The politics in 10 of Bobi Wine’s songs
Since coming onto the scene in the early 2000s, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, alias Bobi Wine, has curved himself as a voice of reason. Be it singing to unite fellow artistes, Kyagulanyi would belt out Abayimbi Tukule while on other incidents the same man would be urging Ugandans to take sanitation serious with Tube Bayonjo.
By the time he tried his chances at serious politics running for the Kyadondo East parliamentary seat, ardent followers of his music were not surprised; for an artiste that had spent a decade speaking against corruption, impunity and a need for change, they had seen it coming.
And they were well aware of the side he would definitely occupy in the house.
Today, we present 10 political songs Kyagulanyi used to speak to the most important voter of any African country, the layman.
Ghetto was one of those bold moves by a popular artiste. His star was only on the rise when Bobi Wine released the song at the evening of 2005 - of course there was too much going on, the country was coming from a referendum, an election was looming and preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) were underway.
In the song, Bobi spoke for the ordinary Ugandan that lost way too much during the preparation as schools, streets and other establishments were cleared to give way for redevelopment and beautification plans. In the song, he questions why a Ugandan has to lose too much in the name of pleasing a visiting leader.
Alongside Ronald Mayinja’s Bunkenke, Ghetto soon became one of the songs that soundtracked the 2006 elections for Opposition leaders.
Bobi Wine released Ebibuuzo at the time fires were ravaging schools and markets. The song addressed the fires alongside other topics such as inflation, high cost of living, various murders and corruption cases whose suspects were walking free.
The video for the song features pictures of the burnt Buddo dormitory, malnourished kids and footage from various riots. The song was very monumental though because it seemed to unite the art industry to condemn injustices, this had actors, singers from different walks of life singing to ‘Naye ensi eno ekyuse nyo banange’ aptly interpreted as ‘the world has changed so much’.
Obululu released towards the 2011 elections was calling for Ugandans to stay united even if they support different candidates. In the song, he calls upon people not to accept to be used by politicians because they would be divided while the people they are fighting for are busy making peace deals over a cup of coffee.
At the time the song was released, Ugandans were still talking about the post-election violence that had rocked Kenya, thus for many listeners, Bobi was trying to preach against a possible Kenyan repeat. Unfortunately though, that particular election was characterised with walk-to-work post-election demonstrations.
The song has gone on to become an ultimate banner song for Ugandan elections.
In 2014, Bobi Wine took the gloves off and attacked corrupt officials, nepotism tendencies, unemployment and high costs of living, he further tells Ugandans that expecting help from the government was foolery and worse still, the Opposition is only making opposing a job.
In the opening lines of the song, he starts by noting that “Freedom comes to those who fight, not those who cry” a line he seems to be living by today.
Tugambire Ku Jennifer
Released in 2012, Bobi Wine said what many Ugandans working in Kampala were thinking but could not say. The song detailed the brutality of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) that the artiste claimed was going to increase crime since it was leaving many youth unemployed.
His concert that year shared the title and somewhat cemented his relationship with the Opposition leadership as Erias Lukwago, the Kampala Lord Mayor, former FDC president Kizza Besigye, Kawempe’s Mubarak Munyagwa and Kampala Central’s Godfrey Nyakana.
During the concert, the artiste noted that he wasn’t attacking the KCCA executive director but simply telling her that Kampala could be a city where its dwellers could freely work and earn.
One of the biggest topics between 2013 and 2014 was the David Bahati introduced Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Bobi Wine supported the Bill and spoke in its support even when many artistes remained cagey on the side they belonged.
And that was the basis of Byekwaso, that standing for the truth will most likely leave you lonely - the lyrics talk about how people want a better life that they don’t want to work for. Reading between the lines, the artiste was talking about things like freedom, that they can’t be earned without involvement or a struggle.
For instance, he goes on to say that he has decided to become the change he wants to see even if it means repairing trenches himself.
By the time Bobi Wine released Dembe, he had classified himself as an Opposition-leaning artiste that was still tolerated. The song Dembe was calling for a peaceful election but at the same time calling for change. For instance, he wondered in the song how other countries effortlessly change power.
The song whose lyrics even seem to admire leaders such as Nelson Mandela that served and handed over power, has Bobi Wine in most of the frames waving or wearing a shirt with a Ugandan flag. Many political pundits have noted that much as he sounded like he was anti-government, many decided to tolerate him because he easily came off as a unifier.
Probably the most emotional political message he has put out in years, it was released on his social media sites shortly after Kizza Besigye lost the 2016 election.
With a sharp introduction: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going, when leaders become misleaders and mentors become tormentors. When freedom of expression becomes a target of suppression. Opposition becomes our position” it was clear Bobi Wine was on some serious business.
But there was more to the song than what the public knew, the song shared a title with a film Situka that starred Bobi Wine alongside Hellen Lukoma.
In the film, he played a youth who got disgruntled with the system and stood up against it.
Of course, in 2017, it can be argued that Bobi Wine walked his song by getting up and walking even when the situation was bad.
Today, Situka whose slower version was uploaded earlier this year is often sang by Opposition legislators while commenting about their situations.
This was Bobi Wine’s first political song as an MP fighting against the Constitution amendment. Then new in the House, he released the song asking Ugandans to speak out since being silent was treason itself.
On this song, the artiste directly addressed the President pointing out slogans like the fundamental change being turned into a ‘No Change.’ The song that questions the purpose of a liberation that has in turn become a dictatorship, in Bobi Wine’s opinion, features the singer in a cell throughout with montages of riots, Parliament chaos and his election.
One of Bobi Wine’s constant messages to the youth is a fact that people have no idea that they have more power than those with the power. And it is the message he spreads in Uganda Zukuka which he released in February. Just like Situka, Bobi Wine is emotional on this song and it is clear he directs many of his words to the youth.
The video features an old man watching cartoons as his belongings including, the chair he is sitting on, are being stolen.