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What Bobi Wine means to Uganda’s youth
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What Bobi Wine means to Uganda’s youth

A popular young musician turned politician is challenging the status quo in Uganda’s politics, writes Badru Walusansa, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kampala in Uganda who says even if the young politician fails in his political ambitions, he has already been successful in motivating Uganda’s youth to strive for meaningful participation in the political process.

I think I am one of the few, (or perhaps many), sober Ugandans who took a long time pondering about the possibility that Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, otherwise called Bobi Wine could threaten President Yoweri Museveni’s grip on power. The Ugandan President has been in power since 1986 and those within the corridors of power don’t need to inform us that President Museveni’s appetite for power is bigger than Uganda itself.

Upon Bobi Wine’s election as Kyadondo East legislator, I wrote an article in the Observer newspaper, cautioning Bobi Wine against his overly raised political ambitions especially at such an early stage of his political career. Forgive my short-sightedness then, perhaps my doubts in the singer-turned-politician were justifiable in that those Ugandans who were born after 1986 have never experienced or witnessed any transfer of power from one President to another.

The above anecdote reminds me that when we were asked  as children to share our future dreams, that many of us boldly dreamt of becoming presidents.That was reflected in the way we mimicked some of the inspirational presidents (at the time), both locally and internationally. However, as time went on, the once renowned liberator, through gratification transformed into a self-crowned-life President.

I am not sure whether it is even safe for one to bear the dream of becoming President-in the now politically hostile Uganda but surprisingly in the evening of Museveni’s rule, there has erupted a nascent political voice roared by a young man in his mid-30s. Notwithstanding the fact that Bobi Wine is a political novice, he has been able to chart a new political trajectory which many youths can identify with. This has therefore won him popular support among the youth and christened him with all sorts of titles including the “new face of the struggle.”

I have however heard selfish voices within opposition circles claiming that Bobi Wine is new in the struggle and hence cannot be fronted as the face of the struggle.  With all due respect, I disagree with these opposition politicians who perhaps need to be reminded that Bobi’s contribution to struggle dates back more than a decade ago, when he attempted to speak against the excesses of those in authority. What better way could people have appreciated his message than through his music?

Whether Bobi Wine is able to leverage his increasingly growing political capital to assume the highest office in the country or not, he has already set an example for many young people in our generation to follow their dreams and make a meaningful contribution to their country however minute it might be.

Needless to say, Bobi Wine has become a saint to many young people who not only yearn for political change but would also want to take charge of their destiny. What Bobi’s tormentors have deliberately failed to grasp is that he [Bobi Wine] comes with an ideology which is saleable to the masses, and therefore fighting him is like chasing after the wind.

Bobi Wine’s multi-faceted background coupled with his resilience offers a big lesson to our generation, especially to many struggling young people, that despite their circumstances, they should not be deterred from speaking up against injustices in society.

What therefore needs to be done is  for our generation to demonstrate its importance, even if it means we are all to be turned into political prisoners like the current regime has decided to do with Bobi Wine.

Through his “people power” sloganeering, we have for the first time seen the youth in Uganda make  an appearance on the political scene to protest against the regime’s excesses. Although, there are existing political structures for the youth, these are indirectly influenced and controlled by mainstream political parties and or politicians. In addition, those youth political structures are characterized by co-option and as such are impotent to engage the youth and to lead them to reclaim political power. Therefore, Bobi’s take-over should revitalize pro-activeness among the youth to defy the status quo and should inspire them to become the new managers of the country they want.

By and large, Bobi Wine is treading where angels fear to tread and, on that note, I am aware that the regime is likely to frustrate his ambitions and is well equipped to defeat his dreams. However, even if the regime opts to go that direction, no amount of defeat can be administered against the spirit of “Kyagulanyi effect” that has been inculcated in us.

Reach me at badruwalu@gmail.com

photo credit: www.facebook.com/www.bobiwine.ug/ (license)
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About me: I am a human rights activist, academic and writer in the local dailies. I was part of Uganda’s largest election observation group, CEON-Uganda and currently work as a Project Assistant M&E at the Legal Aid Service Providers’ Network (LASPNET). My passion is in writing and I have authored several articles on different topics in the Weekly Observer, Daily Monitor, New Vision and Independent Magazine.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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