Wole Soyinka, Angelique Kidjo, Femi Kuti and 90 others demand release of ‘tortured’ Ugandan MP 

Nduta Waweru August 22, 2018

The news that Ugandan musician and MP, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine was arrested and tortured by the police over his alleged possession of a gun and for treason has been met with criticism and uproar not only in Uganda but also the world over.

Ugandans were not only in their capital Kampala on the streets to protest,  but also on social media together with other Africans to condemn the move.

On Tuesday, August 21, a group of celebrities, media personalities and authors including Wole Soyinka, Angelique Kidjo, and Femi Kuti,  signed a statement condemning the arrest, imprisonment and attack on Bobi Wine.

They also called for the Ugandan government to ensure that he gets medical attention and that it ends the acts of political repression and violence in Uganda.

Read the rest of the statement below:

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the arrest, imprisonment and vicious, life-threatening physical attack by Ugandan government forces on popular Ugandan singer and Member of Parliament, the Honourable Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, a.k.a Bobi Wine. We also condemn the unprovoked killing of his driver, Yasin Kawuma as well as the beating and arrest of three other opposition Members of Parliament.  

The above incidents took place in the town of Arua on Monday, August 13, where Bobi Wine was attending a by-election rally in support of an opposition candidate, Kassiano Wadri. It is claimed that stones were thrown at the convoy of President Museveni who was there to support his candidate. Museveni’s security forces then made their way to Bobi Wine’s hotel where Yasin Karuma was sitting in Bobi’s car and was shot in the head at close range and killed. Yasin was sitting in the co-driver’s seat where Bobi Wine normally sits. The possibility of an assassination attempt cannot be ruled out. They then entered the hotel, kicking in doors and arresting many people, including hotel staff, journalists and other opposition MPs until they found Bobi who was beaten to within an inch of his life and arrested.

They claim to have found two sub-machine guns, a pistol and ammunition in Bobi’s room and he was charged with treason and taken before a military tribunal on Thursday. His face was badly swollen and he could neither talk, see or walk, so vicious was the beating he’d received. The charge against him was reduced to the illegal possession of arms and he is currently detained in an army barracks with limited access by his family and lawyers until a further appearance before a military tribunal this coming Thursday.

We call upon the Ugandan government to ensure his full access to medical treatment, to allow a full and impartial investigation of his violent arrest and imprisonment and of the brutal killing of Yasin Kawuma, and to follow internationally recognized procedures and safeguards in proceeding with any case against him.

We pledge to remain vigilant about his ongoing detention and to use our voices and networks at the local, regional and international levels to raise awareness about his case, to press for his immediate and unconditional release, and for an end to this and other acts of political repression and violence in Uganda. 

We also call for the lawful and humane treatment of the more than 30 other detainees that were arrested at the same time as Bobi Wine. Some of them are also fighting for life.

N.B.: At the same time as Bobi appeared before the tribunal the results of Wednesday’s by-election were announced. The candidate, Kassiano Wadri, whom Bobi had come to Arua to support, had won. He also remains in custody, still charged with treason.


AARON BEBE SUKURA, – Musician, Ghana; ABIOLA OKE – CEO OkayAfrica/Okayplayer; ADAM CLAYTON – Musician U2; ADE BANTU – Musician, Producer Nigeria; AHDAF SOUEIF – Author; AISHA ORAZBAYEVA – Musician, violinist; ALEX HEFFES – Composer; ALFRED ADEFILA – Musician, Lagos; ALI BUKARI aka NUBIAN – Artiste; ANGELIQUE KIDJO – Artiste; BANNING EYRE Senior Producer, Afropop Worldwide; BELINDA ATIM – Uganda Sustainable Development Initiative; BRIAN ENO – Artist, musician, producer; CHICOCO RADIO – Port Harcourt Nigeria; CHRIS MARTIN – Musician Coldplay; CHRISSIE HINDE – Artiste; CLAUDE GATEBUKE – African Great Lakes Action Network; DAMON ALBARN – Musician, Blur, Gorillaz; DAN ACEDA – Musician, Nairobi; DELE SOSIMI – The Afrobeat Orchestra; DR VINCENT MAGOMBE – Journalist and Broadcaster; EDDY YAWE – Artiste;  EMEL MATHLOUTHI – Artiste; EMRE RAMAZANOGLU – Musician & Producer; ERIAS LUKWAGO – Kampala City Lord Mayor; FATOUMATA SOW – Music Industry Professional, Mali; FEMI ANIKULAPO KUTI – Musician Nigeria; FRANCESCA MARTINEZ – Writer & Comedian; FRANK RYNNE – Senior Lecturer British Studies, UCP, France; FRED – Footballer Manchester United; GEOFF TRAVIS – Rough Trade Records; HELEN EPSTEIN –  Author of Uganda and the War on Terror; HUGH CORNWELL – Musician; HON MEDARD SSEGONA – Member of Parliament Uganda; IAIN C NEWTON – Founder, Silent B Inc.USA; IMRAN SIDDIQ – Co-Producer Global Citizen; JAMIE DRUMMOND – Co-founder of ONE; JAN PETER SCHWAIM – Musician, Composer; JESSE HACKETT – Musician; JOHN CONGLETON – Musician, Producer; JOHN HASSELL – Musician; JOHNNY BORRELL – Musician Razorlight; JOJO MAYER – Musician; JONATHAN HENDERSON – Artist Management; JOSEPH MAYANJA aka Jose Chameleon Artiste; JULIANA KANYOMOZI – Artiste Uganda; JULIANI – Rapper, founder Dondora Hiphop City, Nairobi; JUSTIN ADAMS – Musician; KADIALY KOUYATE – Musician; KWEKU MANDELA – Co-Producer Global Citizen; LEO ABRAHAMS – Producer, musician, composer;LORD WOOD OF ANFIELD – House of Lords UK; MARIE KORPE – Co-Founder FREEMUSE & Editor; MARKUS DRAVS – Producer; MARTIN GOLDSCHMIDT – Co-Founder Cooking Vinyl; MASUUZA EDRISA – aka  Eddy Kenzo Artiste; MAURICE BERNSTEIN –  President the Giant Step Organisation; MAURICE CARNEY – Friends of the Congo; MILTON ALLIMADI – Founder Black Star News; MONTE – Musician; NICHOLAS OPIYO –  Human rights lawyer Uganda; NICK LAIRDE-CLOWES – Artist The Dream Academy; NIKE RANSOME KUTI – Lawyer Nigeria; OHAL GRIETZER – Composer; ORHAN MASLO OHA – Director of Rock School Bosnia; OWEN PALLETT – Composer; PEDRO COQUENAO – Musician, Producer; PETER GABRIEL – Artist, Producer; PHIL HARVEY – Musician Coldplay; RAOUL MARTINEZ – Author; REGGIE WATTS – Musician; RICHIE TROUGHTON – Writer; RIKKI STEIN – Kalakuta Sunrise Ltd; ROBIN RIMBAUD – Musician; RUTH DANIEL – Director In Place of War; RWAKAFUZI LAUDISLAS – Human rights lawyer; SEBASTIAN ROCHFORD – Musician, Polar Bear; SEGUN ADEFILA – Founder Crowne Troupe of Africa, Lagos; SEUN ANIKULAPO KUTI – Musician; STEPHEN BUDD – Director Africa Express, NH7 Festivals. Music Managers Forum; STEPHEN HENDEL – Kalakuta Sunrise LLC; STEVE JONES – Musician; TOM WATSON – Deputy Leader of the Labour Party UK; TOUMANI DIABATE – Musician Mali; TUNDE ADEBIMPE – Musician, Actor, TV on the Radio; VINVENT MAGOMBE – Director Africa Inform International; WANLOV the KUBOLOR – Musician Ghana; WOLE SOYINKA – Nobel Laureate Nigeria. 

Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: August 22, 2018


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