The emergence of Hon Sentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine has sent shock waves across Uganda’s political establishment. The youthful legislator, edutainer and successful entrepreneur with his trade mark people power slogan has become an unmistakable feature on the Ugandan political landscape.
For the young generation which the legislator represents, it offers the promise of a renewal and new breath in the politics of our country freed from corruption; nepotism, patronage and dictatorship. For the elites, it is the label which houses a populist anti-rational movement. Not only has Bobi Wine’s message led to personal accusations of being funded by LGBT Community, but his following referred to as hooligans and ghetto youth have come under fire for their lack of political experience.
While it is true that our country is in an inter-generational political crisis and now more than ever witnessing major dysfunctions caused by 32 years of NRM rule, the people power movement has not yet offered a coherent discourse to explain how it will address and correct these wrongs. But what we are sure for now is that it has succeeded in channeling the anger of a large section of the Ugandan population, above all, the anger of the young. But what is this anger being channeled into? And on whose behalf?
On Saturday, a section of young professionals drawn from all political affiliation, religion,regions and all backgrounds very concerned about the direction our country politics are taking had an opportunity to interact one on one with the youthful legislator to get a clear understanding what people power movement means and hopes to present to our politics and the future beyond the excitement of sloganeering apparently it has ignited and generated.
The Legislator requested the youthful audience to allow him address them while seated. Flanked by his music partner, Nubian Lee, he told us how he never at one point in his life, a thought of joining politics crossed his mind. He revealed how he set out to launch a career in music and achieve his dreams like any other growing man with big dreams and aspirations. He explained to members how used his talent to escape the bitter fangs of poverty. No doubt he launched a music career which is an embodiment of his fame, popularity and a public figure position. Despite his successful career, he told how he was occasionally haunted by the hard economic reality of his immediate extended family, friends and his ghetto community.
He started initiating conversations behind stage with fellow musicians on how they can participate in politics instead of politics participating them.
He challenged young people to use their demographic dividend to influence decision making in the affairs that affect them. To heed their God given calling of participating in the management of their country now for tomorrow never comes. He was quick to remind us himself alone is not the answer to all social, economic and political questions our country is grappling with. He said he was just a mouthpiece to the plight of oppressed who needed to get consciousness and understand we are all captives in our own country and the journey to emancipate ourselves begins with us taking leadership in this movement that is evolving and unfolding under our own very eyes.
After this short but fruitful encounter with Bobi Wine, here are my observations I made of the people power Movement.
The Movement will be unstoppable if the people realise that it is not about Bobi Wine but the young generation finding their mission and fulfilling it through organised and non-violent means. As opposed to the narrative in the public opinion that paints it as an ‘a misguided angry mob of ghetto who have nothing to lose.
The people power movement is an anti-establishment, progressive movement of young generation simply articulating a radical departure from traditional social, economic and political organisations proposing new consciousness about popular views on current, economic, political and social organisation based on new and imaginative thinking. It is a vote of no confidence to career politicians who have abandoned politics of promoting public interest.
The people power movement is a non-partisan platform to exchange opinions and ideas aimed at revamping the current system by articulating a meaningful approach to our problems. It intends to offer a new breath and renewal to our politics that have haunted our country since Independence. It intends to create a new social, economic and political landscape freed from the memories of the past that continue to haunt and suffocate our aspirations as a generation. However, the success of this movement will largely depend on how it organises, packages and articulates well its mission- a duty every well-meaning Ugandan can assume and fulfil.
The writer is a Country Representative, Operation Kindness Uganda.