1 May 2019

Uganda: Bobi Wine Rise an Exciting Change in Uganda's Politics - Prof Tandon

Kyadondo East member of parliament Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine's rise is the most exciting change in Uganda's political landscape according to Prof Yash Tandon.

His views on the political potency of the pop music star turned politician are part of Tandon's epilogue of his book titled "Common People's Uganda" set to be launched next week at Hotel Africana.

A Ugandan who has worked at different levels since 1960s as an academic, teacher, political activist and thinker, Prof Tandon is well versed with Uganda's politics and political change. He was a member of the famous gang of four together with Prof Edward Rugumayo, Prof Omwony Ojok and Prof Dani Wadada Nabudere.

This was an influential group of academics that were instrumental in establishing the post-Idi Amin Uganda National Liberation Front. Tandon entered the NGO World in 1997 when he founded the Southern and Eastern Trade information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), where he is the chairperson.

SEATINI seeks to build African capacity to negotiate among others on trade, investment and intellectual property issues. Tandon argues that Bobi Wine's youthful vigour and music interwoven with political messages puts him on an edge past most established politicians in the playing field.

Bobi Wine entered active politics in 2017 and won the Kyadondo East by-election with a landslide victory. He is the face of "People Power", a political movement of sorts, which has morphed into a force to reckon with.

Bobi Wine's phenomenal rise has left established politicians both in government and opposition scampering for ways of containing him.

"What is so attractive about Bobi Wine? One factor is that he appeals to the youth. Over 60 per cent of Ugandans are under the age of 30. He is an emblematic figure for the youth," Tandon says.

"Secondly, and this is even more important, his music and lyrics have a political message. Lyrical music is a powerful medium to mobilise people," he added.

Tandon says music equally played a critical role during the 1970s and 80s struggles in Uganda.

"I can speak about the power of poetry from personal experience. In the 1970s right through 1990s, when I was part of the underground movement fighting the dictatorships - first of Idi Amin, then of Obote and then Museveni - our fighters used lyrical songs to mobilise the combatants and the people - just as, ironically, Museveni too used during his guerrilla war against Obote."

Tandon argues that state security forces caught up with Bobi Wine, a young man singing fire and fury and arousing the youth when he entered politics. Bobi Wine is currently on remand at Luzira prison for allegedly mobilising people to resist payment of Over The Top Tax (social media) tax in 2018. He will return to court on Thursday for his bail application hearing.

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