In one corner is Bobi Wine, the charismatic and wildly popular musician, affectionately known in Uganda as ‘the Ghetto President.
In the other is the real President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, who like many of Africa’s former revolutionaries has clung to power for decades, amid growing calls for him to step down.
Museveni, 73, has ruled the east African nation with an iron fist since he took power in 1986 and is not known to be soft on his opponents; he has seen off many of them in his 32-year rule.
But some commentators are saying that Wine with his musical and political clout as well as a solid youth base is the real challenger to Museveni’s throne.
“Bobi Wine poses a real threat to Museveni, more so in consideration that young Ugandans, many of whom are unemployed, constitute a huge percentage of the active electorate,” says Jimmy Spire Ssentongo, an Associate Dean at Uganda Martyrs University.
“Given the widespread public desperation in Uganda, all many people want is a person who shows the potential of removing Museveni. All else is secondary,” he said in an interview with
Before he was Bobi Wine, the musician was known as Robert Kyagulanyi. He grew up in the slums of Uganda, raised by a single mother, but turned to music as a way out of grinding poverty.
His upbeat dancehall music style and catchy lyrics dominated airwaves and clubs across East Africa from the early 2000s
Singing frequently in his native Luganda, the songs contained strong messages, often railing against social injustice in the country.
He called on the citizenry to “rise up and raise their voices” to challenge oppression.
“Don’t shy away from working for Uganda, because it is your own country, even if your boss was not your choice. Just play your part, because this is your country,” he sang in one of his hits, “Situka.“
With such politically conscious lyrics, a career in politics was, perhaps, inevitable.
In 2017, he stood for Parliament as an independent, campaigning on the catchphrase: “Since Parliament has failed to come to the ghetto, then we shall bring the ghetto to Parliament.”
He was elected by a landslide and has since proved to be a thorn in Museveni’s side, pitching his tent with opposition legislators and continuing to make music, mostly critical of the President’s long-term rule.
His popularity has not gone unnoticed by the government.