Uganda: Men Who Made Headlines in 2018

13 December 2018

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu,

aka Bobi Wine

Bobi Wine became a global icon right after the Arua-by election in August. This was after he was arrested, tortured and detained alongside other members od Parliament for the chaotic scenes that manifested in Arua including allegedly stoning one of President Museveni's cars. Bobi Wine's arrest angered a number of Ugandans as well as people from other countries with many posting on social media demanding the military that was holding him at the time, to produce him either dead or alive.

Infact, the hashtags, #FreeBobiWine# and #Peoplepower# were created advocating for the release of the MP. A section of Ugandans took to the streets to demonstrate against his detention. The military eventually gave into pressure by releasing and withdrawing charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition against him. He was then charged with treason at the Gulu Magistrates Court, but, was later granted bail. He used this time to seek treatment abroad but also became a media darling for both local and international media including BBC, CNN, and Aljazeera, among others. He continues to advocate for his political views while at the same time fighting the treason charges.

Moses Ssali, aka Bebe Cool

Bebe Cool and Bobi Wine are not the best of friends. Although Bobi Wine tries to down play their rift, Bebe Cool on the other hand is often forthright about it. Bebe Cool's strong dislike for Bobi Wine has however come at a cost. When Bobi Wine was tortured and detained after the Arua-by election in August, a number of people got angry when Bebe Cool showed no compassion. As many social media users went on posting the hashtag # FreeBobiWine# advocating for his release, Bebe Cool, on the other hand, made fun of the situation by posting the #FreeBebeCool# hashtag on his Facebook page instead. Many people, including Bobi Wine's fans were angered by the antics in that when Bebe Cool later performed at the Swangz All Star Concert at the Lugogo Cricket Oval, he was pelted with bottles and booed by some of the revellers. Having taken time off singing, Bebe Cool has confirmed that he will return to performing on December 26, a day after Christmas at a concert dubbed Tondeka Ekiwatule Mutima Gwa Zabbu.

Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei, athlete

A number of sports personalities have this year, done exceptionally well at international competitions and one such person has been Cheptegei. Among his remarkable achievements includes respectively winning the 5,000m and 10,000m athletics men's finals during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia that were held during the month of April. Upon his return, the athlete, who also serves in the police force was later promoted from the rank of Special Police Constable (SPC) to Inspector of Police (IP), a promotion depicted as an appreciation for making his country proud.

Kale Kayihura, former Inspector General of Police (IGP)

In March, when Kayihura was dropped as IGP and replaced with Martin Okoth Ochola, it was a sign that worse times were still headed for the former IGP. Fast forward to June, rumours of his arrest started circulating on social media. Although he dismissed the rumours, the military later came out and confirmed his arrest. Later, he was charged with abuse of office including failure to protect war materials, failure to supervise use of fire arms as well as aiding the repatriation of Rwandan refugees, charges he denied. In August, Kayihura was granted bail following an application from his lawyers who reasoned that he was in poor health and needed urgent treatment. The bail came with terms and conditions including having to seek permission from the General Court Martial whenever he wanted to travel outside Uganda.

Fr Simon Lokodo, Ethics and Integrity Minister

In September, as revellers geared up for the annual Nyege Nyege festival in Jinja Town, Lokodo came out and said the event would not happen after receiving reports that it was an immoral-themed event, a claim the organisers later dismissed. Lokodo's ban created an uproar from both the merrymakers and organisers with most cricitism emerging from social media users. Some of the complaints made were that a number of individuals had already purchased their tickets while others had travelled from foreign countries specifically for the show. The pressure later got to Lokodo and he conceded defeat. The festival was held and a massive number of revellers turned out for the four day event.

Abdallah Kitata, former leader of Boda Boda 2010

He was once hailed as the untouchable leader of the Boda Boda 2010 group that was popularly known for paying allegiance to police and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.

The group was known for its loyalty to the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kale Kayihura who tolerated their activities. However, when the rising criminal cases in the country intensified, it marked the downfall of Kitata. At the beginning of this year, he was arrested together with other members of the infamous Boda Boda 2010 group and charged with unlawful possessions of firearms, among other cases.

During some of his court appearances in the last past months, Kitata has burst into tears as witnesses pin him and tried to seek bail, in vain. He continues to battle charges with the most recent development coming in from the Uganda People Defence Forces (UPDF) saying it has enough evidence to pin him down.

Brian Kirumira

aka Bryan White, socialite

The mysterious tycoon has been making news right from the beginning of the year. Upon officially launching his Bryan White Foundation (also referred to as the podium) back in March, an organisation which aims at empowering youth against poverty, White recruited musicians including Jose Chameleon, Weasel, Pallaso, and King Micheal, among others to work with him. The artistes enjoyed a number privileges including allowances from White. The musicians' stay at the foundation was however short lived after White fired them from the podium for a number of reasons including being unruly, disrespectful and taking advantage of the tycoon especially for monetary gains. No amount of begging from some of the artistes could change the tycoon's mind to take them back.

Then, right, before the Arua by-election francas in August, White visited the town. Several people, especially on social media said he was there under the guise of helping youth, yet, his agenda was to allegedly bribe locals to vote for Nusura Tiperu, the NRM candidate. If his intention was bribing voters, well, the strategy did not work as Kassiano Wadri later became the Arua Municipality MP. Not forgetting, last month, many people questioned his role in retrieving the bodies of individuals who drowned during the boat accident in Lake Victoria. Some concluded that he should have left the work to respective authorities including police.

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