The charm and spell of city’s Shs600m festival
Posted Monday, October 7 2013 at 01:00
The sound of drums and trumpets rose above the moving crowd. Engines of large outrider motorbikes thundered behind police and prison bands leading a procession. And contemporary Ugandan music bloomed from large speakers mounted on trucks and pavilions.
City dwellers and visitors, under the watch of security personnel, passed through walk-through metal detectors and onwards to Kampala Road. There, columns of skaters tore through crowds and somersaulted dangerously.
A rider who preferred the monster name, Vampire, accelerated his heavy-duty motorcycle and reclined on his back as the machine raced with him. Bystanders held their breath; some buried their faces in folded palms, frightful of witnessing an accident in the event of a slip-up.
Around midday, a long-haul truck sauntered down Kampala Road towards DFCU head office on Jinja Road. Its front was shaped and coloured like a Crested Crane head while its trunk was an improvised structure depicting the iconic City Hall. On the truck - female entertainers wearing short attires with national colors – black, yellow and red - twirled suggestively to the rhythm of deafening music.
The crowd roared to the wave of a lean woman, her eyes buried in the comfort of dark sun-glasses. It was Ms Jennifer Musisi, the executive director of KCCA, standing on a pedestal in the contrived City Hall wooden structure on board.
She wore a red ceremonial hat fixed with a flower and a black top decorated with the shape of heart – perceived as a love symbol.
The executive director’s talkative political superior Frank Tumwebaze, the presidency and KCCA minister, stood to her left, holding a baby. The burly UPDF Chief Political Commissar, Col Felix Kulayigye, positioned to the right of Ms Musisi, who kept cooling herself with a hand-held fan.
The trio waved and grinned to ecstatic cheers of roadside bystanders. Four men in police black counter-terrorism uniforms, each brandishing automatic guns and their eyes peering suspiciously through the crowds, walked on each side of the truck motioning the principals.
It was the whole central business district under security lock-down, and elements of the Special Forces inserted to reinforce the cocktail of security operatives manning city streets and public open spaces. A man allegedly spotted stealing car headlights was shot in the upper back, sustaining injuries.
KCCA principally set aside the day for city dwellers and visitors to make merry --- show off their talent and take pride in the capital they call home or work place.
“It’s a day to show the oneness of Kampala, and a day [for stakeholders] to show their support for the transformation of Kampala,” according to Ms Musisi. Organising the festivities cost Shs600m, she said, with some of the cash contributed by private companies.
The day’s liberty enabled manufacturers, among them Uganda breweries, to power trucks on the roads to advertise their beverage assortments.
Food vendors, previously brutally evicted off streets by KCCA law enforcement officers, yesterday had the odd privilege to hawk edibles in makeshifts on the capital’s main street.
In the Mayor’s parlour – the lush compound of City Hall – children and their parents as well as minders, packed to compete in various games and watch plays on large outdoor screens. They fitted toys, swayed on swings, tripped and fell on the grass-field, shoved each other, laughed and cried, and engaged in various games.
Kampala City Carnival 2013, the second edition of the city Authority’s annual fun day, had got its beat. Police used yellow tapes to seal off Kampala Road at Jinja Road junction to the East and northerly at Watoto Church - where the cavalcade was launched mid-morning, converting the capital’s usually jammed street overnight into a pedestrian alley.
The diverted traffic poured into suburbs, including the upscale Nakasero neighboured, causing congestion, particularly for worshippers. With secular music concerts, religious choir performances and fireworks expected last evening to rend city skies deep into the night, the Shs600 million festival was likely to kick into life late.