The long-awaited and much-anticipated Nyege Nyege music and arts festival final kicked off yesterday amides pomp and valor after a long protracted fight to hold or not to hold the now popular festival.
Last week, there was a standoff between Legislature and moralists on one side, and Executive and organizers of the event on the other, as this years’ edition of Nyege Nyege came under serious threat.
Some members of parliament led by the Speaker Anita Among and Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi had demanded that the festival be stopped on moral grounds as it is ‘corrupting our children’ with accusations of sexual immorality, drug abuse and lawlessness fronted as the main reason for it to be stopped.
However, the protagonists were swiftly opposed by another arm of government – The Executive led by Tourism Minister Martin Mugara and Dr. Chris Baryomunsi the minister of ICT and National Guidance who argued that the event had become a big Tourism attraction that was bringing in foreign exchange and creating employment opportunities as over 8,000 tourists from around the world had already booked tickets.
As the arguments raged on with accusations and counter accusations, netizens joined the debate on social media siding with the executive and organizers as they accused members of parliament for meddling in petty business “instead of concentrating on serious national issues like fighting corruption”.
Eventually the debate was closed by Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja who declared the event will go on as planned with strict guidelines s to be set and followed by government institutions like police in collaboration with the organizers and other stake holders.
And indeed yesterday the event officially kicked off with all tribes and color of people descending on the Eastern industrial City of Jinja heading to Itanda falls the official new venue f the festival.
As the revelers keep pouring into Jinja for the event, there are some category of people and institutions we feel came out as big winners and losers following the cat fights.
Co-founder Derek Debru who was all smiles after the Nabanja declaration, was among the thousands who released a big sigh of relief alongside main organizer Aly Alibhai and his Talent Africa team. After investing a lot of time, money and other resources they couldn’t simply watch their festival being cancelled last minute. In the end they got free publicity with ticket sales going off the roof.
The sponsors: Mostly Uganda Breweries with their flag brands Uganda Waragi and Bell Larger after injecting hundreds of millions into the event couldn’t be any happier after the event was allowed to go on. They are now selling their drinks in thousands of liters at the festival.
Jinja City and Busoga Kingdom: The people of Jinja City, The business community and the Busoga Kingdom who are stake holders and hosts, will benefit directly in different ways.
Uganda Tourism community: From the Tourism and Antiquities ministry, Tourism board, to agents, there is big business with the massive influx of tourists in the country pouring in for the same event. The country will also be sold to the outside world as a mega tourism destination.
Parliament: As an institution were labeled as jokers for wasting precious time debating petty issues instead of doing their work. The institution was also branded as a ‘bully’ trying to pass judgment by trying to implement a decision they came up with when they are supposed to only forward issues to government for action.
Speaker of Parliament: After ruling that the festival be stopped, Speaker of Parliament Anita Among openly warned that it will only happen over her dead body. “Nobody will overrun this Parliament as long as I am Speaker; I am elected by 415 MPs, the decision we made on #NyegeNyegeFestival stands”. Speaker Anita Among said. Well, as you read this, the festival is now well into day two. What we are not sure of however, is the whereabouts of her dead body.
The members of parliament who seemed determined to stop the event based on personal grounds and sentiments. They had their reasons but the timing looked very suspect with only a few days to the start of the event. So for making careless utterances and declarations, they ended up on the losing side.
It should also be remembered that former Ethics and Integrity Minister Fr.Simon Lokodo also tried to stop the festival in 2028 and failed miserably.
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