Profile: How Bobi Wine Defied The Odds And Turned Himself Into A Millionaire

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Bobi Wine Relaxes With His Wife, Barbie

He is an affluent businessman, widely believed to be one of the wealthiest entertainment personalities in the country, and he does not hide it.

In spite of his gracious, down-to-earth persona, Bobi Wine carries himself with such pomp and glamor as the big name that he is. With a fleet of expensive cars, a lavish home, an assemblage of estates in and around Kampala, and a beach in Busabala, [to name a few] Bobi Wine aptly holds as the very epitome of success, by Ugandan standards, and all this, he was able to accomplish because of music.

Background

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Bobi Wine acts out a scene for his new music video

Bobi Wine is a singer, song writer; he records, performs and choreographs. Well, he calls it edutainment – although he will not have himself be limited by the coinage; Bobi Wine, as a matter of fact, is an all-rounder and it is exactly what you get when you listen to Aida, which is a girl’s name and indeed, the protagonist in his new music video.

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This song is what you would typically want to call Afro-pop and you will immediately stamp your foot to the crescendo of the musical arrangement which, actually, is a synthesis of zouk, African [South African] percussion and a mild touch of raga beats.

Moreover, that is not all it achieves; it is heavily placid and its feel is sharply contagious – as most of his art work.

You will dance to it and you’ll listen, albeit only to laugh yourself hoarse as you begin to go for a dip into Bobi Wine’s unmistakable waggishness; gee, it is such an insult to seriousness! But is it not what makes life worth it – to smile every now and then.

It has been over ten years and Bobi Wine has been at it, serenading us into happiness with his meticulous lines, sometimes corny, mischievous but indispensable. The sheer oomph in his videos has kept him alive in this highly bellicose industry and relevant so.

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He calls himself the Ghetto gladiator. Sometimes the Ghetto President and it has all been because he is a consequentialist. He was never born with a silver spoon in his mouth and boy, how he has made himself such a force to reckon with in this country!

Having gone through thick and thin, Bobi Wine has taught himself into the fact that “The world is looking for somebody to do something, not explain why he did not.”

True to his word, Bobi Wine has managed to painstakingly trudge through hardship and bleakness, even as a third class musician to breakthrough into the success that presently is.

The Early Life Of Bobi Wine

Bobi Wine was born on February 12, 1982 in Mpigi District, South West of Kampala. He was named Robert Kyagulanyi into a family of nine siblings. His rollercoaster of a life would soon begin, living in the ghettoes of Kamwokya, which is one of the most despondent slums of Kampala.

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If his problems taught him anything, definitely innovation was one of them.

“Underground shows with a Walkman, a borrowed amplifier and a loudspeaker was how he used to make ends meet. At school, he would spread the word, advertise his show among fellow students and after school [in the dusk] he would charge students fifty shillings [less than quarter a dollar] per head and he would fill up the concert hall! Every now and then, he got into trouble with his school’s administration but he ably explained that it was how the young Robert Kyagulanyi made his pocket money at school.”

  • By the end of his ‘O’ level he had composed many songs although he had no money to afford recording studio. It was one of the most disheartening things in the pursuit of his musical dream.

In 1998, after his ‘A’ level, he finally saved some money over the years to record in studio and managed to make four tracks; Kalyonso, Doreen, Namulembe but they were of very low quality. Therefore did not receive any credit or attention. That didn’t discourage 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; didn’t do well either. He was in his first year in Makerere University and made mud bricks during his free time. He also did painting, even as he was a porter at building sites.

“I was never afraid of my friends disrespecting me because they understood my situation,” he said, in an interview. “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.”

Then again, an opportunity showed itself for Bobi Wine to record a song in professional studio and indeed Bobi Wine seized at once – he made a record and named it “Akagoma” which means The Drum.

He had to do it within thirty minutes because he was ever allowed only through backdoor connections. Hardly a second after the agreed time, he was kicked out.

Bobi Wine speaks favorably about the men that ever gave him this chance – they paved his way. This song later became a massive hit and played on radio and nightclubs all-over the country. Finally Bobi Wine could make out some glimmer of hope – for he began to envisage a better life.

Bobi Wine’s Music

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Bobi Wine poses for a photo with Jamaican legendary raga star, Mr. G

Bobi Wine loves the reggae/dancehall genre because he feels, it’s a hustler’s style and that’s the best way he can express himself. And also it is the most appropriate tool to communicate message-rich content which he believes he’s cut out for; he trusts he has something to say and that’s the best medium for it. It is music for his people, the poor where he comes from.

Artists like Buju Banton, Bennie Man, Sizzla, Shabba, Bob Marley and Bounty Killer are the major inspirations for his music and until today, these music icons of old still have a lot of influence on him and it is very apparent in his music, performance and swag.

Other Aptitudes

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GHETTO GLADIATOR: Bobi Wine is an activist and community organizer

Bobi Wine holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music, Dance and Drama [MDD] from Uganda’s most prestigious academic institution, Makerere University, also with such reputation as the biggest University in East and Central Africa. Bobi Wine’s collection includes albums like ‘Kagoma, Namulime, Wendi, Bada, Kiwani, Mazimawanvu to mention but a few.

This is a very typical story of how men of character rise from the absolute dust to greatness. It is Bobi Wine’s story; from very humble beginnings in the 1990’s, he literary invested himself into his career and as it is today, it all paid dividends.

Bobi Wine is irrefutably one of the biggest artists in Uganda today. He has won several music awards, including three (3) Pearl Of Africa Music Awards (PAM Awards) counting the Artist of the year, 2006 accolade. More recently, he was recognized in the Uganda Entertainment Awards as the most admired all-round entertainer in Uganda.

Bobi Wine has also ventured into acting and starred in a movie called ‘Ghetto/Divizionz’ and it has won awards and even received worldwide acclaim. He has also gone into professional boxing and once won a bout by TKO.

International Credits

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.

With his Entertainment Crew, the Firebase, which includes himself the President, Nubian Lee, the Vice President and the rest of the cabinet have held his act together.  He now owns a recording studio where all the Fire Base music is made now.

Responsibility

besides having a cute family that he generously supports, Bobi Wine is a benevolent and a very socially responsible person.

He supports his community whenever he has an opportunity and in his own words, he says “Bobi Wine is a good ghetto youth ready to help the ghetto people and I thank God for everything he has done for me, my wife and for giving me beautiful Children.”

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