Born on the 12th of February in 1982 in Mpigi District south west of Kampala capital, Bobi Wine was christened Robert Kyagulanyi and joined nine other siblings into the harsh life of ghetto living in Kamwokya, one of the worst slums of Kampala.
His childhood life was characterized by moving from one school to another that he lost count. "I could only study for a term before getting expelled for fees. So the only option was to move to another." In secondary school he experienced set-backs as his problems became more complicated. "I used to have no money for uniforms and my mother was doing her best to cater for my fees and the family. So I had to go around doing odd jobs like collecting water for money, selling local fish fillet, laying bricks and things like that." If his problems taught him anything, definitely innovation was one of them.
"Underground shows with a Walkman, a borrowed amplifier and a speaker was how I used to make ends meet. I would spread the word and after school charge students fifty shillings (less than quarter a dollar) per head and we would jam! I got into trouble with the school administration but that was the way I made my pocket money." By the end of his 'O' levels he had composed many songs but had no money to record. It was one of the most disheartening things in his pursuit of his musical dream. "We would listen to the local songs on radio and know we could do better, but the expensive rates would just keep us from recording our numbers. I know of many good artists, some better than I who gave up because it wasn't worth it. It was so frustrating.
In 1998 after his 'A' levels, he finally saved some money over the years to record and managed to make four tracks; Kalyonso, Doreen, Namulembe but they were of very low quality. They therefore did not receive any credit or attention. That didn't faze him. He increased his intensity of odd jobs like collecting edible grasshoppers for sale in his vacation.
Then he tried his luck again in 2000, and recorded Abakyala, this didn't do well either. By then he was in his first year in Makerere University and made mud bricks during his free time. He also did painting, while he was a porter at a building site. "I wasn't afraid of my friends disrespecting me because they understood my situation. Besides I am not after giving a false impression of myself so I could go work and perform at occasions like Karaoke in nightspots around the city."
Finally in the early 2000’s, Bobi managed to record his first hit song "Akagoma" meaning 'the drum'. "I had to do it within thirty minutes because I was in through backdoor connections. And when thirty minutes was up I was kicked out. I thank those guys. Other hits followed such as Funtula and Sunda (featuring Ziggy D), brought Bobi Wine into the limelight.
Bobi Wine is President of Uganja Republic (formerly the Fire Base Crew), which includes himself (The President), Buchaman (the vice president), Nubian Lee (the prime minister), and the rest of the cabinet which includes Banjo Man, Mickie Wine, Ceaser Man, Fantam Lovins, Boreman, and Shaka Selector, Bobi continues to rock with support of his elder brother, Eddie Yawe who owns Dream Studios where he produces most of his hits. It’s a team of young musicians who say they are dedicated to fight for and improve the lives of the ghetto people around the world.
He is happily married to Barbara Itungo with whom they have three children, Kampala Solomon Walakira, Shalom Nairobi and Shilling Shaka. He lives in a magnificent mansion in Gayaza and has driven all the vehicles he wants- including a custom made Cadillac Escalade, which he recently donated to Nakivubo Market Yard traders after they lost their business in a fire. He says he is in advanced stages of procuring himself an aeroplane. "I am a rich man. But let me put this straight. Fame and fortune are aspects of life but life is bigger than both are. You cannot compare life to money," he says.
Bobi Wine has managed to build himself a winning brand name. He is the true picture of a person rising from the most challenging situations- the ghetto to high levels of achievement. His Excellency Bobi Wine is today adored and glorified from the slums to the most affluent places in Uganda. He is one of biggest East Africa Dancehall musicians.
He has already tried his hand at acting (starred in award winning movie- Divizions) released in 2006. "Divizions was a stepping-stone for my acting career and I am ready to take on the world by storm. Watch this space," he says. Bobi Wine recently launched into his other dream of boxing. He is a registered boxer and had already fought (and won) one fight.
But many people have come to know and like Bobi Wine not just for his good music but for his ability to spot and development talents of others. Many of today's great musicians have benefited from his inspiration and support, especially the members of Fire base Crew like Buchaman, Nubian Lee, Toolman, Master Parrot, Black Boy, Banjoman, Mickey Wine (my little brother), Fantom, and even Julian Kanyomozi.
Bobi says he joined the industry to exploit his talents and to put his university degree to good use. Bobi holds a bachelor's Degree in Music, Dance and Drama, from the prestigious Makerere University, the biggest University in East and Central Africa, making him one of the few educated musicians.
This has further made Bobi Wine one of the most inspiring Ugandans for both young and the old. "I keep seeing people join the music industry and struggle to rise to the top. But if you do not have the perseverance and patience, then you are bound to fail. They should try to learn to earn success, not copy it. Most upcoming artists imitate existing musicians and this leads to their failure," he advises.
Bobi Wine has performed in Sweden, England, USA, South Africa and all over East Africa. He has also been featured on almost every major concert in Uganda including concerts featuring international artists like T.O.K, Shaggy, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Sean Paul, Buju Banton. His Excellency Bobi Wine is today adored and glorified from the slums to the most affluent places in Uganda. He is one of biggest East Africa Dancehall musicians.
The self proclaimed Uganja president has recently (2010) released a new track called Mr Katala but all indications are directed to his rival Bebe Cool. In the introduction he says that Frenemies fear what they don’t know en hate what they fear that’s why they hate me mother…… you guessed right. Bobi dedicates this song to his fans and whoever hates him and goes ahead to claim that some people don’t have any gratitude towards him even after lecturing them on how to treat their wives.
Inspiration / Influences
"The world is looking for somebody to do something, not explain why he did not. These words, uttered by none other than H. E. The Ghetto President Bobi Wine reveal one who has gone through it all. By that, I mean all the constant hardships and hopelessness third world musicians go through without any breakthrough to success. But Bobi Wine is one of the few exceptions to the rule. His story has been the most inspiring.
"I love the reggae/dancehall style because I feel that's the best way I can express myself. And also it is the best medium to communicate content and message. It is because I have something to say and that's the best medium for it. It is music for my people, the poor where I come from. Artists like Buju Banton, Bennie Man, Sizzla, Dolly Paton to Kenny Rogers. Shabba and Bounty Killer are the major inspirations for my music. I chose music because I never had real happiness in life; it's the only thing that consoles me." He is working hard to become an international singer who moves crowds of people the way the king of Pop, Michael Jackson did. Bobi Wine says he is greatly inspired by musicians like Michael Jackson who come from humble backgrounds and end up influencing the global scene.
· 2005 Pearl of Africa Music Awards - Song of the Year ("Mama Mbiire" with Juliana Kanyomozi)
· 2006 Pearl of Africa Music Awards - Artiste of the Year & Best Afro Beat Single ("Bada")
· 2007 Pearl of Africa Music Awards - Best Afro-Beat Artiste/Group Best Afro-Beat Single ("Kiwani")
· 2008 Pearl of Africa Music Awards - Best Afro-Beat Artiste/Group
· 2006 Tanzania Music Awards - Best East African Album ("Mama Mbiire").
· 2007 Kisima Music Awards - Best Song Uganda ("Bada")
· 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards - Best Video ("Little Things You Do" with Wahu)
Kagoma (Small Drum) 
Bam Bam 
Mwekume (Protect Yourselves) 
Taata W’abaana 
Mazi Mawanvu 
New York Times
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