KAMPALA, Uganda — Bobi Wine’s eyes were bloodshot from little sleep. When he spoke, his thoughts trailed off, and his sentences sometimes lacked the precision and eloquence he employed while running for president. At times, he forgot to sip his coffee, even after bringing the mug to his lips.
Mr. Wine, 39, rose from a slum in Kampala, the capital, to become the foremost symbol of national resistance in Uganda, nicknamed the “Ghetto President.” But after an electrifying campaign that drew large crowds nationwide, the musician-turned-politician lost to President Yoweri Museveni in January’s election. He received 34 percent of the vote to the incumbent’s nearly 59 percent, according to Uganda’s electoral commission, despite accusations of vote tampering and rigging.
Now, three months after the end of a violent and bloody campaign season, Mr. Wine appeared nearly broken.
Among other things, Mr. Wine said his mind was on the government crackdown against his campaign, which started even before the election season and intensified in the weeks after the results were announced, when he filed a petition contesting them.
15-year-old nephew was kidnapped by unknown gunmen.
In his home, along a winding and potholed road named Freedom Drive, Mr. Wine was appraising the successes of his anti-government campaign while wondering how to build back an opposition movement that had been systemically assailed by Uganda’s president.
“Everything is worth freedom,” Mr. Wine said.
He was also quick to admit that his increasingly lonely and uphill fight had left him psychologically and physically exhausted. “It drains you when you do the right thing,” he said.
Mr. Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, rose to fame as a dreadlocked artist whose music — a blend of dance hall, reggae and Afrobeat — drew a wide following and was featured in a Disney movie.
filed to run for president, he became the most potent challenger to Mr. Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.