Ugandan musician-turned-opposition leader Bobi Wine says he worries about his safety every day as he prepares to oppose President Yoweri Museveni in his country’s 2021 elections.
“I’m very worried about my safety. I think about it every day. But I know that the task ahead of me is so important that my safety is not a priority,” he told TIME at Thursday’s TIME 100 Next event. Stepping outside, he is often be trailed by military personnel, he said, explaining, “A person like me cannot leave my home without being followed around by security.”
Wine has spent time in and out of jail after being arrested over the last two years and accused Ugandan security forces of torturing him while detained. It was after his release last year that he realized he wanted to run for president and thought, “this must change” and that “the best way to change is the democratic way.”
Wine, 37, was selected for the TIME 100 Next list, which is dedicated to spotlighting the leaders of tomorrow.
The opposition politician has been a vocal critic of the Ugandan president, who has been in power for more than three decades, in part due to questionable election practices and constitutional manipulation. Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has frequently spoken out about the state’s rampant corruption and crackdowns on opposition politicians. On Thursday, he said that Uganda’s corruption is “literally what keeps President Museveni in power,” adding that “he rewards corrupt officials with even bigger offices.”
Before formally entering politics Wine was already singing about social injustice.
Speaking to TIME Thursday, he vowed to “return civilian rule,” if elected. “I will put an end to gun rule,” he said.
“Police and military have been reduced to playing politics,” he added.
Wine has been in the U.S. for more than a week, visiting different cities to drum up support among Ugandans living abroad. He said that most Ugandan professionals have left the country and he hopes they will either return or continue “giving ideas back home.”
“The best way we can bring them back is to make conditions better,” Wine said.
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