It has been said that there is no bad publicity and Nyege Nyege has constantly been proof that regardless of what has been said about the festival, it always thrives.
Yet, if the bad publicity involves loss of life, even the strongest may have to reconsider.
The controversial festival started at the Source of The Nile in Jinja on November 9. Over the years, the festival has attracted relatively small numbers on the first day, but even then, there were still in their thousands and the number would go up even in dawn.
On Thursday evening however, as the festival was kicking off on the heels of more than two US and UK terror alerts, President Museveni also offered an advisory calling for vigilance.
Basically, the festival was a no go zone even when nobody was saying it.
Thus, the opening day was lukewarm, there were people showing up but not in the numbers they usually do and neither was the energy the same as it has been before.
The main stage which is always the biggest form of attraction wasn’t the stage to look out for on Thursday. The festival this year has five stages, but the most entertaining of them is the main stage, Uganda Waragi stage, and the Hakuna Kulala.
The Hakuna Kulala stage is a fusion of all Nyege Nyege’s famous electronic dance music stages such as Dark Star and Boiler Room – stage brings together all the electronic music people loved Nyege Nyege for such as gumboot, gamma and teckno among others.
However, Hakuna Kulala is also the name of a Ugandan record label that was birthed out of Nyege Nyege’s success. Hakuna Kulala alongside Nyege Nyege Tapes are two record labels born out of the Nyege Nyege Foundation.
The two labels have championed Uganda’s electronic dance movement and while at it, moved the Ugandan dance scene from the corridors of bars in Mbale, Soroti and Gulu to international stages such as the MTN Bushfire in Swaziland, Burning Man and other stages in Italy, France, Sweden and Denmark.
It is thus not surprising that a big number of the first acts on the Hakuna Kulala stage were mainly coming off European and American tours.
After the terror alert, stages such as this that attract the biggest number of expatriates would have been expected to be empty since they had been discouraged from attending the festival, yet even on a bleak Thursday, Hakuna Kulala was one of the most active stages of the day.
The main stage was however a shadow of what the main stage is usually.
However, numbers are expected to rise as the program unfolds today and the remaining days of the weekend.