Vision Group in association with Twaweza Initiative and Buzz Events are seeking to recognise artistes whose compositions advance society. Today, Gloria Nakajubi brings you Bobi Wine whose music is inspired by the woes of people in society
You do not have to know who is singing; the lyrics say it all. His music has that trademark of the ghetto (slum) life. His songs are so popular among the slum dwellers, and even beyond, that they will all take on the message to the dot. In most of his songs, Bobi Wine has worked quite well to bring positive impact in the society he grew up in; the place he has always known as home. “I have grown up in the ghetto and whatever I sing about, I have experienced or have seen people around me go through it, so, it is my life; it is my people’s life,” he says.
Among his many songs that were nominated, Tugambire ku Jennifer, released in 2012, received massive applaud from the people, especially those who did not welcome the Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) activities in the city.
He explains that this was a plain song with a message to the KCCA executive director, Jennifer Musisi, to advise her officials to be more considerate and respectful in their operations. “People were being handled ruthlessly as they tried to clean up the city and I witnessed most of these scenarios because they were happening in places where I stay,” he says.
Bobi Wine further explains that this was not meant to incite the population against developmental activities, but rather to appeal to the authorities to understand that it is these people they are trying to work for and, therefore, they should treat them humanely. “The city does not belong to trees, but rather human beings; if you chase all of us out, whom will you be serving?” he wonders. He explains that in this song, he was calling upon KCCA to engage the people, make them understand that whatever is being done is for their own good and that way, they would embrace the decisions, and make it easier for the authorities to effect the changes.
“Developing this city is supposed to be a collective responsibility, not a oneman show because if you try to push others, then, most times, what you get is resistance,” Bobi Wine explains. Bobi adds that Tugambire ku Jennifer was a cry from the common man for a rather fair and just treatment.
Sarah Atim, a shop attendant in Kampala, also notes that the song was just an expression of the disgust the people were feeling, but they had no way of saying it. “We appreciate what KCCA is doing, but it does not have to be done with an iron hand. We are human and many of us know no other place other than this city; so where do we go?” Atim says.
Who is Bobi Wine?
Born Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi in 1982 to J. W. Ssentamu in Gomba, Masaka, Bobi Wine’s mother passed away in 1997, when he was aged 15. He attended a different school for each class during his primary education and he says this was due to lack of school fees. “I was a sharp kid in class and every term I would be given a report card with all the school fees arrears attached for the year, but with my report card I would just cross over to another school,” he explains.
He struggled and managed to complete primary before joining St. Maria Gorreti, Katende, Brain Trust on Rubaga Road and Kitante Hill for his O’level. Bobi Wine later went to Alliance SS for his S.5 and then Kololo SS for S.6.
After his A’level, Bobi joined Makerere University for a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, which he dropped after two years to follow his passion — music. “I applied to change the course and crossed over to music, dance and drama because this is where I belonged,” he says. Bobi Wine says after graduating in 2003, he went back to the street and started all over again.
In 2011, Bobi Wine ‘put a ring’ on his long time fiancée, Barbie Itungo at a glamorous wedding in Rubaga Cathedral, Kampala.
In 2002, while still at the university, Bobi Wine released his first song Akagoma, which he says helped him to penetrate the music industry. “This song just turned the fortunes for me and I have been around since that time, a special representation of the people of the ghetto,” he says.
Other songs and inspiration
Bobi Wine has sung a number of songs and he says it is sometimes hard to keep track of them because after releasing the song, he feels he needs to do something else and, therefore, forgets about it. But we helped him remember what the fans nominated and this helped him give us the story behind these songs.
Obululu Tebutwawula (elections should not divide us) is a song that cautions people against engaging in hate politics and Bobi Wine explains that most times he realised that during election season, relatives would not speak to each other, while couples and friends would fight just because they belonged to different parties.
Carolina is another song that has had great impact on society, especially in fighting early marriages and pregnancies. Inthis song he highlighted the plight of a girl who concentrated on her looks other than studies and ended up regretting after she was messed up and left to suffer alone with a pregnancy.
Tubbe Bayonjo cautions people on sanitation and, as he explains, it is not a responsibility of our leaders to clean our homes, to boil for us water or to ensure we use toilets.
Bobi Wine says his theme of music is ‘edutainment’ and in all his songs he tries to educate his community on how to live better lives amidst hard conditions. “I tell my people not to wait for the Government to educate their children, feed them because I know they can do it themselves but just need to be shown how to do it,” he notes. Bobi Wine adds that he is not in music to just make money and become a star, but rather create a difference in the society he has grown up seeing filled with affliction.
INSPIRED BY BOBI WINE'S ' TUGAMBIRE KU JENNIFER"
Innocent Ssembirige, manager, Furaha Africa
Many people do not easily accept change, even when it is good. However, change comes with a price that someone has to pay. Bobi Wine is right to discourage the use of force to effect development; negations are important between all parties affected by the changes
Theo Nansubuga, an artiste, dancer and student
Leaders should learn to work with the people they lead, but the people should always accept change for a better community. I appeal to all those that want to stay in a community happily to always abide by the rules. Those that break the rules should be corrected humanely.
Vincent Kaira, an employee of Brand Development Centre
There is a high level of unemployment in Uganda, but people strive to find something small to do. Finding a place to work from, especially with insufficient capital, is hard. Our leaders should always plan ahead or find an alternative place to avoid the consequences that come with evacuating people.
Write to email@example.com You can also nominate via SMS type MUSIC (leave space) name of artiste (space) song and send to 8338. Alternatively, write to the Features Editor, P.O. Box 9815, Kampala or drop your nominations at any of the Vision Group bureau offices countrywide. Nominations close on January 15, 2014
To qualify for nomination, the musician should meet the following requirements;
❑ Be Ugandan
❑ The composition must be original and not pirated
❑ Have innovatively used their musical composition to convey deliberate messages advocating for positive change
❑ Have used their music to mobilise the masses to demand for accountability or for a community cause.
❑ Used their music to highlight societal ills like corruption, poor governance, poor service delivery, oppression and human rights abuses