Ghetto President Review – Venice – Deadline

Ghetto President Review – Venice – Deadline

One of the most moving moments in the documentary by Christopher Sharp and Moses Bwayo Bobi Wine: President of the Ghetto — a film full of poignant moments — is the sight of Bobi Wine in the back of a truck, driving through the back blocks of Uganda with a copy of the country’s constitution held high. As a new member of Parliament, she believes in that document. People across the country, he insists, believe in that document. Through imprisonment and torture, he clings to the belief that if only Uganda would follow its own rules, as clearly laid out in this very constitution, which he and President Museveni both promised to uphold at different times, the country would be saved.

Bobi Wine (real name Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu) grew up in a poor neighborhood in Kampala. In this out-of-competition title from the Venice Film Festival, we see him return there as a pop star and a politician, at ease among the tin sheds and sewers, encouraging the children to sing along with him. How he survived as a child remains a mystery. He had no family. When he was a teenager, he lived alone and paid his own school fees with the money he earned rapping. When he went to college, Bobi Wine was a big star, though his wife Barbie says it was a long time before she realized that he and his fellow student, Robert Kyagulanyi, were the same. person.

Bobi and Barbie came from different sides of the tracks; she remembers that one of the things that intrigued her about him was that she smelled different. Twenty years later, they move as a single unit. Both are fiercely committed and formidably articulate. When he is caught on some meaningless pretext and sent to prison, she deals with the foreign press, protects her four children, and organizes. When he emerges, tortured and wrinkled, they return to work. “The more you cry, the more your people keep dying,” he declares in a song. Neither of them has time to cry.

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Bobi first ran for Parliament in 2017. “I always thought someone should speak for us,” he says. “And people thought I had the loudest voice.” At the time, Museveni had ruled the country for 40 years, jailing or killing any opponent who seemed to be advancing. It’s amusing, Bobi reflects later, that the ruthlessly selfish Museveni was once his “favorite revolutionary,” the leader who defeated Idi Amin and made schools free. I would like to have a frank conversation with him. President, what happened to you? It could happen to him too, she admits. That is why the rules that put power in the hands of the people are so important.

A great strength of this documentary is that it spans so many years; Bwayo’s camera seems to have been embedded in Bobi Wine’s daily life from the moment she became involved in politics, ready for the moment in 2019 when she decides to run for president two years later, and then campaign. Of course, surely there are things that she doesn’t show. She is never seen as anything less than a heroic figure, untarnished by human failings or misdeeds; this is a movie about the fight, not a complete picture of the man behind the mission.

That said, no door is closed. We go on tour with their itinerant musical roadshow; we are comfortable in their palatial colonial house, watching Bobi and Barbie read with their children; we are flies on the wall as the Kyagulanyi team election office has been raided and devastated by the police, sharing their exhaustion. The fear is constant. The police persecute his entourage in the electoral campaign; in a moment, his hotel is surrounded. Bobi must go out, says his entourage. Why? he demands “What will you do with me, once you have arrested me?” Almost everything, as it turns out.

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However, the mood is largely upbeat, lifted by the playful beats of Bobi Wine’s blend of rap and syncopated African beats. The highlight is seeing him record a song advising how listeners should protect themselves against Covid, Wash your hands! Wear a mask! It’s both a heartwarming act of social responsibility and the best new song of the year. Life is full of festivities; The first thing Bobi and Barbie do when they get out of prison is throw a party. And they never lose hope. they cannot. Having chosen the fight, they are in it for life.

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