survived assasination attempt which tragically killed his driver. He is now held by President @KagutaMuseveni & the Ugandan military. We call4 his immediate release #FreeBobiWine @Smith_JeffreyT @bonifacemwangi pic.twitter.com/I2To0NvwGg
— #ThisFlag E Mawarire (@PastorEvanLive) August 16, 2018
This Is Not Right At All, At All!! Oh Uganda!!!??
Let’s All Post,Comment,Share #FreeBobiWine As Much As Possible. Also Don’t Forget To Say APrayer. This Is ATrying Time For Him, His Family,We The People,This Generation And Our Motherland AtLarge?? ?????#PeoplePower pic.twitter.com/250dvBwEDl
— Lydia Jazmine?? (@Lydiahjazmine) August 16, 2018
The Revolution introduced me to art, and in turn art introduced me to the revolution. There is more than one kind of freedom,Freedom to & freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.
— OCTOPIZZO (@OCTOPIZZO) August 17, 2018
Young people are the future today.They said.
Young people it’s your time.They said.
Young people it’s not going to be done, if you don’t do it. They said.
Young people come and get it.They said.
— Juliani.co.ke (@JulianiKenya) August 17, 2018
How Gov’t of Uganda treats a white national caught with Military weapons and uniforms.
— Samwise Gamgee (@Sambannz) August 16, 2018