15 hours back & forth between a border, was not something my back was up for.
Then again, how could I turn down a, three day music festival on an Island? Who would? Even if I’d never been to Jinja, or heard of Nyege Nyege. But the line-up seemed legit. With 30 live acts from 12 different countries, I was willing to take my chances.
Arriving at Jinja at 7am Friday morning, I headed straight to the venue. Tucked away from the slow busy nature of the town, hidden by trees was, Nile Discovery Beach Resort. My home between the 16th to 18th of October. Walking into however felt like, going into another dimension.
This wasn’t just because of the calming presence of the Nile River, with it’s ancient ancestral charm. What was really mesmerizing, was the people. Party goers in a constant state of, Ubuntu . I saw it everywhere I turned in; adults caring for children they didn’t know, young people wielding Octavia Butler books, instead of smart phones. Most importantly, in the exchange of new ideas being planted, often followed by laughter.
I kept getting lost in this hippie mini-verse, as I did, the booming sound system in the distance kept guilt tripping me back to my role, of, ‘I’m a journalist at a gig, this is no time to get sky high’. But time & time again, I’d be reminded that festivals, were places where people connected. Nothing more, nothing less.
Keeping that in mind, I decided to stay mingling and dranking (said in Kendrick’s voice, Lamar people, Lamar). Getting out of the campsite, just in time for, the first DJ act of Friday night, Mungo’s Hifi. The lads straight out of, Glasgow played, a mixture of soulful tracks & reverbing reggae dub (their specialty) over the crowd at the main-stage. I’d have enjoyed it more if it didn’t start raining.
Rain it seemed, was the only thing we’d be up against for the next three days. (Hippie commune, remember?)
So Saturday morning came, with a sense of optimism. To party on regardless of the rain. For our warm-up session prior to night time, Dark Meme, (from Uganda) played Afro-house to awaken & shake up everybody at the river front’s dancefloor. Even if they were swimming.
The highlight of Saturday night, was definitely, LA rapper, Riddlore. A pioneer of the LA underground rap scene, killing the crowd with his effortless flow & crew of OG’s on stage. The other was, DJ Ben, otherwise known as BBRAVE , founder of Akwaaba music. I still don’t know how I missed his entire set (or when it was, still a mystery). But, our contributing photographer, Awour Onyango insisted that I got to know him & mention, that he played some damn good afrobeat & everything in-between, keeping everybody moving, until they couldn’t anymore.
This made me wake up Sunday, with a new determination: to be as sober as possible & listen carefully to at least, three acts. It was going to be easy this time, Blinky Bill was on the line-up for the night, the only motivation I needed.
As the afternoon wound down, I could hear Body of Brian’s stripped down vocals, playing an acoustic guitar, coupled with simple drum with moroka accompaniment, washing the crowd all the way from the campsite.
When night time hit, I was back at the mainstage, to see a rather controversial but funny ha- ha- act, F.O.K.N Boys , all the way from, not Nigeria (had to). They kept the crowd going & laughing, even when the lights went out. With something you’d least expect to fly at a festival, politically charged, satirical rap music. Treating us to many things, but especially singing this wonderful song, right at the moment the lights went off:
Then came, the moment team Kenya was waiting for, (as few as we were in attendance). For Blinky Bill, live at Jinja, Nyege Nyege edition.
From the moment he begun playing, the stage was always bombarded with groupies coming up to dance. Did this phase the man? Nope. Not one sign of f$#ks, or douchebaggery was given. People came and went off stage as they pleased.
At a point, he even went of his set, to play drums with the drummers then went back on, to feed us more fire. His music selection, had everything from, Hip Hop to, old school African pop anthems. Wedging in modern day classics like, Kaytranada’s , Leave me alone. Giving the festival a finale, before it even ended. Destroying young knee caps everywhere, with a smile.
Of course, there’s a lot of things I probably should’ve done different. Let Awuor, do reporting if there ever is a next time. Improve on my bad memory, by reducing the consumption of sushi vs. alcohol ratio. But would I do a 30 hour trip, for this again? Sure, just not on the job.
You can find out, more about Nyege Nyege International Music Festival, on their website, follow this link.