Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda Hon. Rebecca Kadaga’s endorsement of Nyege Nyege 2022 was the top headline on the closing day of the event. Her presence and intention to experience some of the niceties the event had to offer left quite an impression.
Since my return from Stone City – Jinja, I have been asked a host of questions. Immorality is the most dominant one. Did the sinister acts as described by minister Sarah Opendi take center stage? How did it go?
I will be honest. The perceptions of immorality and Nyege Nyege as an inseparable block were quite extreme and supposedly ill-founded. However, this doesn’t take away the fact that the revelers operated with much more freedom than they would in their own neighborhoods.
It was very right to bar children and those who are underage from attending the show because of the random sights of public display of affection but also consumption of alcohol and tobacco was not anywhere desirable in relation to the groups mentioned above.
The idea of having a truckload of condoms and supplying them at every dark corner of the forest was a master move by the government and other health agencies, especially judging by the numbers that accessed the venue on Saturday.
As we strolled through the woods and tent areas, there were barely any used condoms but many pink unused ones all over the ground, a sign that there had been enough emphasis and campaigns on having protected sex in case the party-goers went that far.
The quality of security was top notch as our crew even interfaced with high-ranking officers at times, but also met anti-terrorism, canine, casual police, and army units in specific areas of the premises. We only witnessed one incident where a phone thief was nabbed at the entrance and forwarded for further questioning on day two.
According to several individuals we interviewed, the event was a success for the business sector as we shared with face painters, art and craft sellers, food suppliers, tattoo artists, and so forth. Prices of commodities and most services were nearly doubled.
I recall my chat with a gentleman from whom I bought rolled eggs and a chapati (Rolex) on day three. He attested to how crucial it was to sell the normal combo at five thousand Uganda shillings rather than two because there had been hefty charges in procuring space to do business.
Msema Culture, an arts and crafts fashion shop also accorded us time to share their experience. When I spoke to one of their attendants, he re-echoed similar sentiments of pricey space, a reason there was a slight hike in the prices of their African print shirts.
Among the foreigners we met, the scenery and sense of culture were “marvelous” – a fine description, that the Uganda Tourism Board and the tourism sector would be so proud of. My own colleagues with a bout of concert experience had no fault with the sound as well, saying it was “okay.”
Major outstanding issues as narrated by a duo of Denmark revelers we interviewed surrounded the dirty and concentrated toilets. The ladies found fault in their hygiene, the same complaint one of my workmates raised. Every individual who wanted to ease themselves had to walk a huge distance either from the gate or the valley to queue.
I remember meeting another frustrated traveler who seemed to find difficulty in charging his handset and several other gadgets. My workmate also pointed out the absence of a fire brigade, plus red-cross facilities only located around the entrance.
Access for journalists was also a challenge across the stage barriers but our crew managed to negotiate with the guidance of the security personnel that was deployed. On day one, internet challenges seemed to be minimal, but as the festival grew on us, sending just 70 Mbs of footage or more was annoyingly slow.
I further quizzed my workmate to give marks to the Nyege Nyege festival overall, he gave it an 85 percent score based on the fact that there were unlimited enjoyments despite the hiccups. I, however, choose not to disregard the accommodation challenges that were raised on Twitter by several individuals.
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