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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Beat Goes On at an Innovative Music Festival in Uganda

Itanda Falls is a cascade located close to the beginning of the Nile, and the majority of visitors come here to kayak on the tremendous rapids or just take in the stunning natural scenery.

On the other hand, on one particular weekend in September, the pine forest that runs down the riverbed was filled with people dancing. They danced all night to cutting-edge electronic music, which caused them to perspire heavily, and then, as the early light began to appear, they floated down to the river to wash in it.

A total of 15,000 people from all around Africa and Europe attended the sixth annual physical edition of Nyege Nyege, which is the largest electronic music event to take place in East Africa. But it nearly didn’t happen. This year, in addition to the special logistical obstacles that come with organising an event of this size in Uganda, the festival has been the topic of heated controversy among the general population.

Dilsizian said that he was not shocked by the choice that the administration made in the end to allow the event to go. Yoweri Museveni, who has served as Uganda’s president continuously since 1986, reacted violently to the recent presidential campaign of Bobi Wine, a well-known musician who has subsequently transitioned into politics. Wine is a politician who was formerly a prominent singer. In a recent interview, Dilsizian said, “I believe in a nation where political discourse is limited, the government is sensible to enable freedom of expression that is not related to politics.”

The group refers to its primary meeting location as “the villa.” It is a two-story brick structure located in the tranquil suburb of Bunga in Kampala, Uganda, which is surrounded by avocado and jackfruit trees. A week before the festival, the austere electronic rhythms of South African gqom music floated from the building’s balcony. At the same time, a sleeping group of street dogs scarcely batted an eyelid as a continuous stream of performers came in and out of the gate.

A tour of the facility included stops at a recording studio decked out in vibrant kitenge textiles, bedrooms for artists participating in paid residencies, and a balcony with ashtrays that were overflowing where the musicians congregated in the evenings. Their interactions with one another often result in creative partnerships.

The music found on Nyege Nyege Tapes, on the other hand, may be described as rowdy, combative, and formally creative. According to Dilsizian, “a lot of the traditional music that is being created on the continent right now sounds quite futuristic.” This may be heard in many of their albums, such as the performances of the Nakibembe Troupe on their huge xylophone, whose minimalist looping melodies can recall listeners of Steve Reich. This can be heard in many of their releases.

The work done by Nyege Nyege was referred to by Dilsizian as a “360 incubation platform.” If what you’re reading seems like business lingo, then you’ve got it just right. According to what he stated, “our objective is absolutely to earn substantial revenue.” “We’ve shown to people that there is an economy around this, whereas before there wasn’t one.”

Some creative individuals have invested the money they’ve made into the purchase of real estate or the launch of enterprises, while others have put it into their further education. Others have been successful in securing sponsorship arrangements with well-known companies such as Meta, Burberry, Telfar, and Off White. When compared to the approximately $80 that he would receive for an eight-hour wedding gig in his home country of Mali, where he would also be expected to bring the sound system, Debru estimated that the rising star DJ Diaki could earn up to $2,000 for a single show in Europe. This is in contrast to the amount that he would receive in Europe.

Approximately in the middle of Alpha’s performance, drummers marched into the entranced throng, dancers whirled axes, and a lady held a tower of seven clay pots on her head while gyrating her hips in perfect beat. All of these acts were performed in perfect time with Alpha’s music. Alpha continued to sing and dance until the intricate body paint he had applied to himself was splattered over his chest. Following the performance of his last song, he smiled broadly while gazing out at the audience.

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