The “Freedom Fighter” Bobi Wine

The “Freedom Fighter” Bobi Wine

A video analysis of populist performance in Uganda

This article examines the use of populist performance as a political strategy, by the Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine, through a video analysis of his campaign events, music videos, and speeches. By identifying the key recurring elements in his strategy, it is demonstrated how populism is man- ifested through performance. It is moreover examined how these elements are articulated through the use of performative tools and how the leader relates them strategically to the Ugandan context. Using the case of Wine as an example, it is thereby shown how populism can be conceptualized as performance against the background of popular culture and politics in Uganda and Africa more generally. The paper thereby contributes to the- oretical discussions of populism and its forms in different places. On the basis of Wine’s use of popular culture, the paper argues for a contextualized conceptualization of populism as performance. This perspective is found to overcome the conceptual problem of assigning populism to a normative or political classification and more broadly underlines the need to contextualize performative populism, so that it functions as an analytical lens.

by Anna Katharina Osterlow

The author is a Master’s Degree Student of Global Studies at Leipzig University and University of Vienna.

This essay is part of an occasional series on populism and conflict, curated by Julian Kuttig.


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