Festival nomads from around the world flocked to the 2018 edition of the Nyege Nyege festival to celebrate Ugandan culture and African music. From traditional folk music, to contemporary hip hop, dance hall and electronic dance music, from graffiti and body art to canvass painting, the electronic dance festival proved to be a successful 4-day event full of music and art despite hiccups along the way. Sponsored by MTN, Uganda Waragi, Bell Lager and Talent Africa, it lasted from 6 – 9 September.
Uganda’s ethics minister Simon Lokodo had earlier announced the cancellation of this year’s Nyege Nyege music and cultural festival in Jinja District in Eastern Uganda based on allegations that it is a celebration of open sex and homosexuality. As a result, according to local paper New Vision, there was heavy police presence hunting under every tent for a long list of things that had been banned thanks to Lokodo. However, the law enforcers only managed to ‘arrest’ a few water pipes of shisha.
The name Nyege Nyege is indeed provocative. It means “horny horny” or “the urge”. The Nyege Nyege Tapes label was established officially in 2016 by Arlen Dilsizian and Derek Debru, two travelers who had moved to Uganda to establish a film school before being swept up by the burgeoning local underground music scene.
The event featured acts from all over the continent, with a special focus on South Africa and Tanzania. It was graced by celebrities such as Urban TV’s Denzel, Swangz Avenue’s Benon, rapper Navio, The Hostel’s Nabwiso, Navio, Vince Musisi and Gaetano. Celebrities from Kenya such as Nazizi, Shappa Man from Camp Mulla and rapper Monski also made an appearance. The festival was accompanied by live music performances, art exhibitions, showcasing of talents from different tribes and people.
The Lokodo ban, in fact, had the inverse effect of popularising the event, making it a ‘must-attend-and-see-for-yourself’. Unlike past events dominated by whites, Ugandans flocked to the festival in large numbers.