Uganda’s Ghetto President uses star power against long-ruling Museveni

KAMPALA (Reuters) – A best Ugandan musician-turned-legislator suggests he desires to use his star power to spark “political improve” in a region where by President Yoweri Museveni has ruled for 31 decades and parliament programs to introduce a invoice to permit him to run again.

Most preferred musicians in the possible oil producer have possibly steered apparent of politics or brazenly lent their guidance to the ruling occasion, which pays them to sing professional-Museveni ballads or accomplish at rallies.

That often irritates Uganda’s opposition, which has prolonged accused them of being silent about government corruption and crackdowns on critics. But now that’s switching.

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, 35, who goes by the phase name of Bobi Wine, has turn into a magnetic existence on Uganda’s political scene just after a surprise entry into politics with a landslide acquire as an impartial applicant in a parliamentary by-election at the stop of June.

His anti-government stance, peppered in his lyrics, put together with an electrical connection with the youth, could be a critical risk to Museveni’s grip on power, political analysts claimed.

“We want to cause political improve,” Ssentamu informed Reuters in an interview. “It is really prolonged overdue.”

In a demonstrate of discomfort with the singer’s guidance, Museveni complained to regional media that he experienced been heckled while campaigning for the ruling occasion applicant in the by-election and that this was “unacceptable”.

“The law enforcement must not tolerate that,” he claimed.

Museveni, 72, is at present ineligible to request one more term since Uganda’s constitution bars anybody previously mentioned 75 decades from being a presidential applicant.

STAR Electric power

But there are programs less than way to improve the constitution so he can stand again in 2021. There has been developing general public opposition because senior officers introduced programs to introduce a invoice in parliament seeking to take out the age cap from the constitution.

In 2005, one more constitutional hurdle limiting a Ugandan president to two, five-yr phrases was eliminated, making it possible for Museveni to extend his rule.

Corruption, generally by loyalist officers, is rampant and seldom punished in Uganda and presidential polls deficiency transparency and trustworthiness, according to some impartial screens. Government critics are occasionally jailed.

Such issues motivated other well-known musicians to wade into politics in Africa where by a appreciate of new music presents musicians fantastic arrive at.

Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu typically identified as musician Bobi Wine speaks in the course of a Reuters interview at his household in Magere North of Kampala, Uganda, July 23, 2017.Matthias Mugisha/Files

Singer Youssou N’Dour ran unsuccessfully for the Senegalese presidency in 2012. Taunting lyrics of Nigerian Fela Kuti, Africa’s Bob Marley, so enraged Nigeria’s military services government in the 1970’s that they burned his property down and threw his mom out a window.

Ssentamu claimed he entered politics to develop “psychological awakening” so youthful voters “know how highly effective they are”.

Ssentamu’s new music profession took off in the early 2000s, and his tracks, whose genre he describes as “edutainment,” often highlight urban poverty.

A diminutive determine who has now traded in his frizzy curly hair and denims for a trim, besuited parliamentary appear, Ssentamu phone calls himself “Ghetto President”.

The title performs on his star power and charity function among the urban weak, especially in a slum neighbourhood in the cash Kampala where by he has his studios, Firebase Enjoyment.

His continuous criticism of government in his tracks has prolonged set him apart from his friends in an industry that government is usually keen to continue to keep near.

In October 2015, about 3 months to the very last presidential election, best musicians gained general public censure just after pictures of them attending a supper fete with Museveni at a luxury hotel, most of them donning garments the color of the ruling occasion.

Ssentamu was a noteworthy absence.


In its place, he gained wide acclaim when he visited Uganda’s preferred opposition determine, Kizza Besigye, and played a guitar at his household in the cash Kampala where by Besigye was less than property arrest in the weeks just after the very last election.

“I see selections being produced by almost 1 particular person. It limitations our skills,” Ssentamu claimed, referring to Museveni.

He would exploit his mass charm to “incite reasoning, to give self confidence to … people ghetto youth”.

If he wins the next election, Museveni will possibly be in power for 40 decades, and there is prevalent suspicion among opponents that he desires to hand over power to his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a significant standard in the military services.

Kainerugaba is now a presidential adviser and previously headed a highly effective elite military services unit.

“Permit our people today be empowered with the capability to resist,” Ssentamu claimed, adding that he feared scrapping the age cap would spur instability. A shot at the presidency was not nevertheless a thought, he claimed, even as a line in “Uganda”, 1 of his newest tracks, presents absent a trace: “We are the leaders of the long term and the long term is nowadays.”

Composing by Ed Cropley, modifying by Katharine Houreld and Peter Millership

Our Specifications:The Thomson Reuters Belief Concepts.

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