National Geographic’s documentary, Bobi Wine: The People’s President, follows the unlikely story of Ugandan political opposition leader Bobi Wine.

Born Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, he never planned to be the face of change in his country. Wine gained popularity for his Afrobeat and reggae-influenced music. He used his large platform to address social justice, political reform and youth empowerment.

As the leader of the National Unity Platform, Wine successfully ran for a parliamentary seat representing Kyadondo East in 2017. His press for change turned into a journey he could have never prepared for.

“I’m not the most intelligent; I’m just a continuation of experiences from other people. And I’ve gotten the opportunity to speak it because I realized people are listening to me,” he told Blavity in an exclusive interview

Wine stated his choice to “rise to the occasion” and begin voicing his critical outlook on the Ugandan government after he was involved in an altercation at a local nightclub. Local security allegedly attacked him out of jealousy after he drove his brand-new Cadillac Escalade to a nightclub. The fame and attention gained through his music left Wine a target.

Due to local authority and government corruption, Wine was left with no reprieve when it came to reporting the assault. He would not receive any help from the police.

Photo courtesy of Lookman Kampala

“It was an act of injustice that I could not fight back against,” said the father of four, who added that due to his celebrity status and friendships with military officials, he was able to get out of some issues in the past. Yet he knew that wasn’t the reality for others.

“I realized that until everybody is saved from injustice, nobody was saved,” he said.

In 2017, Wine ran for a parliamentary seat representing Kyadondo East. His political career has been marked by his advocacy for change, often challenging the long-standing rule of President Yoweri Museveni.

Museveni has held office since 1986. In 2018, he signed a bill law removing the presidential age limit of 75 years old from the country’s constitution. This change allowed the 73-year-old president to run for a sixth term in 2021. Museveni’s thirst for power turned him from a former inspiration of Wine to his future opponent.

Photo courtesy of Lookman Kampala

Wine decided to officially run for president in 2021. His goal was to denounce the dictatorial regime and support his life mission to defend the oppressed and the voiceless people of Uganda.

“After that injustice happened to me, I sang about those things and tried to call upon the politicians to change these policies and to implement people-friendly pro-people changes,” Wine said. “For about 10 years, I called upon the politicians to make the changes, but the changes were not coming. I said, OK, now let us become those politicians.”

He continued, “Obama said you are the change you’ve been waiting for, so if Obama said it, then okay!”

During his campaign, he took on the country’s police and military, who used violence and torture in a vain attempt to intimidate and silence him and his supporters.

“To my family, to so many people, it was insanity. It was madness. My family would ask me, ‘Are you crazy? Do you know what you’re messing with? You’re messing with Africa’s most feared dictator.’ To me, experience was going from hell and back,” he recalled.

The documentary followed the trying years of Wine and his family being subjected to false imprisonment, harassment, smear campaigns and even physical torture and abuse.

By his side the entire time was his wife, Barbie, who would stand in the gap for her husband. While the coverage detailed the fatale struggles between right and wrong, Wine thought some parts didn’t portray how gruesome things really were.

Photo courtesy of Lookman Kampala

“I was initially complaining because I said that the documentary makes the regime in Uganda not look so bad; it is terrible. I’ve watched my friends killed before my own eyes, avoided friends, I’ve see some people get abducted and left with their eyes pocked out! So it has been such a terrible experience,” he said. “But in the end, it did show that truth always wins.”

Throughout his campaign, Wine was embraced by the people even more. He continued to make music that vocalized their frustrations and offered himself as the solution.

Despite the hardships and struggles, Wine did not come out victorious in the election, although he claims this result was fraudulent. Shortly after the election, on Dec. 14, 2021, the Government of Uganda placed him under house arrest. As a result of his constant protest, he was able to carry out his house arrest in the U.S.

During his time abroad, Wine has continued to create music that ignites the fire under the regime he attempted to dismantle.

“If not for the music, I probably wouldn’t be here. Music is a very powerful weapon for us,” he said.

According to, 78% of the population in Uganda is under 35, the formal speeches and tactics lost on them, and Wine knows that. His music resonates with the youth, which causes a big problem for the current administration.

“In Uganda, my music is banned. My music is completely banned. And I cannot perform. That is how powerful it is. My songs are not even played on the radio. Many people have been abducted or imprisoned for playing my music. So, it is a very serious weapon that we continue to use,” he said.

Wine returned home to Uganda on Oct. 5, 2023, and was arrested upon arrival. Although restrained, he is still doing the work to denounce the current dictatorial regime. Current government officials have gone to lengths to block him from performing and shut down any public appearances he may have where he can spread his message. Social media has allowed for a slight boost in his message, although platforms like Facebook were banned across the country.

Wine hopes the documentary will incite people across the world to “not take their freedoms for granted” and “use their voice against oppression.”

“If they help us and raise our voices to the congressmen and women to ask them to change policies in Uganda to observe human rights, respect democracy, and respect the rule of law in Uganda, that will be very helpful,” he said.

Bobi Wine: The People’s President is now streaming on Hulu. Check out the trailer below!