Just like last year, Nyege Nyege started early and smooth, a beginning I was familiar with. I’m not going to compare the two editions – They are different in size, magnitude, performance levels, lineup, weather, duration… everything and not to mention the ending for me- a real BANG! But not the type of bang you would tell your friends who missed out, rather the type that takes to a hospital with a complete broken jaw and last thing the doctor tells you before you leave the hospital with both jaws stitched together is « Do not talk. Do not laugh. For six weeks! » Damn someone finally managed to shut my big mouth. And he did it smoothly in a space of two selfie clicks. Why? For a fuckin Tecno phone. What a world!
Before I met my « muter » I had been on the main stage filming the amazing performance by GURUKACAMA, a collective of Burundian drummers, a few UK musicians and Tamfum, the guitarist. Let me mention that the previous day I had performed with the Burundian drummers on the traditional stage by the River Nile. Nothing fancy. Drums, chants, vocals and a panegyric poem that I delivered in Kinyarwanda from the top of my small lungs. So hell yeah I was super excited to perform in Nyege Nyege. I had been talking about it since the day a friend in entertainment business had told me I was selected to be a part of a Uganda-Rwanda collective for a showcase.
Now back to the BANG!
It happened a few minutes after selektah K’Ruh from Rwanda had managed to make us whistle, slide, spin and put us in all sorts of groovy mood. I didn’t want to kill the vibe after hi set so I went to look for something. If you are a Nyegerian, you know how it goes « Follow the music, you will find your tribe. » So I walked down a path I had been on a dozen times but still managed to get lost in turns because, you know, part of Nyege Nyege is the walk to wherever the path leads. Then I saw something I hadn’t noticed all the previous times I walked down that path. It was a lioness statue with lights in the mouth. So cool I had to take my first selfie. I could hear the queen say « Come baby, sit by my feet and catch this fire! » I was not alone. There was a guy that seemed like a bouncer. It seemed normal like a guy on duty plus he had those fluorescent jackets on. Then he moved towards where I was coming from. I didn’t care. I took the first, the second and by the time I was about to take the third selfie, something had paralysed me for a few seconds. Suddenly I had my mouth open wide, blood dripping by litters and my eyes watching the security guy collect the phone from my hand and walk away. As soon as he disappeared in the dark path, I stepped outside the path and walked towards the nearest civilisation of food merchants seeking help. Lucky enough the Red Cross station was about 10 meters from the crime scene. I hadn’t even known there was a Red Cross station. It was somehow hidden behind some bush. I remember having a safety discussion with a friend a couple of hours prior to my mouth being assaulted. It’s as if the bouncer guy was listening all the time. And so to stop me from snitching, he broke my jaw in one blow. An ambulance (yes there was one) took me to Mobasha medical centre where some lovely Pakistani doctors managed to put back my dangling jaw together and stop the haemorrhage. After the surgery yesterday, the dentist said « You will not open your mouth to talk or laugh or any other reason for the next six weeks. » Now that’s gonna be a problem, especially for the laughing part. I can feel the hilarious comments coming! I will come back after I can handle your clownery. Anyway I look like Kanye now. I have always been a fan, I never thought Mr. West would appear in my mirror with that smile through the wire.
On the real though, last year I thought the risk and hazard were parts of the festival experience like a party-till-you-drop-dead type of thing, you know what I mean? or drop in the river because if you slip on a rock and find yourself at the bottom, it’s all on you. Oh the things that thrill party animals. However tripping people were, they did their best not to trip literally. Well, I tripped on a rock, landed on my face, rolled in shisha hot charcoal and stood up screaming « I’m aliiiiiiiiive!!! » However while on the hospital bed, I imagined what would have happened if my « muter » had decided to give me a bonus, you know? Maybe you’d have my full skeleton and not just…
Speaking of safety, the previous night everyone was congratulating me for putting on a builder’s helmet. I brought one from Kigali specifically for the festival in anticipation of just in case it rained and people started piling up on each other. The truth is for the first time I panicked and went to my tent. So I missed out a big part of Saturday night. I was also extremely exhausted. I had spent the entire afternoon trying to find local Jinja men to run my toilet business. Yep, I built a toilet the second day of the festival outside because none of the toilets inside seemed like what I’d want to use. Also as a struggling artist, who had struggled to get in, get a tent, get the money to spend, I had sensed my friends would run out of money before the festival ends. Okay it was a shitty idea but at least I gave it a try and I’m happy with came out in an afternoon labour with three young Jinja men. The sad part, the ninja man whom I had tasked to manage the latrine got too drunk after an advance he had asked to buy food and left the business unattended. When I went to check the following day, everything was stolen except the plastic bags around it. I was like goddamn, if people have reached a situation where they must steal a toilet to survive, they must be living in the shittiest conditions. Let’s not pretend like we didn’t turn a blind eye to the poor people begging around us as we partied like there was no tomorrow. The good part is that Jinja vendors made a lot of money selling foods and stuff both inside and outside the festival venue. And so did body bodas, taxis. fixers… anyone who was willing to roll their sleeves made something. Money-wise, I made a loss but now I know how to fix myself a cool and cheap toilet anywhere in the jungle. I’m so proud of my hands. Not just a wanker, after all. They can multitask hhhhh-hhhh-hhhh *laughs in stitches*
Much love and regards to all of you having me inside your hearts at the backs of your minds and many thanks for all sorts of support sent my way. Really.
I’ll talk to you in six weeks when my big mouth is fully functional again 🙂