“The People’s President,” Film About How Bobi Wine Ran Against Ugandan Dictator Museveni Screens At IFC Center Tonight

Photos: Milton Allimadi (Above Bobi Wine performs with Nubian Li on Summer Stage. Below Black Star News publisher Milton Allimadi, on left, shown with Bobi Wine at the July 27 Summer Stage screening of “The People’s President.”)

New Yorkers who braved the heat—and later, rain—saw “The People’s President” a documentary about the life of Bobi Wine, a young courageous musician-turned politician who’s battling to unseat Field Marshal Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s U.S.-backed dictator of 37 years in power. 

The film focuses on the meteoric rise of Robert Kyagulanyi—a.k.a. Bobi Wine—from the ghettoe outside Kampala, through his music, and later, politics. 

He was a member of Parliament and then candidate in Uganda’s 2021 presidential vote that most people believe he won. Marshal Museveni controls the military and police and has simply refused to yield power. 

At the Summer Stage screening last night—sponsored by Capital One Bank—Bobi Wine and his musical collaborator and friend Nubian Li also offered a live performance. After his show, his four young children were the first to rush to congratulate him. They haven’t seen their father perform in many years. Field Marshal Museveni has banned him from having shows in Uganda. Many of his songs denounce corruption and calls for “freedom” and “liberation.” 

The documentary captures the energy and enthusiasm of the humongous crowds that showed up at Bobi Wine’s campaign tours around the country in late 2020, even after many were shot and killed by Museveni’s security goons after protests that erupted after the candidate was illegally detained. Estimates of the deaths go as high as 200 while the regime itself conceded to 54. The dictator, who’d already scrapped presidential term-limits so he could run perpetually, removed the age limit of 75 to pave way for his 2021 bid. He was already officially 76 although most Ugandans believe he’s much older. 

The documentary shows the love story of Bobi Wine and his beautiful wife Barbie. The two met while studying at Uganda’s prestigious Makerere University. It wasn’t “love at first sight.” Barbie was initially skeptical. After all, she came from a stable family. Bobi Wine did not and besides he was a musician. The two eventually clicked—and what a pair they’ve become. Bobi Wine readily admits that Barbie set him on the correct path, even boosting his ambitions and aspirations. 

That devotion has paid of many times—especially after Bobi Wine, fed up with the destitution of Uganda’s citizens and official corruption, entered politics. 

He ran for Parliament and won about 70% of the vote, crushing the candidate of Field Marshal Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. 

Bobi Wine had the Midas touch. He campaigned on behalf of two candidates and both won a seat in Parliament. Then in August 2018, he went to campaign for another candidate in the city of Arua. The panicky dictator, Museveni, also campaigned for his party’s candidate. The dictator could see by the crowd that gathered at the rally where Bobi Wine spoke, that his candidate—and eventually his regime—was finished. 

The dictator went nuclear and orchestrated chaos. Bobi Wine’s driver was shot dead by Museveni’s armed goons—the drive had been seated on the passenger’s side and Ugandans believe Bobi Wine was the intended target. Bobi Wine was arrested and so was the candidate he’d campaigned for. Later, Bobi Wine was charged with illegal arms possession and treason allegedly for inspiring people to throw stone’s at dictator Museveni’s convoy—as if Ugandans need anyone to inspire them to do so. When Bobi Wine was produced in court he revealed that he’d been beaten and tortured, including having his genitals squeezed with pliers and being injected with an unknown substance. Due to international pressure and condemnation of the regime atrocities Bobi Wine traveled to the U.S. for treatment. Meanwhile the candidate Bobi Wine has campaigned for won while he was incarcerated. 

Bobi Wine returned to Uganda even a bigger threat to Field Marshal Museveni’s regime. The film does a good job showing the hurdles he had to surmount at every stage, beginning with registering as a presidential candidate. He and his campaign associates—many of his aides and supporter were shot—dodged bullets everywhere they traveled. 

Many Ugandans believe he won the Jan. 14, 2021 presidential election. 

Uganda is a very young country with nearly 80% of the population below the age of 35. Bobi Wine was only 38 when he ran for president. He was the candidate for the 80% and more.  

The film is now screening at the IFC Center beginning tonight. 

For tonight’s special screening at 7PM and tomorrow at the same time, Bobi Wine and Barbie will be in attendance as well as the film’s directors.

There will be a Q and A after the screening. 

Film: “The People’s President.” 

Directors: Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp. 

Length: 2 hours. 

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