Time Magazine International Edition

The populist and the strongman

TO FIND THE MOST FAMOUS MUSICIAN IN UGANDA, SIMPLY PUNCH HIS NAME INTO UBER.

If you follow directions to Bobi Wine Residence or Bobi Wine Road, you’ll eventually find yourself on a rutted mud track that winds through the remnants of an old banana plantation on the fringes of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. When TIME visits in September 2019, the man himself greets us at his front door. He is wearing boxing gloves.

Out of breath and sweating, Uganda’s most unlikely presidential candidate proffers a fist bump and apologizes for a training session gone long. “I’m getting ready for Museveni,” Wine jokes, referring to the country’s current President. A onetime guerrilla leader, Yoweri Museveni has ruled the nation for more than three decades through a combination of deft politicking, questionable election practices and a ruthless use of force. Having done away with constitutionally mandated term limits and presidential age caps, the 76-year-old could conceivably rule for the rest of his life in a country where the vast majority of the population has known no other leader.

Now 38, Wine, an up-from-the-slums reggae sensation and political newcomer, is taking him on in the presidential election due to take place on Jan. 14. “The old man has been in power long enough,” says Wine, who blames the President for the fact that more than 80% of Ugandans between 15 and 29 work informally, with little to no income, and no job security. “We are the generation that was created by Museveni’s failures,” says Wine, who was 3 years old when his rival first took power. “Poverty, no chance for a good education, growing up in the ghettos with no opportunities—this is all due to the lack of leadership and investment in

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