A slow start for Uganda’s biggest festival

Revellaers having a good time on the first day of Nyege Nyege festival on September 15, 2022. PHOTOS/ ANDREW KAGGWA 

On Thursday, the highly anticipated Nyege Nyege International Festival kicked off at a new venue, Itanda Falls in Jinja.
Amidst tight deployment by the Uganda Police and private security by the organizers, many things were indeed good to go.

However, as it has been a norm in the past, most revellers show up on Friday as opposed to Thursday. The confidence and the weather might have worked against the festival organisers and the service providers when very many people showed up on day one.
There were many people coming in at all times of Thursday yet some of the timely services needed seemed overbooked or slowed down by the on-and-off downpour. For instance, by the time many revellers reached the festival grounds, because of the long distance, their phone batteries had run out yet many had their festival tickets on the phone.

Some had to look around the neighbourhood but unfortunately, the electricity penetration is really low.
For the organisers though, performances, especially on the main stage delayed to start but other stages such as the Nyege Nyege traditional ones Dark Star and the Boiler Room were booming which started slightly before 5pm on Thursday.
Besides the festival venue and the organisers, it was evident the social event did overwhelm even the Itanda neighbourhoode. The traffic for instance, stretched several kilometers all the way to the nearest trading centre.

The Nyege Nyege International Festival has been finding itself in the spotlight over the years with some stakeholder in the country convinced festival adds nothing to the nation besides immorality and debauchery.
However, even when the efforts to ban the festival have always been apparent, made first by the late Minister of Ethics Simon Lokodo and later the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, no one has been successful in blocking the festival that attracts thousands of revelers from both within the country and abroad.

The revellers at the festival were aware on day one of what the people think about them and thus, were simply provocative at times.
From wearing statements like Immorality to simply chanting the word, it was clear they were sending a message.
In our subsequent reports we are going to look at the business at the festival and how it totally defies the hard economic times.

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