It seems to be taking a pop star turned politician, specifically a legislator, to be teaching President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda that power is everywhere rather than domiciled in any position. Musician-parliamentarian, Robert Kyagulanyi aka ‘Bobi Wine’ is firing sensitive verbal missiles in the direction of the 74 year Museveni, telling him basically that his time is up.
‘Bobi Wine’ who returned to Uganda last Monday after medical treatment in the United States of America for injuries in the hands of security agents is even telling the media that he could be a better president than the incumbent. Such statements matter because Bobi is of the people. That is the message he is sending out, telling The Mail & Guardian that his message has “resonated so much with ordinary Ugandans because I am an ordinary Ugandan, personally. I don’t come from any of the upper classes. I am a ghetto child. My story has been there for everybody to see. When they look at me they see themselves represented, when I speak they hear the voice of millions echoing through me. They know I feel their pain,”
The popular masses is always what African leaders fear because nearly all African leaders have no regard for the masses, including Museveni who though led what is generally regarded as a disciplined guerrilla army but appear not to have risen beyond the temptations of power. One suggestive indicator in this regard might be his many battles with several opposition leaders, Kizza Besigye, for instance. And now the pop star, Bobi Wine who is standing trial for treason. But he has vowed to get on with the struggle to expand the democratic space for those whom democracy as well as development has left behind. It is a test of strength whose outcome might as well be a foregone conclusion for a Museveni who has been in power since 1986 and hopes to contest and win again in another two years.
Uganda, like most African countries, has been a puzzling combination of beauty and excellence on the one hand and turbulence on the other. The beauty comes in the likes of Princess Elizabeth of Toro, the model, Cambridge trained lawyer and foreign affairs minister years back and Winnie Byanyima, first African Executive Director of Oxfam International while the turbulence comes in brutal dictatorship such as in Idi Amin many years ago. When will beauty overwhelm turbulence?