“I’ll be going back home on Monday. Of course I’m worried, but that’s my home, that’s where my family is, that’s where all my people are. I’m worried but 44-million Ugandans are also worried. That’s where home is,” he said in an interview.
He is aware of the risks involved. “You can expect anything from Uganda. Because looking back in history many freedom fighters have been rudely arrested upon arrivals and I am not any different, so there is anything to expect.”
Wine – whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu – left Uganda in early September to seek medical attention in the United States, after sustaining severe injuries while in detention at a military barracks. “I’m getting better,” he said.
Wine, a member of parliament, was arrested on August 13 following a disturbance in Arua, where a crowd of Wine supporters threw stones at the convoy of President Yoweri Museveni. Security forces later returned to forcibly disperse the crowd. In the ensuing violence, 36 people were assaulted and/or arrested, including Wine, and one person was killed – Wine’s driver Yasiin Kawuma.
Wine and 11 others were charged with treason in connection with the incident, but are currently out on bail. Wine has accused the security forces of torturing him while he was in custody.
Wine’s surging popularity has clearly rattled Museveni, who has been in power for more than three decades. And it’s catching on: two other independent candidates have won shock parliamentary by-election victories after receiving Wine’s support.
“My message has resonated so much with ordinary Ugandans because I am an ordinary Ugandan, personally. I don’t come from any of the upper classes. I am a ghetto child. My story has been there for everybody to see. When they look at me they see themselves represented, when I speak they hear the voice of millions echoing through me. They know I feel their pain,” Wine said.
Wine said he will not let the threat of further violence against either him or his supporters deter him. “I will just continue what I have been doing, encouraging Ugandans to get involved in the leadership of their country, to take part, to play their part, to stand up and demand for their rights,” he said.