Meet Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi, the force behind Bobi Wine
I first saw Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi in person one day before the 2021 Ugandan General election.
She stepped out of their Magere home alongside her husband that morning, a sign that she was an equal partner in the struggle that Robert ‘Bobi Wine’ Kyagulanyi has embarked on.
With her head held high, she walked down the stairs of her house with him to the lawn where the world cameras captured their every word and expression.
On her Instagram profile, she describes herself as an author, philanthropist, girl child activist and the Executive Director Caring Hearts Uganda, a non-profit organization that deals with menstrual health and youth empowerment.
She has authored the book ‘Golden Memories of a Village Belle,’ published in 2017, and relatable for any child growing up in the village setting.
Born on September 7, 1985, 35-year-old Barbara met Bobi Wine whilst he was studying at Makerere University.
At that time she was a sixth form student at the Bweranyangi Girls Senior Secondary School.
They got married in August 2011.
She was there as Bobi Wine’s music career brought him success on the East African scene with 70 songs over 15 years.
And she witnessed him plunge into politics in August 2017, announcing his candidacy for the Kyadondo East Constituency seat which he won and in 2019 she was there when he announced that he was vying for Presidency.
She may not have foreseen the challenges their marriage would experience with her husband’s political challenges and personal shortcomings but she has stood in the gap leading the family and keeping the world updated when he was behind bars.
She has been at the front-line of pressuring the Ugandan government to release Bobi Wine when he had been remanded, writing detailed updates of her husband’s condition and addressing crowds in typical political fashion.
It hasn’t been easy for her at all.
Her patience has been tested, her life and that of her children have been put in danger and she has been compelled to look fear in the eye and not blink.
And the last few days have gotten even lonelier for her as their four children flew to the United States with a relative last week, after Bobi Wine said he received word of a plot to kidnap them.
For some reason, she chose to stay with her husband rather than accompanying the children to safety abroad.
Maybe that could be explained by what a local journalist explained that she is the force behind Bobi Wine helping him navigate the transition from entertainment to politics.
She also helps Bobi to define his boundaries and their home is their safe haven with journalists welcomed into the compound but politely asked not to enter the house for interviews.
Barbara is a public figure in her own right, having amassed more than 700,000 Instagram followers and nearly half a million on Facebook in recent months.
Some have compared her to other famous women of Africa’s political class and at only 38 years she is in good company.
Waihiga Mwaura is a News Anchor and Special Projects Editor for Citizen TV Kenya