Nyege Nyege festival is back

A crowd enjoying the performance at "Hakuna Kulala" stage at Nyege Nyege Festival in Jinja, Uganda. Photo | Pool

The Nyege Nyege festival has been given the green light to go on as planned.

Ugandan Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said the event, to be held in Kampala, will go on but under strict guidelines.

Ms Nabbanja approved the event because “many foreign guests had already paid for tickets,” the Daily Monitor tweeted.

The minister was scheduled to hold a meeting today with other ministers on the preparations for the event.

She observed that the concert had been held annually in Jinja district. “As you may have noted there has been public concern over the forthcoming concert and it has generated serious debate in parliament,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.

“This is therefore to invite you to a meeting on September 7 at the office of the Prime Minister to discuss the above matter.”

The directive came hours after parliament cancelled the event over concerns about immorality. The parliamentary debate about the carnival was sparked by Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi, who argued that the event was a breeding ground for sexual immorality.

“Parliament has stopped the ‘Nyege Nyege’ festival, an annual social event scheduled to take place next week in Jinja… Opendi says the event is a breeding ground for sexual immorality,” the Ugandan parliament tweeted.

Efforts by Tourism minister Martin Mugarra to defend the event as a tourist attraction that earns the country revenue were squashed by the house Speaker.

“Mugarra said over 8,000 foreigner tourists have already booked tickets for the event,” tweeted the Ugandan parliament.

“We are talking about the morality of this country; we are talking about our children. You are trying to promote tourism at the expense of our children? We are not going to allow this function to take part,” parliament Speaker Anita Among said.

This would have been the first in-person edition of the event since 2019.

The Nyege Nyege festival is an annual event that celebrates music in Africa and other parts of the world.

This year, the festival will take place in Jinja, on the banks of the River Nile, at the Itanda Falls. The site is five times the size of the festival’s previous venue.

Hundreds of people from all over Africa attend the festival.

Kenyan acts that are expected to perform include Benzema David, aka Alejandro. He will be joined by Kenyans Kabeausché, Boutross and Ssaru.

The seventh edition of the festival will have more than 300 artistes from across Africa performing, including Kampire, MC Yallah, Otim Alpha, Phatstoki and DJ Travella.

International artistes expected at the event include DJ Marcelle, Juliana Huxtable and DJ Paypal. In total, around 300 artistes will perform across seven stages.

Previous events presented art installations, dancers, acrobats, graffiti artists, fortune-tellers and magicians who came together to create one grand adventure that lasted four days.

In 2020, the festival hosted a 96-hour digital festival due to restrictions on mass social gatherings in Uganda because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisers said the festival — built on love, resilience and passion for music — will this year have a special emphasis on visual art installations.

There will also be an innovative stage design, a luxurious camping experience, and new tourism activities such as rafting the Nile rapids all the way to the shores of the festival.