Monday, September 22, 2014

When I grow old, I will say I was there at Uganda's Bayimba Festival of the Arts, 2014

Was it captivating? No, immense. I was there. Oh yes, I was there to behold the beauty of Uganda’s artistry. For the three stages that I had to attend to at the Uganda National Cultural Centre or the National Theatre as most Ugandan know it, a big chunk of my time was spent watching the performances in the Auditorium.  It was the Bayimba Festival of the Arts, 2014, an annual platform that is organized every September to give Ugandans an opportunity to showcase their artistry. This year’s was the seventh edition.

On Saturday, when I first stepped into the festival, I went straight to the Auditorium where I was treated to an enthralling dance performance from the Street Dance Force, a dancing group that plies its trade in Jinja. Later still in the auditorium, I had my ribs almost broken into pieces by the performance of the Bazeeyi be Baama, some of us have seen them do their skit comedy on NBS Television. But in the theatre, they even sounded more interesting than they are on Television. But what crowned the evening for me was the special performance of school kids from Kiryandongo. When they started with a jazz of African instruments, I could not predict that they would follow that with a Solo instrumental performance from one of their own and the Orunyege Dance that was done so beautifully.

Yet it was as if the very best of the best was saved for Sunday. From the Pride Theatre Performers who treated their audience to a comic and dramatic Bikambaga play which is a sharp satirical portrayal of the corruption in our Ugandan hospitals in the auditorium, to the guy from Mbale who was on the main stage bellowing his beautiful tunes from the Elgon region and Jungle the Man Eater who had breathed life into his audience with his energetic Luso-flow performance in the upper garden stage. It was more than what anyone could have paid for.  I also caught a snippet of Burney MC’s performance and Nelly Sade Saint’s performance and I have to say, the guy’s were simply too good.

Nonetheless what I loved the most was the performance of Foursum foundation comedy outfit. This
Otaako Williams of Foursum take us through the news stories
is their second show since they introduced their unique concept of Newspaper theatre into Ugandan theatre. The concept is distinctive and obviously gives a fresh breath of air to the usual sketches of comedy that Ugandans have got used to. This concept revolves on usual stories that are making headlines in the main stream media to carve skits out of the stories. The stories on this particular evening were centred on the recent coronation of the Busoga King, the Katikiro Peter Mayiga’s search for Etofali, the Tooro Princess Ruth Komuntale’s botched marriage and Kipsiro’s recent success in the Commonwealth games. The recreation of the stories into comedy was done brilliantly.

Unfortunately I did not have a lot of time to catch up with all the other performances but just the other things that caught my attention were the youth who I found somewhere (not on stage) doing freestyle hip-hop and they kept me hooked to their thing for more than 10 minutes even when I had not planned it. And then the “madness” at the fireplace where revellers were dancing to the African drums while going around the fire could not have escaped my attention. When I went over there, I bought my rolex from a nearby stall and sat to eat while watching the people consumed in the dancing elation. After eating my rolex I just decided to leave because I thought to myself, if I stay here longer, I will stay up to late into the night and I am not the kind of person that stays out late at night. For the first time I wished I was.

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