As Ugandans celebrated 57 years of independence on Wednesday, Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, engaged police in a cat and mouse race in Kampala and its suburbs.
By dawn, police had laid siege at his home in Magere, on the outskirts of the city, ostensibly to stop him from holding a music concert at his beach in Busabala on the shores of Lake Victoria.
On Tuesday, police announced they had cancelled Bobi Wine’s concert for security reasons.
“Mr Kyagulanyi insisted that he would go ahead with the concert and that is why we deployed at his home,” Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said Wednesday.
However, Bobi Wine suddenly appeared in town at around 12pm on a boda boda with a monstrous crowd following him, sparking spontaneous excitement.
Asked how the artiste-turned politician had left his home and appeared in town despite police siege, Mr Onyango said: “Who said he slept at his home? At least the information we have is that he did not sleep at home.”
Clad in a white T-shirt, faded blue jeans and white sneakers with a red beret on his head and riding towards the city centre, Bobi Wine prompted police to a chase.
He waved to chanting supporters lining up either side of the road in awe. Police tried to grab him from the motorcycle but their efforts did not bear fruit.
Boda boda riders joined the chase, shouting and singing freedom chants. On Bombo Road, police abandoned the straight route to town and diverted towards Arua Park and manoeuvred through the busy streets towards Kisekka Market.
Bobi Wine arrived in Kikuubo with police in hot pursuit. He turned left to Namirembe Road, but at the intersection of Luwum and Ben Kiwanuka streets, a police officer caught up with him, forcing him to jump off the motorcycle.
Cornered, he ran into the New Taxi Park and exited at Park Nkadde Mall before jumping on a boda boda again amid public ululation and chants of his People Power slogans.
While street crowds were enjoying the chase, business in the middle of town came to a standstill. Most people stood at the balconies of their shops to watch the drama. Some blew vuvuzelas and punched the air ecstatically.
Police patrol cars raved and combed the town for the politician. In the melee were victims of circumstances. Several people were arrested, including Ddembe and KFM reporter Shamim Nateebwa, who said she was still dragged to the police cells despite identifying herself as a journalist.
The skies opened up and the streets cleared. The downpour derailed the chase and police lost track of the politician. Bobi Wine reappeared in Kamwokya suburb, triggering a fresh chase by police who were joined by the military, Local Defence Unit operatives and other security vigilantes.
He disappeared again and security personnel combed shops for almost two hours, but they did not find him. They searched his Fire Base studio in Kamwokya but their efforts were fruitless.
Some protesters burnt car tyres and demanded that police allow Bobi Wine’s shows to go on. A protestor, Ms Zulaika Nalukenge, said: “We have seen many concerts being accepted but when it comes to Bobi Wine’s shows, police stop them. What is the reason because this is rendering many Ugandans jobless?”
Bobi Wine later came out of hiding and spoke to journalists at his home in Magere. He said police should stop getting involved in issues between presidents.