Yesterday I had a heated conversation with the Army guys and the people at Milege World Music Festival. I must say I have attended hundreds of events in my life time but yesterday’s Milege festival turned out to be the worst organized, most unprofessional on all fronts.
It lost it from the word go. I love to give everything the benefit of the doubt but yesterday all my patience buttons were used up. These guys no matter how low they sunk, they kept on proving they could even go lower. First an email comes in requesting “BigEye” to cover the 3 day festival. We write back and ask them to reserve 4 tickets for our team that will cover the festival.
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A one Allan Wasswa whose email signature says he was their PR and Branding lead writes back confirming the reservations. He specifically notes; “there will be four tickets titled BigEye at the entrance. In case of anything call me while at the entrance.” Then an email comes in some days later regretting their inability to have a media launch and thus ‘no press conference.’
They write; ‘Unfortunately we were too busy to hold the press conference. Nonetheless find attached the media pack.” And guess what was contained in the pack; ‘endless photo albums.’ At this point we must have smelled the rat and called off our association to the festival. But hey, everyone deserves a chance. On Friday we get to Entebbe, two BigEye people and a friend we were going to pay entrance for. It was 11pm.
The first thing that welcomes us at Botanical Gardens is darkness, then two army guys with their guns. For a moment I thought we had mixed up the venues. Then out of nowhere, another unidentified guys springs out of the darkness and asks for our tickets. I humbly tell him to check the media list for tickets under ‘BigEye.’
This simple confirmation takes him 30 minutes, just to confirm their is even a media list. At this point I request him to call ‘Allan’ their PR guy. He has no idea of Allan. Then I try calling Allan and his phone is off. Completely off. Now I begin to really lose it. Four people come around and they are asked to buy tickets.
They pay and someone has to rush some distance to go bring their tickets and arm bands. Others come, get annoyed by the army guys and leave. While waiting, the army guys ask that I identify myself. I hand over an ID and thereafter ask for it. But everyone manning the gate is unidentified. At this point I have no idea who is doing what in this darkness.
As we wait for the media list, I show one of the guys the “email threads” so as to make the verification process easier. I am already tired. Finally two more unidentified chaps (no tags speaking to their role) panting come around. They say they have kind of seen the list but it actually has two people. I call off their bullshit. The army guys keep giving them orders.
I begin to wonder who is really making decisions here. At this point I make it clear that if this takes another 5 minutes I am out. The army guys ask that we all identify ourselves again. I make it clear that we have already gone miles to prove this. We are not going through the process again.
I ask what the Air Force is actually doing manning the gate and the whole event. I ask for the police. Where are they? None is on sight. I tell them this is unprofessional. Air Force shouldn’t be handling an event of civilians. The 5 minutes elapse and I start to walk away. One of the ladies runs to ask that I wait. I tell her; “if they could not sort themselves in the last 30 minutes, the next won’t make any difference.”
Meanwhile another guy comes in and is almost thrown out. He explains that he is the guy handling the tents and accommodation. The chaps at the entrance have no idea who this colleague is. Anyway how would they have known? None of them carries a tag speaking to their actual role at the festival. At this point I am wondering, did they even have an internal meeting amongst themselves as different stakeholders? Did they have planning meetings? Another guy runs after me to apologize. I tell him I need no apologies for a festival that has run for over 5 years. And apologies won’t make me change my mind. I had already cancelled my whole affair.
I call the other reporters at BigEye and tell them that we won’t be covering Milege. Till today Allan’s phone is off. He is also unknown to most people. But what annoyed me most was undecisiveness and lack of organisation at the festival.
Thank goodness there was Oz’s bar to calm down my anger. To Milege, you must sort out your house. You can’t still be limping with all these many years in the game. You are a World music festival for goodness sake not an Air Force induction programme. If all this could happen at the entrance, one then can’t imagine the bigger trash inside.
Yet this is not a piece to denigrate the festival. It is one to help them improve. Only a good friend takes the time to point out one’s weaknesses. And only because we believe in Milege and expect a lot from them did we get to pen this…