By NJOKI CHEGE
My reservations on the political wife are well documented.
However, in spite these misgivings, I have incredible respect for the strong women who hold down their husbands and support them on family front as their political husbands do whatever it is they do best. Frankly, it takes an admirable amount of strength to sleep soundly not knowing where your husband is in the dead of the night and trust of Biblical magnitudes to believe that he is in “political meetings” that end shortly after 1am. It also takes a strong woman to look the other way when national rags publish your husband’s proclamations of his undying love to a woman who is not you — complete with selfies and screenshots of the same — and assume that it is his political enemies, both real and imagined out to “finish him politically”.
It also takes a moralist of childish simplicity to believe the lie that her politician husband is an upright leader who is all about “the people” and good leadership because politicians have time and again disappointed us and broken our hearts.
But that’s just me.
Let’s just say some of us are too “soft-hearted” to put up with such strain as those women are cut from a different cloth — and for the sake of politicians reading this — should you be so lucky as to find such a woman, keep her close, for they are not made like that anymore.
Such women are built of a different emotional steel that allows them to remain unfazed and unbothered in the midst of the whispers, rumours and the emotional turmoil that comes with having a fiery political husband. It particularly takes a special grade of a political wife to handle the ramifications of marrying a young political firebrand such as Robert Kyagulanyi, the MP of Kyaddondo East MP in Uganda.
So today, as the world unites in putting pressure on the dictator next door to #FreeBobiWine, I chose to dedicate this column to the woman behind Bobi Wine, Mrs Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi popularly known as “Barbie”.
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 — but let us just use her example in the spirit of respecting the dead. (Rest in peace Mama).
If it were me in Mrs Kyagulanyi’s position, to have your husband detained by a cruel dictator and be left alone with three young children, I am almost certain that I would have fallen apart immediately. But, Barbra is a different woman. When I watched her interview with NTV Uganda, she had a certain air of strength and put-togetherness that I could only admire. She was strangely calm, collected and answered the journalists’ questions with confidence — a far cry from the show of wretchedness, tears and begging I could perhaps have put up.
Barbra has been with Bobi Wine for close to 18 years now, and has walked with the musician-turned-politician from his days as a struggling actor from the ghetto to national, nay, international fame. She has survived, among many things, a scandal involving a love child, and now the uncertain future of her revolutionary husband. I can confidently say she has stood by her husband through all the vicissitudes of life, from a ghetto life of lack, to a tumultuous David-and-Goliath type political life.
Truly, loyal wives don’t come built like Barbra anymore!
Even as Bobi Wine remained remanded, Barbra stood in the gap for her husband not only for their three adorable children, but also to his followers. She has been in the front-line of pressuring the Ugandan government to release Bobi Wine, eloquently spoken to journalists, took it upon herself to write detailed updates of her husband’s condition and addressed crowds in the typical Winnie Mandela-ish fashion. 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. Yet, Barbra has managed to remain stoic in the face of adversity and maybe who knows, could this be Barbra’s major audition as Uganda’s future First Lady?
I wish her all the strength she needs to go through these tough times. Most of all, I hope all her tears, lonely nights and uncertain moments pay off someday.
Keep up the fight, girl.
Aluta Continua, Barbra!