There she was in her home, in Magere- Wakiso District, looking calm and poised. She moved from one visitor to another welcoming them with her trademark ear to ear smile. Barbara Intungo Kyagulanyi did not look like the woman whose husband was detained and rumoured to be in critical health.
Barbara Intungo Kyagulanyi has once again found herself a subject of intense media interest since her husband, Robert Kyagulanyi, the Kyadondo East Member of Parliament was arrested while canvassing for votes for Kassaino Wadri in Arua.
On this particular day, her home is thronged with sympathisers who have come to commiserate with her. Surprisingly, she ends up being the one comforting them. Clad in a patterned lime green kaftan, she walks out of the house barefooted trying to look for a quiet spot where she can talk to us without interruptions. “I am busy! I have not had any sleep for days now. So please try to keep your questions short,” she informs us.
Strength of a woman
In spite of her confession of lack of sleep, Itungo looks calm and confident. She says that because of the ongoing challenges, she has had to find new levels of strength and bravery.
“When I married Bobi Wine, I knew that I had married a unique person. He has demonstrated all that through his music. All his lyrics send an urgent message for his audience,” she says.
She says the incident has taken her unawares because she never imagined this could ever happen to her.
“The last thing I expected was my husband being held in a military prison and being charged with treason. When I think about it implications I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel as if I am having one horrible nightmare that I will wake up from. I am in an emotional comma; I am frozen at a point of strength. Only God knows how strong I have become,” she says, adding that, “If the voices were not out there speaking, I would have broken down. We are all in this boat together, my husband would like me to remain strong. I know that is what he would like me to be.”
Itungo says her strength has been drawn from the fact that she has known her husband for a long time and she is able to know what is going on in his life.
“Bobi would love to see a strong me, when I am strong it will help him too. I am ready, this is not the end, and he was brought on earth to do that. All I am doing is support him as a wife and that is all.
Managing information as a wife
It is one thing to be strong for oneself, it becomes more difficult keeping the rest of the family calm, especially in this era where there is abundant information. “All that is said about my husband is total rubbish. It was the lowest spot for them to try to frame him with possession of firearms. My husband even fears a gun. He has neither owned one nor got any kind of training in it. We have busineses, which are guarded by guns, but none of the guards approaches Bobi holding a gun. He has always made that clear,” she says.
Itungo says that as a politician’s wife her job is to support him and she would never consider asking him to quit. She says, “My husband has always been a politician which he has been doing through music. When he was being brought to us when we first visited him at the time he was arrested, the only name he called out was my name, Barbie. That means he needs me in the kind of state he is in. I have to be there for him. When he is out of danger then we can discuss what next for him.”
Breaking the news to the children
The couple has four children: Shadraq Shilling Mbogo Kyagulanyi, Shalom Namagembe Kyagulanyi, Solomon Kampala Nyanzi Kyagulanyi and Suubi Shine Nakaayi Kyagulanyi. The elder children have access to social media, so the challenge for Itungo was helping filter the information. She says the uphill task was giving them the right information without distorting it.
“It would have been harder if they did not know. My children were following the campaign in Arua from facebook live. That made it easy for me to explain the aftermath of the whole thing. So I started from a point of…you know the campaign in Arua, they say yes…Did you see the big crowds on the road, they say yes. I then told them there was a mistake and Yasiin was shot and was killed so I am going for burial. I have been taking them through as gently as I possibly can.
They know their father is in detention and they know where he is. So you give them information without distorting it,” she says.
She, however, says it was difficult for the older son because he was getting things right from the newspaper and watching them live without sieving them.
“It is my elder son who is at school that is reading all the things in the newspapers. Unfortunately he has not been able to see him but I went with my uncle and his grandmother who helped me reassure him that his father was well. My children see that people are supporting their father and they are comforted by it. I know they will come out of this safely. I am trying to do my best as a mother to make sure that even when their father is away, the family stays intact and keeps moving forward,” she says.