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Africa’s Burning Man, Uganda’s Coachella? A Rare Perspective of Nyege Nyege Festival 2017

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Nyege Nyege festival 2017

By Ian Ortega

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On Friday, 1st September 2017, Jinja, Uganda was home once again to the third edition of the Nyege Nyege festival. Much more than ever before, Nyege Nyege was on everyone’s lips. It was be there or be nowhere else. And indeed, there’s a likelihood that a good number that attended did so out of FOMO. They wanted to experience it right at the source and not wait to hear stories.

In 2015, when Nyege Nyege started off, no one could have predicted that this 3 day affair would be a must-attend for every artsy person that was out to discover the hidden gems of authentic contemporary African music. For 2017, it was four stages among which included the Bell Stage, the Chill, Umoja and Electro. Each of these stages lived up to their definition, and it was a once in a year opportunity for underground African music legends to showcase these styles that bring out the Africa in everyone and help everyone know more about the rhythms and rhymes of Africa.

Nyege Nyege festival 2017

The chill stage was about the superb chill, that area for one to relax, rejuvenate, shake lazily, tuck a drink and bond with another. On Friday, Zontor and Zipporah took the day at the chill stage. In 2016, Zontor was here; it was another homecoming for him. In the same spirit, Dj Raph did it like he was writing his legacy in beats, Samedia crowned it on Sunday.

Then came the Umoja stage. Phenomenal, meditative, insightful, an acid trip. It was a musical psychedelic experience. The words of Timothy Leary came true here. At Umoja, you turned on, tuned in and dropped out. By turning on, Nyegenians amplified their ears to the sounds of generations, the sounds of Africa, becoming receptive of the consciousness that music brings with it. When they tuned in, they became fully present, there was meaning in the external, it all made sense, with freedom, and a lightness. Finally they chose to drop out, dropping out of all social conventions, experiencing those underground African sounds, being counter-culture and tapping into their individual creativity. At Umoja, you would passively or actively get lit. The weed was the way, it was an emancipation from mental and musical slavery.

But there was the Electro where Ortega found his bearing at the hands of Contours and Semedia Sheeben. You did not have to know how to shake, it was an automatic response. Not forgetting Dj Rachael’s trances on Friday that set the pace for the next days to come.

Nyege Nyege festival 2017

Finally the whole Nyege Nyege converged at the Bell Stage. Did you see that Kongoloko and Latinum performance, though short-lived? Rennis’ energy was out of this world. His style truly revolutionary. There was Symbiz, all the way from Germany bringing continental love in the full package. You can’t remember Bell Stage until you remember; “tumpeco, loco, and rolex.”

Nyege Nyege 2017 was that point in time where you just chose to let your skeletons out of the closet and just be. You put down all the veils of holding back and hypocrisy and just exhibited your true generic self. Rolexes were the order of the day. You got it and ate it with much love.

A number of people said the rain and mud messed up the thing. On the contrary, the rain is what made the experience one worth remembering. For what is Africa except a conversation with nature. And how better to converse with mother earth than partake in her muddy moments, have those shivers, get some coffee, or a Bell Lager, or a Uganda Waragi and hold closely to your neighbour. It should never be Nyege Nyege unless there is a touch of rain and mud. That’s what defines the camping experience.

Nyege Nyege festival 2017

Nyege Nyege has also gotten a bad rap for being Uganda’s sex-fest. Indeed, a number of those who rushed to attend Nyege Nyege were motivated by this myth of a sex-fest. On the contrary, Nyege Nyege still sticks to its theme. Of course the sex happens. But even then, the organisers had these ladies moving around with boxes of condoms actively encouraging revellers to pick as many as they could just in case. It was very impressive to see that safe sex was something they passed on to every Nyegenian. In the same lines, security was at its best. Only at this Festival did you not have to worry about your wallet or your phone going missing as you danced out all your rare alien moves.

My major with Nyege Nyege, and these are personal fears is that it may become too ‘white’ and thus retrogress from the Africanness that it aimed to espouse in the first place. There is a likelihood that soon the number of non-African revellers will surpass the African ones and it will be another of those neo-colonial events. It is my the worst of my fears of the dystopia that could become of Nyege Nyege. The signs were evident. Although Nyege Nyege is still Afro-centric, the organisers should be very careful that it doesn’t become another event that tries to impress ‘white revellers’ with what Africa is all about. NYEGE Nyege should never forget the well from which it drew its inspiration. It should at all costs, despite the temptation, adhere to remember why it chose the World Festival of Black Arts as its inspiration. It should forever be a way Africa and Uganda share their uncorrupted soul with the world.

Nyege Nyege festival 2017

So whereas Nyege Nyege has been described by some as Africa’s burning man or Uganda’s Coachella, I think Nyege Nyege deserves not this comparison. It should be seen for what it is, Uganda’s invitation to the rest of the world. Only wish, the chaps in charge of tourism can put up the necessary infrastructure, for Nyege Nyege is going to be Uganda’s defining festival. Government should be thinking of constructing that road to the Nile Discovery beach in a way that reflects African architecture.

Despite these fears of mine, Nyege Nyege still lived up to its billing, it under promised and over-delivered. It was a melange of all these authentic, diverse African cultures, music, souls, languages and cuisines. There was even Jollof rice. It was a time to get back to the source of who we are as a people, of the things that unite us more than what divides us. It was the peak of artistic expression. To Nyege Nyege 2018, I have booked my place. Shall we? I still wake up to vivid dreams of Nyege Nyege, I have to tap myself out of the trance, the Afrocentric nostalgia is very much alive, just like that Rasta Kitchen.

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Celebrity Gossip

Joan Lule takea SITIMA Y’AMAKA to Top TV

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Former Bukedde and BBS Preseter has again landed in big monenies after Top TV beckoning the presenter to take on a big slot at the station.

Joan Lule’s signature TV show Sitima y’amaka is back but this time on Top TV. The show that started on 20th April has received massive acceptance and support in its two months on air. Sitima y’amaka airs every Saturday at 11PM.

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Joan Lule has maintained and kept her show interesting for long that all the stations that have sought her services have adopted the show into their programing.

Relatedly, the presenter has also shown interest in politics after announcing she will stand for Woman MP Mpigi district.

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Goat Races to return October

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By Our Reporter

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One of Uganda’s most popular social events, the Royal Ascot Goat Races, which curved a special place as the most anticipated event on Uganda’s social calendar returns this October.

At an official announcement made Thursday at Kabira Country Club, the organisers confirmed the ultimate fun show in Uganda will be happening on Saturday, October 12, 2019.

This event which will be hosted at its customary venue of Speke Resort, Munyonyo promises to recreate one of the most eagerly awaited weekends of merrymaking and extravagant fashion, which were the hallmarks of the Goat Races for years.

“The Goat Races are more than just another event in Uganda, it’s a place where people can come and network and mix along with business, pleasure and have a fun humorous time with good food and drinks all day long,” Ruparelia Group’s Managing Director Rajiv Ruparelia, the organisers of the event, said.

The goat races will entail eight races over the course of the day, with each race featuring eight goats. Anyone can sponsor a race, or buy a goat to participate in a race. The proceeds generated from the races will then go to a selected charity.

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Ykee Benda becomes a father, set to celebrate in Burundi

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Singer Ykee Benda is over the moon today. The singer today became a father for the very first time after his yet anonymous fiancee gave birth to a bouncing baby boy.

The yet to be unveiled toddler has been named Donte Quain Tugume Muhagazi. Ykee Benda has taken the celebrations to Lacosta beach in Bujumbura, Burundi where he will be performing for the very first time this Sunday.

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An over joyed Ykee posted “Burundi, it’s a special day because you are going to be the first people to see me perform not just as Ykee Benda but as a father of a handsome young king” The website congratulates Ykee Benda on his new role as a father.

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