Jinja, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Preparations for the controversial Nyege-Nyege festival are draging on in Jinja despite the uncertainty surrounding the event. The four-day festival was planned to start on Thursday September 15, and run uninterrupted until September 19, 2022.
The event organizers announced that they have lined up about 300 performers, chosen from all musical genres for musical performances, cultural dances and fashion design shows. The performers according to the organising team, will be spread over seven stages in Itanda Falls, a spectacular location in Butagaya sub county, on the shores of River Nile in Jinja.
But controversy arose when Parliament called for the cancellation of the event, which according to legislators, is a forum for promoting immorality. Although Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja says the event has been cleared to take place under strict guidelines, the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among has insisted on the cancellation.
However, as the bickering continues, stage performance areas are also being set up with the hope that the event will eventually secure a green light from Parliament. Telecom and utility companies are also on the site to ensure that the area has a constant supply of internet, water and electricity for the entire time of the festival.
Exhibitors are establishing stalls within the Itanda falls grounds. Several wooden cottages, camping tents and temporary bars have already been erected. Jinja district chairperson Moses Batwala says that the exhibitors are purchasing temporary construction materials like papyrus mats, bamboo trees, wood and reeds, which have since enabled the local authority to earn local revenue through taxes.
Plain-clothed policemen were seen inspecting the area and mapping out risky areas under the company of the festival organizers. Walkways have also been established along the river bank, the Itanda falls reception area and the neighbouring National Forestry Reserve to ensure the safety of revellers.
By last evening, the hitherto risky areas along the river bank at Itanda falls were fenced off, to prevent drowning and accidents during the time of the festival. The muddy roads were also given a fresh layer of marram to control sloppiness and accommodate the heavy traffic expected in the area.
The festival organizers declined to address the press about the progress of the ongoing preparations. However, area leaders have expressed optimism that the event will generate revenue for them. Abdullah Suuta, the LCIII chairperson of the Butagaya sub-county is hopeful that the area has more gains than losses to attain from the festival.
Nyege-Nyege festival was first held in the country in 2013, with the organizers claiming intent of promoting upcoming artists by offering them platforms to perform on big stages alongside renowned artists sourced from different parts of the world.