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Nyege Nyege Festival 2022. I saw things. Again.

I couldn’t go on Thursday (first day of the fete). I am not that person anymore. I had capitalism to attend to. So, my friends and I turned the noses of our cars and headed to Itanda Falls, Jinja, on a bright Saturday morning. First, the road! Jesus! I’ve never been here. I was tasked to lead the convoy of my friends’ cars to a place I know nothing about. I drove. We drove. Passed waving villagers and shanty towns abandoned at the bottom chain of civilisation. We arrived.

I saw a marketplace at the entrance of the festival. Everyone is trying to sell you something. A rolex. A ticket. Boots. Sunglasses. More sunglasses. A parking slot. And lies. Everyone’s trying to earn a shilling. I saw a melting pot of the economy. Money exchanging hands.

I saw thousands of swaying, wigged-out happy campers. Washing their hangovered faces at the patio of their little tents. Others carrying a dank of sleeping bags, relocating to a fancier tree. A smell of nostalgia hangs heavy here.

I saw happy festival goers. People were like sleepwalking commuters. Utterly slaughtered, clapped & mullered. A stream of humanity snaked through the festival looking for a noisier place, a lost friend, a potential lover, a bite or a refill. I saw lost friends & made merry. I saw hundreds of vendors (inside the festival) pushing commerce, selling stuff. Anything goes in here. You turn around and there’s something to buy.

I saw people dance. Even when it drizzled, I saw people stomp the mud. It was like an open audition of a dance competition. I saw a former Speaker of Parliament. I saw a barrage of musicians. I saw all races. All faces. I saw all fashion styles. I saw all types of ‘intoxicants’. But most importantly, I saw happiness. Hidden joy. A sea of humanity bundled under a green canopy, here for one thing – to eat party. I saw a festival triumph over a blizzard of mockery and a storm of ridicule.

I saw things. Again.

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Written by Nimusiima Edward

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