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Meet Barbara Kyagulanyi, Woman Who Loved Bobi Wine When All He Had Was Weed and Dreams

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The year is 2000. Outside the Uganda National Theatre. The African sun known to have the temperament of a toddler is in a pacified moon. It shines warmly, smiling gingerly at the green vegetation. The scent of freshly blossomed wild flowers sweep through the air.

A young lady with short hair, black dress and leather sandals takes a stroll around, throwing her arms wide and inhaling with anxiety. She is set to be one of the main characters is a play with heavy political undertones but with plots of love and culture as well.

The lady is Barbara (Barbie) Itungo and her co-lead role is Robert ‘Bobi Wine’ Kyagulanyi who was then a fresh music, dance and drama student at Makerere university. Barbie was tasked to interpret Kinyankore songs for Bobi Wine.

The cast spent six months on the rehearsals, meeting every day. But oblivious to the producers and directors, interpreting Kinyankore songs was quickly blossoming into a love relationship.

The play was written by Dr. Mercy Mirembe Ntangaare, an academic at Makerere University, who said of the duo,

“We started to notice something was wrong later in the rehearsals,” she says. “Whenever Bobi Wine would act with Faith, the play would collapse. Whenever he would act with Barbara, the play flowed smoothly with energy and love.”

Barbie had just finished her S6 and was involved in acting to keep busy before joining campus. Dr. Ntangare says there were moments in the play where Bobi and Barbie kissed – these episodes probably cemented their intimacy.

When Barbara joined the university later that year, their love grew stronger.

It was hard for the Itungo family to accept Bobi Wine. He was not your ‘average’ suitor. He grew a beard, wore dreadlocks and plaited his hair – features he maintained even when he went for introduction years later. In Kinyankore culture, it was not acceptable

When they started out, Wine was dry. In the pockets. But rich in dreams. And also smoked weed. Barbie recalls that they were so broke at some point, they could not afford breakfast or even fare from kanyanya to kamwokya.

“To get a meal, we had to open up an account of sorts at a restaurant in Kamwokya. The owner is such a good mutooro man. He let us eat any day anytime and my husband paid after several weeks whenever he got money,” she wrote on Facebook some time ago.

She added:

“We walked from our muzigo in kanyanya,through Bahai temple,Kyebando and down to Kamwokya everyday. I am from a well to do family but I chose not to cry to my relatives. During this time me and my husband had dreams and aspirations. He dreams big you know. As we walked through the dust and jumped those dirty myala everyday, we talked. In fact we always found ourselves in kamwokya somehow.

He told me of how he was going to be rich. How his music would never disappear from the surface of this earth. He told me that he would build an empire and his name would never be forgotten. The story is long…

I later realized that such times were meant to prepare us for a later stage when we had a lot to eat and a car to drive. See, when you are waiting on God to take you to another level, you have to learn to be content. Content with what you are/have at the moment. God is letting you go through such times to prepare you for when you reach that goal you are working so hard to achieve. You know, if you have not gone through the training of being happy and content with little, you will never be happy with a lot. Even if you achieve your dreams, you will be excited for a short while and then your spirit will start yearning for something bigger.”

Barbie, who has been married to the politician cum singer since August 27, 2011, said that their love story dates back to the Valentine’s Day of 2000.

“In February 2000, it was on February 14, that year and he had missed rehearsals on 13th. I asked him why he didn’t come and he told me that he was in Mbarara singing. We had a good chat that day because our trainers came late,” Barbie said.

During an interview with NBS UNCUT, Barbie said that it is true, a man needs a supportive woman in order to accomplish his goals but all this is not possible if the man doesn’t take it upon himself to succeed.

A typical Ugandan beauty with flawless caramel skin, short natural hair and a tiny, fit frame, Mrs Kyagulanyi is the ultimate political wife. At her young age, mid-thirties, she is up there with the likes of Mama Ida Odinga and the late Winnie Mandela who supported their political husbands in detention — although many might disagree on the Winnie Mandela aspect

Many women in her position, to have your husband detained by a cruel dictator and be left alone with four young children, would see them fall apart.

But, Barbra is a different woman. She has accompanied her husband in precarious campaigns and has a certain air of strength and grace that is absolutely admirable and worth emulating. Even in the midst of storms, she is calm, collected and answers interview questions articulately, with confidence and poise of a regal.

As Ugandans go to the polls on Thursday the 14th, it is no doubt she will play a great part in the stakes of her husband on the ballot.

 



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