I had the chance to attend my third Nyege Nyege experience this year, at a new destination (Itanda falls) that I had never been to. Our journey to Jinja was a smooth one as we used the Kamuli road with much less traffic heading to Itanda falls. The falls are located about 30km from Jinja town, about a 40 – 50 minutes’ drive from the main town – Jinja.
Once we arrived at our destination, I was in awe of the many vendors / local businesses just at the entrance. So many other locals offered their homes too as parking spaces and offered to keep the cars safe which we did to support them.
I was in company with five of my colleagues we had moved with, on checking in it was evident enough that the ‘Vibe’ was already in the air. This was ‘Day 2’ of the event – on Friday, but the previous day also had a good turn up.
Founded in 2013 by Arlen Dilsizian and Derek Debru, Nyege Nyege is considered to be East Africa’s biggest music & cultural festival hosting over 10,000 people from across the globe. The festival promotes music and culture mainly through the two labels Nyege Nyege Tapes & Hakuna Kulala. Nyege Nyege Tapes explores music from outsiders and around the region while Hakuna Kulala mainly focuses on East African and Congolese Electronic music.
My best experience was at the Hakuna Kulala stage which was featuring many underground artists, DJs, performers and many more.
I met so many people for the three days that I was at Nyege Nyege – but in summary, I will categorize them in five as below;
THE FESTIVAL GOER
The most common people I met at the Nyege Nyege event are the festival goers – people who have previously been to other festivals or love such events. I’d say my brothers + sisters from Kenya had a bigger representation on here – they really know how to turn up and have a good time. On all the bigger stages I went to, it was all love from Kenya – with the flag flying amongst the crowd and a guy / lady on stage dancing all their souls away. I loved it. Even though Kenya has a different meaning for the word ‘Nyege’ – I’d say all they want to is have fun, turn up and enjoy the music.
Among other festival goers we have the usual Ugandan ladies / guys who are always looking out for ‘Enjoyments’ anytime – anywhere. We have seen so many events from the last 2 or 3 months, and the young people really love these.
If you have been to Uganda before – we literally have a slang for everything. So the people that leave the country to pursue better opportunities i.e. Work, School etc. are called ‘basummer’ meaning people from overseas but born here. I met so many of these including a friend of mine who had been away for almost 5 years, and his girlfriend from Germany. I remember him saying ‘Nyege Nyege’ was his best festival experience he had ever been to (I don’t think he has been to Brazil). Waking up to beautiful & fresh air from the Nile is what made it more exciting as most of them opted to camp onsite – just near the festival grounds.
From the underground music from Congo to the Amapiano dance from southern Africa – Nyege is a mixture of all kinds. I really looked forward to one of the popular DJs who was meant to perform on Day 3 – his name is Virgro deep, from South Africa though he didn’t show up. Why? I love Amapiano music, and this guy is popular with his hits. I met so many of the other artists meant to perform at different stages, my favorite being Navio – a Ugandan Hip Hop artist. I have worked with Navio on a couple of other projects, but his energy is always real, for all the times I see him perform.
My friend (the musummer) was / is still a Deejay, and asked me if I could hook him up with the organizers for a slot but that was too late. I met so many young, enthusiastic musicians from all walks of life, ready to conquer the Nile with their melodic sounds. Not forgetting the deejays, MCs and performers during day and night time.
The first day had so many of these coming from the nearby villages and towns – I mean the festival was now in their sitting room. Who wouldn’t want to see what happens at East Africa’s biggest music Festival. I met so many of these including the Vendors with food, Camping gear plugs, Local craft, traditional music performers and much more.
I also had a chance to see the famous ‘rain makers’ believed to be in control of the rain during the festival.
THE BOLD / AUDACIOUS
The energy, the spirit, the vibrance from these souls is worth watching as they danced away in the rain and wiggled their bodies. These are the people that made me feel like I made the right choice to be at Nyege Nyege for this year. All they had in their mind was go dance, enjoy the music, make everyone feel like they can join them. A drink on the other hand, and a whistle on the other – the bold & free-spirited youth at Nyege know how to party, and dance. They know what it means to have ‘enjoyments’
I bet there are more characters than these, but I never had the chance to greet so many strangers, only a few including a ‘Kenyan lady’ who took some ‘Uganda Waragi’ souvenir to her work colleagues after the festival.
My experience alone was adventurous – well I’d tell another story for how we left this place in the middle of the night, but it was also exciting and I hope to be back as the bold one.