OkayAfrica spoke to the musician about his time in prison and what it means to be a freedom fighter as he awaits the results of his medical tests and prepares to return to Uganda.
Stories about the brave actions of revolutionaries can sometimes feel like chronicles of the past—cautionary tales of when the world was in such disarray that people had to step out in unimaginable acts of bravery to uproot corrupt systems. It's Toussaint Louverture leading a group of enslaved Haitians against stiffly armed French colonizers, it's Winnie Mandela being forced into a precarious life of fear and isolation for daring to oppose the apartheid regime, and Fela Kuti watching as Nigerian military juntas dropped his equally revolutionary mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti to her death from a three-story building.
The story of Uganda's "Ghetto President," musician and opposition lawmaker Bobi Wine reminds us that the struggle is very much here and now—and that the extreme valor of everyday citizens is what it will likely take to fight it. Since mid-August Wine, born, Robert Kyagulanyi, has been brashly and consistently persecuted by the Ugandan government, stemming from an alleged attack on President Yoweri Museveni's motorcade at a by-election rally in Arua, where they were supporting opposing candidates. The ordeal led to the musician being arrested and rearrested twice, and tortured while in military custody.
Since the alleged attack, Wine's driver was shot dead by Ugandan forces and 32 opposition leaders, many of whom still remain in custody, have also been arrested on charges of treason. According to the artist, some have sustained permanent injuries at the hands of officers. Ugandans who took to the streets for anti-government protests clashed with police forces who arrested dozens of people and dispersed tear gas and bullets on numerous occasions. All of this signifying a new phase of Museveni's attacks on the opposition.