Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Bobi Wine
Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu

(1982-02-12) 12 February 1982 (age 37)
ResidenceMagere, Wakiso District, Uganda
Alma materMakerere University
(Bachelor of Arts in Music Dance and Drama)
OccupationMusician, entrepreneur, entertainer, philanthropist, politician, legislator, inspirational speaker, Actor.
Years active2000 – present
Known forMusic, Situka movie, politics,high ranking freedom fighter
Home townKanoni
TitleMember of Parliament
Kyaddondo East Constituency
Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi (m. 2011)
RelativesNyanzi, Eddie Yawe

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (born 12 February 1982), known by the stage name Bobi Wine, is a popular Ugandan politician, businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, musician, freedom fighter and actor. As of 11 July 2017, he serves as the member of parliament representing Kyaddondo East constituency in Wakiso District, in Uganda's Central Region.[1]

Background and education[edit]

Bobi Wine was born on 12 February 1982, in Nkozi Hospital, where his late mother worked.[2] Members of his family, trace their roots in what was then Mpigi District, but is now Gomba District. He grew up in the Kamwookya slum in the northeast part of Kampala, Uganda's capital city.[3]

He was baptized Robert Kyagulanyi in the Roman Catholic Church. He attended Makerere University in Kampala, where he studied music, dance, and drama, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree.[4]


Music career[edit]

Kyagulanyi began his music career in 1999, and adapted the stage name Bobi Wine. His first singles Akagoma, Funtula, and Sunda (featuring Ziggy D) brought Wine success in the East African music scene.[4] His music connects reggae, dancehall, and afrobeat styles, often with a socially conscious message. He was the leader of the group Fire Base Crew.[5] When that group disbanded, he started a new group, Ghetto Republic of Uganja.[6] He has recorded more than 70 songs over 15 years.[7] In 2016, his song "Kiwani" was featured on the soundtrack for the Disney move Queen of Katwe.[8]

Film career[edit]

Wine is also a movie actor, mainly starring in local movies commonly known as Binayuganda.[4] In 2010, Bobi Wine was cast in Cleopatra Koheirwe's drama film Yogera and in a lead role in the Twaweza-supported film Situka with Hellen Lukoma in 2015.[9]

He has worked on a number of other films, including Divizionz.[10]


In April 2017, Wine announced his candidacy for parliament in an upcoming by-election for the Kyaddondo East Constituency. His door-to-door walking campaign attracted attention both in Uganda and abroad.[6][11] He won that contest by a wide margin, beating two seasoned candidates: Sitenda Sebalu of the ruling National Resistance Movement party and Apollo Kantinti of the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change.[1][12][13]

In 2018, Robert Kyagulanyi gained increasing fame, championing the victories in most of the by-elections by the candidates he campaigned for, thus beating out the candidates of the political party in power, the National Resistance Movement, as well as the major opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change.

Arrest and release[edit]

On August 14, 2018, supporters of the independent candidate for parliament Kasiano Wadri allegedly obstructed and attacked President Museveni’s convoy in the northern town of Arua, near Gulu. Museveni's motorcade was allegedly pelted with stones, leading to clashes between security forces and protesters. Later, Kyagulanyi, an outspoken critic of Uganda's leader Yoweri Museveni, revealed through a social media post that police had intentionally shot at his vehicle, killing his driver. Kyagulanyi had endorsed Wadri's candidacy against the official pro-Museveni candidate in Arua.

Wine was arrested on August 15, 2018 for possible charges of unlawful possession of firearms and incitement to violence.[14] He was brought in front of a military court on 16 August 2018 and charged with illegal possession of weapons. The Times reported it appeared Kyagulanyi had been beaten before appearing in court.[15] Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, a lawyer who has represented detained MPs, said that Wine was in a worrying state of health and needed urgent medical attention.[16] The government has repeatedly denied any allegations of torture. The Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye called a press conference, where he demanded the MP's immediate release.[17] With popular protests growing in Uganda demanding Kyagulanyi's release, and heated discussions in the Ugandan Parliament, the Ugandan State prosecution withdrew the charges filed during Kyagulanyi's second appearance in front of the General Court Martial in Gulu on August 23, 2018. The prosecution indicated it would further pursue possible charges in a civilian court for possible trial of the MP.[18] Upon release, Bobi was rearrested and charged with treason by the civilian court.[19] In September 2018 Kyagulanyi was released on bail and travelled to the United States for medical treatment for injuries he allegedly received in custody.[20] The Ugandan government banned Bobi Wine supporters from gathering on the day of his release, and on the day of his return from the United States.[20][21] The government continues to deny torture allegations.[21] Wine was also arrested in Late April 2019 in an unprecedented manner over a matter that had ensued a year before for staging and leading a riot i.e the riot against social media tax alongside many other public figures in Uganda in the last months of 2018.His arrest sparked great unrest in and around Kampala on 29 April 2019 in areas such as Naggalama and Mulago(Kubiri) where he was forcefully abducted by the Uganda Police Force.He was later presented to court that day where he was remanded to Luzira Prison with the next hearing set for 2 May 2019.On the day of said trial,unrest was expected and as a result the cities of Kampala were militarised greatly and further still,a fete never seen before ensued as Wine was tried over video conference,the first time such a measure had been used in Uganda's courts of law. He was granted bail that day with strict orders not to engage in any protests.

Humanitarian work[edit]

Wine's lyrics often advocate for ghetto residents in Uganda. He has supported several practical projects to improve conditions for the poor.[3]

In 2012, he started a campaign to promote more regular cleaning in hospitals, sanitization, garbage management, and hand washing to prevent disease.[22] A YouTube video from September 2012 shows Bobi Wine joining Kampala mayor Erias Lukwago in cleaning up Kamwookya, the slum neighborhood where Bobi grew up.[22]

Also in 2012, Bobi donated funds to build pit latrines and construct a drainage channel in Kisenyi II, a Kampala slum that the New Vision, a major English-language daily newspaper, described as being "characterized by filth, crowded shanty structures, poor sanitation and lack of basic social facilities." The newspaper quoted Wine as explaining "I am doing this because these are my people, and no matter where I go, this will always be home."[3]

He has also campaigned for malaria prevention, with donations to Nakasongola Health Centre, and references to the disease in his songs.[23]

He visited the Bundibugyo Refugee Camp in Bundibugyo District in August 2013 along with representatives from Save the Children, UNHCR, and the Red Cross, to deliver funds and supplies.[24]

The same year, Wine was appointed Parenting Ambassador by Twaweza, an NGO that focuses on education and citizen engagement in East Africa; his message in this partnership was to promote responsible parenting among his Ugandan fans. In an interview about the project, he said "Education is what will ultimately change the course of our country and as an artiste and a father, I believe we can all make a difference in our children’s learning."[25]

In 2014, Wine was appointed a Save the Children Ambassador for their EVERY ONE Campaign, and joined a team of 14 Ugandan artists who recorded a special song and video about maternal and child health. Other leading Uganda artists in the video included Jose Chameleone, and Radio and Weasel, who make up the Goodlyfe Crew.[26] Bobi and his wife Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi traveled to hospitals throughout Uganda – including Nakaseke Hospital, meeting with midwives and health workers, to popularize the campaign.[23] Save the Children also took Wine to other regions with the EVERY ONE Campaign, including a refugee camp for South Sudanese people.[27]


Wine is often outspoken about political and social issues in Uganda, generating some controversy. He has a long-standing competition/animosity toward fellow Ugandan musician Bebe Cool, who has sung in support of long-time Ugandan President Museveni and his ruling NRM party, while Wine has supported opposition interests.[28]

In 2015, Bobi, who is also known as "Omubanda Wa Kabaka" for his devotion to the Kabaka (King of Buganda), publicly defended the kingdom's fundraising efforts when they were harshly criticized by the outspoken Sheikh Muzaata, stirring up a war of words.[29]

When the only radiotherapy machine in Uganda broke down in April 2016,[30] Bobi Wine took a leading position in widespread public anger at the slow official response, and posted a critique of the government's handling of public health care, challenging the country's leaders to make better use of citizens' taxes.[31]

In July 2014, it was announced that Wine was to perform in the United Kingdom at The Drum Arts Centre in Birmingham and the Troxy in London.[32] This led to calls for a ban because of his lyrics expressing opinions against homosexuality.[33] Both venues subsequently cancelled Wine's appearances.[34][35]

In a May 2016 Twitter exchange[36] with ULC Monastery LGBTI [1], an American Christian group that promotes tolerance toward the LGBT community, Wine suggested that he has moved away from his previous public comments about homosexuality, but did not specifically say his views on homosexuality had changed.

Throughout Uganda's election period in 2015 and 2016, Wine refocused his messages to call for tolerance of different views.[37] Wine's public calls for calm activism during the 2016 election - with songs such as Dembe[2] - provoked mixed reactions from different political interests in Uganda. The Ugandan Communications Commission denied, during the election period, that it had banned Dembe from Ugandan radio.[38] Three months after the election, the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda invited Wine to a formal embassy event, and commented that he was a positive influence for local youth.[39]

Following the 2016 election, Bobi released the song Situka, which challenges Ugandans to do something about corruption and injustice in their country. The song opens with the lines: “When the going gets tough, the tough must get going, especially when our Leaders have become Misleaders and Mentors have become Tormentors. When freedom of expression is met with suppression and oppression.” A fan video for the song shows news footage of public protests and arrests of demonstrators and journalists.

When the Ugandan government turned off social media during the 2016 election, Wine used a Virtual private network (VPN) to post about his defiance to the communications shutdown on his Facebook page,[40] while also pointing out that the government continued to use social media during the shutdown they initiated.[41] Bobi Wine was later chosen as a panelist to speak about freedom of expression on World Press Freedom Day in Kampala in May 2016.[42] In March 2016, his fans were surprised to hear him defend the right of his artistic rivals to express views that Wine himself does not support.[43]

Personal life[edit]

Wine met his wife, Barbara Itungo, while he was at Makerere University and she was a S6 student at Bweranyangi Girls' Senior Secondary School. Their wedding took place in August 2011. They have four children together: Solomon Kampala Nyanzi, Shalom Namagembe, Shadraq Shilling Mbogo, and Suubi Shine Nakaayi.[44] In 2013, after showing a good example of caring for his children on his Ghetto President Reality TV Show, he was appointed parenting ambassador by Twaweza.[25]

At his home in Magere Village, Wakiso District, Wine raises his children away from the media glare. He has said to The Daily Monitor about his home life, "I have this big garden at home and I always ensure we go together to dig and get food, whenever we can. I do that because I want them to learn to live an ordinary life, not as a celebrity’s children."[45] In a 2015 interview, Wine’s wife Barbie spoke of his canceling work trips to take care of their children during her fourth pregnancy when she suffered from severe morning sickness.[46]

On 10 February 2015, Wine lost his father, whom he credited with greatly influencing him.[47] The vigil and burial attracted hundreds of mourners including government officials and other celebrities.[48] One month later, Wine released the song Paradiso, which carries the message of valuing your parents while they are still alive.[49]


Bobi Wine has won several awards in his role as a freedom fighter and human rights advocate. He was named by the Foreign Policy Magazine among the 100 global thinkers, 2019. He was also awarded most inspirational leader by students leaders from the East African Region, 2019.

Bobi Wine has over the years won several musical awards including at the prestigious HiPipo Music Awards (HMA) and Pearl of Africa Music Awards.


2018 (Galaxy FM Listeners Choice awards) Best Male Ugandan artiste. His Kyarenga song also won song of the year, 2018




  • 2015: Bobi Wange
  • 2015: Hosanah
  • 2015: Kansubize
  • 2015: Ontabira
  • 2015: Sweet

Singles and EPs[51][edit]

  • 2019: "Tuliyambala Engule*
  • 2018: "Kyarenga"
  • 2017: "Freedom"
  • 2015: "Ayagala Mulaasi"
  • 2019: "Tuliyambala Engule"



  1. ^ a b The EastAfrican (11 July 2017). "Uganda's pop star sworn-in as lawmaker". The EastAfrican. Nairobi. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  2. ^ Mazinga, Mathias (14 June 2016). "Cardinal Wamala, singer Bobi Wine set for Nkozi Hospital marathon". New Vision. Kampala. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Ariba, Caroline (6 September 2012). "Bobi giving back to the hands that lifted him up". New Vision. Kampala. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b c EACS (11 July 2017). "Bobi Wine: Biography". Kampala: (EACS). Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  5. ^ Muriisa, Habre (13 January 2013). "Up Close And Personal With The Ghetto President Bobi Wine". Chano8 Magazine. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  6. ^ a b Nantume, Gillian (1 May 2017). "Uganda: Tracing Bobi Wine's Journey to Elective Politics". Daily Monitor via Kampala. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Bobi wine|". Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  8. ^ Queen of Katwe (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Various Artists, 23 September 2016, retrieved 8 October 2018
  9. ^ Big Eye (5 July 2017). "Photos: Bayima Takes Situka Movie To Mbale". Kampala: Big Eye Uganda (Big Eye). Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  10. ^ Koehler, Robert (17 November 2008). "Divizionz". Variety. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  11. ^ Atuhaire, Patience (31 May 2017). "Africa highlights: Wednesday 31 May 2017 as it happened: Uganda's 'Ghetto President' to stand for parliament". London: BBC News Online. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  12. ^ Agencies (29 June 2017). "Ugandan mucisian Bobi Wine wins Kyadondo MP seat". The Star (Kenya). Nairobi. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  13. ^ Kigambo, Gaaki (15 July 2017). "Bobi Wine calls win a 'renewal of leadership'". The EastAfrican. Nairobi. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Bobi Wine, Wadri charged with treason". Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  15. ^ Cape Town, Jane Flanagan (17 August 2018). "Uganda MP Robert Kyagulanyi who spoke out against President Museveni 'tortured' before military court hearing". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  16. ^ nationmedia 2017. "Ugandan MP Robert Kyagulanyi in a worrying state of health". NTV. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  17. ^ Patience Akumu (22 August 2018). "Bobi Wine's arrest and what it could mean for Uganda". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  18. ^ Orinde, Hillary. "Bobi Wine free at last". The Standard. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Uganda's Bobi Wine: Pop star MP charged with treason". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  20. ^ a b Akumu, Patience (4 October 2018). "With Bobi Wine, people power could finally win in Uganda | Patience Akumu". the Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  21. ^ a b CNN, Bukola Adebayo and Stephanie Busari,. "Uganda bans supporters of Bobi Wine from gathering ahead of his return". CNN. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  22. ^ a b Nabakooza, Lydia (30 September 2012). "The September General clean up Kampala Uganda". NTV Uganda via YouTube. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  23. ^ a b Big Eye (24 April 2014). "Bobi Wine in Campaign Against Malaria". Kampala: Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  24. ^ Big Eye (14 August 2013). "Bobi Wine in Bundibugyo Charity Drive". Kampala: Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  25. ^ a b Kasujja, Carol (29 September 2013). "Bobi Wine appointed parenting ambassador". New Vision. Kampala. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  26. ^ Parsons, Martha (16 June 2014). "Leading Music Artists Produce New Campaign Song in Uganda". Kampala: Save the Children Uganda. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  27. ^ Ssejjoba, Eddie (15 May 2014). "Bobi Wine thrills South Sudanese refugees". New Vision. Kampala. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  28. ^ Big Eye Staff (22 February 2016). "Bebe Cool fans forsake him over politics, and join Bobi Wine". Kampala: Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  29. ^ Aine, Kim (23 March 2015). "Bobi Wine Warns of War with Muzaata". Kampala: Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  30. ^ Namagembe, Lilian (8 April 2016). "Mulago cancer machine breaks down". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  31. ^ Sewakiryanga, Ivan (11 April 2016). "Bobi Wine to raise money for Cancer Machine!". Kampala: Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  32. ^ Roberts, Scott (24 July 2014). "Anti-gay Ugandan singer due to perform in Birmingham and London". London: Pink News. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  33. ^ Nabaasa, Monica (28 July 2014). "Bobi Wine UK Performance Faces Resistance". Kampala: Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  34. ^ GSN (29 July 2014). "'Burn the gays' rapper axed from UK venues". London: Gay Star News (GSN). Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  35. ^ Lockley, Mike (29 July 2014). "Anti-gay rapper banned from Birmingham venue over homophobic lyrics". Birmingham, UK: Birmingham Mail.
  36. ^ ULCMLGBTI (24 May 2016). "ULC Monastery LGBTI on Twitter". Twitter. ULC Monastery LGBTI (ULCMLGBTI). Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  37. ^ Howwe Entertainment (29 May 2016). "BBC Interviews Bobi Wine, Calls For Peace During Elections". (Howwe Entertainment). Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  38. ^ Wesonga, Nelson (3 January 2016). "UCC Denies Banning Bobi Wine Dembe Song". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  39. ^ Big Eye (25 May 2016). "Photo: Bobi Wine and his wife hang out with US Ambassador". Kampaala: (Big Eye). Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  40. ^ Chano8 (19 February 2016). "Being On Social Media Is An Ultimate Act Of Defiance - Bobi Wine". Kampala: (Chano8). Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  41. ^ "Comments". Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  42. ^ Ampurire, Paul (4 May 2016). "Ugandan Artistes Criticize State Limitation of their Expression". Kampala: Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  43. ^ Isaac Ssejjombwe, and Solomon Arinaitwe. "Spare artistes from boycott, Bobi Wine appeals to Besigye". Daily Monitor. Kampala.
  44. ^ Chano8 (19 May 2017). "Barbie and Children Take Bobi Wine Campaign to a New Level". Kampala: Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  45. ^ Odeke, Steven (11 September 2014). "Bobi Wine rough as a musician, smooth as a father". New Vision. Kampala. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  46. ^ Whitehead, Anne (28 June 2015). "Barbie tips on her fourth pregnancy". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  47. ^ Monitor Reporter (10 February 2015). "Bobi Wine's father passes on". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  48. ^ Omongin, Emmy (13 February 2015). "Politics as Bobi Wine's father is laid to rest". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  49. ^ Ogwal, Lawrence (16 March 2015). "Bobi hosts fans at Paradiso release". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  50. ^ TEA (10 February 2013). "HiPipo Music Awards 2013 winners". The Edge Africa (TEA). Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  51. ^ a b "Bobi Wine". Spotify. Retrieved 8 October 2018.

External links[edit]