Facing off with top guns armed with music, rhetoric

Saturday March 16 2024

Bobi Wine (L) and Barbie Kyagulan pose on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 96th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US on March 10, 2024. PHOTO | REUTERS


Running in the country’s 2021 presidential elections, Bobi Wine used his music to denounce the government in power. In this fight, he had also take on the police and military, whowere not afraid to use violenc in an attempt to intimidate and silence him and his supporters. He was arrested and tortured while in detention.

“I am challenging you to a free and fair election,” shouts Bobi Wine at a rally and in a message directed at the president.

This is a side of the musician-turned-politician his wife has learnt to embrace with time.

“I met Bobi Wine at the university. He was different,” Barbie says.

It is with the same tone that she near-faces off with the military when her husband is arrested.

Read: Bobi Wine 'under house arrest'


“Why is my husband held in a military barracks? If I could see him then I would know what I am actually dealing with,” she was filmed saying.

“I did not have so many dreams. She (Barbie) impacted my life. She made me realise that we had to impact other lives,” says Bobi Wine.

“Somebody had to speak for us. The people thought I had the loudest voice,” Bobi Wine adds.

“I am not a criminal. I am a presidential candidate,” he shouts inside a police van.

After he is released from detention, Bobi is shown walking on crutches.

“We are non-violent, and we continue to preach non-violence,” he says.

“We must get our freedom, or we shall die trying.”

What does Barbie think of this?

“Nothing will stop him,” she says.

Songs by Bobi Wine that form part of the soundtracks are Time Bomb,Freedom, By Far, Afande,Situka, Everything Is Gonna Be Alright, Coronavirus Alert (written and performed by Bobi Wine and Nubian Li), Uganda Zukuka (written and performed by Bobi Wine and Nubian Li), and Tuliyambala Engule (written by Bobi Wine and Performed by Pastor Bugembe, Hilderman, Nubian Li, Irene Naamatovu, Irene Ntale and Bobi Wine).

Bobi Wine: The People’s President was directed by Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp and produced by John Battsek. The trailer had gained 252,602 views on YouTube on March 11, 2024.

Read: Ugandan opposition leader gets Oscar nod

According to the directors of the film Christopher Sharp and Moses Bwayo, “Originally, we thought we were making a film about a musician with social consciousness. Bobi Wine was a big star in Uganda, and his music was everywhere. But it wasn’t just that.”

“We filmed him trying to convince the West to care. They played little more than lip service to the plight of a nation whose president they had enabled for 35 years. We filled up 50 terabytes of hard drives; it was hard to know when not to film. Bobi’s life was perilous and unpredictable. Anything could happen at any time.”

Bobi Wine: The People’s President premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Festival in September 2022, where it sold to National Geographic before making its US premiere at the 2022 Telluride Film Festival.

The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2022 Hamptons International Film Festival.

“Bobi Wine: The People’s President” received a nomination in the Documentary Feature Film category at the 2023 Academy Awards competition commonly known as the Oscars.

The 96th Oscars were held on March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood, USA. The Documentary Feature Film award went to “20 Days in Mariupol” (Mstyslav Chernov, Michelle Mizner and Raney Aronson-Rath).

The other documentaries in competition were “The Eternal Memory” (Maite Alberdi), “Four Daughters” (Kaouther Ben Hania and Nadim Cheikhrouha), and “To Kill A Tiger” (Nisha Pahuja, Cornelia Principe and David Oppenheim).