Review: Bobi Wine: The People’s President


Little Richard meets Nelson Mandela – that’s Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly known as Bobi Wine. With his energetic band, courageous Wine exposes injustice and corruption in Uganda as a musical sensation and political revolutionary. This pits him dangerously against the Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni, who typically jails opponents.

You might have heard about Museveni and the brutal Ugandan laws he has signed that give life imprisonment for homosexuality. Museveni, president since 1986, is known as an autocratic ruler who keeps the press under government control and elections free from monitoring.

“Bobi Wine: The People’s President” is the consummate documentary, filmed over time and compiled into one insightful body. It covers Wine’s life, family, and stint as a Minister of Parliament and presidential candidate. Prior to his bid to challenge Museveni, other candidates had been arrested and jailed. Despite his wild popularity, Wine is not only also arrested and jailed several times, members of his campaign are incarcerated, beaten and murdered. At one point, Wine needs help walking and his face shows battering. All of this is caught by his video team.

Shortlisted for an Oscar for best documentary, “Bobi Wine: the People’s President” is full of personal video clips, breaking news documentation and behind-the-scenes real time revelations of the ways Museveni tries to block Wine from succeeding in his candidacy for president. This documentary provides adequate evidence for a court case, if a sitting president could be prosecuted.

Perhaps the reason Wine is still alive is that his lawyer is famed international human rights attorney Robert Amsterdam. Perhaps it is also because he has cinematographers documenting not only his every move but also those of the soldiers, politicians and the president who illegally attack and conspire against him. And last, perhaps, he is still alive because he is beloved and killing him would make such bad press for Mr. Museveni.

Wine’s catchy songs are the popular medium through which he reaches the people of Uganda, three-fourths of whom are under 35. His upbeat yet telling music, like “We are Fighting for Freedom,” runs throughout the documentary with lines like, “They say what used to be democracy has now become a hypocrisy. What was meant to be fundamental change has become no change.”

Wherever he goes throngs brave police to join his movement as the election of 2021 nears and Wine calls for justice, equality and dignity for everyone.

“Bobi Wine: The People’s President,” winner of the 2023 International Documentary Association Award for Best Feature Documentary, is grass-roots documentary filmmaking at its best.

Rating: 10/10


Directors: Christopher Sharp and Moses Bwayo
Producer: John Battsek
Featuring: Bobi Wine, Barbara “Barbie” Kyagulanyi
Cinematography: Sam Benstead, Moses Bwayo and Michele Sibiloni
Music: Dan Jones
Release: July 28, 2023

Official Website and how to view:

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