Lango’s Morris Ekuka Ogwal to ‘Sirikintise’ 2023 Nyege Nyege festival

Jinja I Preparations are already in advanced stages in Jinja City ahead of the 8th edition of the popular Nyege Nyege festival. Nyege Nyege has become Africa’s essential music and arts festival and this edition is expected to attract artists and fans from within and outside the continent.

The exciting four-day festival will take place in new locations. It will kick off from Thursday, November 9 to Sunday, November 12, 2023, across seven well-lit and furnished venues dubbed “Nyege Nyege Wonderland”.

The 50acre venue covers the famous Source of the Nile Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds, Jinja Golf Course and the Source Gardens where top-notch artists like Eddy Kenzo, Appas, Janzi Band, Carol Kasita as well as DJ Znobia, Greg and Rosa Pistola, among others are expected.

According to Derrick Debru the co-founder of Nyege Nyege Festival, celebrated Lira-based musician Morris Sirikinti Ekuka Ogwal-Adongo, famous for his thumb piano skills (called okeme in Leb Lango) will have a rare opportunity to mingle with national and continental faces and display his rare feat.

Ekuka,60, is a household name almost synonymous with rhythm whose music is pregnant with sensitization messages ranging on hygiene, sanitation, health, agriculture; education and environment, among others.

He also composed songs on Polio immunization, HIV/AIDS, tax collection, Ebola, COVID-19 pandemic; girl child education and poverty alleviation, among others. His songs have been used by the local leaders and the government to mobilize the wanainchi.

Boasting more than 30 years in the music industry and widely travelled to many places, including France where he performed, Ekuka’s life and village do not match the fame over his head.

Apart from the age which is slowly pursuing him, Ekuka’s standard of life is not good, there are no infrastructures in his home village for residents to enjoy and be proud of simply because he is not earning from the talent.

Debru who is at the centre of the organization says the 8th edition of Nyege Nyege, apart from offering a platform for people of diverse socio-cultural backgrounds to exhibit their heritage, is also a rare opportunity for dozens of musicians and artists to rub shoulders with their colleagues from other parts of the world.

Also read: Ugandans free to enjoy Nyege Nyege – government

“…we have been extending some support towards his treatment and after this coming festival, Ekuka and other musicians and artists will walk home with some money…,” he said.

Debru, who has a unique and rich cultural background with a Belgium father, Dutch mother and Burundian grandmother, says he is so passionate about music and arts, and it’s the reason he always wants to support little-known musicians to break through.

Debru was born in Burundi and grew up in Belgium until 2010 when he moved to Uganda to teach in one of the Kampala-based film schools.

His colleague, Dilsizian who is Greco-Armenian and studied ethnomusicology also relocated to Uganda in the same year.

He is also the co-founder of Nyege Tapes, Hakunakulala Records Labels as well as Botiq Foundation, a Kampala City based artist incubation program where musicians are trained and mentored.

Nyege nyege

One of the priorities of the Nyege Music and Arts Festival is to find out how entertainment and arts can have a positive economic impact on the country by creating jobs and bringing money into certain communities.

Also read: Why Dr Ongom Morris is seeking mandates as chair Chamber of Commerce Lira branch

The maiden Nyege Nyege Festival was held in 2015 at the Nile Discovery Beach in Njeru Municipality, Buikwe district. That event took the nation by storm –being the first of its kind in the country’s history.

Last year, it was held at the doors of Itanda Falls, Butagaya sub-cunty in Jinja district, some kilometres away from the Jinja City centre which has all the social amenities.

What is Nyege Nyege

The word Nyege Nyege is derived from a Luganda word Kinyegenyege which means a powerful and irresistible urge to dance to the tune of a sweet melody.

Like they say one must go beyond the dictionary meaning because a word can have several meanings depending on the context in which it is used, Nyege Nyege also bears a sexual connotation in some other areas including neighbouring Kenya.

The festival was founded in Kampala by expats Arlen Dilsizan and Derrick Debru in 2013.

Debru, flanked by the vending Manager Cathy Amedo, says artists affiliated with Nyege Nyege have toured many parts of the world including Europe and Asia where they played festivals including CTM and unsound.

On concerns by critics that the festival is a showcase of nudity and immorality, Debru is quick to laugh it off and instead urges Ugandans to learn to co-exist and appreciate other people’s ways of life.

He says the people who join the festival do so simply to enjoy themselves and have fun within the legal framework while at the same time seeking new opportunities for friends and businesses.

Debru also dismisses as “unfounded” allegations that revellers who attend the festival engage in open and lewd sexual encounters, and consumption of illicit substances, saying security including intelligence would have advised the government against holding it.

Reports emerging say nearly all the hotels, guest houses and lodges in and around Jinja City have already been booked while other stakeholders including those in the transport sectors like commuter taxis, special hire vehicles and boda boda motorists are servicing their machines to reap dividends from the annual event.

 Why Jinja City this year

Debru explains that the relocation followed numerous requests and calls from different stakeholders chiefly from the Jinja City leadership headed by Mayor Alton Peter Kasolo Okocha, who is literally a party animal known even to the babies.

With Jinja standing out as both a tourist and industrial city, Debru says the Busoga Kingdom leadership is also part of the exciting festival.

The organisers are expecting about 20,000 people from Uganda and beyond who have confirmed their participation in this year’s edition to be held at the Gold Course grounds overlooking the strategic Source of the Nile.

“…Ugandans from all parts of the country are on standby, we have a lot of people from neighbouring countries like Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania while others are from Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa as well as Nigeria and Ghana…,” he reveals.

According to Catherine Amedo, they have already hit 90%bookings by different companies and individuals who have secured space to do business during the exciting period.

“…our target is 100 vendors who have confirmed and so about only 20 slots are remaining which I urged those interested to hurry up because we are after quality to make the day memorable and enjoyable…,” Amedo adds.

Jinja City Council Speaker Bernard Mbayo has rallied residents to take advantage of the festival to ensure they benefit from the multiplier effects by offering quality services and goods.

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