A local’s guide to Nyege Nyege

Nyege Nyege translates to dance and it is currently East Africa’s biggest festival. The event brings together thousands of people, especially youth from all over the world who come to experience culture, music, food and diversity at the front of the waters of the River Nile.

Like a guest of honor, this event is long waited for and this year, Uganda’s parliament had to table a motion of whether it should proceed or be stopped since it’s believed to breed immorality. However, this is East Africa’s biggest party event and no one can stop Nyege.

The festival, which will commence on 15th and end on 18th September will be held at Itanda falls, commonly known as the rapids on the White Nile River and a challenge destination for kayakers, located 27metres from the main Jinja city. The youth are now calling it the place of “Simbululation”.

An added advantage is that currently, the weather is very favorable with temperatures ranging between 23 and 24 degrees Celsius. However, as is norm during this festival, the rains might fall.  So, if you planning on attending, support the local sweaters and jackets guy. Also, carry scarves, socks, boots and an umbrella in case you need to go somewhere while it rains.

Remember Itanda is located 27 kilometres from Jinja town and the terrain is sure to give you a bumpy ride all the way. This is to bring to your attention the need to have safe and reliable accommodation. I wouldn’t recommend a tent in this rainy season because you could be a victim of malaria and typhoid.

Put your hand up if you hate wannabees/showies; those kinds of people who think they are too cool. I must warn you that this is a place where the world meets.  Don’t try to be on top, otherwise you will get bored. It’s time to loosen up! No one wants to know your net worth and conversations like “I studied at Kings College,” “I am a ngonian,” “I love golf,” and “Ntare league” among others.

Identification is very important, especially now that the festival is in the lime light. The Parliament promised tight security and this is one way to say police will do its job. You don’t want to be in prison for things you could avoid. Carry your national ID or passport copy with you just in case there is need.

Did you know that your expenditure may go beyond your budget? Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news; so many girls will come through expecting men to cater for their bills. The boys on the other hand want to prove they are “Mufasa”. Staying low key is the solution.

For food, find cheaper local spots and don’t go eating everything you come across. Carry snacks and make friends with the food court people so that you can get it cheaper. I mean be more Ugandan than rich kid. Don’t carry gorilla notes around and opt for changed money instead. Ugandans always judge your status by the notes you carry, “1k’s” will save you.

Be yourself, don’t be pressured to fit in, and don’t get lured into dressing skimpily because majority are doing so. You can go cargo pants and a simple African cropped top. Carry a hat to protect your skin form the sun and for men, condoms are an accessory in case you get into a situation, women too!

For the girlies, chips, chicken and chili sauce is cool but your safety is more important so take the safety kit with you. The little pride, knowing your worth, self-love, consent, decision making and open mindedness. Learn new things, draw some fashion inspiration, make business acquaintances, dance and take amazing pictures.

Lastly, there is so much at your disposal; alcohol, women, weed, water experience and many other new things. The goal is to have fun, make memories and forget the hardships of life. Do exactly that. This article is a recollection of what your mother said, Live life, enjoy today and be safe for tomorrow.

By Hedwig Arinaitwe.

Journalist. Traveller.  Lover of life.

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