The festivities that wind up the year are presumably the most profitable for the entertainment industry world over. In Uganda, events curation ranges from theatre, open concerts, art exhibitions and fashion galas among others.
And as doors to concert venues continue to be slammed shut due to the global Coronavirus pandemic, hopes for the entertainment industry to get a nod from authorities to reopen still remain gloomy.
This means the stakeholders in the entertainment world will continue to count loses made since March 22, when a lockdown was effected across the country due to Covid-19.
The most popular event of the festive season in the country is presumed to be Enkuuka Yo’mwaaka.
The Buganda Kingdom-run event that enjoys massive airtime on CBS radio and BBS television attracts over 40,000 revellers from across all districts of central Uganda with some arriving at the venue – Lubiri in Mengo – days before the event.
Each pays Shs20,000 per ticket or roughly Shs800.000.000 minus sponsorship from corporate companies.
Enkuuka also involves the crowning of winners of Entanda ya Buganda, a Luganda language competition where the winner walks away with land cash and many other prizes.
Evidently, this year, the kingdom will not make any money from the annual show often attended by the Kabaka of Buganda. The trickle-down effect will affect other beneficiaries such as food vendors, drinks providers among others. They are not alone. Among others, the Uganda National Cultural Centre – UNCC – or better known as the National Theater will lose up to Shs8million per week over this season with the exception of other ventures like parking, the bar, restaurant and the Nommo Gallery as many intended events are called off.
It should be noted that by March, the UNCC had announced that over 30 events had been called off including the World Theatre Day celebrations.
According to a talent and events manager Dorothy Nabunjo, absence of events during the festive season will have far reaching effects of the creative sector as economies continue to suffer world over.
“Events are among the few avenues that generate returns for the artistes in Uganda and that is the money they use to create more works and perhaps organize future events. If they are not making returns, it will be impossible for them to create more works” Nabunjo, also the organizer of Sandra Suubi’s annual Christmas in Kampala says.
That aside, most of the show organisers are swimming in debts and loans.
Music and events promoter Abbey Musinguzi alias Abtex, these loans are taken with a promise to pay back with money collected from events during the festive season.
“Artistes sell shows before they happen and most events’ organizers get loans with events as collateral. We get contracts in time and we use them to get money from banks. We are yet to pay some of the loans received several months ago,” Abtex said.
Desperate to find solutions
The urge to entertain and also make money is written on the wall as artistes continue to improvise to reach out to their audience.
Besides the online shows that have ceased to generate revenue, artistes have resorted to underground performances and also leveraging on other sectors like tourism to make money.
Apparently, most artistes have been booked to perform in hotels, road trips and specific tourism destinations even when no official posters have been put into public domain.
Known among many is the New Year eve performance by the Undercover Brothers’ at Protea Marriot Sky Hotel in Naguru which is disguised under a dinner / buffet experience.
However, besides a couple of Christmas carols, other notable events have been programmed by Fezah Online at a fee, including Afrigo Band Sunday December 20, 2020 and a ‘Holy Night’ performance by musician Rachel Namubiru on Wednesday December 23, 2020.
What you will miss
Ug Dance Party held every year at Sheraton Gardens is among the events to be missed this year. Organized by Balaam Marketing Agencies and Kampala Sheraton Hotel, the event that is held every December 31 attracts over 10,000 revelers.
Tondeka Ekiwatule – Bebe (Boxing Day)
Bebe Cool’s ‘Tondeka e’Kiwatule’ Concert attracts large crowds every year on Boxing Day.
Busaabala –Bobi Wine (Boxing Day)
Bobi Wine Busabala concerts had become part of year ender calendar. However, this one was not bound to happen due to the current political environment.
On April 22, 2019, police stopped Bobi Wine’s concert on grounds that he had not met the laid down procedures and the event was foiled with brutality.
Bivulu promoters and their losses
Abbey musinguzi alias Abtex
Last year, Abtex lost around Shs250 million when authorities deported South African artiste Yvonne Chaka Chaka prior to her performance at the famous Enkuuka ya CBS.
His hope was to redeem himself in 2020. Now with a ban on performances, Abtex says he is set to lose around Shs500 million in ticket sales for his festive events including Enkuuka.
“Each year, I organize four major events that include Ekyepikuru, Masaza Cup Finals, Uncut Kalakata Concert, and most importantly Enkuuka. However, I can confirm that this is a dead year since I haven’t organized any,” he explained.
On 22 March 2020, music promoter Balaam Barugahare reported that he had lost around Shs500m money spent on logistics, adverts and venues as government called off his highly anticipated events that included Eddy Kenzo Festival and Tugende Mukikadde among others.
In an interview with Daily Monitor, Balaam raised concern that if the situation persists as is, he would lose over billion shillings in failed concerts.
Balaam reveals that he will be canceling his annual Christmas and Boxing Day events at Speke Resort and on December 31 at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala among others.
Each of these employs over 200 Ugandans, especially hand to mouth workers.
“It is time government takes the same stance that they took for places of worship and open events under specific SOP’s. And since there are no plans to compensate people or feed the beneficiaries in the sector, people should be allowed to work under specific guidelines,” Balaam, who had to allegedly sell part of his land to sustain several dozen unemployed youth said.