Nyege Nyege: Let the spirit take over

This year’s festival is being held at a combined space covering about 50 acres surrounding the source of the Nile; Jinja Showgrounds, Jinja Golf Course and Source Gardens. Photos/Gabriel Buule

What you need to know:

  • NYEGE NYEGE: The irresistible urge to dance. It is Nyege Nyege O’clock and as of yesterday, festival goers had already painted Jinja red for the 8th edition of the annual event. Gabriel Buule & Isaac Ssejjombwe give first timer attendees a look at what to expect and not miss at the festival.

From Nile Discovery Resort to the majestic Itanda Falls which proved to be too far and complicated going by some of the reviews, the Nyege Nyege spirit has now found its way to Wonderland and yet it still blows strong as revellers continue to embrace the festival and look forward to it.
This year, the organisers are seemingly glued to serving the interests of the festival enthusiasts, respecting the fact that reviews have always swayed their decisions.
Happening in the heart of Jinja, Uganda’s primed tourism city, the eighth edition of the Nyege Nyege festival takes over three venues; the magnificent Jinja Golf Course, Source of the Nile and the Jinja Showgrounds at the foot of the source of River Nile.

Just as expected, co-organisers, Talent Africa, believe that this is yet another edition that will unleash abundant joy for underground music, unusual arts genres and tourism promoted in the mix of it all.
The eighth edition that started yesterday and will be going on until Sunday is the most important four-day international music festival in East Africa given its unique curation that guarantees a party atmosphere.

The entertainment 
For most festivals world over, you would expect modern music genres to enjoy the space but Nyege Nyege is a cocktail of art.
The 2019 edition saw revellers get treated to Baikoko, a dance favoured in Dar es Salaam’s nightlife. 

Baikoko is sometimes confused to be some sort of modern Taarab but it turns out that the dance that was thought to be suggestive originated in the Digo villages around Tanga in the early 1990s. 
Most revellers who attended the 2019 edition never got enough of the dance that is a blend of Digo ngoma genres such as gita, chera and mdindiko. 
The year 2022 was a toast to Burundi’s ‘umurisho w’ingoma’ ritual dance and the Burundian Sacred Drum. This time round, revellers will be treated to Comorian art, probably Twarab, a Comorian version of the Taarab genre of Zanzibar.

The festival is a collective arts event that includes an artiste residency and community studios with two record labels that include Nyege Nyege tapes and Hakuna Kulala as an artist management agency and a legendary party crew called Boutiq electroniq.
Being basically an electronic music festival, the music line up was again curated around artistes with electronic music across the globe.

In the four days, there is non-stop partying to the sound of drums, a musical celebration, pioneering musical styles, creative workshops, among many as revellers also get an experience to navigate the Nile.

The venue 
The festival is being held at a combined space of about 50 acres covering the source of the Nile; Jinja Showgrounds, Jinja Golf Course and Source Gardens – in what is being termed the ‘Nyege Wonderland.’
The announcement was made during a press conference held at Source Gardens in Jinja a few weeks ago and according to Derek Debru, the CEO of Nyege Nyege, they took deep learnings from last year’s edition, forcing their change of venue.

“We have taken deep learnings from last year’s edition to deliver a phenomenally better experience this year. The festival will be a real showcase of community involvement and how music festivals can spark the imagination and dedication of an entire community and boost the local economy to leave a positive impact,” he said.

The organisers also added that Itanda proved to be too inconvenient for the logistics of production and for revellers alike.
They also pointed out the bad weather and roads that led them to search for a new and better home until Itanda rises again.
Nyege Nyege Wonderland is offering much more and Derek believes that with more than 300 hotels, the city will provide accommodation for all guests just minutes away from the venue.

There have been concerns about security at Nyege Nyege, especially after the warnings by both the British and American embassies urging individuals to be cautious and reconsider attending large public gatherings.  

However, the organisers promise security to everyone who will be attending the festival.
“The safety and comfort of all artistes and revellers will be top priority. More than 300 UPDF soldiers and the police are part of the event to ensure safety of revellers and their property and camping will no longer be provided on site but smaller, safe and comfortable campsites will be set up by partnering hotels.”

The stages
Ever since its inception, at least two stages have been consistent; the main stage that has always hosted main performances and the boiler room but the 8th edition has come with new stages, including the Hakuna Kulala stage going on for a 96-hour music and performance marathon comprising live acts, DJs, dance and theatre performances.
Besides those, there has also been the introduction of the Busoga stage and the Sudanese Pavilion as well as the return of campus favourite Nyegeversity.

With more than 500 shows internationally, the festival and its associated labels and collectives have defined the new sounds emerging from the continent. The festival is widely considered to be the greatest showcase of traditional and contemporary African music in the world, attracting music fans and industry movers and shakers to come and discover new music genres, breakthrough artists and blossoming talents at every edition.

This year the festival is once again showcasing the diversity of Ugandan traditional music with traditional acts coming from all over the country but will include East Africa’s most exciting new acts, as well as artists from music powerhouses such as Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Brazil. Styles and genres will cover the diversity of African sounds, ranging from South Africa’s Amapiano to Nigeria’s cruise beat, afrobeat to gengetone, dancehall, soukous, electronics and more.

This time, Uganda is represented by artistes such as Eddy Kenzo, A Pass, Janzi Band and Karole Kasita on the main stage while Kenya is being represented by acts such as genge superstar Mejja headlining the Kenyan delegation, alongside Trio Moi, among others.

Unlike previous editions, this time festival goers will not be allowed to camp on festival grounds for security reasons. Photo/Gabriel Buule

For the first time the festival has also invited a group from Comoros Islands.
Nyege Nyege is hosting two of East African trap’s most important representatives; Swahili Trap known as SHRAP as well as giving the spotlight to talents such as Jemaima Sanyu (Uganda), Olith Ratego (Kenya), Ratigan Era (Uganda) and Aunty Rayzor (Nigeria) who could be the next superstars to erupt from the Nyege Nyege main stage to the global spotlight.

Like every year, Nyege Nyege has also invited very few carefully selected non-African acts, including experimental hiphop outfit Muovipussi from Finland and Model Home from Washington DC, Judgiztu from France, Yuri from Japan - part of the TYO Gqom collective, as well as Berlin underground outliers Operant who will all take part in collaborative residencies in the Nyege Nyege studios.

The festival will take its audiences through a wide variety of electronic music genres, with artists from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Mali, Malawi, Cameroon, Ghana, Rwanda, Algeria, South Sudan, Angola, Mauritius, Saint Lucia, Congo DRC, spanning a continuum of unique African electronic music sounds, including singeli, electro Acholi, amapiano, cruisebeat, afrohouse, gqom, gengetone, kuduro, dennery segment, bubbling, balani show, congotekno, naijapiano, afrotech and more. 

On the deejay side, Kuduro pioneer DJ Znobia from Angola, DJ Tobzy the cruise beat pioneer from Nigeria, DJ Top Klas who will bring Saint Lucian carnival vibes to the festival, DJ Travella the singeli wonderchild from Tanzania while special guests will include Mexican-Colombian reggeaton queen Rosa Pistola, South Korean club alchemist Net Gala, Mauritius’s premiere DJ Greg as well as the return of Nyege favourites DJ Marcelle, Moesha13, Tash LC and Mika Oki. Nyege Nyege co-founder, OG and Queen Kampire will make it back from touring the world just on time to close the festival this year. 

Other things to do

While at Nyege Nyege or after the festival, you can drift into other tourism and entertainment in Jinja city. 

Rafting Grade Three of Five: Widely regarded as the best one-day rafting trip on the planet. This is the safest and most popular trip down the Nile, challenging legendary rapids in the hands of those who know the river best.  Choose to paddle as part of a team or opt for a softer option and be rowed downstream by our professional guides in the safety raft.

Rafting the Nile: This is Adrift’s most extreme, exhilarating and personal package for taking on the mighty River Nile, challenging legendary rapids in the hands of those who know the river best. Make sure to bring along your sense of adventure.

Bungee jumping: The most amazing experience of your life! Are you adventurous or an adrenaline junkie? If yes, this is certainly for you. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you dive from our tower overlooking the mighty Kalagala Falls on the White Nile.