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Nat Geo doc films releases “Bobi Wine: The People’s President” at Gene Siskel Film Center

Hailed as ‘A Portrait of Unfathomable Political Courage,’ Doc Follows Ugandan Music Sensation and Opposition Leader Bobi Wine in His Fight for Democracy. 

In Uganda’s 2021 presidential election, musician, activist and opposition leader Bobi Wine, together with his wife Barbie, rallies his people in a dangerous fight for freedom from President Yoweri Museveni’s oppressive 35-year regime.

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BARBIE WINE AND her husband, Bobi Wine, rally the crowd in their favor.

Born in the slums of Kampala, Wine, a former member of Parliament, risks his life and the lives of his wife and children to fight the ruthless regime led by Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, and who changed Uganda’s constitution to enable him to run for yet another five-year term in 2021.

Oozing charisma, style and energy, Wine starts out using his music to protest Uganda’s brutal regime and support his life mission to defend the oppressed and the voiceless people of Uganda. In this fight, he must also take on the country’s police and military, which are not afraid to use violence and torture in a vain attempt to intimidate and silence him and his supporters.

This powerful documentary gives a firsthand account of Wine’s journey, as he dared to challenge a decades-long regime of power; but they had him on his toes at every turn.

After being a popular musician and upset that Museveni was vying for another term and to remain in office forever, Wine decided to run for and was appointed to the Parliament on a platform of campaigning against corruption, injustice and poverty.

His music became more anti-government, but the measure to raise the age was passed, allowing the 84-year-old Museveni to run again.

In late 2017, Wine decided to run for the office, but one of his drivers was shot, and Wine was arrested after false accusations were levied against him. He was beaten, and his head, eyes, ears, and face were swollen, and he said that he was urinating pus, after he was sent to the military barracks—followed by riots in Kampala.

At that time, Wine told his supporters, “If I die now, make sure you don’t stop.” There were marches in Nairobi and even in Boston for his release. During 2018, the court charges were dropped, and he was charged with treason.

The “Free Bobi Wine” song said, “I’m president of my ghetto.” Afterward, he went to the United States for treatment and also to seek a civil rights attorney. He spoke at the D.C. National Press Club, “I represent resilience for me and Ugandans—justice, equality, freedom and dignity for the people.”

At that time, Wine said he had once admired Museveni, but was now at war with him. “Living in Uganda is like not living at all.”

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MUSICIAN AND ACTIVIST Bobi Wine appears before his supporters.

After returning home, Wine declared, “We must get our freedom or we will die trying to get our freedom, People Power.”

SUPPORTERS MARCH AND protest inhumane living conditions under Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.In early 2020, COVID-19 cases were known in Uganda, and Wine wrote a song about distancing, hand washing and recognizing the symptoms. Even then the government arrested people for trying to distribute food. To add insult to injury, the government stole his 7 million signatures and blocked him from registering to run.

Closer to January 2021, the government was shooting folks in the streets, and the president wouldn’t take responsibility for those deaths. The government shut down the WIFI and Internet, so communications about the election couldn’t be disseminated. Wine had to relocate his children to the United States.

He sadly noted that other countries rallied behind the LGBTQ community in previously trying to achieve their rights in Uganda, but he wondered why Europe and America weren’t concerned about supporting the need for improved human rights.

In mid-January, Wine lost the election, after which time the WIFI in the country was restored, and he and his wife were allowed to leave their home ten days later.

Filmmakers Christopher Sharp and Moses Bwayo trailed Wine and his wife over eight years, from the ghetto to the campaign trail, all against the soundtrack of Wine’s pumping beats and empowering lyrics. Creative Team Includes Producer of Multiple Academy Award-winning Films John Battsek.

“Bobi Wine: The People’s President” will screen beginning on Friday, August 11, at the Film Center, 164 N. State St.

 For a look at the trailer and to purchase tickets: Bobi Wine: The People’s President | National Geographic Documentary Films.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen Photo Plus

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