(Posted 30th September 2022)
My mind was telling me no, but my body was telling me yes… (Which says it all adds ATCNews)
Yes, there is a reason I am quoting R-Kelly, and not because the revellers of Nyege Nyege like to be pissed upon. Even though it rained cats and dogs, despite the “naked with a horn on his goods” rain-man’s best efforts to the contrary.
Yes, people it was that time of year last weekend, when the banning of immoral acts take
centre stage in Uganda’s parliament because a music show with a salacious name was about
to undertake a purported 4-day orgy.
Against my better judgement I undertook the trek from Nairobi to Itanda Falls in Jinja on the Party Bus, that arrived at Java Waiyaki way only 4 hours after the expected departure time of 6.30pm. At the border I tried to pass with my ID and ended up having to pay for tea, while the others queued for 4 hours to get their COVID and Yellow fever certificates checked.
Ooo immoral me… but so much for the EAC.
Dumped on the outskirts of Jinja town 5 hours later instead of the festival site, despite
paying $100 return via Moohk Ticketing for the privilege, but determined to have a good
time, we clambered aboard a Rosa shuttle, on condition that the organiser of the party bus
pay for it himself.
We sang our victory all the way to the falls, a further 30 min away. A sign
forbidding “open sex” and “general immorality” greet us as we disembark, complete with a
Uganda Waragi brand. Drink more but hide yourselves it seemed to say.
I get my press passes and pass several irate looking Muzungus decrying their lack of
accommodation and gracefully set up my Fresh Black Quechua tent (straight from Stuttgart).
As I find out later, the construction foreman had run away with half the money before
finishing even half the campsites. Therefore, some had to sleep out in the open, despite
paying for what was advertised as glamping cabins, and the availability of a whole bunch of
other tents from South Africa that were going empty in another paying camp enclosure.
But all that was made up for by The View:
Itanda Falls is one of the rapid clusters on the legendary River Nile, of which Jinja is now the
undisputed source. The venue was a huge forest of pine that opened out to a mouth that
boasted pearly rapids of beautiful but deadly watery fangs. Naluubaale, as she is locally
known, is a river goddess of no compromise. She entrances you into her jacuzzi like
embrace, and sweeps you away when you are not carefully anchored on one of her jagged
rocks, into a green and white serpentine embrace to the depths of her heart. I sat
transfixed, and smoked a cigarette once my tent was erected right in front of her.
Let us make it clear right now: Nyege Nyege is NOT a sex show. It is a music festival
specifically concentrating on the fusion of tribal and electronic music. But some of the
experiments went completely awry.
The Dark Star tent, which traditionally was my Drum n Bass hosting favourite, this time was playing some arhythmical Darth Vader Ping Pong amalgamation of sounds that one would be hard pressed to call Music.
And the Tropical/Boiler Room stage was not any better, playing what was apparently updates of
Kadodi, the Eastern Ugandan circumcision dance, but in fact just sounded like bad techno
with beats that dropped at the wrong moment. I thought I was alone on this due to the
heavy presence of bodies bathed in red light that heaved themselves like electrified zombies
so I kept my feelings to myself, when I could.
Relief came from the main stage, after crossing the ocean of RnB and Dancehall boom-twaff
from several sources, that had me thinking of Club Silk in Uganda and 1824 on Langata Road
Several class acts such as FRA from Nigeria entertained the crowd with the funky
jams, as well as a very arrogant 80-year-old legend from Cameroon called Eko Roosevelt
who completely declined an interview with said writer despite repeated attempts.
But his music was worth the hype, and the twenty something year old Janzi band that was
accompanying his harpsicord kept up very well. But the winner for me was Otim Alpha and
his dance troop from the Kingdom of Acholi. They took the biscuit in terms of energy and
crowd participation, and I swear the girl dancing the Larakaraka with over 6 long and narrow
pots on her head was the one I fell in love with in Ndere Center centuries ago. Light on her
feet like a gazelle, balancing all the pots on her head, she went into periodic vigorous
shaking of her waist without losing control of her pots, before squatting down and shuffling
on her toes across the stage (still with pots perfectly perched) and sending the crowd into a
The rainmaker’s spell didn’t work and it rained again, this time drenching me to the bone,
with camera safely charging in one of the juice-bars by force. I had to pay for another cup of
tea for the charging privilege. Forced back into my tent, I put on my headphones and finally
got what I wanted to hear. Some Good Ole fashioned 1990s-2020 Drum n Bass.
I contemplated whether this means I should be settling down and the thought literally made
me ill. Needless to say, I vowed that this was my last Nyege, despite giving the organisers A
I am being nice.
See you next year.
To find out more about Nyege Nyege:
To watch The FOMO Travel Show Ep88: