Bobi Wine, “The People’s President,” Encourages: “Find Inspiration to Safeguard Your Democracy”

Bobi Wine, “The People’s President,” has a message for us: “Be inspired to defend your democracy”

A week prior to learning of their documentary “Bobi Wine: The People’s President” receiving an Academy Award nomination, Bobi Wine and his wife Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi found themselves under house arrest by the Ugandan government.

“We just wanted to tell our story and smuggle it, sneak it out of our country, because we have a country where the media is very securely controlled by the regime,” expressed Bobi Wine.

The documentary chronicles Wine’s journey through his bid to challenge Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in Uganda’s 2021 presidential election, a leader who has held power for nearly four decades. Despite facing numerous arrests related to his political and social activism, the nomination brought some reprieve for Wine and his family as military presence around their home lessened.

Bobi Wine
Bobi Wine (Credits: People’s World)

“Bobi Wine: The People’s President” delves into the transformation of the musician turned politician and activist, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, from a beloved entertainer to a formidable opponent of a deeply entrenched and corrupt regime.

Competing against other nominees such as “Four Daughters,” “20 Days in Mariupol,” “The Eternal Memory,” and “To Kill a Tiger,” the global recognition of “The People’s President” comes with significant challenges. Moses Bwayo, co-director and director of photography, faced severe repercussions, including torture and seeking asylum in the United States with his wife, due to their involvement in the documentary.

Despite regime forces confiscating footage and equipment, Bwayo and co-director Christopher Sharp managed to smuggle over 4,000 hours of footage out of the country with the help of sympathetic journalists.

The Ugandan government’s tight control over media extends to banning Wine’s music and limiting access to certain social media platforms.

During their visit to Pasadena, Calif. for National Geographic’s presentations, Wine revealed that Museveni sought to counter “The People’s President” by commissioning a documentary showcasing Uganda’s natural beauty, albeit omitting certain realities.

The documentary provided some measure of safety for Wine and his family, as the world’s attention made it more challenging for the regime to act with impunity. However, the risks endured by those involved in its making, including Bwayo, highlight the dangers faced by dissenting voices in Uganda.

In an interview with Salon, Bobi Wine and Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi reflected on the documentary’s significance and its role in shedding light on Uganda’s struggle for democracy. They emphasized the importance of defending democracy and the dangers of taking it for granted, drawing parallels with challenges faced in the United States.

Despite the challenges ahead, Wine remains hopeful for a future where Ugandans can freely choose their leaders, advocating for nonviolent resistance as the path forward.

Looking ahead, Wine hopes for continued international attention on Uganda’s plight, urging policymakers to reconsider their support for Museveni’s regime and prioritize democracy and human rights.

“Bobi Wine: The People’s President” is available for streaming on Hulu and Disney+.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.