Who is Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi
Who is Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi.

Who is Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi? Flash Uganda Media looks at her Biography, Early Life, Education and Family of Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine’s wife Barbie.

Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi aka Barbie is a multi-talented self-driven speaker, celebrated public speaker, founder Caring Hearts Uganda, businesswoman, author, mother and a wife to People Power leader, presidential hopeful and self-proclaimed Ghetto President, Robert Kyagulanyi stage name Bobi Wine.

Barbie is a hardworking, motivating woman who has inspired thousands of women and Ugandans into becoming the best versions of their lives. 

She a symbol of hope to her family, a role model to many teenagers, young girls and young mothers in Uganda; she has geared and championed many programs aimed at empowering and elevating the status of young people in Uganda.

Barbie has over the years manifested the real strength of a woman like how Jamaican legendary star, Shaggy sung in one of his inspirational jams, ‘Strength Of A Woman’.

Barbie Kyagulanyi Caring Hearts Uganda
Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi is the founder of Caring Hearts Uganda.

Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi – Early Life and Education

Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi was born on 7 September 1985 to veterinarian parents. She grew up in Kempen village Rugarama Sub County in Ntugamo District, South Western part of Uganda.

Barbie has fond memories of her childhood as she mentions being the lucky child to have grown as many babies of their time died at the time of birth because the hospital was far away in the neighbouring Rukungiri District. 

“There was only one bus for public transport. This only bus served 5 districts. All pregnant mothers had to converge under a big tree and wait for its return from Mbarara town at 4pm if they wanted to deliver in Kisiizi Hospital. You had no option but to give birth at home if you got into labor at night, through the day, or after 4pm,” she says. 

Barbie recalls that her village had only one nurse – Aunt Mary – who attended to those who got trouble giving birth but she could not reach all the mothers. 

She also recalls, most of her age-mates married before secondary school as they were grabbed by men on their way from the well and taken into marriage. She resented this and talked against it whenever she got an opportunity, Barbie was a church girl, focused and she didn’t want boys to rein her future. 

Barbie, like to tell stories about growing up in a small rural community of about 70 children who could together go out grazing cows. From here she says she learnt everything from dancing, getting along, playing the flute among many many others things. 

Being a church girl she got an opportunity to listen to stories of many girls, especially those who married not because they wanted to but because their parents had accepted dowry, something that she says still happens in her village.

Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi went to Bweranyangi Girls School for her High School and later joined Makerere University where she was admitted for a Social Works and Social Administration (SWASA) because she thought it would drive her into activism. 

Barbie was focused looking for what she will do to serve her community that’s why she opted to study Social Works and Social Administration (SWASA) and today Barbie achieved her dream; she became a full-blown girl child activist when she started her own girl child and women organization called Caring Hearts Uganda.

Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi – Work and Experience

Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi is the founder of Caring Hearts Uganda, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that empowers and raises the standards of young people through the promotion of sustainable development, lifelong education (stay in school) mostly girls and entrepreneurship skills among many others.

The organization has been running since 2013 and Bobi Wine her husband is its patron. Since its establishment, the organization has participated in several activities including menstrual hygiene training, reusable sanitary pads making among others.

At Caring Hearts Uganda, young girls are taught the value of education and delaying s*x. “I was a virgin when I met my husband. They also can.” 

For women, they teach them the importance of having a side income activity and not depending on the husband for everything. Barbie says they have testimonies both in the city and villages as a result of their work.

Barbie is an author, her book ‘Golden memories of a Village Belle’ authored in 2012 gives us a link on how excited her childhood was. It’s also known for her major participation in charity works, cancer awareness, HIV awareness, girl child education awareness and malaria eradication among others.

She’s also well-known for her contribution to campaigns on reducing mother and child death during birth in Uganda. Barbie is the Executive Director of Ghetto President Reality TV Show that aired back then.

Barbie is a writer with the Matooke Republic, parenting column. She also manages her husband’s One Love Beach in Busabaala, and at times helps her husband, with some work when it becomes too much for him and she can help.

Awards & Achievements 

Barbie has won many accolades including The Most Decent Figure for 2015, awarded by Decent Africa. Award for supporting teen mothers ‘Cordeiro Excellence in leadership Award 2018’ by the Aid Child Leadership Institute. 

This award was intended to appreciate Barbie for her Excellence in leadership and Mentorship of young people’s daily lives in so many different ways.  

Bobi Wine and Barbie four children
Bobi Wine and Barbie have four children together.

Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi – Family

Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi is married to Robert Kyagulanyi stage name Bobi Wine, a celebrated pop-star, one of the most successful Ugandan male artistes, self-proclaimed Ghetto President cum opposition honcho, who today gives the ruling government sleepless nights on how to tame his strong People Power Movement wave. 

Before their official marriage, Barbie and Bobi Wine first lived together for over ten years, and then later on 27 August 2011, they tied the knot at Rubaga Cathedral and then treated their guests to a reception at Serena Conference Centre in Kampala.

Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi and Bobi Wine together have four beautiful souls;  

  • Shadraq Shilling Mbogo Kyagulanyi
  • Shalom Namagembe Kyagulanyi
  • Solomon Kampala Nyanzi Kyagulanyi 
  • Suubi Shine Nakaayi Kyagulanyi. 

Barbie however said that she doesn’t see herself giving birth again anytime soon because it costs them a lot.

“The first five months cost us really a lot. My husband doesn’t go out of Kampala when I am pregnant. My family also suffers a lot because I become a problem to everyone.”

 Bobi Wine is the husband that she prayed and fasted for and he was her first cut, she had never been in any other relationship before. 

While at Bweranyagi Girls School, Barbie and her pals used to fast and pray for heaven sent life partner because they believed they would get married one day.

“We imagined that we would leave high school and of course get married. Having a good man nearby was a great idea and a dream”. 

Although Barbie had a lot of friends from Ntare School Scripture Union, she never had any intimate relationship with them. At that time, she was the chairperson Scripture Union at Bweranyangi, and until today, they are still her friends.

In her prayers, Barbie prayed for a man who would love her forever, be very open with her, who would not only be her husband, but also her friend and someone who would be kind to people around them. “And, indeed, Bobi Wine has all those qualities. He speaks the truth, whether it hurts or not. So, I believe, my prayers were answered.”

Barbie says she realized Bobi Wine was serious about the whole relationship, seven months after meeting him and he had all the qualities she used to pray for. 

Bobi Wine and Barbie tied the knot at Rubaga Cathedral
Bobi Wine and Barbie tied the knot at Rubaga Cathedral.

Barbie and Bobi Wine’s love story began back then in the year 2000 February 14 on Valentine’s Day at National Theater. Barbie and Bobi Wine were acting in a play entitled ‘Cats and Mouse Land’, so Bobi Wine had missed the 13th February rehearsal and he came late the following day. It was the first time the two sat and talked. 

Among the conversations included the reason why he didn’t come the day before for the rehearsals, because he had drew her backward and wasted her entire day, they were supposed to act together.

“So, I asked him why didn’t you come and he said I was in Mbarara singing. But we talked, we really had a good talk because our trainers came late, that’s where our journey began from just a chat.”

By then, Barbie was still in school, at Bweranyangi Girls School; Barbie was a music student and one of the best in their music class.

They had a drama part of it and the Professors from Makerere would come and teach them the action part it, they engaged in school competition with city schools and could take all the prizes.

The two were acting in a play entitled ‘Cats and Mouth Land’ in which Barbie was the Mouse, the Mouse was the first lady and Bobi Wine was the Cat, the Cat was the President, in that land.

By then Bobi Wine was in his second year at Makerere University pursing a degree in Music, Dance and Drama. He was selected the best at Campus and Barbie the best from Bweranyangi Girls.

They had rehearsals for over five months acting on the same stage. So, Bobi Wine would escort Barbie on her way back home to Nsambya where she lived at her Aunt’s residence.

On their way, they would chat a lot as friends and as time went, the two grew closer. One day as Bobi Wine was escorting Barbie home; he gave her grapes and said: I have bought you these grapes because I really feel for you in my heart. To Barbie, she thought he was joking, but later she realized that he was very serious.

That was after they had been good friends for some time, Bobi Wine was studying Music in his second year and Barbie was in S.6, they did rehearsals on stage together.

“We really spent a lot of time together. We were friends first and when he mentioned it, we were on the same level.” 

The first 3 months of their relationship, Barbie didn’t like him because of his physical appearance. So, she was furious to know why he looked and walked like he was. He told her he lives in Ghetto, so Barbie asked him what is ghetto? She never knew what it meant, he explained, and then invited her to his home for a visit.

However, he told her my place is not good. “He said I don’t have a mother, my father lives in the village, I take care of my siblings, I said okay, I want to know him better. I realized his physical appearance is not his inner being, physically he was business but inside he was a real man, contrary to his appearance.”

That was when he had paid a visit to Barbie at her Aunt’s home in Nsambya. He was the first man Barbie had taken to her people. Barbie’s Aunt became supportive of her move. “She’s the best, she supported me when I told her about Bobi Wine, n said study him well. My Aunt could tell me to make sure you make the right decision and respect yourself. She first met him and they talked that when she made the judgment.” 

But before Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi talked to her parents about her relationship with Bobi Wine, red pepper published the story; this was after Bobi Wine had released his first hit ‘Akagoma’.

During this time, Barbie was already living with Bobi after she had joined Makerere University Kampala (MUK). She was on government sponsorship and she had a room of her own at Campus.

Bobi was working hard, day and night, he had a business in Kamwokya, he had a salon and other businesses around and at night he would do music, so Barbie hardly met him, yet she needed to see him so often. So, the two reached an agreement to start living together, they rented a house near Barbie’s school, Bobi Wine moved out of the house he lived in with his brothers and life continued.

Barbie’s parent’s after landing on the story Red Pepper had published, they called her home. She informed Bobi about it and his reply was go and tell them whatever you think is right, you alone know your parents.

When Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi’s mother asked about the story, she denied it saying it’s a lie, she told them the paper it’s self tells lies at times. However, Barbie says if she was with Bobi Wine on the newspaper, then she would have no escape route, but she was alone. 

Barbie’s parents agreed with her statement but later on they got to know that she was actually living with him but stayed quite.

“I said so because my parents had a lot of hope in me so I dint want to cause a disappointment to them, I had agreed with Bobi Wine that I will study and finish school, because that was her parents worry. I knew I was with the right person n they will get to know him at the right time n they will like him but it was very difficult to tell them about it at that particular time.” 

However, Barbie’s parents knew him before because they met when they attended their play.

They came to know him officially after Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi became pregnant after they had lived together for two years. After telling her parents, they told Barbie you are a big person, I have never seen you take a wrong decision, but as long as you finish up school n make sure that the person you are going to produce for, is the person you want to be the father of all your children.

After, the couple moved to their current Magere residence along Kayaza road, Wakiso District. They lived with many people in the house, the whole firebase crew having 14 boys and the rest were Bobi’s brothers who helped her a lot with taking care of her child as she went to school. 

He had become independent from his brother Nyanzi. Barbie says she didn’t encounter any problem living with many people in the house, because she grew up in an extended family, so it was not a burden. She says its fan having people around, she doesn’t know about a family without people, it was a normal life.

Marrying Barbie, Bobi Wine gladly gifted Barbie’s parents with ten Friesian cows.

Barbie advises lovers to try and first be friends before commitment to a relationship. She said that this has been the bedrock of their love. 

“We spent a lot of time together, we were friends first of all before everything and that’s why when I talk to young girls getting into marriage, I tell them that when getting married and not marrying your friend you are wasting your time. In marriage first thing is friendship and if you are not friends, it’s a different thing. And by the time he said the last word love, we were on the same level.”

At that time, many people approached Barbie, but she refused, she recalls of them even had cars by then, but they would actually walk from the National Theatre with Bobi escorting her to Nsambya and still she did not wish she had a man with a car. Until today, she still meets these guys who were after her and some are big people in politics and business. 

At first, Barbie’s parents were worried of her dating a dreadlocked musician; they were worried she would give up, since it was her first time to fall in love. They warned her to take care but Barbie went ahead and started living with Bobi Wine, she never allowed him to meet them until she gave birth.

Barbie never showed him to her parents because it’s their culture; you introduce your boyfriend to your parents when you are sure that he is your final choice and the father of all your children. So, she used that time to study him.

Barbie disregarded reports that her parents had rejected Bobi Wine. “It was just gossip! My parents had never seen him, how could they know that he had dreadlocks? By the way, I have super parents; they encourage us to make our choices wisely, then they respect their children’s choices.”

If at all her parents had rejected Bobi Wine, Barbie says she would not leave him, she would have stayed, and later returned to apologize. 

“I know a parent is always a parent even when you annoy them. They never say: don’t come back! Later, I would try to make them realize that people make mistakes, they would not fail to forgive me, their own blood.”

Barbie says Bobi Wine is Mr. Right, there’s nothing she dislikes in him, although there’re ups and down, most of the time they are happy in their marriage.  

She loves everything about him, financially and physically, Bobi Wine has been changing but, in his heart, he is still the Bobi Wine she met in 2000, she narrates.

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu chats with his wife Barbie
Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, chats with his wife, Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi, at their home, on August 13, 2019 in Magere Village outside Kampala, Uganda. Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images.

However much Bobi Wine and Bebe Cool have a lot of differences, Barbie and Zuena, Cool’s wife are friends and the two shares a lot. Zuena has been Barbie’s friends ever since they met. She likes making friends as much as possible and she does not want to lose the ones she has.

Barbie and Bobi Wine recorded a song together titled, Born in Africa.

Speaking about Bobi Wine’s success, Barbie says her husband owes his success to himself.

She says it is true, a man needs a supportive woman in order to accomplish his goals but all is not possible if the man doesn’t take it up himself to succeed.

“Behind a successful man is the man himself. Yes, any man needs someone to push him some way, the same way a woman needs a push from her husband or family. However supportive you may be, if the man doesn’t take it up himself, he will not be successful. There is someone you can push until you give up yourself.”

Barbie also revealed that Bobi Wine is a selfless person despite several people coming out to say that he is selfish. She says that at times she has to ask him why he doesn’t think about himself first.

“It can only be known from people around him. All those who say that he is selfish are distant. The people that he helps don’t come out to say how he has helped them, but don’t think that they just fight for him for nothing. They know what he means to them.”

Barbie goes on and says that Bobi Wine is a hardworking person and not extravagant. His personality is good, nothing much she has done on him, because he has been a leader in all his angles of work.

Barbie also said that she is Bobi Wine’s number one fan and misses his stage performances. Bobi Wine last appeared on stage in Uganda in November 2018 after which he was banned from performing. Bobi Wine claims that police have since blocked over 300 of his shows.

Barbie as well fought tooth and nail to see her husband get released out of jail in 2018 the time he was detained following the Arua By-elections and went through it all! According to Barbie, she had to be strong for him.

At home Barbie is a busy burg. She has posts on social media of her braving the rain to save her bean harvest. She has also posted photos of her barefoot soaked in mud as she worked in her garden and doing house work although she has house helpers. Not many wives to celebrities would do this.

Challenges in their Marriage

At first, the main challenge was his working hours. He works at night and yet Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi grew up knowing that a responsible husband must be at home with his family by 5:30 pm. It was very difficult for her.

Barbie talked to him about it and he tried his best to be home when he can. When he is in Kampala, they try to at least have tea in the evening and super together.

The second challenge was the girls around him, but Barbie realized that he treasures her lot and a very faithful man to her. However, talking about Bobi Wine’s other child; Barbie says she forgave him because he explained to her what really happened which she does not want to say out because she’s supposed to keep his secrets, but threatened to divorce if at all it happens once again.

“Bobi is my best friend. In fact, he confessed and explained why he did it. I have reason to believe he did it once. He apologized and promised never to do it again. I forgave him but gave him a yellow card; if he does it again, it will be a red card; divorce.”

The third and most stressful one is that she feels free as Barbara Itungo. Celebrity life is complicated, with no privacy at all. She likes to move around unnoticed but now she can’t. 

The fourth is that I have failed to have real friends. Most of the friends I get now want to be friends with Bobi Wine’s wife.

Barbie pens down a letter to Singer Chosen Becky

“My letter to Chosen Becky I wanted to inform her that she’s a beautiful and very talented woman, and like other people I love her and also send a message out there to all young girls who are trying like Becky and me here not to be fearful. That’s how you are, that’s who you are, you can’t change your background, you can’t change your parents neither your face nor colour that’s how you are.”

Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi who had wished to see Chosen Becky one day, the day indeed came to pass; she met her shortly after giving birth and gave her lots of gifts to her new-born baby.