Bobi Wine: 'Putin and Museveni are similar, they don't believe in democracy'

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. These are the words of Ugandan singer and opponent Bobi Wine in support of the Ukrainian people. While several African countries have refused to denounce the Russian invasion, the famous opponent does not mince his words. He has just returned from a visit to Kiev to show Africa's solidarity with all the peoples who are victims of dictators”.

17 October 2022 ·   3 min read

Bobi Wine: 'Putin and Museveni are similar, they don't believe in democracy'

RFI: Why did you go to Ukraine?

Bobi Wine: I went to Ukraine because I wanted to show that Africa stands with the oppressed people of Ukraine. Africa is not in solidarity with authoritarianism. There is a misconception of the continent being conveyed on the international stage, a narrative that Africa is on Putin's side. I wanted to twist the neck of this shot. Just because some authoritarian leaders side with Putin does not mean that the African people support the Russian invasion. For too long, the African people have been misrepresented in the media. So I went to represent Uganda as the legitimately elected president of that country. And I believe that I represent the voice of Ugandans, but also the African narrative, the true position of the African people.

Uganda, through its president, refrained from condemning the aggression against Ukraine at the UN to “preserve its neutrality”. What do you think of this position?

By pretending to be neutral, General Museveni indirectly condones Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, his son, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has publicly given the official position of the Ugandan regime, which fully supports Russia, in absolute disregard of international law and, of course, respect for human rights.

For some observers, your trip to Ukraine would be a way to boost your popularity after your defeat in the presidential election in Uganda, are they right?

Well, if standing up for what's right makes me popular, then I own it. If standing with other oppressed people makes me popular, then everyone should emulate my approach and seek popularity. When you see someone doing the right thing, applaud them, not condemn them.

What is the outcome of your visit to Ukraine?

I met several leaders, including the former president and the former prime minister of the country. I visited the cities of kyiv, Butcha, and other areas which were attacked and occupied for some time before being liberated. I also established links with Ukrainian artists. And we used what we believe to be the best weapon against war: art. That is, creativity and music. We recorded two songs in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. One of them has already been released, and the other will be released soon.

The song “Alone But Altogether” in other words “Alone but together? What message did you want to convey?

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The Ukrainian people are on the front line, but all those who believe in territorial integrity and self-determination stand with Ukraine and good will outweigh evil. So while they may be alone on the front lines, we are all together in spirit.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the independence of African countries from the West — for example, no African country has associated itself with Russian sanctions. By supporting Ukraine, aren't you taking the risk of being called a "puppet of the West"?

We are against any form of domination, whether it comes from the West, the East or elsewhere. For a long time, the tyrants of Africa have labeled as imperialism anything that challenges their impunity and mismanagement. For example, General Museveni accused me of practicing neocolonialism in each of my interactions and even when I showed cooperation with the international community. He went out of his way to portray me as an agent of the West. And I tell them that I am an agent of values, and that these values know no borders...

Do you draw a parallel between the drama of the Ukrainian people and the situation of the Ugandan people?

The Ukrainian people are fighting for their territorial integrity and freedom. Ukrainians are fighting to maintain their independence from a dictator. They are facing a strong man, an authoritarian leader who is no different from the one we have here in Uganda. Putin and Museveni are alike. They don't believe in democracy. They both believe in authoritarianism. They believe that they are the only ones capable of determining the future of their country. They rule by fear. They are violent. They don't believe in dialogue. They believe in oppression.

What do you hope to gain from this approach in favor of Ukraine?

I am glad that the Ukrainian people received the attention of the international community, it was deserved. But I hope that all other oppressed people in the world will receive the same attention, because what is happening in Ukraine has been happening in Uganda for 36 years. And we call on the international community to completely distance itself from all tyrants, not just a few. Just as they distance themselves from Putin and his repressive policies against the Ukrainian people, they should distance themselves from Yoweri Museveni, who is doing the same, or even worse, against the Ugandan people. What is happening in Ukraine shows us and reminds us that all lives matter and that all oppressed people deserve the same attention.

This article originally appeared on RFI.

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