Uganda – MTN Nyege Nyege has been working closely with a Chinese label as it prepares to hold the fifth edition of the festival at Nile Discovery Beach in Jinja, Uganda, run from 5 to 8 September.
More than 30 countries will be represented at the festival this year, with a determined move away from Europe and towards Asia, the US and South America. The 2019 edition is also set to explore a wide spectrum of alternative music from new-generation African producers and musicians.
Only a few names have been released ahead of the full line-up announcement. They include Kilo Vee (China), Hyph11E (China), Shyboi (US), Suzi Analogue (US), DJ Scotch Egg (Japan), Josey Rebelle (UK), Bonaventure (Switzerland/DRC) and Nyege Nyege resident DJ Marcelle (Netherlands).
“We’ll continue our collaboration with the label SVBKVLT in China, which was initiated early this year when Kenyan prodigy Slikback toured China for a month and collaborated with several Chinese artists,” MTN Nyege Nyege co-founder Derek Debru told Music In Africa.
“We will have more commissioned residencies. About six projects will be prepared just for the festival. We’ll also have a special focus on the DRC. We’ve discovered a band called Fulu Mziki from Kinshasa, a rapper from Lubumbashi called Infrapa and an insane xylophone troupe we met just across the border with Western Uganda.”
Speaking at the 2019 edition’s launch in Kampala this week, festival co-founder Bob Atkins said Nyege Nyege would also continue to contribute to the country’s tourism sector and create employment opportunities before, during and after the conclusion of the festival.
“We are so excited for this edition. Above all, we are excited about the kind of results that we receive from the festival. This year, we received the Best Event of the Year Award from the Ministry of Tourism,” he said.
The festival has partnered with the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism to offer festivalgoers additional activities such as rafting, mountain climbing and safaris. This is despite the festival’s near cancellation last year after the country’s Ethics and Integrity Minister, Simon Lokodo, branded the event as one that would “compromise national integrity” and place citizens “at risk of deviant sexual immorality.” However, Interior Minister Jeje Odongo intervened and the festival was held as planned.
“During the festival, the minister [Lokodo] patrolled everywhere and all he saw was people just dancing and getting wasted,” Debru said. “Last year, 8 500 people attended the festival. At MTN Nyege Nyege, people really express themselves freely and creatively because they know they won’t be judged and we want to keep it that way.”
Since it was first held in 2015, the festival has been lauded for exploring underground music from the East African region through its affiliation with the Nyege Nyege Tapes label, which has stood behind emerging artists such as Disco Vumbi and electro-Acholi pioneer Otim Alpha.
In 2017, the festival was named among the top 30 new festivals in the world by Fest300, a San Francisco-based company. In 2018, the Nyege Nyege line-up featured acts such as South Africans Sho Madjozi and Phatstoki as well as Tanzanians Rehema Tahiri, Jagwa Music and Msafiri Zawose. Other notable acts from Africa were Nigerian Tuareg band Etran de l’Air and Kenyan rumba group Les Mangelepa.