Bobi Wine (real name, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu), the Ugandan ghetto child-turned-pop-star and lawmaker, has won the Africanews Personality of the Year 2018.
Africanews Personality of the Year is primarily an audience-led process in choosing the most influential news maker over the course of the news year – in this case, 2018.
The online team makes four nominations – could be a person, group of persons or an institution that impacted the news in the year under review.
This year, two reformists made the shortlist, an anti-conformist and a global health body completed the list. At the end of the day, the anti-conformist won in a combination of in-house and Twitter poll.
In 2016 it was Dr. Denis Mukwege; 2017 went to Kemi Seba
Bobi Wine gave the Ugandan government a hard time through 2018.
His “People Power” movement continued its march to what it said is “freedom” from the Yoweri Museveni-led government.
Before joining politics, Bobi Wine perhaps thought he could effect social change through his music. It had undoubtedly made him as many lovers as haters in the East African country.
When he entered politics and parliament for that matter, he got quick off the mark. He became one of the biggest opponents in the age-limit debate that threw parliament into chaos twice in 2017.
Eventually, however, the bill was passed into law and allows Museveni to extend his stay in office. Bobi Wine is currently the Member of Parliament representing Kyaddondo East Constituency in Wakiso District, in Uganda’s Central Region.
But yet another government move to tax social media got Bobi Wine and others back on the streets. The July 2018 protest was labeled, “National Peaceful Demonstration Against Mobile Money and Social Media Tax,” and was accompanied by the hashtag #ThisTaxMustGo.
Then came a by-election in the Arua Constituency. Bobi Wine had thrown his support behind an opposition candidate for a seat that was held by a ruling party candidate who was assassinated.
In the heat of the campaigning, his driver was shot dead, according to him – the security forces had originally targeted him. Government explained that the shooting happened because the lead car in a presidential campaign convoy had been attacked.
Between then and for the next few weeks, Bobi Wine was held by the military, at a point by the presidential guards – charged before a military tribunal at one point – released and immediately rearrested and then hurled before a magistrate court on treason charges.
Bobi Wine and the then aspiring MP were among over 30 persons currently before the courts. In the end, the candidate he was backing won the seat, despite being in custody.