Uganda’s Afro beats star to be charged with treason

Bobi Wine beat candidates from the main political parties in last year's by-election to become an MP

Bobi Wine beat candidates from the main political parties in last year’s by-election to become an MP

Bobi Wine beat candidates from the main political parties in last year's by-election to become an MP

Bobi Wine beat candidates from the main political parties in last year’s by-election to become an MP

Ugandan Afro beats musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine is due to appear before a military court on treason charges later.

The opposition MP was arrested after a vehicle in President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy was attacked on Monday.

Wine’s driver was later shot dead.

Another opposition politician Kassiano Wadri, who won Wednesday’s fiercely contested municipal by-election against the ruling party in the northern town of Arua, is facing similar charges.

Wine has long been an outspoken critic of Uganda’s government.

“When our leaders have become misleaders and mentors have become tormentors. When freedom of expression becomes the target of oppression, opposition becomes our position.”

The lyrics are from a song titled Situka, which means “Rise up” in Uganda, sung by Wine ahead of the 2016 general elections.

The Afro beats artist was using the song to exhort Ugandans to play an active role in fighting corruption and injustice in their country.

At the time many of the country’s famous musicians backed President Yoweri Museveni’s re-election but Wine however refused to hop on the bandwagon.

It was then that some suspected that Wine wanted to play an active role in politics.

The Afro beats star, who began his music career in the early 2000s, has always described his craft as “edutainment” – entertainment that educates. One of his earliest hits, Kadingo, is a song about personal hygiene.

Wine, whose official name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was elected to parliament as an independent in a by-election last year in Kyadondo East, central Uganda.

He beat candidates from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) and the main opposition Democratic Change (FDC).

The self-declared “ghetto president” told the BBC after his win that he represented a new generation: “I am going to stand up for issues. I’m here to give young people confidence,” he said.

The moniker came about after he continued recording music, despite his fame, in his poor neighbourhood in Kamwokya, in central Kampala where he grew up, the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire says.

The 36-year-old has become a leading critic of Mr Museveni’s policies.

In July, he locked hands with activists and marched on the streets of the capital, Kampala, to protest against a social media tax introduced ostensibly to boost state revenue and to end what Mr Museveni called “gossip” on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

Critics, however, said the 200 Uganda shillings chat daily tax was meant to suppress dissenting voices. -BBC

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