This year Charlie’s Travels is making an effort make African festival accessible to a larger public across seas. After Lake of Stars (Malawi), Kilfi New Years (Kenya), Bushfire (Swaziland) and of course Africa Burn we wish to present you a personal favourite:
Raw, crazy, free, unexpected, spontaneous and even salacious. All words that describe Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda, a festival gem, hidden in de banks of the Nile river. The name, Nyege Nyege, is a translation from Lugandan (the language of the Kampala region in Uganda) and means: “the irresistible urge to dance” – and that’s what this festival is all about: the irresistible groove of African music.
The line-up is unlike any you will see in Europe, or the rest of the world. Once inspired by The World Festival of Black Arts (Dakar, 1966), a month long music festival celebrating the creativity of African culture, the founders of Nyege Nyege have taken up the challenge to uncover the underexposed contemporary African music scene. The first edition took place in 2015, and now, with 2017 marking the third edition, this festival is still relatively small but rapidly gaining fame in Africa as well as oversees.
And this year will be no exception. On September 1-3, beautiful people from all over East Africa and beyond flock to the Nile Discovery Beach in Jinja in Uganda. It’s here where rhythmic African beats will rise from the 4 acres of lush green post-rainy season jungle. And guess what? Early bird tickets are on sale from this week onwards. Drop us a line here, and find out more about this jungle fest.
The experience – by our very own Guy Janssens, who visited the festival with his beautiful girlfriend last year:
Nile Discovery Beach is a 2-hour drive from Kampala, where I was living last year when I went to Nyege Nyege. The setting is amazing. Nothing like any festival I’ve seen back in the Netherlands: so lush and green, right on the banks of the longest and most historic river of Africa. No constructions put in place for the festival, or endless Dixies or fake sand to dance shoeless in. Just pure jungle fever!
First night: all out.
There are two stages: One techno/house stage that continues more or less 24/7 (very nice if you keep in mind that the campsite is right next to this stage, I think my tent was literally not more than 50 meters away) and one main stage with all the bands. The artists are almost all African and the music is diverse: from a group of kids dressed in army clothing that rap, to a real African rock band belting out “knock-knock-knocking on heaven’s door”. My favorite artist of last year was Joey le Soldat, from Burkina Faso. A very dark, raw and deep hiphop sound from the most badass guy in West Africa.
Friday night I spent most of my time at the techno stage; it was for me the first time in months that I heard good techno as played in clubs at home. Every now and then I went to the main stage, for a hip swinging intermezzo with live African beats. Yes, it is true that when you live in Africa for a few years, you get a better feel for the hip twist… Or at least, that is what my music and what not induced high made me feel like.
Utopian hangover days
On Saturday I woke up. I crawled out of my tent, eyes squinting and head aching. Usually, staring at a ravished day-after festival terrain makes me want to make a turn straight back to my tent… but the tropical setting of Nyege Nyege invited me to the best hangover day I could have possibly wished for. Strolling around through the mystical jungle terrain, my girl at my side. Sitting at the Nile, taking a dip, and recapping the crazy night with the first beer of the day.
Then food: a variety of stands can be found, anything my energy craving body could wish for: from Mexican, to Ugandan pork, to roasted chicken, to veggie options: “all is there” as Ugandans would say. Of course the famous Ugandan street food rolex is also available. Fried eggs with some vegetables rolled up in a chapatti.
With a filled belly I passed by a tailor’s hub at was operating on site. They sewed everything from kitenge patches onto your favorite shorts to full on outfits tailored to your liking (at very reasonable prices), it was here that I bought myself the perfect last edition to my blissful hangover day: a hammock. I tied the hammock in between two trees at the main stage and sat there with my girlfriend smoking some Ugandan bush, dangling and swinging to the beats. With an extremely content smile I listened to wide diversity of bands, instruments and voices at the main stage, enjoying the happiness and freedom everybody radiated.
Ready for this year?
Looking back at why the founders first set up Nyege Nyege two years ago, I can only say they more than succeed. They grasped the multitude that African creativity entails – presenting a young inspiring generation the platform they deserve. Don’t miss this.