Last week, popular musician Bobi Wine announced his intention to run for Member of Parliament for Kyadondo East, Wakiso District. The seat fell vacant after the Court of Appeal nullified the election of FDC’s Apollo Katinti on grounds that there was non-compliance with electoral laws which substantially affected the results. This followed a petition by NRM’s Sitenda Sebalu.
Bobi Wine’s announcement attracted mixed reactions, especially from social media commentators. For starters, BW has always been political. I hear his family is also politically active. He has associated with the opposition in Uganda. He has been hobnobbing with former FDC party president and presidential flagbearer Col. Dr Kizza Besigye in court, at his home, during the Presidential Debate etc. Recently, things got a bit harsh when he shared a photo of himself with Dr Besigye wherein he seemed to insinuate that the iconic opposition leader had blessed (or endorsed) his candidature. Sections of the opposition-leaning commentators literally threw him away—like a hot potato. This is for another day.
Today, I want to share why I think BW can make a good MP. Despite the fact that I don’t speak Luganda (fluently), I have listened to and solicited interpretations of some of BW’s songs that discuss issues affecting our society, especially the urban poor. I find BW a competent and articulate exponent of our social issues including unemployment, drug abuse, insecurity, elections etc. Little wonder, Police has used him occasionally to calm down possible riots. He has a studio which I hear is easily accessible to many upcoming ghetto artistes. I hear he runs a number of businesses which means he appreciates the need for an economy that works for all. I have read his Facebook posts about the different speaking engagements he has had or his life story and I can’t help but conclude that he appreciates our problems better than many people including leaders.
Uganda has become a society of whiners. People like complaining about everything but doing nothing or little to address these issues. Some of BW’s fellow musicians are pre-occupied with singing about sex, money, big cars etc. Many use their music for largely self-survival. Of course, even Bobi earns from his music. However, he has always made the poor but of his agenda in his music. He has decided not to sit on the sidelines and lament about issues through music (or Facebook) only but has instead sought to join the institutions that shape decisions on the issues he sings about. One of those institutions is Parliament. His background as a hustler in the ghetto could enrich our leadership with experience. Talking about background; Yes, BW is an entertainer. He may have been (or still is) a weed smoker. He may have dreadlocks. He may walk with a bounce. He may be all the “indecent” things you may talk about in a leader. But what difference does his background make if he has a good head on his shoulders?
Lastly, the political process in the country is and should be to be open to all citizens, including musicians . You can have all types of issues with our Legislature but one thing is constant; for Parliament to function properly, we need to elect good people to occupy it; people who understand our daily struggles. Bobi Wine, in my view is one of them.
The only problem I will is if the basis of his support is his popularity not the ideas he espouses because being a super star doesn’t automatically flood one’s mind with good thoughts.
*photo obtained from his Facebook page