As we get ready to hit the road this week to Jinja Uganda for Nyege Nyege Festival 2017, we rekindle some of the fond memories from last year!
Thursday 1st September, The Road to Jinja
It is around 6am on Friday and after two hours at the offices, money-change shock and a USD 200 scare by the Ugandan border patrol for smoking cigarettes at the border, we managed to escape yes but with a cost (This is Africa), we finally made it across the border and we are on our way to Jinja for Day 1 of the sizzling Nyege Nyege Festival 2016.
“I have a lot of respect for guys who put out festivals in this modern age,” our Editor-in-Chief, Tilo Ponder comments as we drive to The Alchemist Bar in Westlands. This is after she has shown us her ninja skills in locating ATM.
The Alchemist is the rendezvous point for the official road trip to Jinja. We get here at around 7pm and after the yellow fever certificates have been issued, the two Buscar Limited luxury buses are ready to hit the road.
If you have been in Nairobi this while, then you know sun has not been a part of our sky family for a while and cloud cover has dominated the city with quite some chills.
After some bit of confusion and getting on the red bus, I get a seat beside Taio and Marushka of Cosmic Homies. Up front is Nazizi and right behind me is DJ Zontor and Prisca Ojwang.
#NuNairobi feels alive once again even as we hit the road. “I had missed this,” Nazizi exclaims even as she gets comfortable on her seat and she is on a roll snapchatting all the way.
So, as we continue I need you on this story to be alert. I will be going back and forth so that you get some few important pointers. Our journey kicked off at 7.30 pm with a pit stop at 10pm in Nakuru and the last stop at the border at around 4am.
Nu Nairobi is the vibe that has been crisscrossing the world thanks to the new millennials of creatives who understand the culture of appreciation and self-expression.
A force that is slowly moving from the social media hashtag definition into changing how music, fashion, art, photography and culture from Kenya is interpreted by the rest of the world.
6.30 am and the sun is cutting through my bus window. For a while I just bathe in and soak, how we have missed the sun in Nairobi.
9am and the everyone is on their seats catching the view of the River Nile as we go across the bridge. Though festivals have not dominated East Africa for quite some time (damn we miss Rift Valley Festival); festivals are still held year-round, but Nyege Nyege Festival is considered the most legit. Already in its second year, I am still in awe that am in Jinja.
Poppy and her team meets us and we alight from the red and green buses. They are warm and smile every second, always ready to help. Our tags check and the matatu (here they call them taxis and cabs here are called special taxis) ready to ferry us to our hotels to freshen up.
Our hosts at Sizzling Hideout, though Kenyans but having lived in Uganda welcome us and in a few seconds we are cracking some old time jokes in Swahili over cold beer. The hospitality in Uganda stands out.
We are already excited. The Ugandans we met at the hotel speak of Nyege Nyege Festival as though it contained a higher concentration of some magical, ineffable ingredient than other festivals do.
“Nyege Nyege?” Rams Timmy who works at the hotel reckons, “There you will see real reggae and other underground music. I mean, real, real reggae.”
Kennedy and his crew are ready to drive us to Nyege Nyege Festival 2016 for the ultimate experience. We get our camera gears. Set up go-pro cameras on the matatu and we are ready to hit the road.
We have no idea what awaits us at Nile Beach Resort right at the edge of the great River Nile.
But as they say in Busoga (the tribe that occupied Jinja), tujie, let us go!
Photos credited to: © Sam Mulwa