Ugandan Pop Artist Turned Politician, #BobiWine Re-arrested & Charged with Treason
Zimbabwean Musician Thomas Mapfumo underwent self-inflicted exile when he faced harassment due to the unapologetic criticism expressed in his music towards the then newly ordained former President Robert Mugabe. South African Artists like the late Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela respectively faced exile when they would use music to communicate the injustices of Apartheid.
Is Arts populism a new platform for progressive rebellion? Is it effective?
Ugandan Afrobeats star turned politician Bobi Wine, AKA Robert Kyagulanyi was immediately re-arrested shortly after his release today. Bobi Wine rose to popularity for his catch music with powerful messages that touch on poverty and social justice issues. The self-proclaimed “ghetto president”, grew up in the poorest slum of Kampala and turned to Ugandan politics early last year running and winning a seat as a Member of Parliament in a by-election for Kyadondo East in central Uganda.
Both Bobi Wine’s popularity and criticism of the constitutional age limit put him on the radar. To date, political commentators consider him a real threat in the 2021 Ugandan Presidential elections up against the long-serving 74-year-old Ugandan President, Mr Museveni.
The artist has been in detention for over week amidst reports of his assault in custody and need for emergency medical attention. According to the BBC, the Ugandan Musician was detained by authorities for possession of weapons and ammunition.
Both the previous and current charges are widely viewed as politically motivated.
Bobi Wine’s arrest galvanized the Uganda youth, raising tensions and sparking angry protests.
The offence of treason is set out in Article 23 of the Penal Code Act of Uganda, Chapter 120 of the Laws of Uganda, introduced in Uganda by British Colonialists in 1950. Ugandan Political Activism site Uganda At Heart explains Treason charges, detailing their justification of longer detention;
“by charging someone with treason, the State is able to detain him or her for a longer period of time as it is carrying out unending ‘investigations’. It is also very difficult to get bail for such a serious offence. In short, treason charges can be used to tame key figures in opposition politics and to pressurise them to apply for an ‘amnesty’”
We keep the star, his family and the people of Uganda in our thoughts and prayers.