The major lesson from Bobi Wine's run for Uganda's Presidency
The 2021 Ugandan general elections have come and gone. Adjudged to had been intensely marred by alleged fraud and crack-down of opposition. And with the incumbent president winning his sixth term on the seat and also heading towards four decades in power. But this time around and since he took power 35 years ago by force of armed uprising, President Yoweri Museveni faced his strongest ever challenge from the 38-year-old pop star-turned-politician, Bobi Wine.
While this musician, who was the runner-up in the race with 34.83%, has indeed sparked a new populist and revolutionary mass movement in the country, there is a valid lesson we can all glean from his bid and how he dared the odds stacked against him.
The self-declared ghetto President and whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu had a pretty good run at the polls. His intense political campaign and the election results strongly indicate this. It was a keenly-contested race. Even despite the fact that his campaign activities faced several violent attacks and he was detained on many occasions by state-sponsored security forces and was under house arrest after the elections, he fought the fight to its end. I can't think of a more undeterred and resilient youth politician with the pure desire to serve and liberate his people.
Whether he also wins the contention of the election outcome in court or not, he has passed strong messages to the world, particularly people in African countries under a sit-tight and repressive government.
I am a big fan of Bobi Wine, and I have always been personally inspired by his story as I wrote here in this column sometime last year. Worthy of note, Bobi Wine began his movement to lead change in Uganda with his music career. He used his vocal art to fight against political oppression and social injustice against the Ugandan people.
In April 2017, he began his political career in full throttle by first winning a parliamentary seat by winning over two seasoned candidates for the major political parties. That was a good way to go. He went ahead to form an opposition party, the National Unity Platform (NUP) party, under the mantra, Our Power, People Power. And as such, making young people play an influential role in Ugandan politics.
While at the Hallowed Chambers, he moved progressive motions and contributed significantly to lawmaking processes. And thereafter, increasingly rose to become the foremost leader of opposition in the country.
Bobi Wine didn't just go into politics to first start from the acme of the political biddings. He geared efforts towards creating a formidable movement. He was involved in the running of his country as the MP for Kyaddondo-East, a constituency. And he has built prominence in the political and activism landscape with people-oriented strategies and ideological groundings. In the height of it all, he made the list of one of the most influential people in the world.
He garnered momentum by campaigning walking door-to-door and strategically built his political structures — all of which have his such a considerable and unprecedented large amount of votes from an opposition party in a presidential election. And unlike many of his contemporaries in other countries hoping to dislodge major political parties, he didn't make an abrupt appearance on the political stage and made grandiloquent speeches to score cheap political scores.
This cannot but underscore the essence of strategic building in politics. Just as I once wrote about in this article, with the right political strategies in place, strengthening of institutions and strong will, young politicians in Africa can stand out and have considerable stakes in their favour in elections. Beyond Bobi Wine's impressive agenda and his unassuming determination and grit, this is one major we can take away from his presidential bid.
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