The 2023 Nyege Nyege festival is scheduled to run from Thursday to Sunday, featuring performances at four different venues, including the Source of the Nile, Nile Park, Jinja Golf Ground, and Jinja Agricultural Showground.
Organizers have made an unprecedented decision this year, prohibiting attendees from wearing suits, neckties, gomesi, or kanzus. This dress code restriction has sparked debate and intrigue.
For context, gomesi (or busuuti) is a traditional, colorful, floor-length dress typically worn by women in Buganda and Busoga, while a kanzu is a robe or tunic commonly sported by men from Bantu-speaking tribes.
The official opening of the festival will be graced by Ms. Rebecca Kadaga, the First Deputy Premier and Minister of East African Community Affairs.
However, Ms. Hellen Namutamba, the Busoga Kingdom Minister of Tourism and Heritage, has been vocal about the dress code policy. She asserts that anyone attempting to enter the event in these culturally or corporately inspired clothing items will be denied access to all festival venues.
Namutamba stated, “We shall not allow those dressed in suits and neckties, gomesi, and kanzus; please do not come for Nyege Nyege if you are putting on those types of clothes. This is not a cultural introduction or wedding.”
She further elaborated, “Instead, dress like one who is going to the beach because we are at the shores of Lake Victoria and River Banks.”
As the festival approaches, more than 15 Masters of Ceremony (MCs), 30 DJs, various TikTok content creators, traditional dancers, and local and international musicians have been arriving in the country. They will all converge on Jinja City for the event.
Ms. Namutamba also provided reassurance to tourists by mentioning that the government has mobilized over 200 soldiers who will collaborate with the Uganda Police to ensure security during the event.
In a contrasting perspective, both the United Kingdom and the United States of America missions in Kampala have issued cautions to their citizens, advising them against attending public gatherings such as the Nyege Nyege festival and visiting national parks in light of fresh terror alerts.
Derek Debru, one of the festival’s organizers, disclosed that local attendees have been offered tickets at a subsidized cost of Shs120,000, down from the original Shs200,000 per day, as a gesture of appreciation for their participation.
Debru also stated that over 300 Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers and the Police will be present at the event to ensure the safety of festival-goers and their property.