The much anticipated Nyege Nyege Festival returned for its 5th edition last week, running under the theme of “Old Skool meets New Skool” with the sponsors being Coca-Cola, Bell Lager, Talent Africa and Uganda Waragi.
And similar to the previous edition, this year’s edition saw several changes from sponsors to stages.
This year saw an increase in tickets prices to Nile Discovery Resort, the home of the Nyege Nyege Festival.
Unlike the last edition where tickets sold for as low as Shs50,000, the cheapest ticket at this year’s festival was Shs80,000 for the last day of the festival. A ticket at the gate cost Shs200,000 for East African citizens and Shs250,000 for non East African citizens for the first day of the festival while the second day cost Shs100,000.
However, this was reduced to Shs150,000 for the third and last days of the festival.
Nonetheless this didn’t affect attendance in any way. Revellers from Uganda and around the world still turned up in thousands for the event which is ranked among the best festivals in the world, to celebrate different cultures; both traditional and contemporary.
The celebrations were mainly carried out at makeshift and permanent stages and kiosks. The hike in ticket fees also came with its advantage as crime was a rare sight. In fact, we are yet to learn of any crime that happened within the venue.
Security and Health
This year’s edition has been the most secured festival since its inception. Happening at a time when insecurity especially kidnap and assassinations are on the rise, the organisers couldn’t take any chances.
There was heavy deployment from different security agencies right from the Jinja Highway to within the venue. Over 30 security operatives from both the army and police could be seen patrolling in addition to tens of undercover operatives who were on a lookout out for any violations on the MOU agreed on.
Tens of guns around unarmed civilians was a discomfort to many, though. Initially, armed officers were restricted to patrolling around the banks of River Nile. This was the first time that such many guns made it among the revellers.
For health, there were tens of volunteers from Red Cross, ready to offer help to any health related incident. At one time we spotted them help stretch a drunk reveller to safety.
Revelers either resided in tents at the venue at Shs100,000 for 4 days or in several places neighbouring the venue. This was supplemented by accommodation from several hotels and guest houses within Jinja and its suburbs where a room cost between Shs20,000 to Shs300,000 a night.
Similar to last year’s edition, there were 5 stages for the 2019 edition. Though, the MTN never had a stage this year. Instead, we saw the return of the reggae stage – the 154 Stage River Bay, which had been scrapped last year.
The other stages were; the Main Stage – home of live performances, Eternal Disco Stage – home of house music, Bell Jamz Stage – home of local music and the Dark Star Stage – home of electronic music.
This year’s best performances came from Talent Africa’s artistes as it marked its 10th Anniversary.
Talent Africa lined up several artistes as it celebrated 10 years. But from the lot it was BigTrill who owned the night with his new hit, “Parte after Parte”.
It turned out as the crowd’s favourite. He had the audience behind him throughout his performance. There is no other performance which had as more crowd engagement as his performance.
They sang along and danced to the beat for the case of those who were listening to the song for the first time. Surprisingly such a magical performance was live.
The other performer to have owned the night was Lillian Mbabazi especially when she performed some classics like ‘Where you are’, a song from the 2000s recorded as Blu*3.
The band had to stop playing to allow the audience to try out their singing skills – which they did with perfection!
Bennie Gunter and Nazzizi also put up impressive performances together with Fulu Muziki, a Congolese music band which uses waste to create their own musical instruments.
The biggest disappointing performance at the Festival was from Sheebah Karungi. Unlike previous artistes who performed live, Sheebah was given a special treatment by letting her perform off live band, which didn’t come as a surprise to many.
She tried her best but something just wasn’t right. Either she was performing for the wrong audience or she put up a wrong performance.
There was hardly any engagement from the crowd that is normally seen from her performances. Revellers went about their business like nothing was happening on stage as the ‘Ice Cream’ singer struggled to impress them.
There was also Fireworks display to celebrate Talent Africa’s 10 years in Uganda’s entertainment industry.
Talent Africa joined the industry in the 2000s with management of Blu*3. Over the years they have managed artistes like Tonix, HB Toxic, Airport Taxi and Lilian Mbabazi. This is in addition to having been behinds successful concerts like Sean Paul, P-Square and Wycliff Jean among others.
Talent Africa is the other partner behind the Nyege Nyege Festival which currently runs for 4 days.